Nitrate Online Store
Contents | Features | Reviews | News | Archives | Store

Home Video Releases for December 1999 - Nitrate Online Store

Home Video Releases for March 2000
Posted 3 March 2000

by Eddie Cockrell and Gregory Avery

Nitrate Online explores a sampling of the most noteworthy, provocative and satisfying video and/or DVD releases for the month of March (give or take a few weeks). Titles are followed by original country and year of release, as well as release date (if known). Street dates change constantly and often differ from format to format, so check with your favorite online or brick-and-mortar supplier for up-to-date information. All reviews are by Eddie Cockrell unless otherwise credited.

The Bone Collector (USA, 1999, March 14)

As with many a well-tooled Hollywood movie machine, this simplistic and implausible adaptation of Jeffery Deaver’s crackerjack pulp thriller covers its fatal flaws with a mixture of propulsive storytelling and provocative gizmos, but eventually collapses under the weight of its absurdities. Denzel Washington gives yet another authoritative performance as Lincoln Rhyme, a newly-quadriplegic forensics expert drawn into the hunt for a sadistic serial killer. The twist is that since he’s bedridden the forensic investigations of the grisly crime scenes fall to rookie officer Amelia Donaghy (Angelina Jolie), whose natural affinity for the work is marred by her profound discomfort at the gruesome sights she’s forced to document. Veteran director Phillip Noyce (Newsfront, Dead Calm, Patriot Games) peppers the action with some atmospheric thunderstorm effects, the whiz-bang computer array surrounding Rhymes’ bed and the prerequisite procedural catchphrases (the phrase “work the grid” is particularly overused). Yet by the time somebody asks “where we goin’ with this?” most audiences will already be thinking the same thing. A Spanish-subtitled tape is available, and the DVD features a commentary track by Noyce.

The Bone Collector - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

Drive Me Crazy (USA, 1999, March 7)

That teen comedies now seem to all fuzz together isn’t the fault of individual films, as this genial if undistinguished programmer proves. Twenty-four-year-old industry vet Melissa Joan Hart (TV’s “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch”) stars as Nicole, a wise and with-it high school student who rekindles a dormant childhood friendship with the rebellious Chase (Adrian Grenier). The plot stitches together numerous iconic events that seemed life-or-death during those years (and still are to the movie’s target audience), including basketball games, parties, makeovers, shifting emotional allegiances and, of course, back seat make out sessions. It’ll be fun in a couple of years to survey these films, both for fashion/culture violations that look cool now but will expire shortly (if they haven’t already), as well as a yearbook of sorts for future stars. There’s a Spanish subtitled VHS of this title, and the DVD features Britney Spears’ music video of the title tune, Jars of Clay’s “Unforgetful You” and some weblinks. --Eddie Cockrell

Drive Me Crazy - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

Eyes Wide Shut  (USA, 1999, March 14)

Is it brilliant, or merely unfinished? Opinion is still divided over Stanley Kubrick's final film, about the nighttime odyssey of a husband (Tom Cruise) who learns that his wife (Nicole Kidman) at one time even considered being unfaithful to him. Questions linger over whether the film would have undergone final revision by its director, but one thing's certain: the digital "masking" inserted into one scene, for U.S. release, will remain (for now) when the film comes out on video. (The film has been shown outside the U.S. unaltered). --Gregory Avery  

Eyes Wide Shut - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

Guinevere (USA, 1999)

The highly-talented Sarah Polley plays a young girl who beguiles, then enters into, a tricky relationship with  a professional photographer, played by Stephen Rea. Generally well-regarded by those who were able to catch it during its brief, unenthusiastic, hit-and-run theatrical release last fall. Audrey Wells, the writer and director, previously did the screenplay for the comedy The Truth About Cats and Dogs. --Gregory Avery  

Guinevere - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

Jakob the Liar (USA/France, 1999, March 21)

Robin Williams as an East European Jew who keeps hope alive among his friends and neighbors in the ghetto by spreading false news of Allied advances against the Nazis. The material worked well in a 1976 East German film, but this well-intentioned remake simply doesn't work, and Williams' smiling-through-tears performance is so squirm-inducing that it ends up making Charles Chaplin's Calvino in Limelight look restrained by comparison. Good performances by Armin Muller-Stahl, Bob Balaban, Liev Schreiber, and, particularly, Alan Arkin; director Peter Kassovitz's son, Mathieu (also a film director), turns up in a small role. --Gregory Avery  

Jakob the Liar - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

The Limey (USA, 1999, March 21)

Along with Run Lola Run 1999’s most exhilarating example of noodling around with time and character point of view, director Steven Soderbergh’s pithy follow-up to the bravura Out of Sight features a delightfully droll yet commandingly intense turn by Terence Stamp as intense British ex-con Wilson, determined to find the person or persons who caused the death of his daughter while he was in stir. To this end he makes his first trip to Los Angeles in search of preening record producer Terry Valentine (Peter Fonda), who is surrounded by the Southern California good life and protected by ruthless personal attorney Avery (Barry Newman, making a welcome return to the screen). Sort of a cross between the cool stylistic calisthenics of John Boorman’s Point Blank and the scruffy 1970s Raymond Chandler retooling of Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye, The Limey was written by Lem Dobbs, directed by Soderbergh and photographed by respected international vet Ed Lachman with a knowing wink towards those and other genre movies as well as the flamboyant and well-documented public histories of Fonda and Stamp. In fact the latter’s character name, Wilson, is the same as the young man he played in Ken Loach’s 1967 Poor Cow -- the film from which black and white clips are lifted to illustrate his memories here. This is only one of the numerous time-shifting strategies employed by Soderbergh in a continuation of the stylish structure he brought to Out of Sight. Taken together, the two films signal a tangible rebirth for a director whose track record until now (from the indie fave sex, lies & videotape to the wretched The Underneath) can charitably be called erratic. --Eddie Cockrell  

The Limey - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

Outside Providence (US, 1999, March 14)

Bobby and Peter Farrelly, the merrymakers behind There's Something About Mary, co-wrote, with director Michael Corrente, this comedy about a working-class lad (Shawn Hatosy) who winds up attending an upper-class prep school. Corrente previously directed the underrated screen adaptation of David Mamet's American Buffalo; the altruistic may want to check out the appearance of a bulky-looking Alec Baldwin, as the young protagonist's dad. --Gregory Avery  

Outside Providence - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

Plunkett & Macleane (United Kingdom, 1999, March 21)

Two of the stars of Danny Boyle’s last decent movie, Trainspotting, are re-united in Plunkett & Macleane, a confused and resolutely offensive story of two eighteenth-century British highwaymen who, in the immortal words of the poster’s tagline, “Rob the Rich…And That’s It.” Unfortunately, that’s it for wit as well: first-time director Jake Scott brings all the wrong influences from his previous life as a music video director, resulting in a movie that looks like a leaden cross between Ridley Scott’s The Duellists and Tony Richardson’s Tom Jones, scored to some wildly inappropriate contemporary dance music. Teaming up in prison, smart guy Will Plunkett (Robert Carlyle) and gigolo James Macleane (Jonny Lee Miller) embark on a crime spree that makes them the toast of the town, winning the heart of a bigwig’s daughter (Liv Tyler) along the way. None of it is believable for a second, with only Alan Cumming leaving any kind of impression as a particularly unrepentant libertine. There’s a Spanish subtitles tape of Plunkett & Macleane, and the DVD includes a feature on the production. --Eddie Cockrell  

Plunkett & Macleane - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

Pokémon: The First Movie  (Japan/USA, 1999, March 21)

Those pesky animated critters are turning up everywhere. Now, after scurrying through theaters and sending armies of kids on mad rampages for training cards, they've arrived on video -- which will either be a blessing or a curse for parents. The plot? Who cares? Just seeing those colorful little Lego-like homunculi banging to and fro across the screen, like Whammo balls on meth, and disgorging power rays and whatnot, will be enough to keep the kiddies kontented. -- Gregory Avery

Pokemon: The First Movie - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

The Sixth Sense  (US, 1999, March 28)

Audiences seemed mesmerized by this soft, stealthy thriller about a social worker (Bruce Willis, in his best performance in years) who comes to the aid of a young boy (Haley Joel Osment) who sees specters of the dead who, apparently, want something from him. The film's outcome, and one's reaction to it, turns on the kind of plot twist which is very tricky to pull off, but there's no denying that Osment's performance is remarkable and deeply affecting, and that the film achieves its effects without resorting to the truly crass or vulgar. -- Gregory Avery

The Sixth Sense - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!


Crazy in Alabama (USA, 1999, March 14)

Crazy in Alabama - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

An Extremely Goofy Movie (USA, 2000, February 29)

An Extremely Goofy Movie - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

A Dog of Flanders (USA, 1999, March 7)  

A Dog of Flanders - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

Beyond the A-list:

Autumn Sun (Sol e otoño, Argentina, 1996, March 7)

Novelist-turned-filmmaker Eduardo Mignogna has scored a heartwarming hit with his third film, following the Eva Peron documentary Evita (1984) and the biopic of Argentinian showman Florencio Parravicini, Flop (1990). For Autumn Sun, Mignogna enlisted distinguished and popular actors Norma Aleandro (The Official Story) and Federico Luppi (Cronos) to tell a September-September romance set against the ethnic diversity of contemporary Argentina. Clara (Aleandro) takes out a personal ad looking for a man of similar age and station, only to find the Italian Raúl (Luppi) isn’t exactly who she had in mind -- or anywhere near the cultured Jewish gentleman she’d told her brother (about to arrive from Boston) she was involved with. Desperate to save face with her family, Clara gets Raúl to play the part, with enlightening consequences. “The aim of the film,” Mignogna said at the 1996 San Sebastian Film Festival, “is to break down prejudice between human beings through a story laced with both poetry and humor.” Bullseye: thanks in large part to a clever script and the assured, endearing performances of the two leads, Autumn Sun is a witty, urbane, grown-up drama.  --Eddie Cockrell

Autumn Sun - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

Bandits (Germany, 1997, March 21)

Help! meets Thelma and Louise in this comedic drama that Variety Senior Film Critic Derek Elley proclaimed “tough, romantic, grungy and exuberant [with] enough energy to light a city.” As part of a German prison’s rehabilitation program, four women inmates form a quartet (the name blends “band” and “tits”). There’s master thief guitarist-vocalist Luna (real-life musician Jasmin Tabatabai); flirtatious young con-woman bassist Angel (Nicolette Krebitz); daffy yet intuitive middle-aged pianist Marie (stage and screen veteran Jutta Hoffmann); and tough drummer Emma (Katja Reimann, star of director and co-scenarist Katja von Garnier’s 1993 German mega-smash Making Up!). While playing at a policeman’s ball outside the prison walls they hijack a van and make a daring escape, prompting a series of adventures that include young American “hostage” West (Werner Schreyer) and egotistical cop Schwarz (Hannes Jaenicke) -- as well as the country-wide outlaw fame that’s always eluded them. A propulsive brew of serious narrative and rock video-style clips, this summer 1997 German box office hit is eye candy with a refreshingly European flavor.  --Eddie Cockrell

Bandits - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

The Decalogue (Poland, 1988-89, March 28)

Unseen in the United States outside of specialty festival screenings since it was made for Polish television in the late 1980s, Krzysztof Kieślowski’s monumental 10-hour contemporary extrapolation of the Ten Commandments, The Decalogue, is near the top of most serious film fans’ list of cinematic Holy Grails. Working with a series of actors and crew, Kieślowski and co-writer Krzysztof Piesiewicz have fashioned an interconnected series of provocative morality tales that unfold largely in and around the cramped flats and dark corridors in a cluster of cold cement apartment blocks in Warsaw. Although each episode plays independently of the next (and two, five and six, were adapted into stand-alone features), a sense of déjà vu and foreboding is heightened as characters from previous episodes pass through the background of subsequent dramas (a trick Kieślowski later used to great effect in his Blue, White, Red trilogy). Kudos to Facets Video for finally making this masterpiece available to the American public in both a boxed video and DVD edition.  --Eddie Cockrell

The Decalogue - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

Destination Moon (USA, 1950, February 29)

Adapted by Robert A. Heinlein from his novel (the sci-fi dean’s only foray into movies), designed by Oscar-nomiated Ernst Fegte and featuring the breathtaking work of astronomical artist Chesley Bonestell, the landmark Destination Moon is shot through with a certain thrill born of optimistic discovery. Sure, it’s a creaky dramatic vehicle, what with the quartet of noble spaceman and a craft that looks roomy enough to play tennis in. But fans of the genre will want to check it out nonetheless, as it offers a template much used in subsequent films. It was also a huge hit in its day, and even won the Oscar for special effects. This Image Entertainment Fiftieth-Anniversary DVD release, part of the Wade Williams collection, features what appears to be the same sporadically scratchy print as the recent videotape version. But the Technicolor fairly glows off the disc, enhancing the pioneer spirit of this crucial work.  --Eddie Cockrell

Destination Moon - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

Face (United Kingdom, 1997, March 7)

Robert Carlyle starred in the underworld heist thriller Face for director Antonia Bird (Priest) two years before Plunkett & Macleane (see A-list above) but just after his one-two-three star-making punch of Trainspotting, Carla’s Song (both 1996) and The Full Monty (1997). Here, he’s Ray, a lifelong thief whose personal and professional lives become increasingly intertwined following the robbery of a security deposit firm. When the take is smaller than hoped for, the group of thieves that Ray assembled with some trepidation begins to disintegrate with suspicion and fear. British music fans have two reasons to rejoice, both for the tasty soundtrack and the presence of Blur frontman Damon Albarn, who acquits himself quite well against such heavyweights as Carlyle, Ray Winstone and Peter Vaughan in a short but key supporting role. Bird and Carlyle often work together, and their most recent collaboration is the bizarre cannibal comedy Ravenous.  --Eddie Cockrell

Face - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

The Highwayman (USA, 1999, March 7)

In the continuing effort to distance himself from the pretty boy he played in the “Beverly Hills 90210” television franchise, Jason Priestley has made some intriguing career choices of late. Some, like his dignified, self-deprecating performance in Love and Death on Long Island (1997) and his recent turn as Detective Robert Hall in the “Homicide” TV movie, have turned out well for him. Others, like the Barenaked Ladies documentary he’s recently directed (both he and the group are Canadian) and this grisly programmer, are less successful. In the direct-to-video road thriller The Highwayman -- sort of a self-conscious cross between Natural Born Killers and Pulp Fiction -- Priestley (who also has an executive producer credit on the picture) plays a cool yet resolutely psychotic killer named Breakfast. Through a convoluted, disconnected series of circumstances Breakfast and his more visceral partner hook up with a young woman (Laura Harris, who’s awful) and embark on a search for her father (played by veteran actor and Peter Weller lookalike Stephen McHattie). First-time director Keoni Waxman shot the picture in Phoenix and Toronto, attempting to massage the gray proceedings with some subtle but self-conscious digital effects that do nothing to advance the story. As for Priestley himself, he falls back on his innate cool as well as a cowboy hat and thick moustache in an attempt to mask what is becoming increasingly obvious: that he’s a pretty face with decent ability who can’t hold the big screen the way he inhabits the small one.  --Eddie Cockrell

The Highwayman - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

The King of Masks (Bian Lian, China, 1996, March 7)

Film fans fond of such recent international successes as Brazil’s Central Station and the Czech Republic’s Kolya are urged to seek out the lovely The King of Masks, a 1996 film from veteran Mainland Chinese director Wu Tianming, who has gone from being a key player in the 1980s Fifth Generation of Chinese filmmakers to running a video store in Los Angeles in the early 1990s (he was on a trip to America when the Tiananmen Square massacre occurred) to this triumphant return to personal, heartfelt filmmaking. The film tells of an elderly street performer, Wang, whose life is changed when the young boy he buys as an heir to his colorful skills turns out to be a street urchin, Doggie -- and what’s worse, a girl to boot. As girls are not highly prized in Chinese society, Doggie is at first shunned by Wang. Yet, in the spirit of the Sichuan opera female impersonator who advises him “The world is a cold place, but we can bring warmth to it,” Doggie wins Wang’s heart and the tradition is passed. Veteran actor Zhu Zu is endearing as old Wang, and a young girl named Zhou Ren-ying, who was abandoned at three and raised by an acrobatic troupe, gives an extraordinarily nuanced performance as Doggie. The film has won China’s Golden Rooster awards for Best Director, Best Child Actor and Best Co-Production, in addition to nearly forty prizes at international festivals. The King of Masks is well worth the effort to seek it out.  --Eddie Cockrell

The King of Masks - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

Return to Sender (aka No Return Address, Sin remitente, Mexico, 1995, February 29)
Salón México (Mexico, 1996, February 29)

Carlos Carrera’s Return to Sender won the Best Film, Best Actor (Fernando Torre Laphame) and Best Director Ariel awards -- Mexico’s version of the Oscars -- in 1996. The film is an assured and deliberate tale of deceit and empathy, as a cruel joke against a lonely old man escalates out of control. Salón México is a sensationalist melodrama about a murderous dance team and their tempestuous affair, and the film also won the Best Film Ariel as well as the Best Spanish Language Foreign Film Oscar at Spain’s national award ceremony, the Goyas. These are two of the six titles released by Facets Multimedia as part of their Facets Video/Chicago Latino Cinema Collection.   --Eddie Cockrell

Return to Sender Salón México

Return to Sender - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

Salón México - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

The Sacrifice (Sweden/France, 1986, March 7)
The Mirror
(USSR, 1974, March 7)

A landmark of spiritual cinema from the man once hailed as “the only Soviet director to do exactly as he wanted,” Andrei Tarkovsky’s The Sacrifice -- the final film before his death of cancer in 1986 at age 54 -- makes a triumphant debut on DVD, courtesy of Kino on Video. Produced in Sweden and photographed by the great Sven Nykvist, the film (which won the 1986 Cannes festival Jury Prize) stars Ingmar Bergman regular Erland Josephson as an aging patriarch who, upon learning of the imminent end of the world by nuclear annihilation, makes a deal with God to spare civilization. “The issue I raise in this film,” Tarkovsky explained, “is one that to my mind is most crucial: the absence in our culture of room for a spiritual existence.” In his illustration of that, The Sacrifice is a virtual compendium of the visual and thematic ideas that have obsessed the director since his early work (an splendid example of which, the 1974 film The Mirror, is also part of this release). What makes this DVD edition of The Sacrifice an essential part of any serious film lover’s library is the inclusion of Michal Leszczylowski’s Directed By Andrei Tarkovsky, a feature-length documentary on the making of The Sacrifice and Tarkovsky’s major themes by the editor of the film that stands to this day as one of the most intimate and illuminating records of a life in movies ever made.  --Eddie Cockrell

The Sacrifice The Mirror

The Sacrifice - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

The Mirror - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

Sitcom (France, 1998, March 7)

Although he’s been making movies throughout most of the 1990s, French director François Ozon didn’t begin to make a name for himself until the unsettling yet straight-faced Sitcom played New York’s prestigious New Directors/New Films series nearly a year ago. Filmed in the manor of a television program (hence the title), the film tells of the odd disintegration of what purports to be a typical French suburban family after a pet rat and assertive Hispanic maid are introduced to the delicately balanced and deceptively normal-looking nuclear family. As with John Waters and the early Almodovar, Ozon is concerned with how appearances can be misleading, and to that end the family falls apart in ways both sexual and violent. Yet his approach is oddly chaste, even prim, giving the humor, for those who are inclined to see it, a more malicious edge. While the subtitles on the copy of the New Yorker Video release caught were less than crisp, this isn’t a movie about subtlety -- either verbal or visual.  --Eddie Cockrell

Sitcom - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

Western (France, 1997, March 7)

Wandering is the theme of Manuel Poirier's oddball triumph Western, his fourth film to fondly examine the lives, loves and adventures of the rural French lower middle class. Although he's been robbed by pint-sized Russian émigré Nino (Sacha Bourdo), travelling Spanish shoe salesman Paco (Sergi Lopez) teams up with the diminutive hustler while on an enforced three-week hiatus from the lover (Elisabeth Vitali) he met when Nino first ripped him off. As this odd couple for the 1990s (men behaving Frenchly?) travel the backroads of Brittany, it becomes apparent that Paco's uncanny success with women is matched only by Nino's ability to self-destruct during even the most casual human contact. But, as Paco discovers from the wily Nino, you can always learn something new. Western is the kind of movie where adversity is dwarfed by cheerfulness, as well as a kind of cosmic decree that all adventures turn out for the best. And no matter how selfish or criminal their characters act, Lopez and Bourdo imbue their characters with warmth and an increasingly tattered but intact dignity. With a heart as big as its widescreen photography, Western has found in New Yorker Video a distributor with Nino's wiles and Paco's luck.  --Eddie Cockrell

Western - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!


The Abyss (USA, 1989, March 21)  

The Abyss - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

The Affairs of Anatol (USA, 1920, March 21)  

The Affairs of Anatol - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse (USA, 1938, March 7)  

The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

The Cartoons of Bob Godfrey (United Kingdom, 1959-1981, March 14)  

The Cartoons of Bob Godfrey - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

Charlie Chaplin: A First National Collection (USA, March 14)  

Charlie Chaplin: A First National Collection - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

La Collectionneuse (France, 1966, March 21)  

La Collectionneuse - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

Count Yorga, Vampire (USA, 1970, March 7)  

Count Yorga, Vampire - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

Die, Monster, Die! (United Kingdom, 1965, March 7)  

Die, Monster, Die - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

Gallery of Horrors (USA, 1966, March 7)  

Gallery of Horrors - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

High School Hellcats (USA, 1958, March 7)  

High School Hellcats - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (USA, 1965, March 7)  

How to Stuff a Wild Bikini - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

Illtown (USA, 1996, March 14)  

Illtown - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

Keepers of the Frame (USA, 1999, March 21)  

Keepers of the Frame - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

Impact (USA, 1949, March 7)  

Impact - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

Letters From a Killer (USA, 1998, February 22)  

Letters From a Killer - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

Like Water for Chocolate (Mexico, March 14)  

Like Water for Chocolate - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

Lord of the Flies (United Kingdom, 1963, March 14)  

Lord of the Flies - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

Modern Times (USA, 1936, March 14)  

Modern Times - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

The People That Time Forgot (United Kingdom, 1977, March 7)  

The People That Time Forgot - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

Il Postino (March 14)  

Il Postino - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

The Puppet Films of Jiri Trnka (Czechoslovakia, February 29)  

The Puppet Films of Jiri Trnka - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

The Wild Angels (USA, 1966, March 7)  

The Wild Angels - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

The Tempest (United Kingdom, 1979, February 22)  

The Tempest - Nitrate Online Store
Buy It!

Don't have a DVD player? 
Click on the button below to buy one:

Buy DVD Player from Amazon.COM
Buy at

Didn't find what you are looking for? Look in the back issues of the store or in the extensive catalog of Amazon.COM by entering your search in the text box below:

Search: Enter keywords... logo

Contents | Features | Reviews | News | Archives | Store
Copyright © 2000 by Nitrate Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

  Copyright © 1996-2005 by Nitrate Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.