A witty psychological thrller and an Albert Brooks comedy


October 27, 1991|By New York Times News Service

New releases of video cassettes; reviews by New York Times critics.

"The Silence of the Lambs." 1991. Orion. $99.98. Laser disk, $29.95. 1 hour 58 minutes. Closed captioned. R.

On the theory that it takes one to know one, the FBI enlists a jailed serial killer to help track down another one on the loose. From his prison cell the cerebral Hannibal (the Cannibal) Lechter Anthony Hopkins), looking as if he were about to dine on one of his victims, sizes up Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster), the naive but very smart young FBI agent assigned to pick his brains on the current case.

Throughout Jonathan Demme's swift, witty thriller, the two circle and probe, making for "pop film making of a high order" (Vincent Canby).

"Defending Your Life." 1991. Warner. $92.99. Laser disk, $34.98. 1 hour 52 minutes. Closed captioned. PG.

As a yuppie freshly killed in his BMW, Daniel Miller (Albert Brooks) is packed off to Judgment City, a sort of suburban holding pen in the sky where his earthly existence is reviewed and graded before his assignment in the hereafter.

There he encounters Julia (Meryl Streep), whose flawless performance down below marks her for big things in the great beyond. Mr. Brooks, who directed and wrote the screenplay, is known for fast, quirky comedy, but "many of this film's devices, including the courtroom flashbacks to Daniel's past, require a lot of setup before they begin to move" (Janet Maslin).

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