Video/DVD releases

August 08, 2002

`The Business of Strangers'

R 84 minutes * * 1/2

The Business of Strangers (MGM, 2001) is a middling example of those three-prickly-people-in-a-room movies that periodically take over the art houses. But Stockard Channing's lead performance is a tour de force. As a corporate vice president who lacks a life, Channing portrays the agonies and mini-ecstasies of a limited woman as well as it's ever been done. Julia Stiles plays her mysterious new aide, a confrontational hipster who says a slick executive headhunter, stuck for the night in the same airport hotel as the two women are, once raped a friend. What ensues is like a party game out of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? - played out with a female-revenge theme. (Michael Sragow)

`Deuces Wild'

R 97 minutes *

Deuces Wild (MGM, 2002), a '50s gangster film, tells a coming-of-age story with a tone that varies between nostalgia and regret. Our heroes are Leon (Stephen Dorff), the relatively even-tempered leader of the Deuces, and Bobby (Brad Renfro), his fearless, hot-tempered brother. A third brother's death was related to drugs - three years before the main action. As a result, the Deuces have sworn never to allow drug dealing into their neighborhood. But a gang called the Vipers has other plans. The story could have worked, but exploitative, clumsily staged violence overshadows everything. (Orlando Sentinel)

`Dogtown and Z-Boys'

PG-13 90 minutes * * * 1/2

Dogtown and Z-Boys (Columbia TriStar, 2002) is a thrilling in-your-ears-and-eyeballs documentary about the skateboard revolution of the 1970s that took off on the spot along the California coast where Route 66 ended. This film's roll-and-rock pioneers made up a latter-day Beat generation, finding adventure and discovery in abandoned pools and playgrounds instead of the open road. The Zephyr competition team - a dozen teen-age skateboarders as well as a trio of mentors in their 20s - invented an improvisatory daredevil style of skateboarding. Directed by Stacy Peralta, an honored member of the team, this movie captures the in-the-moment euphoria that made the skateboarders a sensation. (Michael Sragow)

`The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings'

PG-13 178 minutes * * * *

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (New Line, 2001) is a movie masterpiece - thrilling, passionate and wise. The director, Peter Jackson, engulfs you in the pristine and awful beauties of an alternate universe. His movie lives up to the book's reputation and to its title. It is about fellowship, and gloriously so. At the center are a band of brothers - not just the four tiny hobbits led by Frodo (Elijah Wood), but also the gnarly dwarf Gimli (John Rhys-Davies), the willowy warrior elf Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and the grizzled men Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) and Boromir (Sean Bean). They preserve virtues that transcend parochial allegiances. They hammer out an alliance devoted to the destruction of the Ruling Ring, which can ruin the world as they know it and corrupt anyone absolutely - including each of them. (Michael Sragow)

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