Videos--good, bad, and ugly

By David Sturm, Copyright 1996

Here's my approach to reviewing movies on video: They're a cheap, plentiful commodity, so they've got to be reviewed differently from first-run movies.


Because the buzz or box office hoo-ha that swirled when the flick hit the big screen has long since dissipated. Whatever hit quality, rampant word of mouth, or seamy controversy that accompanied it is stale. Yesterday's masterpiece or celluloid wreckage is now just a box on a shelf along with hundreds or thousands of other boxes.

So why should I rehash a plot you've already heard? Why describe a scene your friends already told you about at lunch? Why give a thumbs up or down to a movie whose worth you've already assessed without seeing it?

A video review has to examine a facet that's been overlooked, such as the similarities between "Outbreak" and military recruitment ads on TV, or the racial politics between Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington in "Crimson Tide." It draws new connections, such as what "Die Hard With a Vengeance" has in common with Japanese calligraphy, NFL instant replays, and "Surfin' Bird" by the Trashmen. Or it rescues a classic film from obscurity.

It's a post-modern world and we're all survivors picking our way through the piled-up ruins of pop culture, grabbing a shard here and a piece of flint there. Can a new spark be made with the detritus?

That's what I'm trying to do.

  • Beyond Rangoon
  • Bulletproof Heart
  • Crimson Tide
  • Crumb
  • Desperado
  • Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
  • Heavenly Creatures
  • Jade
  • Kids
  • Outbreak
  • Panther
  • Safe
  • Seven
  • Taxi Driver
  • The Brothers McMullin
  • The Madness of King George
  • The Secret of Roan Inish
  • To Die For
  • Village of the Damned
  • Waterworld

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