VIDEOSCAN

A selection of new releases for sale or rental. THE DISORDERLY ORDERLY (1964. Directed by Frank Tashlin. Paramount Home Video) - Twitching and mugging as usual, Jerry Lewis plays a hospital helper who dreams of being a doctor. The wildly cartoonish style of director Tashlin prefigures more recent work by filmmakers like Bob Clark and, in a perverse way, even David Lynch. In this comedy he splashes the screen with color, energizes it with motion, and photographs a pratfall as if it were a balletic feat. Lewis, meanwhile, strikes a balance between stupidity and sentimentality, redeeming both with the sincerity of his urge to entertain. Except for some vigorous digs at health-care profiteering, there's little here to engage the mind. But there's plenty for the eye to enjoy. EXPERIMENTAL FILMS (1943-59. Directed by Maya Deren. Mystic Fire Video) - Deren was the greatest pioneer of American avant-garde film, combining a keen photographic sense with a dancer's eye for movement and a painter's eye for composition. This collection brings together her major works, beginning with her surrealist classic ``Meshes of the Afternoon'' and concluding with her cosmic dance film ``The Very Eye of Night,'' made with Anthony Tudor. ``A Study in Choreography for Camera'' and ``At Land'' are silent explorations of spatial relationships. Also present are ``Meditation on Violence,'' a transformation of Chinese boxing maneuvers into purely aesthetic gestures, and the noted ``Ritual in Transfigured Time,'' an ambitious essay in visual and narrative form. The cassette is subtitled ``Collected Films, Volume 1.'' A companion volume is also available by mail from Mystic Fire in New York. JOUR DE F^ETE (1948. Directed by Jacques Tati. Embassy Home Entertainment.) - In his first feature film, Tati plays a French provincial letter carrier who sees a movie about high-tech American mail delivery, and sets out to equal the Yankees on his wobbly bicycle. Some critics consider Tati a cinematic genius, others find him a pretentious bore. The truth lies in between, but one could find evidence for either position in this mild-mannered farce. The action is photographed in black and white with punctuations of color, a delicate effect that will be wiped out if this film is ever colorized. The subtitles are sometimes hard or impossible to read. SWEET CHARITY (1969. Directed by Bob Fosse. MCA Home Video) - One of Hollywood's last traditional musicals, starring Shirley MacLaine as a dance-hall hostess with the proverbial heart of gold. She wants to be loved and she almost is, first by an Italian movie star and then by a mild-mannered businessman. The bittersweet ending, by far the movie's best part, finds her still alone but buoyed by an ever-hopeful spirit. MacLaine is exuberant as the heroine and John McMartin is hilarious as a claustrophobe in a stuck elevator. Trying to update the old movie-musical format, director Fosse borrows heavily from European cinema styles in vogue at the time: He freezes frames, slows motion, runs film backward, and works up quite a sweat ``interrupting the narrative flow.'' The self-conscious result shows why audience-minded Hollywood quickly abandoned this sort of thing, especially in big-budget productions. Adding to the film's own distractions, the video version veers crazily between the rectangular theater-screen shape and square TV-tube proportions.

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