A selection of new releases for sale or rental AILEY DANCES, STARRING THE ALVIN AILEY AMERICAN DANCE THEATER (Choreography by Alvin Ailey. Produced by James Lipton. Kultur International Films.) - Sometimes the camera is a good partner to the premier American jazz dance company; sometimes, however, it's flat-flooted. In ``Night Creatures,'' set to Duke Ellington's music, the camera sneaks up on the dancers so they suddenly surge at you, slinking upstage with hands cocked. But when it backs up to show the riotous congregation of ``Revelations,'' the figures are tiny. Close-ups of Donna Wood show dancers around her fanning each other's feet. That heat doesn't come across on the screen. And the video should have had a program. Dancers are listed, not credited for specific roles.Skip to next paragraph
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-MaggieLewis BLUEBEARD (1963. Directed by Claude Chabrol. Embassy Home Entertainment.) - The humor is dark and dour in this absurdist version of the Landru legend, about a man who seduces and kills a number of well-to-do women for his own and his family's gain. The screenplay, by Fran,coise Sagan, conflates Landru's violence with a world-war background, as Charles Chaplin did in ``Monsieur Verdoux,'' his own tragicomedy on the Bluebeard theme. Decked out with a bushy beard beneath a bald pate, star Charles Denner much resembles the late, great Charles Ludlam in the title role. The large cast also includes Danielle Darrieux and Stephane Audran, director Chabrol's real-life wife. Although Chabrol has long appeared to be the least exciting of France's influential ``new wave'' filmmakers, his style here is elegant and imaginative until the last few scenes, when his inventiveness falters. ``Landru'' was the original French title. This cassette is dubbed into English, with the usual dreary results. -DavidSterritt DIVINE HORSEMEN: THE LIVING GODS OF HAITI (1947-51. Directed by Maya Deren. Mystic Fire Video.) - In addition to her pioneering experimental-film work, Deren shot hours of documentary footage in Haiti. This movie, edited by Teiji and Cherel Ito after Deren's death, focuses on the Voudoun religious cult. It includes a few graphic shots of animal sacrifices, in addition to many dancing scenes and lengthy explanations of beliefs and practices. The result is not as hard hitting or revealing as Jean Rouch's searing ethnological film ``Les Ma^itres fous,'' which touches on similar matter in an African context. But it casts light on Deren's fascination with ritual and rhythm, two staples of her more celebrated avant-garde works. This cassette is labeled ``Collected Films, Volume 2.'' A companion cassette, ``Experimental Films,'' is also available from Mystic Fire in New York. -D.S. MIDNIGHT LACE (1960. Directed by David Miller. MCA Home Video.) - Doris Day plays an American in London who gets threatening phone calls from a mysterious foe. The story is littered with suspects: her new husband, his edgy business partner, the maid's pushy son, and a local construction worker, to name a few. This thriller was overpraised in the '60s and it still looks hokey. The acting ranges from wooden to petrified: Day and Rex Harrison are at their least convincing, and John Gavin sounds like his voice was dubbed by someone barely more British than himself. Roddy McDowell and Myrna Loy do sturdy work in small roles, though, and wardrobe-watchers will enjoy the nifty outfits draped on Day in scene after scene. -D.S.