VIDEOSCAN

A selection of new releases for sale or rental FRIED SHOES, COOKED DIAMONDS (1978. Directed by Costanzo Allione. Mystic Fire Video.) - A visit with veterans and hangers-on of the beat generation at the ``Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics'' at the Naropa Institute in Colorado. Allen Ginsberg's narration is heartfelt and nostalgic. Characters like Gregory Corso and Timothy Leary seem more eager to entertain the crowd than to say anything sensible, though, and even media stars like Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs fail to make much of an impression onscreen. If it had a rating, this documentary would earn an R for some foul language, drug references, and a sexually explicit poem read by Peter Orlovsky. HOLLYWOOD OR BUST (1956. Directed by Frank Tashlin. Paramount Home Video.) - Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis play likable losers who wangle themselves a shiny red convertible and leave New York for California, where they're sure their dreams will come true. Lest we forget how optimistic the 1950s were, this comical roadmovie offers Norman Rockwell depictions of each city, town, and landscape it comes across, and every one looks neat, contented, and inviting. Lest we forget how prurient the 1950s were, too, the screen practically crawls with ``bathing beauties'' and other exemplars of what used to be called cheesecake. The convertible is also fawned over with a panting enthusiasm that borders on lust. Director Tashlin serves up his usual feast of bright colors and eye-catching shots. But neither of the stars is in top form, and Martin sings too much, drenching every lyric in tremolo and trills. There's not much punch to the Pirandellian climax, either, which finds our heroes rampaging through the Paramount Pictures studio in search of Anita Ekberg, their idea of the ultimate screen idol. There's a great performance by a great dane called Mr. Bascom, though. THE PRESIDENT'S ANALYST (1967. Directed by Theodore J. Flicker. Paramount Home Video.) - James Coburn plays a gifted psychiatrist who takes the President as a patient. Immediately, he's surrounded by spies, caught in a war between the CIA and FBI, and hunted by agents of every government from the USSR to Canada, all eager to get his presidential secrets into their clutches. Director Flicker showed great promise as a social satirist during the 1960s, but failed to become a lasting presence on the movie scene. This dark comedy seems tame in some respects: Agencies like the CIA and FBI aren't mentioned by their real names, and the President himself stays safely offscreen. Flicker also dilutes his anti-establishment stance by indulging self-consciously hip mannerisms that plagued Hollywood 20 years ago, including syrupy pop songs that stop the action dead in its tracks. Still, the story builds a crazy momentum, and the second half is surprisingly bitter in its attacks on governmental and corporate skulduggery: Rival spies set off a chain-reaction murder scene, US agents gun for the hero with cold-blooded zeal, and there's an amazing conclusion about a corporate plot to transform all citizens into consumerist robots. Other assets include Coburn's fine acting and sharp performances by Godfrey Cambridge and Severn Darden, as American and Soviet agents who are also the best of friends. Their relationship, which triumphs over adversity, shows an abiding optimism at the base of Flicker's otherwise dour vision.

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