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VIDEOSCAN

December 7, 1987



A selection of new releases for sale or rental TRUE WEST (1983. Directed by Allan Goldstein. Academy Home Entertainment) - Sam Shepard wrote this violent comedy about two brothers, an aspiring writer and a hard-drinking petty crook, whose lives turn to chaos when they move into their mother's suburban house and try to write a screenplay together. The action is by turns hilarious and horrifying, and sometimes both at once. Ditto for the performances of Gary Sinese, who directed the stage production this video is based on, and John Malkovich, who positively sizzles with emotional energy. The language is sometimes as raw as the feelings. - David Sterritt TWO MOON JULY (1985. Directed by Ed Bowes. Pacific Arts Video) - This potpourri of experimental works is presented by the Kitchen, the New York arts center where it was taped. Most of the items are so short and fragmentary that they only hint at the talents of their composers, choreographers, performers, directors, etc. Some, such as an excerpt from Dara Birnbaum's video ``The Damnation of Faust: Evocation,'' also suffer from being squeezed into what's essentially an MTV-influenced pop context. It's still a treat, however, to encounter the brilliant rhythms of Bruce Conner's film ``America Is Waiting'' and the haunting ``ambient music'' of Brian Eno. Other participants include composers Philip Glass and David Byrne, dancers Molissa Fenley and Bill T. Jones, and video artists John Sanborn and Kit Fitzgerald.

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-D.S. AGAINST ALL FLAGS (1952. Directed by George Sherman. Kartes Video Communications) - Good guy Errol Flynn infiltrates Anthony Quinn's nest of pirates, and after some landlubbing romance, he ships out on buccaneer Maureen O'Hara's bark. There's a perilous amount of talk in this briny adventure yarn, but the sword fights are so phony that it's almost a relief to get back to the chatter. At least the stars have a fine time strutting their nautical duds, which would obviously sink if they got closer to the sea than MGM's wardrobe department. The performances are flat enough to suggest that nobody took the picture very seriously, but that can be part of the fun in vintage swashbucklers like this. -D.S. ORCHESTRAL TRIBUTE TO THE BEATLES (1987. Produced by John Clark, directed by Alan Birkinshaw. Sony Video) - A grandiose and unintentionally campy tribute to the Beatles, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Choral Society and soloists in live performance. Includes a few clips of the fab four (their first trip to the US, a bit of ``Hard Day's Night''), but most of the program consists of orchestral versions of Beatles tunes, conducted and arranged by Louis Clark. The ballads work OK, but the rest sounds impossibly stiff and proper. To cap it off, the host is ``Dynasty's'' own Joan Collins, who does a dewey-eyed spoken version of ``Imagine.'' -Amy Duncan PAUL MCCARTNEY SPECIAL (1987. Produced and directed by David G. Croft. Sony Video) - This look at Paul McCartney and his career is a winner. McCartney talks with candor and humor, revealing his feelings about the Beatles split-up, as well as details about his music-writing relationship with John Lennon (``We used to play at each other; it was like looking in a mirror''). The video moves from early Beatles McCartney to current McCartney, without a hitch. Concert segments give a good overview of his career since the Beatles split. -A.D.