VIDEOSCAN

A selection of new releases for sale or rental GA^IT'E PARISIENNE (1954. Directed by Victor Jessen. Video Artists International) - Talk about balletomania. For about 10 years, Jessen followed the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo from one performance to another, sneakily filming their performances of Massine's ``Ga^it'e Parisienne'' with a camera that could shoot for only 30 seconds at a time. Then he stitched his best shots together, editing them to his own recording (similarly obtained) of Offenbach's score. The result is a treasure for dance aficionados, capturing fine performances by Alexandra Danilova, Frederic Franklin, and Leon Danielian. It's also a treat for movie lovers: a genuine curio with an old-fashioned, black-and-white charm that's unlike anything else around.

- David Sterritt AUSTRALIA (Written, narrated, and produced by Robert Raymond; Sony Video) - The three ``Australia'' tapes offer view of three distinct facets of the continent: its animals, its birds, and its Aboriginal peoples. All three are highly detailed and thorough in the treatment of their subjects. Robert Raymond's narration is informative and respectful, not dull or pedantic. ``The Survivors'' focuses on Australia's unusual animal life - primarily the duck-billed platypus - including much information and footage taken in the wild, about the animals' habits. Although the program is generally sympathetic toward wildlife, there is one distressing scene in which a researcher talks endlessly while he holds a squirming and obviously uncomfortable platypus by the tail. ``The Land of Birds'' explores lyre birds, egrets, pelicans, spoonbills, parrots, the laughing kookaburra with its sophisticated social system, and the intriguing bower birds, which build and decorate little hidey holes in the bush (separate from their ``real'' nests), seemingly just for their own aesthetic pleasure. ``Return to the Land of Dreams'' traces the fascinating odyssey of an Aboriginal artist who returns, after more than 30 years, to the land of his ancestors, where he locates their paintings on the walls of caves. - Amy Duncan TALKING HEADS - STORYTELLING GIANT (Directed by David Byrne; produced by Alan Kleinberg; Warner Reprise Video) - More than just a series of Talking Heads videos, the Storytelling Giant reflects the quirky hometown feeling of lead singer David Byrne's film ``True Stories,'' as well as Byrne's extraordinary visual and musical abilities. All 10 of the Heads' videos from the past decade are deftly linked together by candid comments from regular folks, ranging from a tale about a street bum ripping up some dollar bills given to him by a sympathetic bystander to a genuinely touching look at elderly man reminiscing about his late wife. Among the songs included are ``Wild Wild Life,'' ``Once in a Lifetime,'' ``Burning Down the House,'' ``Cross-Eyed and Painless,'' and the Talking Heads' deliciously chocolatey takeoff on TV advertisements, ``Love for Sale.'' - A.D. THE OUTER LIMITS: THE MAN WHO WAS NEVER BORN (1963. Directed by Leonard Horn. MGM/UA Home Video) - Fantasy writer Stephen King called ``The Outer Limits'' the best show of its kind ever to hit the TV networks, and this episode makes a respectable case for that opinion. The hero is an awful-looking mutant who travels back in time, hoping to kill an evil scientist who's destined to invent a pestilence that will practically destroy the world. Anthony Lawrence's script has lots of corny moments, and some of the acting is pretty bad. The story has a goofy but unmistakable sense of conviction, though, and the lead performances (by Martin Landau and Shirley Knight) seem thoroughly sincere. Add a reverse-twist surprise ending, and you have a heady example of science fiction in its tentatively adventurous early-'60s phase.

- D.S.

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