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ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS - The adventures of Edina, a riotously undisciplined wheeler-dealer who might achieve fame and fortune in some fashionable business if she weren't such a self-centered hedonist. Jennifer Saunders brings great energy to the sitcom, as both writer and star. In all, though, the series is no more attractive than the deliberately dubious characters who fill the screen. The cassette labeled Series 1/Part 1 contains the BBC program's first three episodes. (Not rated; Fox/BBC Video)

THE OLD DARK HOUSE - No sooner did the horror-movie genre become a staple of sound-film entertainment than it began to parody itself, most notably in superbly crafted pictures directed by James Whale, who numbered "Frankenstein" and "The Invisible Man" among his credits. This mock-serious melodrama stars Charles Laughton, Melvyn Douglas, and Raymond Massey as travelers taking refuge in a spooky mansion inhabited by Ernest Thesiger as a weirded-out aristocrat and the inimitable Boris Karloff as his utterly addled servant. Great fun, produced by Universal in 1932. (Not rated; Kino Video)

RECORD OF A TENEMENT GENTLEMEN -

Behind that irrelevant title stands a true and touching masterpiece, made in 1947 by Yasujiro Ozu, perhaps the most brilliant director in Japanese cinema. The main characters are a little boy separated from his family and a crusty, cantankerous woman who reluctantly agrees to take him in. This cassette has been made from a print of regrettably poor quality, but the filmmaking is so astonishingly rich that occasional scratches and blotches don't matter a bit. Ozu's use of architecture and music is inspired, the acting is extraordinarily expressive - the great Chishu Ryu plays a small but important role - and every minute of the story is anchored in a profound sense of humanity and compassion. Few other screen artists could transform a scene of paper scraps blowing in the wind into a tone poem of loss and longing. The movie is sweet, sentimental, sublime. (Not rated; New York Video)

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