A weekly update of video releases

* SCENE OF THE CRIME - In a sleepy French town, a discontented woman and her 13-year-old son become involved with a criminal who has killed his dangerously volatile partner. Catherine Deneuve is her usual appealing self, supported by such able performers as Danielle Darrieux and Victor Lanoux, and director Andre Techine captures the French countryside in all its colorful variety. The story itself is somewhat chilly and passionless, however, keeping such a critical distance from the characters that its emotional impact never reaches a very high pitch. (Not rated, Kino Video)

* BEWARE OF A HOLY WHORE - The title warns against substituting art for direct experience of life. The plot centers on a movie production that's stalled because the producer has run out of money, leaving the cast and crew with nothing to do but hang around their hotel and quarrel, fall in and out love, and generally drive one another crazy. This slowly paced, relentlessly ironic drama may drive its audience a bit crazy, too, but admirers of serious cinema will enjoy the impeccable visual style of West German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder, who directed it in 1971. (Not rated, Fox Lorber/Orion Home Video)

* THE WATER ENGINE - Written for television by the remarkable David Mamet and based on his 1976 play, this acerbic yet entertaining drama focuses on a shy Chicago inventor. He's concocted a machine that runs on water - the ticket to a comfortable new life during the Depression, if only he can defeat the evil capitalists who want to steal his idea. The promotion for this video calls the story ''suspenseful and paranoid,'' and while that may not sound altogether inviting, it's reasonably accurate. Adding to the movie's human interest are strong performances by William H. Macy as the inventor, Joe Mantegna as a corrupt attorney, Treat Williams as a crusading reporter, and Charles Durning as a friendly tour guide at a science museum. (Not rated, Turner Home Entertainment)

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