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DVD EXTRA: FEB 6, 2003

More movies out at your video store this week: Shannon J. Harvey flicks through the latest releases on DVD and VHS; Signs, The Importance of Being Earnest, Fearless, and Canít Stop The Music. (For fuller reviews of selected leading titles, please see our DVD menu.)

VHS and DVD rental, February 5, Buena Vista
Spook director M. Night Shyamalan made us see dead people in The Sixth Sense and believe sticks and stones couldn't break Bruce Willis's bones in Unbreakable. Now he turns to sci-fi in Signs, a quietly creepy thriller that builds in tension with every passing minute. Pennsylvanian farmer and former preacher Graham Hess (Mel Gibson) and his kids Morgan (Rory Culkin) and Bo (Abigail Breslin) discover a gigantic crop circle carved in their corn field. Hess and his brother Merrill (Joaquin Phoenix) think it's a prank, but when crop circles start popping up all over the world, and strange things start happening in their own backyard, they aren't so sure. Could it be an alien invasion? This intensely gripping, lounge-room style War of the Worlds pushes you right to the edge of your seat - trust Shyamalan to plant the seeds of doubt. This rental only DVD has no extra features in lieu of a mid year collector's edition, so if you can hold out till then, do so. It promises to include Shyamalan's rarely seen first short film.†

VHS and DVD rental, February 5, Buena Vista
Any remake of 1952's classic adaptation of Oscar Wilde's peerless play is bound to attract scepticism, especially in light of recent attempts (can you say Anne Heche in Psycho?). Yet Oliver Parker's take on Earnest is a pretty lively remake - bright, colourful, and still relatively faithful. Two bachelors, Algernon (Rupert Everett) and John (Colin Firth), use the alias Ernest while in the country to disguise their indiscretions in town. Their worlds collide while pursuing society women in the country, where hilarity and mistaken identity ensues. Reese Witherspoon makes a dishy Cecily, Frances O'Connor makes a goofy Gwendolyn, and the fellas scrub up alright too. But not even Judy Dench as the prickly Lady Bracknell can out match the original's performances. A valiant, witty attempt that takes no shine off the original, this classic comedy of Victorian manners comes with a full length commentary and a making-of documentary on DVD.


VHS and DVD rental, February 5, Warner Bros
Peter Weir's highly original 1993 drama just keeps on getting better Ė thank goodness it's now on DVD. Jeff Bridges plays San Francisco architect Max Klein, a man who not only survives a horrific plane crash but manages to save many lives on board. It's a life-changing experience, and Max starts to believe he's invincible, god-like, fearless. No one can understand his sudden transformation; his wife (Isabella Rossellini), his son, or his psychologist (John Turturro). But when Max befriends a fellow crash survivor (Rosie Perez) coming to terms with the loss of her baby, they begin to understand and conquer their own mortality and fears. There's some amazing revelations about the folly of human life in this engrossing, beautifully made film. Unfortunately, Warner Brothers fearlessly release it without extras.

DVD rental and retail, February 5, Universal.
Do the milkshake all over again as this god-awful feature film starring The Village People hits DVD. Made smack bang in 1980, it sees a construction worker, a cowboy, a policeman, a sailor, an army man and an Indian chief (very un-PC these days) disco-dance and sing their way from zeroes to heroes. Featuring all the corny hits like YMCA, In the Navy, Macho Man and, yes, You Can't Stop the Music, this wildly campy, cringe-inducing, utterly-hilarious-for-all-the-wrong-reasons melodrama will have the memories flooding back. Just ignore the bitter off-screen antics you've read about since. The DVD comes in disco-friendly DTS 5.1 and ES 6.1 sound and includes The Village People Story.

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The Importance of Being Earnest

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