Little Odessa

D:James Gray; with Tim Roth, Edward Furlong, Vanessa Redgrave, Maximilian Schell, Moira Kelly.

VHS Home Video

Live Entertainment Set in the Russian émigré community of Brighton Beach, Little Odessa tells the story of a prodigal hit man, Joshua Shapira (Roth), whose mother (Redgrave) is dying of a brain tumor and brother (Furlong) skips school to get high. Previously estranged from his family because of ties with the Russian mob, Joshua finds it especially hard to get along with his father (Schell), whom he forces into a humiliating mid-winter de-pantsing and nearly kills. First-time director James Gray excels behind the lens, providing a fascinating but desperate look at the small-time crime scene within a tightly bound culture.

-- Taylor Holland


D: Kevin Smith; with Brian O'Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Marilyn Ghigliotti, Lisa Spoonauer, Jason Mewes.


Miramax Home Entertainment While Kevin Smith's commentary track on this special edition laserdisc of his own Clerks doesn't provide as eye-opening a view of no-budget filmmaking as Robert Rodriguez did on the disc for El Mariachi, it does serve as an entertaining enough accompaniment to an already fun, if flawed, movie. Smith, along with several of his Clerks cronies (including a deliriously drunk, passed out Jay Bob), may be amusing, but it's the gallery of deleted scenes following the movie that really make this disc worth looking at -- including a very different ending that you'll have to see to believe. -- Joey O'Bryan

Blue Sky

D:Tony Richardson; with Jessica Lange, Tommy Lee Jones, Powers Boothe, Chris O'Donnell, Carrie Snodgress.

VHS Home Video

Orion Take one tolerant, quirky, and loving husband who hunts military isotopes and searches for integrity in an army that has none. Add one sultry, seductive, and manic-depressive wife who uses Monroesque techniques and Blanche DuBois deportment to get the attention she craves from sources better left alone. Toss in children to reflect and deflect parental conflict, an arrogant major to serve as a foil, and nuclear testing to illustrate government irresponsibility. Mix well and place in a 1960s army base and out comes a lesson about love, sacrifice, and essential character enhanced by Jessica Lange's Oscar-winning performance. -- Sarah Hamlin

Bob Dylan: Highway 61 Interactive

CD-ROM for Windows or Mac*

Graphix Zone Indexed as a mosaic of artifacts and memorabilia, Highway 61 Interactive is a nutty warehouse of Zimmermania. Peruse the archive of songs and albums, snoop the Columbia recording studio of the 1960s, or take a three-dimensional stroll through a surreal version of Greenwich Village where plates and jukeboxes magically come to life as visages of Bob. After you've cleaned your plate, accept the free tickets to an interactive Dylan club gig or hear an electrified version of "House of the Rising Sun" when you play the CD on your old-fashioned audio player. -- Taylor Holland

Legend of Dolomite

D: Foster Corder;
with Rudy Ray Moore, Lady Reed, Ice-T, Eddie Griffin,
Mike D, Paul Mooney, Easy E.

VHS Home Video

Xenon Entertainment Group Although comedian Rudy Ray Moore's outrageous brand of blue humor is certainly not for everyone, his fans won't want to miss this hilarious documentary which chronicles the rhymin' comedy king's rise to stardom. Little else is explored in The Legend of Dolomite -- this is simply a celebration of Moore and his work. Described by Ice-T as "the king of exploitation," Moore is portrayed here as the baddest, funkiest, and most original comic around, and there's little doubt his act influenced greats like Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy, as well as plenty of contemporary rap musicians. -- Joey O'Bryan

Exotic Pets

CD-ROM for Windows

Inroads Interactive Although the content of this CD is interesting, its low-tech presentation prevents an enjoyable interactive experience. Inhibitingly linear, the navigation has no "go back" buttons and no web of related pieces. Pick-a-Pet criteria match exotic pets (bugs, rodents, equines, fish) to your needs, and each pet panel shows a picture of and information about the pet. Non-intuitive icons access a full-screen picture, the movie, a graph of pet facts, etc. The video clips are jerky and slow. Although the big, black scorpion and the tarantula crawling around a guy's arm were neat, the pet rock getting licked by the dog was not. -- Sarah Hamlin

In reviews of CD-ROMs available in both Windows and Mac formats, an asterisk (*) indicates the format reviewed.

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