CD-ROM for Mac
Microsoft Home This private class with wine expert Oz Clarke is more like a lecture since you can't ask him questions. You can, however, appreciate his quaint British accent as he swirls, sniffs, and sips his way through 6,000 individual wines without so much as a slur. The wine guide essential for beginners now comes on a CD, complete with an atlas of the great wine-producing regions, a tasting tour, and the Wine Selector which, after you learn a few things, helps you set your own criteria for making vintage choices. Just remember around the keyboard to pop the cork with care.
-- Jen Scoville
Eastern Mind: The Lost Souls of Tong-Nou
CD-ROM for Windows
Sony Imagesoft Fundamentally a click-where-you-want-to-go-style puzzle/adventure game, Eastern Mind stands out for its unusual art and music. The story concerns the journey of Rin, whose soul has been stolen by the island of Tong-Nou. The bizarre characters Rin meets (and becomes) during his travels are perhaps the best part of this game; but unfortunately, much of the animation is marred by a dependence on processor speed, giving it a frenzied, hyperkinetic quality. Ultimately, the inspired creative material fails to compensate for the mediocre gameplay. -- Michael Uhlik
D. Rachel Talalay; with Lori Petty, Naomi Watts, Malcolm McDowell, Ice-T.
VHS Home Video Set in a future that's running out of fresh water, but refreshingly lacking in
Kevin Costner, Tank Girl breaks no new plot ground: Road
Warrior-ish renegades fight a monolithic evildoer (Malcolm McDowell, who
else) for precious liquids and the right to be weird. What's new and different
is that a major motion
picture displays some clue about the construction of a contemporary heroine: Tank Girl (Petty) is only vaguely altruistic, rarely gets rescued, and is full of understated, ball-busting wit. Add to that an incipient bisexuality and a passion for large weaponry, and you've got the makings of a truefine fantasy figure. Equally inspired is Ice-T's deadpan delivery of patented, gangsta-tough speeches in ridiculous, mutant kangaroo costume. Tank Girl fans disappointed to find the comic's scrappy lil' butch has been turned into a fine-featured femme will discover that it still translates as an intelligent, tongue-in-cheek castration cartoon. -- Cindy Widner
Indiana Jones and
the Fate of Atlantis
CD-ROM for Windows
LucasArts Indy is on another adventure, searching for the supernatural this time with action, mystery, and that famous wit and charm. You control our hero's quest to stop the Nazis from gaining the secret to the mysterious powers entombed in Atlantis. There is fighting, quick-witted conversation, and a female sidekick. Fans will love the fine touches, which include the bull-whip and the red line guiding Indy's world travels. With several puzzles ranging in difficulty, the entertainment value goes a long way. -- Nisa Sharma
D: Michael Mann; with James Caan, Tuesday Weld, Willie Nelson, James Belushi, Robert Prosky.
Laserdisc Thanks to the current success ofHeat, the folks at Warner Home Video have finally released this long-delayed laserdisc of Michael Mann's first theatrical feature, Thief. This intense tale of a professional thief seeking a better life still holds up marvelously today, thanks to its amazing sense of authenticity and a raw performance from James Caan that easily ranks among the star's best work. Unfortunately, even though Thief looks and sounds better than it ever did on videotape, the rest of the disc is somewhat problematic. Both the commentary track and supplemental section prove disappointing. Certainly, any letterboxed laserdisc of the film is better than none, but a film this good deserves better.
-- Joey O'Bryan
Sister My Sister
D: Nancy Meckler; with Julie Walters, Joely Richardson, Jodhi May, Sophie Thursfield.
VHS Home Video Soft porn meets Masterpiece Theatre in this surface rendition of the true story of two sisters' incestuous love affair that leads to murder. Hoping for a rich film akin to Heavenly Creatures, I should have been forewarned when it was placed next to Playboy's Sisters. Aside from the rounded performance of Britain's Walters as the uptight Madame Danzald, performances fall short as Richardson and May (sisters) overdramatize with bursts of anger, tears, and breathy dialogue. The overall style of film -- work, set, and costumes -- has sophistication and polish, but the sketchy script omits psychological insight and factual explanations surrounding the tragedy. One dewy love scene after another ensues, ending with a Lizzie Borden-style homicide.
-- Stephany Baskin