Double Happiness

D: Mina Shum; with Sandra Oh, Frances You, Stephen M.D. Chang, Alannah Ong, Callum Rennie, Donald Fong.
VHS Home Video
Vulcan Video, 609 W. 29th St.

Writer-director Mina Shum makes terrific use of comedic actress Sandra Oh as Jade, the oldest daughter in a traditional Chinese family transplanted to the United States in Double Happiness. Family problems often transcend cultures, and this holds true in Shum's film. Jade's career and independence create poignant and often humorous conflicts -- when Jade's attraction to the appealingly goofy (and definitely not Chinese) Mark (Rennie) does not meet with her parents' approval, she must decide for herself how to answer the question, "How do you please those you love and please yourself?" -- Alison Macor

Honeysuckle Rose

D: Jerry Schatzberg; with Willie Nelson, Amy Irving, Slim Pickens, Dyan Cannon, Mickey Rooney, Jr., Priscilla Pointer.
VHS Home Video

Forget about a plot -- this story of a Texas musician torn between his family and the lure of life on the road is just too hackneyed to rehash. Nelson plays Buck Bonham, legend and road addict, with Dyan Cannon as his former duet partner/wife, and Amy Irving as the nubile daughter of Bonham's retiring stage partner/best friend. Wooden dialogue, a dated look, and even stiffer performances from nearly everyone make this film almost forgettable. Almost. What Honeysuckle Rose lacks in cinematic terms it makes by featuring some of the most luminous musical performances to ever hit the screen. For that, the credit goes to director Schatzberg as well as Willie Nelson himself, for note-perfect authenticity on "Whiskey River," "Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground," "You Show Me Yours," and a stunning duet between Nelson and screen wife Cannon on "Loving You Was Easier." Try this one on a home double bill with Songwriter. -- Margaret Moser



D begins in a hospital on the edge of downtown Los Angeles in the year 1997. The protagonist is Laura Harris, a student from San Francisco, who rushes to L.A. to try to solve the mystery of what caused her mild-mannered father to go on a killing spree. D has a two-hour time limit and no "save" feature, so it's not good to start if you don't have a block of time to invest. The graphics are more cartoony than realistic, and the characters' movements a little choppy, but D does have an intriguing story line. Both dreams and cryptic poetry take you outside the story, while their careful analysis provides clues to the mystery. -- Paul Laster

The Show

D: Brian Robbins; with Russell Simmons, Craig Mac, Dr. Dre, Naughty by Nature, Run DMC, Snoop Doggy Dog, The Notorious B.I.G., Warren G, The Wu-Tang Clan, Afrika Bambaattaa, Whodini, Kurtis Blow, Furious Five, Kid Capri, Slick Rick, Soulsonic Force.
VHS Home Video
Waterloo Video, 1016 W. Sixth St.

This documentary starts and ends at Riker Island, where old-school rapper Slick Rick is serving time on an attempted murder charge. Prison has cooled his jets considerably, and although this film isn't heavy on the moralizing, it does have a message about the way rap has been transformed by gangsta groups whose roots actually do come as much from a neighborhood social system as the music with which they grew up. Though the film suffers greatly from an unfocused telling (commentary by Def Jam Records' Russell Simmons is the only real, though loosely wound, thread), The Show is full of interviews with both the youngsters and the grandfathers of the genre; an invaluable history lesson and for me, an update. Curiously, The Show received a very limited release during its initial theatrical run. In fact, here in Austin, the movie opened at two second-run movie houses where it played for one week only. This video release presents the first solid opportunity to view The Show locally.

-- Jen Scoville

Torin's Passage


You are Torin, embarking on an adventure with sidekick Boogle to find your parents through the planet Strata's five nested worlds. This adventure game reminds me of my junior-high fantasy book stage (of course, the kids are probably more advanced now). The game was a little slow and I got bored waiting for the next scene, especially when I had to retrace my steps, but the graphics are cool, and there is a hint bar if you get stuck. -- Nisa Sharma

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