Pride and Prejudice

D: Simon Langton; with Colin Firth, Jennifer Ehle, Alison Steadman, Benjamin Withrow, Crispin Bonham Carter.
VHS Home Video
Vulcan Video, 609 W. 29th St.

Anglophile? Me too. The more corsetted, tea-sipping, class-conscious Brits I absorb, the more pacified I become. Well, this six-part series co-produced for television by the BBC and A&E was enough to melt me into a drooling couch crumpet. Jane Austen's story, set in the early 19th century, of five upwardly mobile sisters bucking to marry rich is a high school reading-list classic. Fortunately, this production preserves the wit that is ever-so-delicately woven through the novel, so it's not too dry and reserved. It's on film stock, too, so it's not like watching TV. Trust me, you'll feel much more cultured when it's all over. -- Kayte VanScoy


Persuasion

D: Roger Michell; with Amanda Root, Ciuran Hinds.
VHS Home Video
Vulcan Video, 609 W. 29th St.

Here's another in 1995's parade of parlor-surfing Jane Austen screen revivals, but this one is slightly darker, more brooding than the others. Ann is a plain, kind, and reasonable girl born into a family of snobs and dandies. She finds herself unwed and in her late 20s, having lost both the true love and the glow of her youth. As in any Austen tale, the theme centers on finding a wise match for an overlooked woman of excellent character. Sorry, no suspense about whether it will all come out happy, but there sure are a lot of great dresses and furniture.

-- Kayte VanScoy


Resident Evil

For Sony PlayStation
Capcom Entertainment

Horror, blood, and death in Raccoon City. Full-motion video at 11pm. Capcom's spectacular Resident Evil challenges players to find their way through a deadly mansion filled with zombies, demonic dogs (and do they make an entrance), giant snakes, and much worse. Resident Evil's 3-D graphics are exceptional and the adventure itself is long and demanding, requiring both problem-solving and a fast trigger finger. Caveats include the somewhat clunky play mechanics and leaden character dialogue. The mission itself can be undertaken as one of two characters who possess slightly different abilities, but the level of challenge and excitement is high either way. One of the best PlayStation games of the year.

-- Bud Simons


Who Built America

CD-ROM for Mac or PC
Voyager

Drawing on a great deal of good intentions and intellectual firepower, Who Built America is the electronic version of the two-volume text of the same name which attempts to give proper credit to the various ethnic groups, labor unions, and just plain folks who transformed America during the period between 1876 and 1914 -- the centennial of the Declaration of Independence to the outbreak of World War I. The HyperCard interface is as clunky as the box (no jewel case) in which the disc is packaged, and there's no index (arrgh!). Yet some of the interactive highlights, including four hours of audio (some of this being oral histories, and some music), hundreds of high-resolution pictures, a time line, and 45 minutes of film (including the earliest known films of New York and Boston) are good enough that they might point the way to a brighter future for exploring history and knowledge through multimedia.

-- Jesse Sublett


Thunderheart

D: Michael Apted; with Val Kilmer, Sam Shepard, Graham Greene, Fred Ward, John Trudell.
VHS Home Video

Dances With Wolves meets Like Water for Chocolate in the South Dakota badlands, in which Native American magical realism coats this variation of the Leonard Peltier story: Reservation dweller is framed by the FBI to cover up Uncle Sam's mess. Kilmer is the unbelieving token Tonto Fed who begins having visions of his Sioux ancestry while senior bureau man and partner Shepard tries to pin the murder on a shape-shifting, mohawked (how subtle) tribal guy. Funny that Kilmer followed up his role as the Doors' shaman Jim Morrison by playing a Sioux, though Kilmer's paleface is no match for either the typecast Greene as a reservation flat-foot or Chief Ted Tin Elk as the ancient tribal elder in this moody, yet capable whodunit.

-- Raoul Hernandez

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