Scanlines

The City of Lost Children

D: Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro; with Ron Perlman, Daniel Emilfork, Judith Vettet, Dominique Pinon, Jean-Claude Dreyfus, Genevieve Brunet, Odile Mallet, Mireille Mosse, Joseph Lucien.
VHS Home Video
Waterloo Video, 1016 W. Sixth

From the makers of the quirkily convoluted French film Delicatessen comes this dark fairy tale which, like its predecessor, is also somewhat taken with the concept of cause and effect. One, a soft-spoken midway strongman (Perlman) teams up with the leader of a band of orphans after his petit frere is abducted from the dinner table by the henchmen of an evil scientist who kidnaps children so he can make their dreams his own. Better suited for the big screen, the best thing about The City of Lost Children is the way the film looks and sounds, a melange of quality components -- outrageously industrial costumes by Jean-Paul Gaultier, score by Angelo Badalamenti with vocal tracks by Marianne Faithfull, and cinematography by Darius Khondji, whose credits include Seven and, most recently, Bertolucci's picturesque Stealing Beauty -- which outshine the story line completely. Still, the timeless, placeless quality of the set, grand special effects, and bizarre characters, who could each hold their own in a circus sideshow, make this a worthwhile video viewing experience, nonetheless. -- Jen Scoville


Bob Marley Soul Almighty; The
Formative Years Vol. 1

CD-ROM for Mac* and Windows
JAD Records

Last year, after nearly three decades of relative silence, Danny Sims finally started collecting on an investment he made in 1967: Bob Marley. In the liner notes of the Soul Almighty CD, Sims stated, "I've got 49 songs that nobody's ever heard yet. We're going to keep putting them out until that treasure trove is exhausted. We have contracts for CD-ROM and CD-Plus projects..." Milk it, baby, milk it. After all, the CD was only half vile. The CD-ROM is mostly vile, even if it does excerpt nine of the best songs from the CD. Still, the CD-ROM has little to do with Marley. Instead, there's a Rasta glossary with no mention of kaya, the temple of Haile "Selassie in the Chapel" (sung to the tune of "Crying in the..."), and instructions on how you, too, can get the brand-new Marley trading cards. They're collectable! Somebodychase those crazy baldheads outta the yard.

-- Raoul Hernandez


Reds

D: Warren Beatty; with Beatty, Diane Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Maureen Stapleton, Gene Hackman, Jerzy Kosinski, Paul Sorvino.
VHS Home Video

Somehow, watching Warren Beatty's Academy Award-winning epic about American journalist Jack Reed (Beatty) feels luxurious and decadent during these steamy summer days. Perhaps it's because most of the film takes place in the bleak winter landscapes of the United States and the former Soviet Union, resulting in lavish winter wardrobes and plenty of fur. A dramatic chronicle of Reed's involvement in the Russian Revolution and the equally tumultuous relationship he shared with Louise Bryant (Keaton) during the second decade of this century, Reds is part love story and part (romanticized) history lesson. Jack Nicholson appears as the playwright Eugene O'Neill, and Maureen Stapleton pulls no punches as the feminist and anarchist Emma Goldman. As much about the trajectory of Reed's involvement with the Communist party and the American labor movement as about Reed and Bryant, Reds explores, ultimately, on a number of levels, the theme of commitment.

--Alison Macor


S.F.P.D. Homicide -- Case File: The Body in the Bay

CD-Rom for Windows* and Mac
Grolier Electronic Publishing

It's Monday morning and a fisherman at Pier 91 just reeled in a 150-pound, 50 year-old Caucasian male tied to 60 pounds of concrete. You have 10 days to discover who took his last swim in the bay and prove who put him there, assisted by two CDs of multiple database searches, witness interviews, lab reports, and phone messages. A clean interface neatly organizes your data into Autopsy, Physical, Document, and Witness Interview files within your detective casebook. Despite being filmed exclusively in close-ups, the acting is good enough to make up for lip-syncing that's off by a third of a second, but not to overcome one or two seconds of upfront "rolling" time that should have been trimmed from many clips. The interface also has two glaring weaknesses: You cannot Interview witnesses (or suspects) about non-Interview forms of evidence; for example, I couldn't ask Dave, the hot-tempered husband of the adulterous lover of the deceased, to explain how his fingerprints got in the victim's apartment. And, inexcusably, you cannot save a game midway. Meanwhile, this isn't bad for a first entry in the crime genre. It was a real case, and the real detective who cracked it is available onscreen for (admittedly wooden) Help interludes -- better than watching ex-LAPD police chief Daryl Gates any day. -- Jim Cooper

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