Scanlines

The Kingdom

D: Lars von Trier;
with Ernst Hugo Jaregard, Ghita Norby, Kirsten Rolffes, Holger Juul Hansen, Peter Mygind, Baard Owe, Soren Pilmark, Birgitte Raabjerg.

VHS Home Video
Waterloo Video, 1016 W. Sixth


The Kingdom
Seeing Lars von Trier's haunting Breaking the Waves over the holidays made me curious about this Danish director's earlier film The Kingdom. Its four-hour running time had scared me off when it was released theatrically on these shores, but it played originally as a television miniseries, a format which breaks the film down into four one-hour-long segments that prove to be ideal video viewing. Also, The Kingdom's hand-held camerawork and intimate framing techniques make it seem better suited to the small screen. The Kingdom is the name of a hospital complex, a hospital that is suffering -- in the spiritual sense -- from sick building disease. Like Breaking the Waves, The Kingdom is structured as a battle between Good and Evil, but whereas Waves found some kind of reconciliation between the forces, Kingdom is all about the war -- a subject I find infinitely more interesting and dramatic. With its internecine dramas and intrigues, the movie is perfect for anyone weaned on episodic doctor shows. Yet I suspect it will also appeal to the same kind of sinister transcendentalism that shows like The X-Files tap into. Breaking the Waves is a movie I like very much, but it now seems but a speck of sand on the shores of The Kingdom.

-- Marjorie Baumgarten


NCAA Championship Basketball

PC CD-ROM
GTE Entertainment


NCAA Championship Basketball
If you're looking for arcade-style basketball, NCAA Championship Basketball is a good purchase. The action is fast and challenging, the gameplay robust and interesting. But as a realistic college basketball simulation it falls a little short. Since the NCAA doesn't allow its players' names to be used for promotional purposes, the player names in the game are all made up. And the roster only has 64 college teams on it, which means some of your favorites may be missing. Furthermore, due to the limited number of colleges, each team's schedule looks nothing like it does during an actual season. Still, one of the best aspects of NCAA Basketball is that you can play over many seasons, recruiting new high school players before each begins. In this way you can build a powerhouse team and stay dominant over many years. -- Kurt Dillard


Beautiful Girls

D: Ted Demme; with Matt Dillon, Annabeth Gish, Lauren Holly, Timothy Hutton, Rosie O'Donnell, Martha Plimpton, Natalie Portman, Michael Rapaport, Mira Sorvino, Uma Thurman.
VHS Home Video


Beautiful Girls
Before Rosie O'Donnell had her own talk show and became a Big Star, she turned in the most entertaining 10 minutes of her on-screen career in Beautiful Girls, one of the best date movies of 1996. Penned by Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead scribe Scott Rosenberg, the film is a rich study of some 17 characters who come together during a 10-year high school reunion in blue-collar, small-town Massachusetts. The ubiquitous girls in question seem to be on the minds of all the guys in the picture (Hutton, Rapaport, and Dillon), and there's nothing but trouble in store for any of them. Hauntingly realistic in its portrayal of the relationship traumas we bring upon ourselves, Beautiful Girls works well as a romance while avoiding the mush and stiltedness of the typical twentysomething date flick. Of special note are Hutton in an earnest comeback role for his flailing career (remember The Temp ?), and Portman as a 13-year-old "heartbreaker-in-training," really showing her dramatic range and potential as a future star. -- Christopher Null


Z

PC CD-ROM
Virgin Interactive/The Bitmap Brothers

Z is yet another real-time strategy game trying to cash in on the popularity of Warcraft II and Command & Conquer. While the game borrows many of the better ideas from those two immensely popular titles, it also strikes out on its own with some original features. In battle you control small groups of robots and robot-controlled vehicles, trying to take control of as many territories on the map as quickly as possible. Each mission opens and closes with a farcical scene between Commander Zoc and his beer-guzzling grunts. It won't be remembered as a ground-breaking classic, but if you're looking for an alternative and fairly entertaining diversion then Z is worth a glance. -- Kurt Dillard

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