Running Brave

D: D.S. Everett; with Robbie Benson, Pat Hingle, Claudia Cron, Graham Greene.
VHS Home Video
I Luv Video, 4631 Airport

With Prefontaine renewing interest in distance running -- well, sort of -- the early-Eighties biopic of Olympic champion Billy Mills, Running Brave, deserves revisiting, if for no other reason than its superiority to the newer film. Unlike the biopic of Steve Prefontaine -- the story of which amounted to little more than "runner gets famous and, tragically, dies young" -- Running Brave has some real conflict, with the half-Sioux, half-white Mills (Benson) leaving the impoverished reservation and confronting the prejudiced, lily-white world of the University of Kansas, while having to deal with an over-demanding coach (Hingle) who wants to win at all costs. The race scenes are also superior to Prefontaine, and include an amazingly accurate recreation of Mills' stunning last lap in the 1964 Olympic 10,000 meter race (but with one laughably huge flaw -- a football field is clearly visible on the infield, something which one isn't likely to find in Tokyo!). This movie is very, very far from being a classic, but it's still a decent story, and one of the brighter spots in Benson's weak career. -- Lee Nichols

Love in the Afternoon

D: Billy Wilder; with Gary Cooper, Audrey Hepburn, Maurice Chevalier, John McGiver.
VHS Home Video

In a recent Rolling Stone, Cameron Crowe's film diary reveals that Jerry Maguire was the former music scribe's tribute to Billy Wilder and the famed director's favorite accomplishment, The Apartment; in fact, the role of Maguire's mentor was written for Wilder. Interesting, then, to discover that Wilder's 1957 classic, Love in the Afternoon, was an ode to his favorite director, Ernst Lubitsch. As with other Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond scripts, this one sparkles with wit and warmth while telling the story of a sheltered cellist (Hepburn), who lives vicariously through the files of her father (Chevalier) -- a private eye -- until she falls in love with one of his most notorious cases, rogue bachelor Frank Flannagan (Cooper). Forget that Cooper is miscast in a role he'd done for Lubitsch in Bluebeard's Eighth Wife (co-scripted by guess who) -- this one is all Hepburn, and, oh, is she a joy to behold. -- Raoul Hernandez

House of Games

D: David Mamet; with Joe Mantegna, Lindsay Crouse.
VHS Home Video

"A sucker born every minute, huh?" "And two to take him!" So goes one of the greatest exchanges between con man (Mantegna) and conned woman (Crouse) in David Mamet's decade-old directorial debut. It might be you who ends up the sucker, though, if you try to predict the outcome of Mamet's triple-crossed tale of "dinosaur con men" having their proverbial way with a hapless (and wealthy) psychotherapist. Mamet's signature staccato dialogue is nailed to perfection, especially by Mantegna, in the performance that put him on the map. No aspect of the film is without a clever touch, from the upbeat-yet-creepy piano music to the wickedly low lighting to the irony of Mamet casting his then wife Crouse in the role of a woman obsessed with the confidence game. House of Games makes a powerful impact; its delicious ending may leave you a little shaken up, but you'll inevitably take to heart one of Mantegna's principles of conduct: "Don't trust nobody." -- Christopher Null

Les Miserables

D: Claude Lelouch; with Jean-Paul Belmondo, Michel Boujenah, Alessandra Martines, Salome, Annie Girardot, Philippe Leotard.
VHS Home Video
Vulcan Video, 609 W. 29th

Don't pin your hopes on another remake of Victor Hugo's romantic tale that centers on Valjean, Javert, Cosette, and Marius; these familiar characters appear here only as allegorical ghosts. Frenchman Lelouch wrote, produced, and directed this entirely new 20th-century fable which relies on Hugo's original only as its philosophical compass, but not for its plot or characters. Instead, we have France's legendary leading man, Jean-Paul Belmondo, rising to the epic scope of Lelouch's script as the 1940s Henri Fortins, who imagines himself in multiple modern identities and as Hugo's Jean Valjean as well. As the story hops from Hugo's original storyline to Lelouch's World War II to the early 1900s, it is sometimes difficult to keep track , but Lelouch's devotion to the triumph of the human spirit cuts through the grab-bag of overlapping plots. Despite this and some spotty cinematography that gives a "made for TV" feel to some sequences, Les Miserables' uplifting finale is well worth the three-hour investment it takes to get there. -- Kayte VanScoy

Wayne Gretzky's 3D Hockey

Nintendo 64

Mario Lemieux's blades send up a spray of snow as he slides into the slot, Yagr's pass glides with remarkable precision across the ice toward his teammate's flashing stick. Without hesitation, Lemieux sends the black rubber puck to its proper resting place at the back of the goal. This hockey game is a visceral and heart-pounding simulation of North America's fastest growing sport. Bone-crunching body checks, spectacular no-look passes, and fiery slapshots make this the best hockey game out there. Up to four people can play a single game, a full season, or head straight to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. You can customize everything from the difficulty level to the length of each period to whether or not players can start fights. It's the next best thing to seeing the Ice Bats live! -- Kurt Dillard

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