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Some Obscurities Have Dogs, Others Are Dogs

June 26, 1997|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

There are plenty of new movie titles on the shelves of your local video stores you've probably never heard of. Some of these films are low-budget, foreign or art-house pictures that saw limited release in the U.S. But the majority are B-, C- and even D-movies made just for video.

Here's a look at some of these more obscure films currently in release:

Team Oscar winner Juliette Binoche with Oscar winner William Hurt, mix in a big white dog and add charming Paris and New York locales and you get "A Couch in New York" (BMG), a romantic comedy that aired on Showtime earlier this year. Binoche is charming as a French ballet dancer who swaps her run-down Paris apartment with an uptight New York psychoanalyst (Hurt) looking to escape the fast track. Unfortunately, Hurt is a lug and the comedy is way too unbelievable and wispy thin to sustain an entire movie.

Rutger Hauer made an international name for himself starring in such Dutch classics as "Soldier of Orange" and "Turkish Delight." He gave a memorable performance as the ruthless replicant in "Blade Runner."

But Hauer's two latest movies are totally forgettable. In the snoozy sci-fi flick "Precious Find" (Republic), he plays a card shark who, with the help of a space pilot and a young miner, finds the galaxy's richest gold mine. Joan Chen plays a greedy claim jumper.

Slightly better is the fantasy "Crossworlds" (Trimark), in which Hauer plays a rugged, colorful mercenary who befriends a young man (Josh Charles) being pursued by aliens.

If you love movies populated with buxom bimbos, then you'll adore "Bimbo Movie Bash" (Cult Video), a dumber than dumb comedy consisting of scenes from various bimbo movies edited together to create a new story that absolutely makes no sense. Adrienne Barbeau, Shannon Tweed, Morgan Fairchild and a pre-"Politically Incorrect" Bill Maher--who does not play a bimbo--appear.

Definitely not for the bimbo crowd is Lizzie Borden's 1984 feminist flick "Born in Flames" (First Run Features, $30). The comedy fantasy is set in America 10 years after a socialist rebellion has redefined the roles of women and minorities.

Conrad Janis, who played Mindy's dad on "Mork and Mindy," is the director and one of the stars of "The November Conspiracy" (Metromedia Entertainment), a run-of-the-mill political thriller that also stars George Segal, Elliott Gould, Paige Turco, Dirk Benedict and Bo Hopkins.

Michael Dudikoff is one of the busiest straight-to-video action stars. His latest flick, "Crash Dive" (Cabin Fever), is a derivative thriller in the "Under Siege," "Die Hard" and "The Hunt for Red October" vein. Andrew Stevens directed.

The uneven satire "Cannes Man" (Rock Pictures Home Video) is worth seeing for Seymour Cassel's engaging turn as a hustler/film producer who makes a bet that he can turn anyone into the "flavor of the month." The flavor turns out to be a lummox of a cab driver/courier (Francesco Quinn) who wants to be a screenwriter and gets his 15 minutes of fame. The comedy features funny cameo appearances by Johnny Depp, Jim Jarmusch, Dennis Hopper, John Malkovich, Kevin Spacey, Lara Flynn Boyle, Chris Penn, Treat Williams, Jim Sheridan, Frank Whaley, Jon Cryer and James Brolin.

"Cold Fever" (Fox Lorber) is a quirky little Japanese/Icelandic comedy about a Japanese yuppie (Masatoshi Nagase of "Mystery Train") who travels across the harsh, freezing Icelandic landscape to perform a traditional ceremony at the remote river where his parents died seven years earlier. On his journey, he meets up with some bizarre, offbeat and interesting characters. Lili Taylor and Fisher Stevens are featured. Directed and co-written by Fridrik Thor Fridriksson.

"The Last Dance" (Hen's Tooth, $60) is a compelling comedy-mystery from Swedish filmmaker Colin Nutley ("House of Angels") focusing on two couples who recall their rocky relationship and jealous obsession with ballroom dance competitions.

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