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August 03, 2000

* Last week's Top 5 VHS rentals:

1. "The Whole Nine Yards" (2000). An occasionally amusing comedy about a friendly hit man (Bruce Willis) who moves in next door to a square-jawed, not to mention square, dentist (Matthew Perry). Rosanna Arquette, Michael Clarke Duncan, Natasha Henstridge and Amanda Peet round out the cast. (Kenneth Turan, Feb. 18) R for some sexuality/nudity and violence.

2. "The Ninth Gate" (2000). Director Roman Polanski's second encounter with the devil (the first was the classic "Rosemary's Baby") is a well-crafted anti-thriller with a genteel and moody air. Johnny Depp, Frank Langella and Lena Olin star. (Turan, March 10) R for some violence and sexuality.

3. "The Green Mile" (1999). Although its Stephen King story is a good one, this version, written and directed by Frank Darabont, is hampered by excessive length, the suffocating deliberateness of its pace and some truly stomach-turning moments. Even Tom Hanks' compelling performance as the head guard on Death Row in a 1935 Louisiana prison can't overcome that. (Turan, Dec. 10) R for violence, language and some sex-related material.

4. "The Hurricane" (1999). Denzel Washington does exceptional work, perhaps the best of his career, as boxer and unjustly imprisoned murder suspect Rubin "Hurricane" Carter. Regrettably, the rest of this conventional, middle-of-the-road biopic is not up to his level. (Kenneth Turan, Dec. 29) R for language and some violence.

5. "The Talented Mr. Ripley" (1999). This Anthony Minghella-directed version of the Patricia Highsmith novel about an amoral wannabe (Matt Damon) who worms his way into the good graces of clueless U.S. expatriates (Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow) in 1950s Europe is unexpectedly lacking in emotional impact. It's a wonderfully accomplished work that is unconvincing at its core. (Turan, Dec. 24) R for violence, language and brief nudity.

* Last week's Top 5 DVD rentals:

1. "The Whole Nine Yards"

2. "The Ninth Gate"

3. "The Hurricane"

4. "Bicentennial Man" (1999). Robin Williams gives a touching performance as a robot who gradually transforms into a human being in this romantic but overly glossy sci-fi fable. Directed by Chris Columbus. (Kevin Thomas, Dec. 17) PG for language and some sexual content.

5. "Boiler Room" (2000). Giovanni Ribisi shines as a college dropout driven to get rich by greed and a misguided desire to please his dad. But this sometimes intriguing look at the testosterone-driven world of a sleazy New York brokerage firm is marred by too many poorly drawn subplots populated by cardboard characters. Nia Long and Ben Affleck co-star. (Eric Harrison, Feb. 18) R for strong language and some drug content.

* Last week's Top 5 VHS sellers

1. "The Sixth Sense" (1999). Director M. Night Shyamalan's startling and nervy film about a child psychologist (Bruce Willis) who tries to help a boy with a disturbing secret (Haley Joel Osment) is one of the creepiest thrillers to arise in years. Off-kilter from the start and rich in a kind of matter-of-fact horror. (John Anderson, Aug. 6) PG-13 for intense thematic material and violent images.

2. "My Dog Skip" (2000). Based on Willie Morris' 1995 memoir, this film is a standard-issue Hollywood family film about a boy (Frankie Muniz) and his dog growing up in a small Southern town during World War II. It's a little too glossy, and Skip is a bit too much the trained performer, but young Muniz is good, as are Kevin Bacon and Diane Lane as the boy's parents. (Thomas, Jan. 12) PG for some violent content and mild language.

3. "Pokemon: Final Badge"

4. "American Pie" (special edition) (1999). An unexpected hybrid of "South Park" and Andy Hardy that uses its surface crudeness as sucker bait to entice teenagers into the tent to see a high school movie that is sweet and sincere at heart. Not the least bit mean-spirited, and with a cast of likable young people. (Turan, July 9) R for strong sexuality, crude sexual dialogue, language and drinking, all involving teens.

5. "Pokemon: Our Hero Meowth"

* Last week's Top 5 DVD sellers

1. "The Whole Nine Yards"

2. "Jaws Collector's Edition" (1975). A hellishly exciting movie. A bit sterile perhaps and fascinated with its own gadgetry, but a spine-tingler all the same. The premise: A shark of unbelievable size, fury, cunning and blood-lust is terrorizing a New England beach town. With Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss.

3. "The Princess Bride" (1987). In author William Goldman's heroic fantasy pastiche, everything is gloriously magnified and satirically undercut: derring-do with wisecracks, and a plot full of beautiful heroines, cruel villains, cliff-top duels over raging seas, Jewish wizards and a daring threesome who might be mistaken for Musketeers. In Mandy Patinkin's Inigo the film has a great, archetypal adventure hero.

4. "The Green Mile"

5. "Hurricane"

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