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August 17, 2000

* Last week's Top 5 VHS rentals:

1. "Romeo Must Die" (2000). While two underworld kingpins (Delroy Lindo, Henry O) form an uneasy truce to cash in on the construction of a stadium for the NFL in Oakland, their respective offspring (Aaliyah and Jet Li) develop a mutual attraction in this sleek, violent martial arts action-thriller, which has more complexity and dimension than most. (Kevin Thomas, March 22) R for violence, some language and brief nudity.

2. "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). (Kenneth Turan, Feb. 18) R for some sexuality/nudity and violence.

3. "The Beach" (2000). A tedious and unsatisfying film about a young American vagabond (Leonardo DiCaprio) who journeys to a hidden Thai paradise after being given a secret map. DiCaprio's character is naive, self-involved and pretentious.. (Turan, Feb. 11) R for violence, some strong sexuality, language and drug content.

4. "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.

5. "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.

* Last week's Top 5 DVD rentals:

1. "Romeo Must Die" (2000).

2. "The Beach"

3. "The Whole Nine Yards"

4. "The Ninth Gate"

5. "The Hurricane" (1999). Denzel Washington does exceptional work 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.. (Turan, Dec. 29) R for language and some violence.

* Last week's Top 5 VHS sellers

1. "Double Jeopardy" (special edition) (1999). You can see, well in advance, just about every plot twist coming in this tale of a "wrongfully accused" woman (Ashley Judd) who finds out that the husband (Bruce Greenwood) she's convicted of murdering is alive. But the cast and director carry out this crime story so efficiently that you probably won't mind. With Tommy Lee Jones. (Gene Seymour, Sept. 24) R for language, a scene of sexuality and some violence.

2. "The Thomas Crown Affair" (special edition) (1999). A sleek and reasonably diverting entertainment that needs all the help a splendid Rene Russo as a smart insurance investigator can give it against the ice-cold maneuvers of Pierce Brosnan as an elegant and self-involved thief. (Turan, Aug. 6) R for some sexuality and language.

3. "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 (Haley Joel Osment) with a disturbing secret is one of the creepiest thrillers to arise in years. Rich in a kind of matter-of-fact horror. (John Anderson, Aug. 6) PG-13 for intense thematic material and violent images.

4. "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, 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.

5. "Runaway Bride" (special edition) (1999). While it's fun to see Richard Gere and Julia Roberts smooching on screen for the first time in nine years, the flawed and unpleasant conception of a woman who abandons men at the altar crossing swords with a misogynist newspaperman will leave viewers with an unavoidably sour taste. (Turan, July 30) PG for language and some suggestive dialogue.

* Last week's Top 5 DVD sellers

1. "Romeo Must Die"

2. "The Green Mile"

3. "The Matrix" (1999). A wildly cinematic futuristic thriller that stars Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne as battlers against a computer-controlled world. The writing and directing Wachowski brothers combine rip-roaring visual feats with traditional sci-fi premises in a way that always dazzles the eye. (Turan, March 31) R for sci-fi violence and brief language.

4. "The Whole Nine Yards"

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