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August 24, 2000

What's Hot

* Last week's Top 5 VHS rentals:

1. "Reindeer Games" (2000). Genre all the way, this noirish tale of an ex-con (Ben Affleck) and the beautiful woman he becomes involved with (Charlize Theron) is requisite modern touches. hampered by miscast stars and not the most plausible of scripts. (Kenneth Turan, Feb. 25) R for strong violence, language and sexuality

2. "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 martial arts action-thriller. (Kevin Thomas, March 22) R for violence, some language and brief nudity.

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

4. "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, sexuality, language and drug content.

5. "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. Starring Tom Hanks as the head guard on death row in a 1935 Louisiana prison. (Turan, Dec. 10) R for violence, language and some sex-related material.

* Last week's Top 5 DVD rentals:

1. "Reindeer Games"

2. "Romeo Must Die"

3. "The Whole Nine Yards"

4. "The Beach"

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 VHS sellers

1. "Buzz Lightyear: The Adventure Begins" (2000). Made-for-video spinoff of the "Toy Story" hero voiced by Tim Allen.

2. "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.

3. "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.

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. With a cast of likable young people. (Turan, July 9) (1:33) R for strong sexuality, crude sexual dialogue, language and drinking, all involving teens.

5. "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.

* Last week's Top 5 DVD sellers

1. "Romeo Must Die"

2. "Buzz Lightyear: The Adventure Begins"

3. "Reindeer Games"

4. "The Green Mile"

5. "Princess Bride" (1987). In author William Goldman's heroic fantasy pastiche, everything is gloriously magnified and satirically undercut: derring-do with wise-cracks. . (Michael Wilmington, Sept. 25, 1987) PG.

What's New

Agnes Browne (1999). Anjelica Huston directs and stars in this warm, weepy paean to family, friendship and community in 1967 Dublin. (Jan Stuart, Dec. 3) USA: no list price; DVD: $24.95; (CC); R for language.

Beyond the Mat (1999). Top Hollywood comedy screenwriter Barry Blaustein, a wrestling fan since childhood, spent five years on this captivating and revealing documentary in which Blaustein connects the antics of professional wrestlers with their lives outside the ring. (Kevin Thomas, Oct. 22) Universal: no list price; DVD: $29.99; (CC); R for language and violent content.

Not One Less (2000). An unadorned, sentimental story about school children in rural China, director Zhang Yimou's latest is hard to resist. In Mandarin with English subtitles. (Kenneth Turan, Feb. 18) Columbia: no list price; DVD: $29.95; (CC); G.

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