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What's Hot

August 31, 2000

* Last week's Top 5 VHS rentals:

1. "Erin Brockovich" (2000). Irresistible, hugely satisfying feminist fairy tale about a woman the world didn't take seriously, who empowered herself by helping others gain justice. This film is a career milestone for director Steven Soderbergh and star Julia Roberts. (Turan, March 17) (2:11) R for language.

2. "The Cider House Rules" (1999). Tobey Maguire stars as an orphan who has stayed on at a vast old New England orphanage to become the assistant to its director, a dedicated and idiosyncratic physician (Michael Caine), only to discover the outside world for himself. (Thomas, Dec. 10, 1999) (2:04) PG-13 for mature thematic elements, sexuality, nudity, substance abuse and some violence.

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

4. "The Whole Nine Yards" (2000). An occasionally amusing comedy about a friendly hit man (Bruce Willis) who moves in next-door to dentist (Matthew Perry). (Turan, Feb. 18) R for some sexuality/nudity and violence.

5. "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, their respective offspring (Aaliyah and Jet Li) develop a mutual attraction in this sleek martial arts action-thriller. (Thomas, March 22) R for violence, some language and brief nudity.

* Last week's Top 5 DVD rentals:

1. "Erin Brockovich"

2. "Reindeer Games"

3. "The Cider House Rules"

4. "Romeo Must Die"

5. "The Whole Nine Yards"

* Last week's Top 5 VHS sellers

1. "Erin Brockovich"

2. "Buzz Lightyear: The Adventure Begins" (2000). Made-for-video spinoff of the "Toy Story" hero.

3. "DBZ Assassins" (uncut)

4. "DBZ: Invincible" (uncut)

5. "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) is one of the creepiest thrillers to arise in years. (John Anderson, Aug. 6) PG-13 for intense thematic material and violent images.

* Last week's Top 5 DVD sellers

1. "Erin Brockovich"

2. "The Green Mile" Although its Stephen King story is a good one, this version, is hampered by excessive length, the suffocating deliberateness of its pace and some truly stomach-turning moments. Stars Tom Hanks. (Turan, Dec. 10) R for violence, language and some sex-related material.

3. "Romeo Must Die"

4. "The Cider House Rules"

5. "The Matrix" (1999). A wildly cinematic futuristic thriller that stars Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne as battlers against a computer-controlled world that treats people like Eveready batteries. (Turan, March 31) (2:19) R for sci-fi violence and brief language.

What's New

"Big Kahuna" (2000). Kevin Spacey and Danny DeVito are terrific as veteran salesmen at a Midwestern manufacturers convention desperate to snag a major account. But the presence of their young associate (sharp newcomer Peter Facinelli) creates unexpected developments and allows for an equally surprising probing of life's biggest questions. (Thomas, April 28) Universal: no list price; DVD: $26.98; (CC); R for language.

"Deterrence" (2000). A Jewish president (Kevin Pollak) decides the fate of a Mideast crisis in a crisp "Fail Safe" redux that gets high marks for political savvy and potent performances by Pollak as the president and Timothy Hutton as one of his advisors. (Jan Stuart, March 10) Paramount: no list price; DVD: $29.98; (CC); R for language and violence.

"Held Up" (2000). An amiable if somewhat static hostage-standoff comedy set in an Arizona desert convenience store. (Thomas, May 12) Trimark: no list price; (CC); PG-13 for language, violence and sexuality.

"I Dreamed of Africa" (2000).This Kim Basinger-starring romantic fantasy is so forbiddingly genteel it makes "Out of Africa" play like "Zulu Dawn." (Turan, May 5) Columbia: no list price; DVD: $29.95; (CC); PG-13 for a scene of nudity, sensuality and some violent, traumatic episodes.

"The Next Best Thing" (2000). This misguided romantic seriocomedy about a single woman (Madonna) and her gay best friend (Rupert Everett) is aimed at women and gay men but ends up caricaturing both. (Turan, March 3) Paramount: no list price; DVD: $29.99; (CC); PG-13 for mature thematic elements, sexual content, nudity and language.

"Princess Mononoke" (1999). An animated adult fairy tale set in the 16th century whose remarkable sense of visual fantasy marries the lyric to the violent. (Turan, Oct. 29) Miramax/Buena Vista: no list price; (CC); PG-13 for violence and gore.

"3 Strikes" (2000). This sophomoric and unfunny comedy is the latest attempt by the bad boyz of hip-hop to transfer the gangsta-rap sensibility to celluloid. Written and directed by DJ Pooh. (Eric Harrison, March 3) MGM: no list price; $24.98; (CC); R for language, sexual content, some drug use and brief violence.

What's Coming

Friday: "Any Given Sunday."

Tuesday: "American Psycho," "American Virgin," "Mifune" and "A Summer's Tale."

Sept. 12: "East Is East," "The Last September," "Mission to Mars."

Commentary by Times critics.

Rental video charts provided by VSDA

VidTrac, sales charts by VideoScan Inc.

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