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September 21, 2000

* Last week's Top 5 VHS rentals:

1. "Any Given Sunday" (Special Edition Director's Cut) (1999). An energetic and diverting Oliver Stone-directed soap opera about professional football that makes a few head fakes in the direction of an iconoclastic examination of the sport but, at the end of the day, comes out squarely for--hold onto your hats--teamwork and unselfish behavior. Dennis Quaid, Jamie Foxx, Al Pacino and Cameron Diaz star. (Turan, Dec. 22) R for strong language and some nudity/sexuality.

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

3. "American Psycho" (2000). Nominally a satire on the excesses of the 1980s (who knew!), this adaptation of the Bret Easton Ellis novel asks us to sit through more elegant carnage than the obviousness of its targets makes worthwhile. Starring Christian Bale and directed and co-written by Mary Harron. (Turan, April 14) R for strong violence, sexuality, drug use and language.

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

5. "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, who won an Oscar for his role), only to discover the outside world for himself. (Kevin Thomas, Dec. 10) PG-13 for mature thematic elements, sexuality, nudity, substance abuse and some violence.

* Last week's Top 5 DVD rentals:

1. "Any Given Sunday"

2. "Erin Brockovich"

3. "American Psycho"

4. "Reindeer Games" (2000). This noir-ish 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.

5. "Supernova" (2000). Sharp-looking but dull-playing space adventure that finds James Spader, Angela Bassett, Lou Diamond Phillips and others stuck aboard a medical rescue vessel on a murky mission in outer space. (Thomas, Jan. 17) PG-13 for sci-fi action violence and sensuality/nudity.

* Last week's Top 5 VHS sellers

1. "The Tigger Movie" (2000). This brightly colored, upbeat animated film centers on Tigger, Winnie-the-Pooh's rambunctious friend, who goes in search of other tiggers. Small children will be pleased, but parents and older siblings may grow impatient with the uneven execution that weakens the genuine charm the film sporadically exhibits. (Charles Solomon, Feb. 11) G.

2. "The Sound of Music" (1965). Audiences loved this Robert Wise-Ernest Lehman adaptation of Rodgers & Hammerstein's last stage musical like no other movie of the '60s, some seeing it hundreds of times. It's an archetypal story: the spunky governess (Julie Andrews) in the gorgeous chateau, taming the chilly master and his adorable motherless tots, with mountains, lakes, Nazis and world catastrophe in the background.

3. "Erin Brockovich"

4. "Next Friday" (2000). Sequel to the 1995 hit comedy takes Ice Cube's slacker hero from South-Central L.A. to a multicultural suburban enclave. Much raunchier and far less funny than the last "Friday." (Gene Seymour, Jan. 12) R for strong language, drug use and sexual content.

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

* Last week's Top 5 DVD sellers

1. "Any Given Sunday"

2. "Braveheart" (1995). Mel Gibson directed and stars in this almost-three-hours epic about 13th century Scottish freedom fighter William Wallace. (Peter Rainer). R for medieval bloodshed.

3. "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" (1991). A cyborg (Arnold Schwarzenegger) from the future time-travels to 1991 to save a boy (Edward Furlong) who will one day become a resistance leader.

4. "Men in Black" (1997). Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith are the kings of cool as government agents determined to keep visiting aliens from messing up planet Earth. (Turan, July 1, 1997) PG-13, for language and sci-fi violence.

5. "Men in Black" (special edition)

What's New

The Color of Paradise (2000). Majid Majidi, director of the Oscar-nominated "The Children of Heaven," returns with another tale of a child in adversity, this time telling of a gifted blind boy (Mohsen Ramezani) with an extraordinary communion with nature, who is nonetheless unwanted by his widowed coal worker father (Hossein Mahjub). The setting is an unspoiled wilderness in northern Iran. In Persian with English subtitles. (Thomas, March 31) Columbia: no list price; DVD: $29.95; (CC); PG for thematic elements.

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