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January 25, 2001

An Affair of Love (2000). Nathalie Baye, who won the best actress prize at Venice in 1999 for her performance in this film, and Sergi Lopez play a couple who meet through the Internet and begin an unexpectedly torrid affair while remaining anonymous to each other for fear that falling in love might spoil it. New Line/Warner: no list price; DVD: $24.98; (CC); R, for some strong sexual content.

Bait (2000). Jamie Foxx is a small-time crook hot-wired and rigged by the Feds to trap a homicidal gold thief (Doug Hutchison). Comes across like a longer-than-usual trailer for a movie that moves all over the place but never takes you anywhere special. With David Morse, Kimberly Elise, David Paymer, Robert Pastorelli. Directed by Antoine Fuqua. Warner: no list price; DVD: $19.98; (CC); R, for language, violence and a scene of sexuality.

Cecil B. Demented (2000). John Waters, master of the subversive, has moved up successfully from the underground and into the mainstream, the better to savage it with merciless, impassioned dark humor. Melanie Griffith plays a snotty Hollywood star, in Baltimore for the premiere of her latest picture, only to be kidnapped by a guerrilla filmmaker (Stephen Dorff) and his grungy crew, who are ready to die for their art--and to protest Hollywood follies in the process. The result is a fast, furious and funny hard-action flick. Artisan: no list price; DVD: $24.98; R, for strong, crude sexual content, violence, language and drug use.

Disney's the Kid (2000). More cloyingly sentimental and unyieldingly cute than it needs to be, the film has more potential interest than might be imagined thanks to Audrey Wells' script. The concept, that 8-year-old Rusty (Spencer Breslin) is as disappointed in the adult he has become as Russ (Bruce Willis) is in the child he was, is a clever one. It's a movie we might like to buy into if left to our own devices, but that idea is anathema to director Jon Turtletaub, intent on pushing us so hard that we end up pushing back. Buena Vista: no list price; DVD: $29.99; (CC); PG, for mild language.

The Five Senses (2000). An elegant, deliberate film about loneliness and hope, connection and loss. What makes it intriguing is not its subject matter but the way Canadian writer-director Jeremy Podeswa approaches it with fluid direction; artful and sensual, it's alive to feelings of all kinds. Even when the story bogs down, the deliberateness and beauty of its style create interest. New Line/Warner: no list price; DVD: $24.98; (CC); R for sexuality and language. Times guidelines: adult themes and some nudity during a lovemaking scene.

MVP: Most Valuable Primate (2000). Genius chimp makes monkeys of opponents of his minor-league hockey team. Painless for grown-ups, harmless for kids and cozy and warm enough to drink cocoa by. With Kevin Zegers and Jamie Renee Smith. Directed by Robert Vince. Warner: $24.99; DVD: $26.99; (CC); PG, for some mild language.

Steal This Movie! (2000). An ambitious, complex, sometimes ponderous but always conscientious attempt to illuminate the life and times of charismatic anti-war protester Abbie Hoffman, played with bravura, passion and intelligence by Vincent D'Onofrio. Hoffman's wife and staunchest ally, Anita, is brought to life with strength and fervor by Janeane Garofalo. With Jeanne Tripplehorn, Kevin Pollak. Trimark: no list price; DVD: $24.99; (CC); R, for language, drug content and some nudity.

What's Hot

* Last week's Top 5 VHS rentals:

1. Me, Myself and Irene (2000). Jim Carrey has his moments as a schizophrenic Rhode Island state policeman whose two personalities are in love with Renee Zellweger, but this Farrelly brothers comedy lacks the warmth that made "There's Something About Mary" such a hit. Strictly for the hard-core, gross-out crowd. R, for sexual content, crude humor, strong language and some violence.

2. "Hollow Man" (2000). Despite a wealth of special effects and direction by Paul Verhoeven, Mr. Over-the-Top himself, this movie is surprisingly inert, more dull than anything else, with little to recommend it on any level. Kevin Bacon stars as a cocky, cerebral scientist who tests an invisibility serum on himself. With Elisabeth Shue. R, for strong violence, language and some sexuality/nudity.

3. "Autumn in New York" (2000). Richard Gere gives an unsparing, far-ranging performance as a middle-aged Manhattan playboy who, at long last, experiences genuine emotion and all it entails when he unexpectedly falls for a radiant woman (an exquisite Winona Ryder) young enough to be his daughter. PG, for language and some sensuality.

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