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March 15, 2001

* Almost Famous (2000). Writer-director Cameron Crowe uses irresistible performances and fine writing to turn a dramatized version of his own past as America's youngest 1970s rock journalist into an intoxicating mixture of Hollywood and reality. Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand, Patrick Fugit and Kate Hudson star. DreamWorks/Universal: no list price; DVD: $26.99; (CC); R, for language, drug content and brief nudity.

The Crew (2000). Trying to save on the rent, four aging ex-mobsters in upscale South Beach hatch a plot that involves shotgunned corpses, Latino drug lords, conniving strippers and the pastrami queen of Miami. With Burt Reynolds, Richard Dreyfuss. Buena Vista: no list price; DVD: $29.99; (CC); PG-13, for sexual content, violence and language.

The Legend of Drunken Master (2000). A newly dubbed and retitled print of 1994's "Drunken Master 2" lets recently minted fans experience one of the films that made Jackie Chan Jackie Chan. Buena Vista: no list price; DVD: $29.99; (CC); R, for violent content.

The 6th Day (2000). Hollywood, which has been cloning action movies for years, has gotten around to making an action-adventure movie about cloning and who does it star? Arnold Schwarzenegger. Twice. From its standard-issue action to its half-hearted dialogue and acting, that's one situation even two Arnolds aren't enough to solve. Columbia: no list price; DVD: $27.95; (CC); PG-13, for strong action violence, brief strong language and some sensuality.

Urbania (2000). A reworking of Daniel Reitz's play "Urban Folk Tales," in which we experience the world through the eyes of a young man whose view has been distorted--or has it?--by trauma as he struggles to regain control over his life in a world in which sex and violence are so often linked. Vidmark: no list price; DVD: $24.99; (CC); R, for strong violence and sexual content, including related dialogue, and for language and some drug use.

* Wonder Boys (2000). This smart, literate, very funny film follows flailing novelist and writing professor Grady Tripp (a wonderfully amusing Michael Douglas) as he muddles through the worst weekend of his life. Paramount: no list price; DVD: $29.99; (CC); R for language and drug content.

What's Hot

* Last week's Top 5 VHS rentals:

1. "Bedazzled" (2000). The best thing is its perfectly cast stars: Elizabeth Hurley as the tart-tongued devil and especially Brendan Fraser. But as written by Larry Gelbart, director Harold Ramis and Peter Tolan, the film, though amusing from moment to moment, is erratic. PG-13, for sex-related humor, language and some drug content.

2. "What Lies Beneath" (2000). A suspense thriller with a brisk succession of bump-in-the-dark moments shoehorned into an old-fashioned dark-and-stormy-night ghost story. Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer star. PG-13, for terror/violence, sensuality and brief language.

3. "Nurse Betty" (2000). Though he didn't write the script, the frigid fingers of Neil LaBute ("In the Company of Men") are on this noticeably sour fairy tale about a woman (Renee Zellweger) who can no longer distinguish television from reality and thinks the soap opera doctor she idolizes (Greg Kinnear) is a real person. R, for strong violence, pervasive language and a scene of sexuality.

4. "Bring It On" (2000). A smart and sassy high school movie that's fun for all ages, starring Kirsten Dunst as the captain of a cheerleading team at an affluent high school. PG-13, for sex-related material and language.

5. "The Original Kings of Comedy" (2000). Spike Lee's sharp concert film lets us know why black audiences have turned the Kings of Comedy show, featuring Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer and Bernie Mac, into the highest-grossing comedy tour in history. R, for language and sex-related humor.

* Last week's Top 5 DVD rentals:

1. "The Watcher" (2000). A meticulously crafted but routine suspense thriller that's neither very suspenseful nor particularly thrilling. James Spader is a burned-out FBI agent all but destroyed by trying to nab Keanu Reeves' elusive strangler. R for violence and language.

2. "What Lies Beneath"

3. "Lost Souls" (2000). Dreary tale of supernatural horror, which finds Winona Ryder trying to convince a skeptical Ben Chaplin that he is about to be possessed by the Devil. R, for violence/terror and some language.

4. "Bring It On"

5. "Bless the Child" (2000). It opens strongly, with Kim Basinger as a nurse in a New York hospital who suddenly finds herself, on Christmas Eve, with her drug-addicted sister's newborn abandoned child. But its credibility as a supernatural thriller erodes quickly. R, for violence, drug content and brief language.

Last week's Top 5 VHS sellers:

1. "Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure" (2001). Made-for-video sequel.

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