- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 20, 2001

With 2000's Kippur, Israeli director Amos Gitai, known for "Kaddosh," succeeds in crafting a very different brand of combat film, a film that rarely depicts actual combat, dwelling instead on its eerily still aftermath. It's our …

Video pick of the week
"Kippur" is new from Kino Video (priced for rental VHS, $29.98 DVD). Drawing on his own real-life experiences, Mr. Gitai follows two young Israeli reservists Weinraub (Liron Levo) and his friend Ruso (Tomer Ruso) whose normal civilian lives are summarily interrupted and forever altered when they're summoned to duty during the 1973 Egyptian/ Syrian surprise attack that became known as the Yom Kippur War. Unable to connect with their assigned unit, the young men join a medical-evacuation helicopter crew, coasting above a surreal, wasted landscape littered with wounded soldiers.
Mr. Gitai adopts a semi-documentary, almost newsreel approach to the action, plunging the viewer directly into the chaos while avoiding the sensationalism of a "Saving Private Ryan" (to which his film has been compared). Indeed, "Kippur" owes a far greater debt to the lean, clinical war movies of the late, great Sam Fuller ("Steel Helmet," "The Big Red One"), a debt that Mr. Gitai openly cites with an end-credit acknowledgement. "Kippur" is a film that doesn't easily fade from memory.

Comedies on cassette
On a lighter note, among the high-profile comedies due in vidstores over the next few weeks, MGM leads the way with the star-packed farce Heartbreakers, wherein Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt form a lethal mother-daughter femme fatale tandem who target elderly rich men, with Gene Hackman surfacing as their main mark.
Elsewhere, Miramax contributes a pair of UK comedies the hit literary adaptation Bridget Jones's Diary, with Renee Zellweger as the eponymous heroine, and About Adam, with Kate Hudson as a love-struck waitress who falls for Mr. Wrong.
In other mirth-movie news, Beautiful Creatures (Universal) represents another stab at dark comedy with a storyline involving two women (Rachel Weisz, Susan Lynch) who accidentally kill one of their lowlife boyfriends and seize the opportunity to rig an impromptu ransom scheme.
Bizarre casting abounds, meanwhile, in White River (Columbia/TriStar). A pair of Arkansas con men, played by Brit Bob Hoskins and Latino Antonio Banderas, run afoul of a serial killer. All of the above will be priced for rental and also available on DVD.
Warner Home Video, meanwhile, goes the sell-through route with its cross-species Summer 2001 crowd-pleaser Cats & Dogs ($22.98 VHS, $26.98 DVD), due next month.
Hammer horrors
In Halloween developments, the late, great British fright-film factory, Hammer Films, continues to enjoy a healthy homevideo resurgence via a pair of new DVDs. A&E; Home Video packages a gala four-disc box set of the studio's 1980-'81 foray into terror television, the 13-episode series Hammer House of Horror ($69.98), offering titles like "Children of the Full Moon," "The House That Bled to Death" and "The Two Faces of Evil" and featuring such prominent thesps as Peter Cushing, Denholm Elliott and a young Pierce Brosnan.
All Day Entertainment (www.alldayentertainment.com), meanwhile, issues The Horror of Hammer ($24.98 DVD), compiling nearly two hours of coming-attraction trailers for such Hammer hits as "Curse of the Werewolf" and "The Gorgon."
All Day likewise contributes two additional discs: Tales of Frankenstein, containing the unsold 1958 Hammer TV pilot of the same name, along with 21 original Frankenstein movie trailers, interviews with Boris Karloff and Peter Cushing, rare outtakes, and many other extras.
For those who prefer noir to horror, All Day has Pulp Cinema, proffering 45 original coming attractions from the golden age of film noir, emphasizing such classics as Detective Story, Kiss Me Deadly, Key Largo and The Postman Always Rings Twice.

Mummy mania
Elsewhere on the video fright front, even as Universal Studios prepares to unleash The Mummy Returns on Oct. 2 ($19.98 VHS, $26.98 DVD), the label has already resurrected several earlier mummy movies from its vaults.
They include new DVD editions of the original 1932 The Mummy, with Boris Karloff; two 1940s double-feature DVDs The Mummy's Hand/The Mummy's Tomb and The Mummy's Ghost/The Mummy's Curse ($29.98 each), the last three featuring Lon Chaney Jr.; and 1955's Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy ($24.98).

Phan mail
Dear Phantom: Having trouble locating an old gambling movie called Two Dollar Bettor.
Thomas Klein, via e-mail
Something Weird Video (206/361-3759, www.somethingweird.com) recently issued 1951's "Two Dollar Bettor" sort of the "Reefer Madness" of racetrack movies priced at $15 (VHS only).

Send your video comments and queries to Phantom of the Movies, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002 or e-mail us at phanmedia@aol.com.

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