Retail dvd (mgm home entertainment, widescreen)

Gorky Park

Occasionally ponderous 1983 thriller set in pre-Glasnost Russia (in fact filmed in Helsinki). William Hurt stars as the cop who teams up with Joanna Pacula's Soviet dissident and Lee Marvin's American businessman to investigate the mystery of three bodies found in Gorky Park.

The Greatest Story Ever Told

George Stevens' Biblical epic is sometimes sluggish and often po-faced, but it's never less than fascinating. A political film-maker and a great chronicler of national identity (see Shane, Giant, A Place In The Sun), Stevens consistently swamps the New Testament in blatant Americana, letting Charlton Heston, John Wayne, and the massive crags and buttes of Utah boldly reinvent Jesus, and Israel, for the American century.

Satyricon

"The Beatles tours were like Fellini's Satyricon," John Lennon once remarked, and seeing the director's 1969 masterpiece of decadence again, you can only wonder how they made it through alive. A bleak but visually stunning crawl through the paranoia, bisexuality and corruption of ancient Rome, it's hardly easy viewing, but stunning all the same as a lurid portrait of a world tipped over into the realms of madness.

Hidden Agenda

Set during the Ulster 'Troubles', Hidden Agenda begins admirably enough with director Ken Loach's usual muscular dissection of political realities. Then Maurice Roeves suddenly appears as a mysterious Captain (think Donald Sutherland's X in JFK) who implicates the RUC, the Tories, MI5 and the CIA in a grand, preposterous plan to ruin the Labour Party.

Strange Journey

Jarmusch, Buscemi and Strummer veer off the beaten tracks with Elvis

The Vikings

Enduringly popular epic, directed with vigorous panache by Richard Fleischer. Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis are terrific as the feuding half-brothers, sons of hugely-bearded Viking warlord Ernest Borgnine, and there's an admirable amount of rowdy quaffing, hearty pillaging and general mayhem.

Koyaanisqatsi – Powaqqatsi (Box Set)

Koyaanisqatsi is arguably the best stoner movie of all time, although Godfrey Reggio probably didn't realise that in '83. Aerial photography of forests, animals; etc, sweeps across to expansive time-lapse shots of factory complexes and nuclear power plants. The big country's poeticised and exposed to Philip Glass' insistent score. Powaqqatsi, the '88 sequel, explored Third World exploitation, but the original's the must-see.

News And Abuse

Lumet's underrated media satire now viewed as a visionary work

A Fish Called Wanda—Special Edition

Fifteen years on, the only thing that's dated about John Cleese's romantic-comedy-cum-caper-movie is the fashions. Cleese honed the script for years, and it shows—plus the entire supporting cast are a treat, especially Michael Palin's stuttering animal rights assassin, Jamie Lee Curtis'sexy double-crosser and Kevin Kline's psychopathic fish-killer. Immensely likeable.

Atmospheric 1967 Norman Jewison thriller, and its weaker 1970 sequel from Gordon Douglas. The first, which won Oscars for Best Picture and Rod Steiger, is dryly observed, with Steiger's bigoted Southern sheriff warming to Sidney Poitier's detective as they solve a murder—a big anti-racism statement in its time. The second takes Poitier's Tibbs character to San Francisco, for no pressing reason.
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