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An odd western from Van Peebles

By John Hartl

Seattle Times



Mario Van Peebles, Beverly DAngelo and Edward James Olmos turn up this month in straight-to-video-moviesa couple of which had film-festival exposure last year.


Van Peebles, the creator of "New Jack City," wrote and starred in "Los Locos," which had its premiere last fall at the Montreal Film Festival and made its tape debut Tuesday. Varietys critic, Brendan Kelly, called it "an extremely odd western that mixes classic, old-fashioned High Noon-like elements with a cast of characters not formally given much screen time in vintage horse [sic] operas."


Van Peebles plays an Army scout who leads his troops the wrong way into battle, Paul Lazar is his rescuer, Rene Auberjonois is an emotionally retarded math genius, and Rusty Schwimmer plays a demented nun. Kelly criticized Van Peebles "scattered script" but praised Lazar and Auberjonois.


DAngelo is one of the human stars of "A Rats Tale," an English -language German production filmed in New York and featuring about 100 wooden rat marionettes, with strings quite visibly attached. Its based on Tor Seidlers childrens book about Monty, a Manhattan sewer rat that battles a land developer who wants to eliminate rat families. DAngelo plays his wife.


According to Time Out magazines Barbara Aria, "the story is told with immense humor," but other critics werent as enchanted. The New York Times Anita Gates complained that "the inert facial features" of the marionettes "may leave children yearning for the lovable expressiveness of a Muppet."


Olmos plays a former cop turned private eye in "Hollywood Confidential," an R-rated thriller written by Anthony Yerkovich ("Miami Vice") and directed by cinematographer Reynaldo Villalobos ("Burn Hollywood Burn"). Charlize Theron plays one of his employees, who gets involved in an attempt to force a Hollywood director to end an adulterous affair.


Also headed for tape:


First Run Features has just released this acclaimed, socially conscious cartoon, directed by Michael Sporn and based on the true story of a young African-American girl who was painted white by Bronx street toughs. It premiered on HBO four years ago.


A relatively new Australian film starring Geoffrey Rush, who won last years best-actor Oscar for "Shine" and more recently turned up in "Les Miserables" and "Children of the Revolution."


Filmed by the BBC at a theater in Antwerp, Belgium, this English-language adaptation of the Edmond Rostand play is the third in the Globalstage video series, which is designed to introduce famous plays to children 7-14. Information: (415) 217-5800.


Nick Mancuso co-stars with Jane March and Cary Tagawa in this story of a North Korean spy who becomes a nanny in the home of a U.S. Army colonel.


Mancuso again, this time cast in a science-fiction film about alien wars and a dying race. Sean Young, Ben Cross and Daniel Baldwin are his co-stars.


In this R-rated suspense film, Peter Coyote plays a police detective and the former lover of a young reporter (Alberta Watson). She wants him to help her free a condemned murderer, but he believes the man is guilty.


San Jose Mercury News, 5/22/98


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