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Popular Movie Themes Show Up In Newest Offerings At Video Store

If you had to pick three top movie genres, based on the number of movies out there, they’d likely be: slasher flick, cross-dressing comedy and Internet thriller.

Available right now in the store of your choice, are three of this week’s major releases: “To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar,” “Copycat” and “Hackers.”

“Wong Foo” follows on the (high) heels of such transvestite/ transsexual offerings as “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,” “The Crying Game,” “Ed Wood,” “M. Butterfly” “Tootsie” and the documentaries “Paris is Burning” and “Wigstock.”

“Copycat,” being a violent meditation, has many more replicas, including just recently “Seven” and “Jade.” But don’t forget “Natural Born Killers,” “Silence of the Lambs,” “Body of Evidence,” “Kalifornia,” the “Relentless” series, etc.

And for life on the Internet, just in the last year we’ve had “Strange Days,” “The Net,” “Virtuosity,” “Johnny Mnemonic” and “Lawnmower Man 2.”

It’s true. There is nothing new in Hollywood.

We’ll have our own show

Spokane, not surprisingly, doesn’t have much of a reputation as a film haven. With one art house in town, the dependable Magic Lantern, Spokane hasn’t played host to but a couple of attempts at film and/or video festivals.

But a group of area film-video enthusiasts are interested in promoting a hometown film-video festival.

Spokane resident Tom Brooks and a couple of friends are looking for cinema enthusiasts with ideas about how to organize such an event. You can contact Brooks at 455-6284.

To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar ***

This film, another in a growing genre, seems to say that a portion of humanity likes to cross-dress and the rest likes to watch. As cliche (and perhaps wrong-headed) as that attitude may be, British director Beeban Kidron makes her plea for tolerance. And she manages to be entertaining while doing so. Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes and John Leguizamo do their “Adventures of Priscilla” impersonation, making a road trip across America to participate in a national drag-queen contest. Along the way they deal with prejudice, violent county sheriffs and, when their car breaks down in a small town, they end up being positive role models. Accept it or not, this fun film is one thing for sure: It’s the best role that Swayze, for one, has had, and he makes the most of it. Rated PG-13

The Stars Fell on Henrietta **-1/2

This Depression-era film features Robert Duvall as a vagabond with what he claims is a unique ability to sniff out oil. When he convinces a struggling farmer (Aidan Quinn) to join him, thereby risking the man’s property in the process, the proposition becomes serious. And then the law gets involved… Mixing fantasy and hard-times reality is a risky business, and “Henrietta” (which is the name of a cat) is only partially successful in maintaining a satisfying balance. But Duvall is good, as is Quinn, and so the film does have its simple joys. Also starring Frances Fisher. Rated PG

Copycat **-1/2

Director Jon Amiel does some nice things with this creepy tale about a best-selling author (Sigourney Weaver) and a San Francisco homicide detective (Holly Hunter) who hunt a clever serial killer with an unusual MO: He is simulating famous murders of the past. The acting, especially by Hunter, Weaver and Harry Connick Jr. in a small role as a killer who once targeted Weaver’s character, is good across the board. But, ultimately, Amiel drops too many loose plot trails, gives his too-bland killer character too many superhuman powers and, worst of all, barely mentions the causes of the killer’s psychoses. Thus the finale, instead of being an intelligent melding of all the film’s disparate parts, becomes merely a protracted moment of revenge. Rated R

Hackers **

Disguised as a video-game/ computer thriller, this little teen feature is just another variation on the old “Rebel Without a Cause” theme. The group of main players love to hack, meaning they probe and often disrupt mainline computer networking. They do this because… well, because there’s stuff out there they wanna know, man. Wrapped up in its pulsating musical score, and betraying a ‘90s-style kind of benevolent anarchism, “Hackers” communicates the same nonmessage that Marlon Brando’s character, Johnny, does in 1953’s “The Wild One.” What are you rebelling against? Johnny is asked. “Whaddaya got?” he answers. Rated PG-13

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: WHAT’S NEW TO VIEW Now available - “Copycat” (Warner), “Hackers” (MGM/ UA), “The Stars Fell on Henrietta” (Warner), “Mute Witness” (Columbia TriStar), “To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar” (MCA/ Universal) Available on Tuesday - “Pocahontas” (Disney)

This sidebar appeared with the story: WHAT’S NEW TO VIEW Now available - “Copycat” (Warner), “Hackers” (MGM/ UA), “The Stars Fell on Henrietta” (Warner), “Mute Witness” (Columbia TriStar), “To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar” (MCA/ Universal) Available on Tuesday - “Pocahontas” (Disney)