It often happens, even to me.
I’m standing in a video store, looking around, when I see a movie that piques my interest. I decide to pass, but something about the film stays with me.
Maybe it’s the director. Maybe it’s the star. Maybe it’s the musical score or the cinematography.
Whatever it is, I’m reminded of another movie that I’ve always wanted to see. Problem is, I can’t remember the name.
It’s at moments like those that I wish I had my handy copy of “VideoHound’s Golden Movie Retriever” (Invisible Ink, 1,711 pages, $19.95 paperback).
I’ve been watching movies since 1952. I’ve been reviewing them since 1984. Thousands of random movie facts drift in and out of my consciousness, depending on my frame of mind (there are times I can’t remember my own… well, you get the point).
But when it comes to writing about movies, I seldom depend on memory. I use any one of a number of reference books, from “Leonard Maltin’s Movie & Video Guide” to the “Video Movie Guide” put out by Mick Martin and Marsha Porter, from “Tom Weiner’s The Book of Video Lists” to “Leslie Halliwell’s Filmgoer’s and Video Viewer’s Companion.”
All are fine resources. None, however, is as complete as “VideoHound.” And the 1988 edition is better than ever.
Here’s an example. Say, I go to the theater and see “Volcano” (which is now available on video, see capsule review below). I’m curious: What other movies has Tommy Lee Jones starred in? “VideoHound” boasts an index that includes all of Jones’ films.
Has Jones ever won an Oscar? “VideoHound” has an awards index that includes not only Oscar (Jones was Best Supporting Actor for 1993’s “The Fugitive”) but British Academy Awards, Canada’s Genie Awards, Golden Globes, France’s Cesars, etc. It even includes many nominations.
What directors has Jones worked for? Each is listed in the capsule review of the particular film. I know, for example, that Irvin Kershner directed “The Eyes of Laura Mars” (1978). And if I look under the director’s index, it tells me all of Kershner’s other films (from 1961’s “Hoodlum Priest” to 1980’s “The Empire Strikes Back”).
And say I want to know about other films that deal with natural disasters. I just turn to the category section and under the Disaster Flicks heading I find “Avalanche” (1978), “Earthquake” (1974), “Fire” (1977), “Flood!” (1976), “Hurricane” (1937, ‘74 and ‘79), “Meteor” (1979), “Tidal Wave” (1975) and “Twister” (1996).
I could go on. The key is this: pretty much anything you want to know about film can be found in “VideoHound,” from mail-order video sources to alternate titles (“The Great Santini” was also released under the title “Ace”).
In short, “VideoHound” is the single best resource that the serious filmgoer is likely to find. And I wish they were paying me to say that (instead of simply providing me a review copy, which I was extremely happy to accept).
Speaking of alternate movie titles, a friend who lives in Missoula sent me a list of English subtitles used in various Hong Kong films. Here are the most amusing:
“Beat him out of recognizable shape!”
“You always use violence. I should’ve ordered glutinous rice chicken.”
And my personal favorite: “Greetings, large black person. Let us not forget to form a team up together and go into the country to inflict the pain of our karate feets on some ass of the giant lizard person.”
Man, would I love to see that movie!
The week’s major openings:
Los Angeles becomes the source of volcanic activity, and lava threatens to make toast of the coast - unless, of course, L.A.’s city emergency manager Tommy Lee Jones and geologist Anne Heche can act in time. Featuring great special effects, and more than one groaner of a cliche - the dog in peril, the street cop working shoulder-to-shoulder with the homeboy - “Volcano” manages to fill up its running time with summer-season thrills. Rated PG
Jim Carrey, returning to his pure comic mode (as opposed to the dark comedy of “Cable Guy”), portrays a lawyer who, following a birthday wish by his young son, finds himself unable to lie for a day. This thin concept is all it takes for the physically talented Carrey to mug from one scene to the next, particularly as he struggles to win a trial with a strategy that is based on lying. It’s hard not to laugh at Carrey’s sheer ridiculousness, but the script - which clearly has been trimmed drastically - offers little else that’s worth thinking about for more time than it takes to leave the theater. Rated PG-13
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: WHAT’S NEW TO VIEW Now available: “Liar Liar” (MCA/ Universal), “Volcano” (20th Century Fox), “B.A.P.S.” (New Line), “The Quiet Room” (New Line). Available Tuesday: “That Old Feeling (MCA/Universal), “Traveller” (Evergreen), “Anaconda” (Columbia TriStar).