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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

‘Angels in America’ proves Nichols can’t be kept down

 (The Spokesman-Review)

“Angels in America”


Mike Nichols has had one of the more uneven careers in moviemaking history. For every “The Graduate” there’s been a “Day of the Dolphin,” for every “Silkwood” a “Biloxi Blues.” Yet in adapting Tony Kushner’s two-part stage play about the AIDS crisis into this HBO- sponsored masterpiece, Nichols proves that talent endures. An amazing cast, featuring everyone from unknowns Justin Kirk and Ben Shenkman to familiar stars Al Pacino and Meryl Streep, makes Kushner’s complex vision of politics, both of government and of the soul, into one of the great artistic visions of late- 20th-century America. (DVD only; 4:52; not rated but explicit language, sexuality, nudity)

“THX 1138” (director’s cut)


Long before Luke Skywalker and The Force, George Lucas had expanded his college-made short about a “Brave New World”-type society into this fascinating feature. Robert Duvall stars as the title character, a drone of a guy (whose name is pronounced THX-Eleven- Thirty-Eight) whose attempt at something … leads to more surprises than he could have imagined. The director’s cut includes the standard making-of feature but also added material that critic Bill Hunt says, “expands the sense of scale.” (DVD only; 1:28; rated R for sexuality, nudity)

“Warren Miller’s Journey”


With octogenarian Warren Miller narrating, 19 camera crews (under the overall direction of Mark Bervy) follow 73 skiers, snowboarders, a water skier and even a gravity- defying skydiver across four continents and countries as diverse as Chile and France, northern Italy and Points North, Alaska. Whatever your age, if you live for snow sports, “Warren Miller’s Journey” is bound to thrill you. (DVD only; 1:32; not rated but brief drug references, sports action)

“Home on the Range”


This Disney story tells a simple tale of good vs. evil involving a trio of cows (Roseanne, Judi Dench, Jennifer Tilly) that tries to save their ranch from foreclosure. The ends are neatly tied up by the movie’s close, which is the problem: There’s not one moment of freshness. Kids may not notice, but parents likely will. (DVD, VHS; 1:26; rated PG for mild rude humor)

“Man on Fire”


John Creasy (Denzel Washington), a former Marine with a death-wish drinking problem, is hired to protect the daughter (Dakota Fanning) of a Mexico City entrepreneur (Marc Anthony). When she gets kidnapped, Creasy returns to what he knows best: dealing out death. It’s about 35 minutes too long, and there’s a twist at the end that Ray Charles could spot coming. (DVD, VHS; 2:26; rated R for sexual references, brief drug references, violence)

“Everybody Loves Raymond: The Complete First Season,” “Diff’rent Strokes: The Compete First Season,” “My Favorite Martian: The Complete First Season”

Everybody does love Ray Romano, which has made his CBS sitcom one of the most popular over the past decade (DVD, VHS). But “Diff’rent Strokes” (DVD only) and “My Favorite Martian” (DVD, released in 1999 as VHS box set) belong to that other TV genre: the classic.

1“Taking Lives”
4“Kill bill: Vol. 2”
5“13 Going on 30”
6“Johnson Family Vacation”
7“The Prince and Me”

Now available: “Angels in America,” “Home on the Range,” “Man On Fire,” “Scooby-Doo: Monsters Unleashed,” “THX-1138” (director’s cut), “Everybody Loves Raymond: The Complete First Season,” “Diff’rent Strokes: The Compete First Season,” “My Favorite Martian: The Complete First Season,” “Warren Miller’s Journey.”

Available Tuesday: “Mean Girls,” “Star Wars Trilogy: Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, The Return of the Jedi” (DVD only), “La Dolce Vita: Collector’s Edition” (DVD only), “The Battle of Algiers: Criterion Collection” (DVD only).