Culture

Video Rentals

Culture | The top 5 videos in popularity as measured by rental receipts for the week ended Nov. 5

Issue: "A legal coup?," Nov. 25, 2000
1
The patriot $8.8 million 2 weeks in release $18.72 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger / Roland Emmerich (Independence Day) / Columbia Pictures

PLOT
A South Carolina planter is drawn into a guerrilla war against the British during the American Revolution.

MESSAGE
Liberty is worth fighting and even dying for.

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CAUTION
Rated R for strong war violence.

2
Frequency $7.98 million 1 week in release $7.98 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
Dennis Quaid, James Caviezel / Gregory Hoblit (Primal Fear) / New Line Cinema

PLOT
A cop uses an old ham radio to talk to his firefighting father 30 years in the past and warn him of his impending death.

MESSAGE
Changing the past changes the future in ways you can't anticipate.

CAUTION
Rated PG-13 for violence and disturbing images.

3
Rules of Engagement $4.33 million 4 weeks in release $22.2 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
Tommy Lee Jones, Samuel L. Jackson / William Friedkin (The French Connection) / Paramount Pictures

PLOT
A Marine colonel faces a court-martial when a mission to save an ambassador results in civilian deaths.

MESSAGE
A big gray area exists between combat and murder.

CAUTION
Rated R for bad language and war violence.

4
Return to me $3.41 million 1 week in release $3.41 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
David Duchovny, Minnie Driver / Bonnie Hunt / MGM

PLOT
Romance about a woman who gets a heart transplant and later falls in love with the widower of the organ donor.

MESSAGE
Life goes on after someone dies-and death doesn't always leave an unhappy ending.

CAUTION
Rated PG for bad language.

5
U-571 $3.35 million 5 weeks in release $25.38 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton / Jonathan Mostow (Breakdown) / Universal Pictures

PLOT
WWII submarine drama about an American crew trying to grab a top-secret coding device from a German U-boat.

MESSAGE
War makes ordinary men do amazing things.

CAUTION
Rated PG-13 for violence and some bad language.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Let's go to Mars! Hollywood took two trips this year, with uneven results. First was the flop Mission To Mars, and now we have Red Planet (Warner Bros.; rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence, brief nudity, and language). This one has Val Kilmer among a crew making the first manned trip to Mars, hoping to pave the way for colonization. It's 2050 and humanity has wrecked Earth and needs a new home. Mr. Kilmer and his companions wind up stuck on Mars, hoping to get out of trouble before they run out of air. Meanwhile, their leader (Carrie-Anne Moss) is back at the ship with her own problems. Red Planet moves along predictable lines, throwing endless nods to 2001: A Space Odyssey, even throwing in a malfunctioning robot. It's about as good (or bad) as most sci-fi adventure movies of its ilk, with an unusual twist being a theistic backdrop. One crew member talks about how "science can't answer all the really interesting questions" and the gang starts pondering God's existence while waiting for an expected doom. It turns out there is life on Mars, a form that offers no easy scientific explanation. Too bad none of this is handled with any depth; Red Planet might have been worth the trip.

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