The Claim (2000). Michael Winterbottom's transposition of Thomas Hardy's "The Mayor of Casterbridge" to a Northern California Gold Rush town is as audacious as it is undernourished. Winterbottom's stylish approach is so elliptical as to be at times needlessly hard to follow and doesn't give enough of its well-played characters to involve us in them to give this morality tale the impact it deserves. With Wes Bentley, Milla Jovovich, Nastassja Kinski and Sarah Poiley. MGM: no list price; DVD: $26.98; (CC); (R, for sexuality and some language and violence.
Dude, Where's My Car? (2000). A relentlessly idiotic but entertaining teen comedy that is a pastiche of such psychedelic proportions that the continuous efforts to evoke laughter through the wackiest and silliest of situations begin to feel downright desperate. Fox: no list price; DVD: $26.98; (CC); PG-13 for language and some sex-and drug-related humor.
Unbreakable (2000). It's unreasonable and unfair to expect any film to have the special impact "The Sixth Sense" had on audiences, but M. Night Shyamalan (who wrote, directed, produced both films) has recycled so many of the same elements here that he seems to be inviting comparisons. The real problem is the story line, which starts out implausible and gets increasingly more difficult to take seriously. Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson and Robin Wright Penn star. Touchstone: no list price; DVD: $29.99; (CC); PG-13, for mature themes, some disturbing violent content and a sexual reference.
* You Can Count on Me (2000). Kenneth Lonergan's beautifully textured dramatic comedy was a deserved double prize winner at Sundance and marks an exceptional writing-directing debut. A love story between a brother (Mark Ruffalo) and sister (Laura Linney) who exasperate each other, its superlative acting matches Lonergan's gift for truthful dialogue. Paramount: no list price; DVD: $29.99; (CC); R, for language, some drug use and a scene of sexuality.
* Last week's Top 5 VHS rentals:
1. Cast Away (2000). The high-minded picture implied in the title is only sporadically in front of us. The filmmakers--director Robert Zemeckis, writer William Broyles Jr. and producer-star Tom Hanks--got waylaid by what feels like a boyish enthusiasm for the survivalist aspects of a Robinson Crusoe tale of a man shipwrecked on an island, an enthusiasm that does not translate to the viewer. PG-13, for some intense images and action sequences.
2. Traffic (2000). Director Steven Soderbergh has once again opted for a change of pace. As written by Stephen Gaghan (based on a British TV miniseries), the film effortlessly intertwines several complex stories across two countries and several cities. The film's best performance is by Benicio Del Toro. With Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones. R, for pervasive drug content, strong language, violence and some sexuality.
3. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000). A film by Ang Lee that transcends categorization and reminds us--simply, powerfully, indelibly--what we go to the movies for. A delightful martial arts romance in which astounding fight sequences alternate with passionate yet idealistic love duets, Starring Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh and Zhang Ziyi. In Mandarin, with English subtitles. PG-13 for martial arts violence and some sexuality.
4. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000). An eccentric, picaresque Southern period comedy, rife with the kinds of genial madness only Joel and Ethan Coen can come up with. With George Clooney, John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson. PG-13, for violence and language.
5. What Women Want (2000). A vaguely amusing formulaic comedy that is more discomforting than endearing. You have to be a Mel Gibson-aholic to fully enjoy the proceedings. PG-13, for sexual content and language.
* Last week's Top 5 DVD rentals:
1. Cast Away
2. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
4. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
5. Vertical Limit (2000). Nail-biting mountaintop peril characterizes this old-fashioned tale. PG-13, for intense life-or-death situations and brief strong language.
* Last week's Top 5 VHS sellers:
1. Coyote Ugly (2000). It's a bad movie--but it's not one of those fiascoes that leaves you in a foul mood. PG-13, for sensuality.
2. The Emperor's New Groove (2000). A lighthearted animated adventure-morality tale ideal for youngsters yet conceived with a wit that will be appreciated by parents. G.
3. The Original Kings of Comedy (2000). Spike Lee's concert film lets us know why black audiences turned the Kings of Comedy show, with Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer and Bernie Mac, into the highest-grossing comedy tour ever. R, for language and sex-related humor.
4. Me, Myself & Irene (2000). Jim Carrey has his moments as a schizophrenic Rhode Island state policeman whose two personalities are in love with Renee Zellweger, but this Farrelly brothers comedy lacks warmth. R, for sexual content, crude humor, strong language and some violence.
5. Miss Congeniality (2000). Sandra Bullock plays a drab FBI agent made over by Michael Caine so she can go undercover in a pageant menaced by a terrorist threat. (1:50) PG-13, for sexual references and a scene of violence.
* Last week's Top 5 DVD sellers:
1. Cast Away
2. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
3. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
5. Vertical Limit
Tuesday: "The Body," "Dracula 2000," "Snatch," "The Wedding Planner."
July 10: "Down to Earth," "Malena," "Monkeybone," "Thirteen Days."
July 17: "The Caveman's Valentine," "Double Take," "The Family Man," "The Gift," "In the Mood for Love," "Saving Silverman," "Sugar & Spice."
July 24: "Pollock," "Sweet November," "Valentine."
Rental video charts provided by VSDAVidTrac, sales charts by VideoScan Inc.