GRACELAND: THE AFRICAN CONCERT
Unrated, 1987, 90 minutes, Warner Reprise Video, $29.98.
This is Paul Simon's "Graceland," definitely not to be confused with "Priscilla Presley's Graceland." Beautifully photographed under African skies and splendidly recorded last February at the open-air Rufaro Stadium in Zimbabwe, the concert is a brilliant showcase for Simon's award-winning "Graceland" album, and perhaps more importantly for South Africa's rhythmically compelling "township jive," the music that inspired that collaborative effort. Simon performs the nine African-rooted songs from that album, including "You Can Call Me Al," "Diamonds in the Soles of Her Shoes" and "I Know What I Know," but he's also generous with his compatriots, including the astounding 10-man a cappella ensemble Ladysmith Black Mambazo, which does two of its own songs as well as four with Simon. Throughout, the African band led by guitarist Ray Phiri and bassist Bakithi Kumalo keeps things percolating in high fashion. The video, beautifully directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg ("Let It Be"), closes with a moving reading by the performers and the 20,000 blacks and whites in the audience of "N'Kosi Sikeleli Africa," a somber hymn that has become the African anthem. -- Richard Harrington
DEFENCE OF THE REALM
PG-13, 1985, 96 minutes, Embassy Home Entertainment, $79.95.
The pols meet the press in this sedate British thriller, which weighs journalistic freedom against national security. Gabriel Byrne is rumpled news hunk Nick Mullen, a cross between Mel Gibson and the McLaughlin Group. The aggressive newsman gets his first scoop thanks to an anonymous tip about a prominent member of Parliament. It looks like a routine sex scandal, just another Piccadilly peccadillo, till a veteran Fleet Streeter (the indefatigable Denholm Elliott) convinces Nick that his nose for news isn't up to snuff. Unfortunately the fact-finding process -- high-tone emoting over the Xerox -- proves more interesting than the patchwork solution. Director David Drury tends to drown the dialogue in ambient sound, but, thanks to his documentary background, he gives "Defence" on-the-spot intimacy. Still, it's Byrne's tweedy sex appeal that keeps the pace percolating. -- Rita Kempley
SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL
PG-13, 1987, closed-captioned, 95 minutes, Paramount Home Video, $79.95
Teen-movie tycoon John Hughes produced this variation on "Pretty in Pink" -- sort of a "Bothered in Blue" for boys. Eric Stoltz, the hero of "Mask," plays Keith, a working-class senior with a crush on the unattainable Amanda Jones, played by professional teen-ager Lea Thompson. Amanda, the most popular girl in school, is dating a snotty preppy, who warns Keith to keep away from his "property." All the same, the persistent poor boy gets his dream date with a helping hand from his best friend Drummer Girl. This sweet-natured movie will probably be best remembered for introducing the world to Mary Stuart Masterson. As Drummer Girl, the tomboy who loves Keith, she steals the show. Hughes wrote the romantic comedy, which is directed by Howard Deutch. A teen trauma worth perusing. -- Rita Kempley
THE NAKED SPUR
Unrated, 1953, 91 minutes, MGM/UA Home Video, $59.95. In 1950, with "Winchester '73," Jimmy Stewart began a series of westerns with the director Anthony Mann, and together they seemed to find something new, something darker, colder and more desperate in Stewart's personality. The experience had a revitalizing effect on the actor, and in these movies -- "The Man From Laramie," "Bend in the River," "The Far Country" -- and the films he made with Hitchcock, he did some of his toughest, most biting work. In "The Naked Spur," Stewart plays an embittered rancher turned bounty hunter who sets out to drag in a man wanted for murder (Robert Ryan) in order to make the money to buy back his lost land. As the outlaw, Ryan is an amiable villain with a cocky, sidelong grin who tries to stir up trouble among Stewart and his partners, a morally degenerate soldier (Ralph Meeker) and an old-coot prospector (Millard Mitchell). What makes the film work -- aside from William Mellor's spectacular shots of the Colorado Rockies -- is the intensity of Stewart's performance and Mann's concentrated attention to the shifting dynamics within his group of mercenaries. As in many westerns, the moral conflicts feel a bit trumped up, but Mann and his actors give them a cutting edge, and some of Stewart's scenes have a scalding reality. There's no trace here of the bumbling darling who sees imaginary rabbits.
-- Hal Hinson
WAITING FOR THE MOON
PG, 1987, 90 minutes, Key Video, $79.98.
In "Waiting for the Moon," Alice B. Toklas (Linda Hunt) and Gertrude Stein (Linda Bassett) lounge, sun themselves, enjoy good food and each other, and write, though not necessarily in that order. The movie, directed by Jill Godmilow, portrays Stein as that rare, endangered creature -- the genius -- and Toklas as her keeper. The assumption it makes is that we have just as high an opinion of her as they do, and we might have if they had given us any indication that she was endowed with anything other than a gift for whimsy and the well-turned mot. Nevertheless, there's a sly intelligence at work inside the script, and its writer, Mark Macgill, has a sharp ear for the way smart people talk. Despite the film's shortcomings, he and Godmilow have captured something that's tough to get on screen -- the life of the mind. -- Hal Hinson