PLATOON R, 1987, 111 minutes, HBO Video, $99.95.
Oliver Stone's movie of his experiences during the Vietnam war was more of a public event than an artistic success. The movie crystallized many of the public's unresolved emotions about the war, and in a sense it offered a kind of mass catharsis and an opportunity to reopen the subject for debate. For his efforts Stone won the Oscar for best director, and the film took the best picture award as well. Ultimately, though, this is all fairly strange, given that the movie, which Stone wrote based on his own time in Vietnam and the testimony of other men in the trenches, is conceived not in a realistic, documentary fashion, but in grandiose literary terms. Stone presents the war as the opposition of the forces of good and evil within a single platoon. And his conception of the two sides isn't subtle. It's operatic and ambitiously, almost obsessively, personal -- hardly the sort of movie that enters easily into the popular consciousness. The film, which made stars of Charlie Sheen and Tom Berenger, is spectacularly well made, especially sequences of the close-in jungle fighting, and what Stone manages to convey most vividly is his need to deal with the experience of the war. This is probably what made the public embrace it as well; Stone takes himself, and his subject, seriously. But still, he hasn't made a stodgy or predigested presentation of it; to his credit, he's left in all his wild, inchoate ideas.
ROBOCOP R, 1987, 96 minutes, Orion Home Video, $89.98.
Peter Weller plays a cop's cop who is shot to ribbons, then rises from the dead -- a bionic Lazarus who hunts down not only his killers but the creator who resurrected his body while attempting to murder his memory. Dutch director Paul Verhoeven of "The Fourth Man" directed this, his first American feature, with sanguine pizazz, achieving a ripping pace and a blood-curdling, darkly comic eloquence. This sleek sci-fi thriller is set in the murky, crime-ridden Detroit of 1991, and with its droll underpinnings and stunning images, it is to the cyborgs of the Motor City what "Blade Runner" was to the androids of L.A. "Robocop" also is about pollution -- albeit of the psyche -- and the ascendancy of man-made over mankind. Cowriters Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner see little difference between the mores of the streets and those of the boardrooms, twisting a cartoon-simple plot into an inspired swipe at everything from game shows to misspent defense monies. Sheer action fans can ignore the political meaning and just enjoy the vicarious vigilantism and the many fine explosions. Warning: Graphic violence.
THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER Unrated, 1940, B&W, 97 minutes, MGM Home Video, $24.95.
Though it was made in 1940, this is an example of what people mean when they talk about the effervescent Hollywood comedies of the '30s. The movie stars James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan as quarrelsome floorwalkers in a Budapest shop who spar together like worst enemies. The banter, of course, is all part of the couple's romantic jousting; it's the surest sign they're nuts about each other. One of the twists, though, is that we're always a little surer of that than they are. The director, Ernst Lubitsch, has created a world that's more Hollywood than Budapest, but still the result is pure delight. And the script, by Samson Raphaelson, is the most buoyant sort of literary confection. The actors, too, are at the peak of their talents. The Jimmy Stewart here isn't a drawling hick. His performance is focused and free of affectations; you can believe that he'd write sensitive, heart-swelling love letters. And if you're not that familiar with Margaret Sullavan, this is a good place to start. Sullavan's personality onscreen had a naturally poetic temper, but she wasn't exotic like, say, Garbo, who also made you think she felt things more deeply than other mortals. No other actress in Hollywood ever had Sullavan's combination of graceful poignance and sparkle. Surrounding the stars is a marvelous cast of supporting players, including Frank Morgan, Joseph Schildkraut, Sara Haden and William Tracy.
DISORDERLIES PG, 1987, 87 minutes, Warner Home Video, $79.95.
At a combined weight of nearly 1,000 pounds, the Fat Boys are only half a ton of fun. And that goes for this lowest-common-denominator caper -- a screwball burlesque that was specially written for these masters of rap. The Boys are new to acting -- so new they haven't quite got it down pat yet. But they do show a knack for slapstick -- the Three Huges, slapping each other silly, dropping their pants a` la Larry, Curly and Moe. They make fat seem funny, but they don't have the Stooges' precision timing yet. The Boys play inept but endearing orderlies who lose their jobs in a crummy Brooklyn hospital, but are fortuitously hired by a compulsive gambler who plans to pay off his debts by snuffing his rich uncle. He chooses the disorderlies in hopes that their incompetent nursing will kill the grumpy avuncular geezer (Ralph Bellamy). As it happens, the disorderlies prove good medicine for their patient, bringing him back from the deathbed with plenty of pizza. Bellamy, still a trouper at 83, moves from curmudgeon to home boy almost joyously in the company of his irrepressible costars. Michael Schultz of "Krush Groove" directed this incredible bulk.
GO GO LIVE AT THE CAPITAL CENTRE Unrated, 1987, 90 minutes, G Street Express, $29.95.
This excellently filmed and recorded concert is the best PR Washington's home-grown funk has ever had. For one thing, it does an excellent job of showing the exuberant shared community that springs up between bands and audiences at a typical go-go show. The pulsating polyrhythms that propel the music may be the one constant among the eight bands represented here, but there are a lot of internalized variations, such as the rapology of D.C. Scorpio's "Stone Cold Hustler," Little Benny and the Masters' playful "Cat in the Hat" and Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers' funkified calypso on "Day-O." You'll also hear echoes of jump bands, gospel and neo-soul in extended performances by Brown, Experience Unlimited and Rare Essence, and shorter shifts from Go-Go Lorenzo, the Junkyard Band and Hot, Cold Sweat. And while the music is impressive by itself, the concert was so well shot and the editing is so on the pulse that out-of-towners who've been wondering what the go-go fuss is all about finally have a chance to see and hear for themselves.