R, 1990, 115 minutes, Paramount Home Video, $91.95.
In Mike Figgis's "Internal Affairs," the menace is penny-bright and punishingly glamorous. A chic thriller about cops investigating other cops, it's set in a fantasy-land L.A., where the sunlight falls in golden shafts and every waitress is a heartbreak. These are mean streets, but they're sexy and mean. And the evil here is all the more compelling because it has its enticements. So does the film, and though you'd be kidding yourself to accept it as anything other than flirtatious posturing, the allure of the thing is nearly irresistible. The plot -- in which Avila (Andy Garcia), a detective with Internal Affairs, is drawn into a morass of corruption presided over by a dirty cop named Peck (Richard Gere) -- is little more than a platform for existential arabesques. Mostly, "Internal Affairs" is about atmosphere. It's a study in sexual tension in which Figgis uses the tawny eroticism of the setting and the characters -- the Lycra-tight mini-dresses and denims, the tumbling ringlets of the women and brush-cut machismo of the men -- to intensify the emotions. The actors, their jaw lines bulging from contemplative flexing, confront each other only with their best faces turned to the camera. Gere's Peck is a kind of harem-master, with four wives and nine kids, who manipulates men and women alike with a combination of violence and seductive indulgence. These are some of Gere's best moments as an actor. His movements are delicate and unhurried, and his line readings are nearly whispered in such a way that the character seems threateningly close. Gere gives Peck a kind of insinuating amorality, but Garcia doesn't come back at him with much. Figgis gives his dolled-up universe a high-voltage hum. And at the center of it, Gere is an extraordinarily vivid monster -- the devil as fashion plate. -- Hal Hinson
PG-13, 1989, 99 minutes, closed-captioned, Orion Home Video, $89.98.
In Susan Seidelman's tediously antic "She-Devil," Roseanne Barr looks like something that crawled out from underneath a bridge. With jowls that hang down like saddlebags and an unwholesome-looking mole on her upper lip, she's pathologically unglamorous. Like the victim of an evil curse in a fairy story, she's a suburban troll -- something not even a mother could love. "She-Devil," which is based loosely on a novel by Fay Weldon, probably qualifies as a feminist fable, but if so, it was made by the most self-loathing feminist imaginable. The heroine Seidelman has created isn't merely homely, as Weldon's heroine was, she's beyond hope, beyond loving. The movie's opening sequence is set at the cosmetics counter in a department store, where long-limbed angels -- blondes, brunettes and redheads -- brush rouge on their cheeks and dot their necks with perfume. This is the realm of beauty and romance, a realm from which Barr's Ruth has been forever banished. Her opposite is Mary Fisher (Meryl Streep), a romance novelist so successful, glamorous and, above all, thin that she's profiled on "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous." Mary resides in a cloud-kingdom of powder-puff pink. Ruth, on the other hand, is the queen of the dogs, and the war to the death she and Mary wage over her accountant husband, Bob (Ed Begley Jr.), is a war between the beauty haves and have-nots. Unfortunately, Seidelman fails to draw us onto Ruth's side, so her revenge isn't something we have a stake in. When her husband leaves her, we identify not with Ruth's anguish but with Bob's release. If Barr were a warmer, more generous performer, some of these problems might have been alleviated. Because we have no feeling for her, we can't take any pleasure in her angry plotting. We watch her blow up her house, destroy Bob's love life and set him up with the IRS as if we'd been sentenced to hard time, joylessly counting down the minutes. -- Hal Hinson
PG, 1990, 91 minutes, closed-captioned, RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video, $89.95.
Paul Maslansky, the mogul behind all six "Police Academies," takes the formula slopeside in this downhill caper, featuring a rainbow coalition of fun-loving flakes. There's the home boy (T.K. Carter), the Chicano (George Lopez), the Bratislavan (Tess), the white bread (Roger Rose), the girl (Yvette Nipar) and the nerd (Paul Feig). Led by the shorty (Leslie Jordan), the patrol saves Snowy Peaks Lodge, owned by the kindly old Pops, from the unscrupulous Anglo-Saxon land developer. Get the drift? Stale plot, lame jokes, dull cast. "Ski Patrol," ski-daddle. -- Rita Kempley