MADONNA: THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION
1990, Warner Music Video, $19.95.
For twice the price of the single "Justify My Love" video, you can get 13 prime Madonna numbers that have most of the same elements, though not in a single salivating package. Looking for kinkiness, sleaze, sexual ambiguity and voyeurism? Try her first collaboration with Jean-Baptise Mondino, the love song "Open Your Heart," which places Madonna in a sex-club peep show. Looking for lingerie? Experience Madonna's Catholic Confusion routines in "Like a Prayer," which infuriated churchgoers and the KKK alike. The selections range from the early bellybutton-baring "Lucky Star" and "Like a Virgin" to the recent "Vogue," and with almost all of the crucial numbers -- the still jolly "Material Girl," the mermen-filled "Cherish," "Papa Don't Preach" and the German expressionist "Open Your Heart." This collection is also a convenient reference guide to the various guises the canny Madonna assumed in the '80s, from Catholic tramp to Marilyn Monroe bombshell (she also goes from slightly plump to lean and mean). In the process she's graduated from Boy Toy to using Toy Boys in her videos, though the focus is always squarely on Madonna. As to how effective these videos have been in turning Madonna into the world's reigning telstar, try to imagine any of these songs without the specific attendant images. Just try.
Rita Kempley YOUNG GUNS II
PG-13, 1990, 105 minutes, closed-captioned, CBS/Fox, $92.98.
If "Young Guns II" has it right, 'twas celebrity that drove Billy the Kid. The poor darlin' was not a murderous thumb-sucker at all but a victim of the wild Western hype machine, a proto-Warholian headline maggot addicted to his own shameful legend. If only he'd had a publicist, the poor li'l whippersnapper probably would have gone into show business, maybe even gotten a lucrative book contract. Emilio Estevez reprises his role of Billy, the most famous, fatuous and, yes, pudgy boy in all of New Mexico, in the further adventures of the brat pack on horseback. Kiefer Sutherland and Lou Diamond Phillips are back as Doc and Chavez, among the few Guns to survive the original. The West has changed since their last gun battle. Lincoln County is populated with corrupt officials, reckless young desperadoes and citizens demanding statehood. One of the Kid's former colleagues, Pat Garrett (William Petersen), has become a lawman hired to track Billy down. So Billy, Chavez and Doc ride for Old Mexico with Garrett and his men in hot pursuit. Geoff Murphy, the New Zealander who directed "Utu," brings an epic look to this double-barreled cowpuffery, the romanticization of violent death and pathetic hubris. Joseph McLellan
COSI FAN TUTTE
Unrated, 1989, 186 minutes, Home Vision, $49.95.
We do not ordinarily think of La Scala as a prime source for Mozart operas, though it is often the last word in Verdi and Puccini. But conductor Riccardo Muti takes the company far beyond its traditional limitations in a crisp, funny, heartfelt, well-proportioned and exquisitely styled interpretation of the most intricately balanced -- in some ways, the most Mozartean -- of the Mozart operas. It is emphatically Muti's "Cosi," though the stage direction of Michael Hampe and the designs of Mauro Pagano both contribute to its special flavor. All six solo roles are important, and no single star stands out, though Adelina Scarabelli as Despina and Claudio Desderi as Don Alfonso make a slightly more vivid impression than the four mix-and-match lovers (Daniela Dessi, Delores Ziegler, Jozef Kundiak and Alessandro Corbelli). Muti has chosen good but mostly young and little-known singers -- partly for freshness but also, one suspects, because it is easier to impose his interpretation on them. No matter; it is a theatrically strong, musically exquisite interpretation -- very much an ensemble performance, as this opera requires. There is some cult of personality in the way the camera shifts from the stage to the conductor -- in the trio "Soave sia il vento," for example, and during the finales of both acts -- but Muti does deserve recognition for a fine production.
Rita Kempley THE ADVENTURES OF FORD FAIRLANE
R, 1990, 100 minutes, closed-captioned, CBS/Fox Video, $92.98.
"The Adventures of Ford Fairlane" is a resounding belch from the belly of the new Neanderthal, a comedy of arrested adolescence designed for that embarrassment to baboons, Andrew Dice Clay. All pottyisms and sexual big talk, it gets off on degrading women. Like Clay's stand-up persona, the Diceman, the title character happens to be a swaggering, bullying Bunkerite with his brains in his Fruit o' the Looms. Fairlane, a rock-and-roll detective, specializes in making bimbos and solving music industry crimes. With the help of his kid sidekick, he links the deaths of a heavy metal star (Vincent Neil) and a shock jock (Gilbert Gottfried) to a daffy groupie (Maddie Corman) and a record-label owner (Wayne Newton). Directed by "Die Harder's" Renny Harlin, the picture has a crackling pace and a glossy look. It's all the more pernicious for that, this sleek glorification of hate and loathing. Here's one Ford who doesn't have a better idea.-Rita Kempley