These movies arrive on video store shelves this week.
(R, 1998, 94 minutes, Columbia-TriStar)
In keeping with its austere Austrian origins, Stefan Ruzowitzky's Alpine fable of seven peasants who inherit a farm from their cruel master is neither chirpy nor uplifting. It is, however, a richly textured morality tale of material wealth and justice and the impossibility of ever really attaining either one. Simon Schwarz and Sophie Rois are touching and tragic as the working-class lovers Lukas and Emmy, who struggle valiantly to hold together the little collective of arriviste landowners against their sadistic neighbor Danninger (Ulrich Wildgruber) and the defenders of the status quo. The discordant atmospherics of Ruzowitzky's bleak and foreboding film underscore its message that it is not the meek after all, but the mean who shall inherit the earth. Contains brief nudity, sex, profanity, psychological cruelty, mob violence and rape. In German with subtitles.
-- Michael O'Sullivan
THE RAGE -- CARRIE 2
(R, 1999, 105 minutes, United Artists)
When the central character burns in Hell at the end of Brian DePalma's "Carrie" movie more than 20 years ago, you'd think that would be pretty sequel-proof. Think again. Or don't think again, as we go through the whole Carrie Thing again, with Emily Bergl playing a Different Kind of Girl with the ability to send coffee cups flying. When Rachel's best friend Lisa (Mena Suvari) suffers a lover's suicide, this sets the telekinetic one on a destructive course, messing up a budding affair with a school stud (Jason London) and leading to the same old bloodbath. Only reason to watch: the grisly reward performer Amy Irving gets for returning to a "Carrie" movie. Contains obscenity and bloody violence.
-- Desson Howe
(R, 1999, 97 minutes, Columbia-TriStar)
There is deliciously subversive potential in James Merendino's movie: life during the Reagan 1980s, as seen through the eyes of a punk-student narrator Stevo (Matthew Lillard) living in Salt Lake City. Lillard is engaging, and the story introduces us to a colorful network of out-there weirdos, including a paranoid Eurotrasher (Til Schweiger) and Heroin Bob (Michael Goorjian), so-named because of his aversion to needles. But "SLC Punk!" doesn't have enough dimension to maintain dramatic interest. Its cop-out/sellout dilemma -- in which Stevo weighs falling in love with a sweethearted girl (Summer Phoenix) and going to Harvard Law School, instead of living the punk life -- is a rather cynical, and hardly earth-shattering quandary. Contains sexual scenes, some violence and much profanity.
-- Desson Howe
10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU
(PG-13, 1999, 97 minutes, Touchstone)
In this blandly updated, teen version of William Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew," popular student Bianca (Larisa Oleynik) has to get a date for her older, sourpuss sister Kat (Julia Stiles), before Dad (Larry Miller) will let her go out with boys. When one of Bianca's suitors persuades sexy loner Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger) to woo the older sib, the plot thickens. Or thins. It's great that Shakespeare has become one cool Dead White Guy to sample, but it would be greater yet if he were not reduced to moronic high school pap. Contains sexual situations and strong language.
-- Desson Howe