The Michigan Daily - au/e., 4c. - Thursday, December7, 1995 - 3B
Videos from your armchair in
A LEXA NDR A TW IN
itting late last night, watching my
favorite news and information
rogram - the home shopping
ietwork - I was struck by an
piphany. It happened as I watched in
shock as copy after copy of the
Double-whipped Delight (the
ombined chocolate syrup maker-
ooper scooper) went untouched. I
hought, God, what are these people
hinking, don't they see a great
hristmas gift when it's right in front
Apparantly not, for year after year
we pass up the best gifts thinking,
Iammit, that's too expensive, that's
oo inexpensive, no one would wear
tat, not even Great Aunt Gladie..
ntil we are left with the requisite
'gift certificate" or worse, far worse:
A fruit basket or perhaps a jar of nuts.
No one, not even Telly Savales,
wants to receive a jar of nuts for the
holidays. Yet, we do it. Why?
No one knows, particularly not
people who have shows on the WB
network or the UPN. Not even the
greats can unravel this mystery. The
dilemma of what to get people and
why goes way back to the ancients. It
all started one day when Plato, in one
of his particularly reflective mo-
ments, turned to Aristotle and said,
"What the hell are we gonna get
Sophocles? He's so goddam hard to
shop for." The debate has raged on
Oh, remember the days of yester-
year when gift-giving was so simple?
Perhaps your family didn't believe in
the kids having to buy anything for
the holidays, just your presence was
enough of a gift to them.
Perhaps you came from a commu-
nist family like my friend Comrade J.,
whose parents would give each child
three bucks to buy something for
other family members (granted, with
three bucks, every one got a pack of
gum, but it was the thought that
Inmy family, we were encouraged
to "make" things: Never being the
active, arts--craftsy types, my sister
and I, on hearing that we were to
"make" a gift, would make a b-line
for the couch, where we would look
behind its crusty pillows to see if
anything cool had fallen back there
that we could polish off and give to
One year my sister gave me
something that she had found in the
backyard. One year she gave me
something that I had given to her the
So this year, instead of a wushy-
gushy family togetherness column at
the Holidays, I offer a more practical
service: The uncreative, cheap-skate's
guide to Holiday gift-giving.
1) Pennies: You hate having them,
you hate the excitement of thinking
that you have change in your pocket
r.--..,.,,,a' ne a
so why not give someone ese'lie
same sense of disappointment?
Besides, there's a free penny jar at
Subway, so you don't even have to
2) Apples: Remember when you
were a kid, all dressed-up for
Halloween, trick or treating and
acquiring lots of cool candy and then
you got to 01' Lady Miner's house
and she gave you an apple? Do you
remember how that felt? Well, do it
to someone else. Even better,
everyone knows that if someone give
you an apple, it could be poisonous,
so it shouldn't be eaten. Therefore,
you can buy just one apple and go up
to each friend in unison, present the
apple and then say "Yikes. It might
be poisoned. I better take that back."
3) The Daily Crossword Puzzle:
God knows it's free. Go hog-wild, rip
out a whole week's worth and presen
them to those you love.
4) Catalogs: You get a ton of them,
when you're done, you just throw
them out. Why not save them, circle
one expensive thing in each "L.L.
Bean," "J. Crew" or "Necrophiliac
Style" catalog and attach a note to
your dearly beloved that says, "this is
what I would have bought you if I
By Joshua Rich
Daily Film Editor
Few of us remember a time when
movies weren't available on home
video. After all, we are children of the1
1980s, the Reagan era - the decade
that gave us CNN, ESPN and VCRs.1
Before this technological golden age,
people usually had to wait many years
for a film to be re-released in theaters
(or for it to come on television) in order
to.see it again. You couldn't just go out
to your local Blockbuster and pick up a
copy of a movie that had come out no
more than a year earlier.
It used to be that all films had to have
been viewed in uncomfortable movie
theaters with strange people sniffling
beside you or kicking your chair from
behind; the comfort of your own living
room was reserved forreading thenews-
paper or watching the evening news.
Seeing movies in so-called "home en-
tertainment centers" just wasn't pos-
sible in the past.
It also took quite
a while for movies
to be released onw
home video -~
sometimes as much
asa few years, some-
times never. "E.T.
- The Extra-Ter- a
restrial," for ex-
ample, took some
seven years to come
out on video after its Pr
initial theatrical re- 'r
lease in 1982. Many
classic films still"
aren't available to
the ordinary couch
But this has all
changed. Natasha Henstridg
ies come out on
video so fast that it usually isn't worth
paying $7 to see them in the theater; we
can pay half as much to see them at
home a few months later.
Such is the case with most of the
movies released this year. And the
upcoming holiday season will not only
be one of gigantic proportions in the
theaters, but in video stores as well.
Almost all the blockbuster movies
that came out this summer - from
"Smoke" to "Clueless" and "Judge
Dredd" to "Die Hard with a Ven-
geance" - will be available for us to
watch on the small screen over the
After all, it has only been about three
months since these films were in the
theaters-it's abouttimethat we should
be able to see them at home. Conse-
quently, winter has become the season-
when the previous summer's mega-hits
are made available to home video con-
sumers. And we should have plenty of
exciting options when we visit our local
video stores over Christmas break.
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iage o te
For starters, the horror-action flick,
"Species" (released this week, on Dec.
5), will hit stores just as the Christmas
shopping season blasts off. And what
better gift is there for your friends or
significant: other than this gruesome
presentation of sex and violence? Young
model Natasha Henstridge stars as an
alien who, in the form of a sexy woman
(which, of course, begs the question:
Why do aliens always disguise them-
selves as models and other attractive
people?), hunts down men with whom
she will either mate or kill. This should
put you in the holiday spirit, huh?!
That's not all for the slew of mostly
poor films coming out over the next few
weeks. On Dec. 12, video consumers
have the distinct pleasure of choosing
between some of the latest stinkers to
leave Hollywood, "Canadian Bacon,"
"First Knight" and "The Land Before
Starring the late John Candy (in his
final performance), "Canadian Bacon"
is a movie that
for a few years
- in other
words, it was so
bad that other
awful films like
and "The Road
before it was.
stayed in some
vault after all.
ge in "Species" "First Knight"
success when released in theaters this
summer. The Arthurian legend-love
story with Richard Gere and Sean
Connery was quickly swallowed up by
its competition. And "The Land Before
Time 3" will, no doubt, come as a shock
to many who didn't realize there was a
second installment in the series. Guess
this movie franchise is not about to rival
that of "Lethal Weapon" or "The God-
father" any time soon.
Nevertheless, Dec. 12 will also see
the arrival of an equal amount of much
more high-quality pictures on video
store shelves. Fans of more artsy mov-
ies will be undoubtedly satisfied. In
Hugh Grant's pre-scandal effort, "The
Englishman who Went up a Hill But
Came Down a Mountain," he plays a
mild-mannered surveyor who gets in-
volved in atouching romance. "Smoke,"
directed by Wayne Wang and written
by Paul Auster is also a sure crowd
pleaser. The Brooklyn-based fable about
cigar store owner Harvey Keitel and his
many small adventures is, in fact, one
of the best films of 1995.
On another front, Sylvester
Stallone's addition to this summer's
pack of action movies turned out to be
one of his best in quite a while. While
"Judge Dredd" was restricted by its
extremely short length and a limited
budget (only so much money can be
spent on such outstanding sets and
special effects), it proved to be enter-
taining in the end. Stallone gives a
stone-cold performance that's likesan
amusing satire of his previous perso-
nae, while comedian Rob Schneider
is the often hilarious funny man at his
side. There is no question "Judge
Dredd" should provide some fun as
you wait for Santa to arrive.
Then, on Dec. 19, we will be able to
see three more films while reclining
on our La-Z-Boys. While "Gumby:
The Movie" went in and out of the-
aters this summer faster than "Apollo
13" blasted off, its life on video can
do nothing but be more successful.
This does not need to be said, how-
ever, for the other two films to be
released this week.
"Clueless" became a big hit as we
were attracted to Alicia Silverstone's
portrayal of a high-class teen named
Cher, in this pseudo-"Fast Times at
Ridgemont High" remake. Bruce Willis
, - J"
Pretty boy Hugh Grant is the Englishman who went up a hill and came down with a
hooker ... or something like that.
also pleased millions of his fans with
the third film in his "Die Hard" series,
"Die Hard with a Vengeance." Both
movies will, in all likelihood, enjoy
equal success on home video.
Closing out the holiday season will
be "Mortal Kombat," which is sched-
uled for a Dec. 27 video release.
Thankfully, distributors decided to
wait until the end of the so-called
"season of giving" to bring out this
film. After all, it is based on the popu-
lar violent video game in which we
are privy to sights of, among other
things, peoples guts being ripped out.
So we can watch this oh-so- uplifting
picture and surely dilute our other-
wise interminable Christmas cheer.
Personally, I can't wait.
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