THE BORROWERS PG, 1998, 86 minutes, PolyGram.
Teen-ager Pete (Bradley Pierce) encounters the Borrowers -- a family of 4-inch-tall people who live behind his walls -- just as an unscrupulous lawyer, Ocious Potter (a hilarious John Goodman), is about to take over the family home. But the resourceful Borrowers (including Jim Broadbent as the miniature dad) make a heroic bid to win the house back.
Based on author Mary Norton's beloved children's series, this live-action movie's the most inventive, funny family picture since "Babe" and "Toy Story." And those teeny-tiny folk, for whom a fridge is like Mount Everest, will charm everyone. Contains nothing objectionable, although Ocious Potter's attempts to bash Borrowers with his hammer may be disturbing.
-- Desson Howe/Washington Post
KUNDUN PG-13, 1997, 135 minutes, Touchstone.
The plight of the Tibetans, their oppression at the hands of the Chinese and the exile of the Tibetans' spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, are the defining moments in this odd-bedfellows collaboration among director Martin Scorsese, screenwriter Melissa Mathison (who wrote "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial") and Walt Disney. Somewhere between Scorsese's sensibilities and Disney's earnest attempts to be grown-up is a frequently touching saga of a boy -- believed to be the 14th reincarnation of Lord Buddha -- and his ascension into manhood, higher consciousness and the moral leadership of an occupied nation. Contains some violence as well as the dismemberment of a corpse.
-- Desson Howe/Washington Post
A NIGHT TO REMEMBER 1958, no rating, The Criterion Collection.
While you await next month's video release of James Cameron's "Titanic," I have the perfect way to get you into the mood -- check out the DVD version of "A Night to Remember" (2 hours, 3 minutes, plus supplemental material; original 1.66:1 wide-screen aspect ratio; Doby Digital mono sound; $39.95).
Based on the best-selling nonfiction book by Walter Lord, who interviewed numerous Titanic survivors, the British-made "A Night to Remember" is a remarkable film. Shot in black and white, the movie remains close to the facts about the ill-fated luxury liner as they were known at the time. Today, since the wreckage of the ship has been located at the bottom of the Atlantic, much more is known. Because of that, Cameron's "Titanic" probably is more accurate.
But that doesn't diminish the achievement of the makers of "A Night to Remember." British author Eric Ambler, best known for his mystery novels, adapted Lord's book for director Roy Ward Baker and producer William MacQuitty. By using newsreel footage, part of a luxury liner that was going to be scrapped, models and set construction, MacQuitty and Baker did an incredible job of re-creating the Titanic. The film's special effects are good without overwhelming the story. And all of this is beautifully captured on film by renowned cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth, who would go on to photograph classics such as "Becket" and "2001: A Space Odyssey."
The print of "A Night to Remember," which features restored snippets that had been cut from the film through the years, is clear and clean. And the Dolby Digital sound, presented in mono, the way it was presented in theaters, is crisp and sharp.
But there's more. The DVD also features "The Making of 'A Night to Remember,' " an hourlong 1993 documentary featuring shots of the film being made and of author Lord and producer MacQuitty discussing it. This is all the more remarkable because MacQuitty recalls that his fascination with the Titanic began as a 6-year-old boy when he saw the ship launched from the Irish shipyards at Belfast in 1912. Eighty-one years later he's talking about making a film about the sinking of that "unsinkable" ship.
Finally, "A Night to Remember" features scene-specific audio commentary by Titanic experts Don Lynch and Ken Marschall, the author and illustrator of "Titanic -- An Illustrated History." They are generous in their praise of the film, but they also let you know when the filmmakers fudged with the facts.
-- Vern Perry/Knight Ridder
(1) The Black Caldron (Disney-Buena Vista). (2) Jerry Springer -- Too Hot for TV! (Real Entertainment). (3) Austin Powers (New Line). (4) Pearl Jam: Single Video Theory (Epic-Sony). (5) Spice World (Columbia-TriStar). (6) Grease: 20th Anniversary Edition (Paramount). (7) As Good as It Gets (Columbia-TriStar). (8) Backstreet Boys: All Access Video (Jive/Zombie). (9) Jerry Springer: The Best of . . . (Real Entertainment). (10) Image of an Assassination (MPI).
(1) Jackie Brown (Miramax-Buena Vista). (2) Good Will Hunting (Miramax-Buena Vista). (3) The Wedding Singer (New Line-Warner). (4) U.S. Marshals (Warner). (5) Sphere (Warner). (6) Dark City (New Line-Warner). (7) Wag the Dog (New-Line Warner). (8) Hard Rain (Paramount). (9) Great Expectations (Fox). (10) The Man in the Iron Mask (MGM-UA).