The Jackal _ If it were an original movie, it would simply be forgettable. As a remake, it's laughable. Forget this Bruce Willis fiasco. Rent Fred Zinnemann's 1973 original, The Day of the Jackal, with Edward Fox as the apparently unstoppable assassin. It has everything the successor lacks: suspense, character development, and razor-sharp acting and direction.
Anastasia _ Don Bluth, together with Gary Goldman, produced and directed this animated version of the Anastasia yarn. The production values are excellent, and the voice work (particularly Kelsey Grammer's) is sensational. But the filmmakers managed only a weak version of what should be a great story.
One of the greatest series on filmmakers, The Men Who Made the Movies aired on PBS in 1973 with documentaries on such luminaries as Howard Hawks, John Ford, George Cukor, King Vidor, and Frank Capra. One episode, Alfred Hitchcock: Master of Suspense, is now out on home video, and it's brilliant. Produced by film scholar Richard Schickel and narrated by Cliff Robertson, the film features an interview with Hitchcock explaining how he shot and cut a key murder scene in Torn Curtain. It's a reminder of how thoughtful movie direction once was.
Saturday's Kentucky Derby focuses the nation's attention on the best two minutes in American sport. Check out the documentary You Ain't Seen Nothin', with vintage footage of great Derbys and the social hoopla. In addition, three Dick Francis films, originally shown in England, are now available as a three-pack. They're based on his mystery novels, which always have a racing connection.
May 5: Mouse Hunt, Gattaca, Not in This Town, For Richer or Poorer, Killing Time.
May 12: Tomorrow Never Dies, Washington Square, The Image, Nenette and Boni, Bella Mafia, Playing God, Blackjack, Recoil, Close Encounters of the Third Kind: Collector's Edition, Little Indian, Big City.
May 19: As Good as It Gets, Shall We Dance?, Starship Troopers, An American Werewolf in Paris, Enter the Dragon.
May 26: The Sweet Hereafter, Deconstructing Harry, John Grisham's The Rainmaker, Firestorm, Star Kid, The Night Flier, Desperate Measures.