[VIDEO REVIEWS]The Thrills of Free Fall and First Love

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[VIDEO REVIEWS]The Thrills of Free Fall and First Love

New video releases reviewed this week are "Cutaway" and "Malena."

CUTAWAY (2000)

Directed by Guy Manos. Starring Tom Berenger, Stephen Baldwin, Dennis Rodman, Casper Van Dien and Maxine Bahns.

The adrenaline rush from jumping off a plane into the deep blue sky with only a parachute for safety can be addictive. Skydiving can also be exciting to watch, but in "Cutaway," the dialogue and acting do not measure up to the live action scenes.

U.S. Customs agent Vic Cooper (Baldwin) conducts a drug raid against a shrimp cargo plane and finds no evidence of drugs. Convinced he is on the right trail, he hits upon the idea that skydivers deliver the drugs throughout Miami, which accounts for why there are no traces of drugs on the planes once they land.

The smugglers live on the money they earn from delivering drugs, spending most of their time competing in speed free-falling competition, the most important event in the world of skydiving.

To get close to the smugglers, Vic takes some basic lessons on free-falling from a U.S. Army parachuting team leader (Van Dien) and goes undercover as a tourist at a skydiving school, where Air Miami team leader, Red Line (Berenger) and Turbo (Rodman) help Vic further develop his parachuting skills.

Seduced by the thrill of skydiving and Starr (Bahns), the beautiful instructor, Vic finds himself blurring the line between right and wrong and compromising his work.

MALENA (2000)

Directed by Giuseppe Tornatore. Starring Monica Bellucci, Giuseppe Sulfaro, Daniele Arena, Giovanni Litrico, Gianluca Guarrera and Michel Bramanti.

From the director of "Cinema Paradiso," "Malena" is a shallow coming of age story set in World War II. Renato (Sulfaro) is a 12-year-old whose hormones are raging. He, and every other male in the small town of Castelcuto, lust after the new woman in town, Malena Scordia (Bellucci). And every female in Castelcuto burns with envy.

Whenever Malena takes a simple walk through town, the men stop to stare and the women stop to gossip.

Renato follows her around, hiding in front of her house and peeking at her through keyholes. He fantasizes about her constantly much to the chagrin of his God-fearing father (Luciano Federico).

Malena's new husband, who brought her to Castelcuto, is serving in the army. When word of his death in battle reaches town, every man, single and married, makes a play for her. The women are convinced she is sleeping around. Word of her alleged sexual activity reaches her father, a deaf Latin teacher, who then shuts her out of his life.

As Renato watches the townspeople destroy Malena's reputation, he falls in love with her. Fired from her job, Malena is reduced to poverty and ends up the friend of Nazi soldiers and American GIs.

Throughout the movie, Malena rarely talks. The story is told through the eyes of Renato, making his obsession comical and bittersweet.

by Joe Yong-hee

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