National Catholic Register

Arts & Entertainment

Weekly Video Picks

BY John

October 06-12, 2002 Issue | Posted 10/6/02 at 2:00 PM


Nova: Why the Towers Fell (2002)

This PBS documentary reveals some of the other, more complicated causes of the World Trade Center's implosion with interviews with the buildings’ designer, engineer Leslie Robertson, and a careful analysis of their construction by experts like MIT's Dr. Thomas Eagar.

When Robertson conceived the 110-story skyscrapers in 1966, he developed innovative techniques that allowed for the creation of more rentable office space. At the time no one imagined the structures would ever be struck by anything like two Boeing 762 jets moving at high velocity.

Filmmakers Garfield Kennedy and Larry Klein follow investigators as they test building materials, calculate the role of jet fuel in the collapse, estimate the aircrafts’ speed and examine the effectiveness of the escape and fire protection systems. There are also moving interviews with rescue personnel and the attack's survivors.

Newsies (1992)

Some movies that are box-office flops during their theatrical distribution finally connect with their target audience when they're released in video and DVD. Disney's Newsieshas developed cult status among younger viewers.

An energetic, well-choreographed musical, it is set in 1899 when the boys who sell newspapers on city street corners are finding it difficult to make ends meet. Publisher Joseph Pulitzer (Robert Duvall) raises the papers’ wholesale cost, practically eliminating the newsies’ already small profit margin. Street-smart Jack Kelly (Christian Bale) and the more cerebral David Jacobs (David Moscow) organize a picket line of fellow orphans and runaways to resist.

There are brawls, chases, betrayals and conflicts with the police. Among the boys’ allies are reporter Brian Benton (Bill Pullman) and his singing-and-dancing friend, vaudevillian Medda Larkson (Ann-Margret). The songs are fun to listen to even though the score didn't produce any platinum-selling hits.

The Four Feathers (1939)

This 1902 A. E.W. Mason novel has been made into a movie seven times. The most recent, starring Heath Ledger and Wes Bentley, is to be released in the next few weeks. The version against which it and all others are measured is this pre-World War II English production.

A stirring saga of cowardice, courage and redemption, The Four Feathers is set during the British Imperial Wars of the 19th century. The aristocratic Harry Faversham (John Clements) resigns his army commission to marry Ethne Burroughs (Jane Duprez). His former comrades (Ralph Richardson, Donald Gray and Jack Allen), disapprove, giving him three white feathers that symbolize cowardice before they depart for Sudan. Surprisingly, his wife presents him with a fourth. Faversham decides to prove his mettle and follows his buddies on his own, disguising himself as a Muslim tribesman to save them when all looks lost. Director Zoltan Korda combines magnificent battle sequences with intense personal moments. The uprising's Muslim leader (John Laurie) may remind some viewers of Osama bin Laden.