National Catholic Register

Arts & Entertainment

Videos on Release

BY Jim Cosgrove

June 20-26, 1999 Issue | Posted 6/20/99 at 1:00 PM


Race for the Record

Assembled by Major League Baseball Productions, Race for the Record documents the thrilling competition between Mark McGwire of the St. Louis Cardinals and Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs as they stalked Roger Maris' record of 61 home runs in a single season. From the start of the 1998 season, it looked as though McGwire had a good chance to overtake Maris' 37-year-old record. But Sosa didn't emerge as a potential competitor until June, when he had a HR hot streak. As the summer wore on, a pattern emerged: Sosa would overtake McGwire's home-run total; then, the St. Louis slugger would forge ahead. The final results weren't known until McGwire's final at-bat for the season. On Sept. 27, 1998, he hit his 70th home run. Sosa finished the season with 66 homers. To tell this brilliant chapter of baseball history, Race for the Record relies on TV clips from important games; historic footage of old baseball stars and games; and interviews with players, coaches and sportscasters. The video is an inspiring stroll down memory lane.

The End of the Golden Weather

Set in 1920s New Zealand and based on a stage play by Bruce Mason, The End of the Golden Weather is the bittersweet tale of two misfits — Geoff (Stephen Fulford), a 12-year-old boy, and Firpo (Stephen Papps), a highly eccentric gardener at a nearby seaside estate. Geoff is a dreamer. He loves make-believe, but is afflicted by two prosaic younger siblings (David Taylor and Alexandra Marshall), who delight in sassing him. Geoff's parents (Paul Gittins and Gabrielle Hammond) are much more sympathetic, but they don't really understand their romantic son. In search of solitude, Geoff encounters a derelict cottage that he uses as a retreat. But Firpo soon moves in. The intrigued Geoff makes a friend, but finds the going hard because of Firpo's odd behavior and the strictures of Geoff's father to stay away from the gardener. The End of the Golden Weather is a gentle story about a faraway time and a faraway place, but it has universal lessons for any family striving to rub along without too much conflict among its members.

Breaker Morant

Breaker Morant, an Australian jewel, was recently released in a new video edition. This enthralling anti-war drama, which is based on a real-life incident and a play by Kenneth Ross, assails the kangaroo court that tried Lt. Harry “Breaker” Mo-rant (Edward Woodward) and two fellow officers, Lt. Handcock (Bryan Brown) and Lt. Wilton (Lewis Fitz-Gerald), for murder as the Boer War was ending. The three Australians were members of the Bushveldt Carbineers, irregulars fighting for the British against the Boers in South Africa. Because the Boers used guerrilla tactics, the Carbineers increasingly employed similar techniques. Ugly situations sometimes occurred. One was the murder and mutilation of Morant's commanding officer. The enraged Morant, operating under a tacit code of military conduct, executed Boer prisoners and a German missionary in response. For political reasons, the British military put Morant, Handcock and Wilton on trial, with the expectation that they would be found guilty. Using flashbacks and flashforwards, the movie explores what occurred and asks a series of hard questions about the conduct of modern warfare. A riveting experience.

The Girl with the Crazy Brother

Directed by Diane Keaton as a 1990 TV special, The Girl with the Crazy Brother explores what happens to the McAllister family when the eldest child is diagnosed as a schizophrenic. Based on a novel by Betty Hyland, the story focuses primarily on Dana McAllister (Patricia Arquette), a teen-ager who is worried about fitting in at a new high school. Dana and her family have just moved to California because her father (Stan Ivar) has received a promotion. Everyone in the family is feeling unsettled, but Bill (William Jayne), a brilliant senior, seems to be the most upset. One night, when he and his mother (Shelby Leverington) are home alone, Bill begins hallucinating. After a traumatic scene, he's committed to an asylum, and the McAllisters must begin dealing with their boy's illness. Unlike much Hollywood product about mental illness, The Girl with the Crazy Brother treats the condition as an affliction and not as a whimsy. Although the video doesn't delve deep into the devastation of mental illness, it does touch on schizophrenia's life-altering power.

Loretta G. Seyer