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"Blood Simple"; "Bless The Child"; "Autumn In New York"; "The Replacements" 

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!B! "Blood Simple"!B! "Bless The Child"!B! "Autumn In New York"!B! "Bossa Nova"






"Blood Simple" — Rereleased director's cuts rarely engender much enthusiasm from me. They are usually either a trumped-up way to bolster flagging video sales or an exercise in overblown egotism, and I usually find little to recommend. The remixed and reedited version of Joel and Ethan Coen's 1984 neo-noir thriller "Blood Simple" may be the exception. To quote the talented brothers, all they've done is "taken out some of the boring parts." You gotta love that; most director's cuts "add" scenes. Only the true Coen scholars will notice the cuts — the story is still a delight and the acting superb. The only additional scene the Coen's have tacked on to their nearly perfect small-town crime caper is a tongue-in-cheek prologue featuring some "egghead" film-type droning on about the Coen's contribution to independent filmmaking. Although funny in a self-deprecating way, it adds nothing to the original's opening: A long stretch of highway with M. Emmet Walsh's Texas twang intoning "The world is full of complainers." If you never caught "Blood Simple" on the big screen — don't miss this chance.



"Bless The Child" — There's hell to pay when Kim Basinger battles a devil-worshipping Rufus Sewell over custody of a gifted little girl. No, she doesn't see dead people. Better, she heals them. To make things really interesting, toss in Jimmy Smits as a seminary student-turned-FBI agent whose specialty is 16th-century-based, Lucifer-loving cults.

Only fitfully creepy, this "Omen" meets "Touched By An Angel" ends up feeling like a misguided recruitment film for the Catholic Church. Even the special effects look second-rate.



"Autumn In New York" — Richard Gere is a confirmed, graying bachelor who deep-down is dying to fall in love. Poor Winona Ryder is just dying. Lots of eye candy and decent acting make this cliché-ridden, tearjerker something of a guilty pleasure. But ultimately, it's the lack of heat between Ryder and Gere that keeps this May-December romance from taking off. Not that the two don't look good together, even plausible; it's just that they never take their roles to heart. And in romances like this — from "Camille" to "Love Story" — it's heart that helps viewers ignore the overripe dialogue and the hackneyed plot twists. A minor charmer.



"The Replacements" — Based on the 1987 NFL players strike, this football fantasy scores plenty of laughs in its own frankly formulaic way. It's underdogs versus bigger, better players as coach Gene Hackman tries to get the Washington Sentinels into the playoffs. A beefed-up Keanu Reeves is his quarterback, a college-ball standout whose Sugar Bowl defeat has kept him out of the pros. In two weeks, Hackman and Reeves must make a team out of a motley crew of talented wannabes that include two damaged receivers — one's deaf, the other can't catch — a sumo wrestler, two rap-musician bodyguards and a "wiry" Welsh soccer star for a place kicker. Certainly no "Hoosiers," "The Replacements" is an enjoyable runner-up.

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