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Movie Answer Man (02/05/1995)

Q. Just a note to let you know how wonderful my family (including three boys of 17 to 23) found "Hoop Dreams" and yet how disappointed we are that there are only three theaters showing that film in ALL of southern California! We have observed that the local theater chain regularly ignores films like "Do the Right Thing" to say nothing of "Roger and Me." We cannot believe that such a well made and well received film as "Hoop Dreams" is unavailable to most viewers. Why is this film getting so little exposure? (Paul Evans, Newport Beach, Calif.)

A. Actually, for a documentary, "Hoop Dreams" is doing quite well, and will be one of the top-grossing docs of recent years. But you are quite right that many theater chains write off large segments of their market as suitable only for action and mainstream product. More ambitious or challenging films (documentary, art, foreign, independent) are red-lined into a few big cities and college towns, and the rest of the country is considered dumb or dumber, I guess. Try calling the booker of your local chain, for all the good it will do.

Q. My wife and I just watched "Speed" for the second time on home video, and want to know if you caught the same edit snafu as we did. Early in the movie, Keanu Reeves shoots Jeff Daniels in the LEFT leg to free him from Dennis Hopper in the parking lot. The next scene shows Daniels and Reeves getting accolades from the city and Daniels has his cane in his RIGHT hand and a bandage on his RIGHT leg. At the end of the following scene (in the bar celebrating), Daniels leaves with the cane back in his left hand while he favors his LEFT leg. (Forget that both legs seem just perfect as he enters the window to Hopper's home the next morning in full SWAT gear). Also, why does Hopper's holding the phone with his right hand against his left ear seem so unnatural? I know his left thumb was blown off, but I've yet to find anyone who will put a phone in their right hand and raise it crossover style to their left ear to talk. Believe me, I've trying this on people for a few weeks! Does it strike you as odd? (Gary G. Naeyaert, Lansing, Mich.)

A. Not as odd as it probably does to the people you've been trying it on.

Q. I am considering purchasing a video laserdisc player. Will present laserdisc software become obsolete when HDTV arrives? Although I expect laserdiscs that are now manufactured to be compatible with HDTV, will there be "new and improved" discs made? Should I buy now or wait? (Richard Lombardi, Berwyn, Ill.)

A. For an expert answer, I went to Fred Thomas of Mills Custom Audio & Video in Buffalo Grove, Ill., who installed my home video theater. His reply: "Buy now and enjoy the laserdisc format as it exists, because software for HDTV will be very long in coming. The HDTV format will be digital video and will be backwards compatible (which means it will be able to play your existing laserdiscs). Your current laserdiscs and VHS tapes won't play on HDTV at the same quality as HDTV software, but will be greatly enhanced over the way they look now. Also, it will be years before HDTV technology is solidly in place to make it available to the general public."

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.

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