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An occasional update of video releases

* A MAN ESCAPED - Based on real events, Robert Bresson's towering masterpiece details the efforts of a French resistance fighter to escape from a Nazi prison. On one level, this is a heart-stopping suspense tale, with as many ironic twists and narrow escapes as a first-rate Hollywood thriller. On a deeper and more important level, it's an exploration of two favorite Bresson themes: the nature of freedom and the relationship between earthly existence and a greater spiritual reality that humans can only dimly grasp. Photographed in remarkably rich tones and punctuated by a Mozart mass, the movie is expressively acted by a nonprofessional cast, in keeping with Bresson's contention that dramatic power and entertainment value must not come between the audience and his very serious message. The complete title is ``A Man Condemned to Death Has Escaped, or, The Wind Bloweth Where It Listeth.'' (New Yorker Video, New York) * A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE - Tennessee Williams's great poetic drama centers on Blanche DuBois, a waifish woman who lives unhappily in her dreams, and Stanley Kowalski, an unabashedly common man whose earthiness crashes inevitably and unforgivingly into her fragile world. As timeless as Williams's play is, the 1951 movie version by Elia Kazan seems dated and drab in some respects. The performances still pack a wallop, though, especially when Marlon Brando cuts loose in Stanley's more uninhibited moments. This version includes three minutes of potent though not indispensable footage censored from the film's original release. (Warner Home Video, Burbank, Calif.) * TRAFFIC - Although it has some hilarious touches, Jacques Tati's 1972 look at cars, drivers, and technology is less a conventional comedy than a visual tone poem, bordering on out-and-out abstraction at times. It's lithe, lyrical, and lackadaisical, all at once. (Home Vision Cinema, Chicago)

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