OUT ON VIDEO
A weekly update of video releases. Dates in paratheses indicate a previous review in the Monitor.
* THE EMPEROR'S NIGHTINGALE - Hans Christian Andersen's story of a boyish emperor who falls in love with a nightingale's tuneful song, then gets distracted by the flashier charms of a mechanical bird. The emperor ultimately learns that human artifice can never equal the beauty of nature's own inventions. Directed by Czech filmmaker Jiri Trnka and narrated by Boris Karloff, this gentle 1951 fantasy starts and finishes with live-action scenes but unfolds most of its tale in graceful stop-motion animation. The picture may be too subtle and sometimes too melancholy for the youngest viewers, but it offers a likable alternative to the noisy enticements of more conventional fare. (World Artists Home Video)
* JIT - The first major feature produced in Zimbabwe is a light comedy about a young man trying to earn the ``bride price'' that will enable him to marry his irresistible new girlfriend. Other characters include the heroine's shady boyfriend and an ancestral spirit who alternates between helping and scolding our mischievous hero. Written and directed by Michael Raeburn, the movie is as lightweight as its forgettable story, but it has colorful performances and a lot of upbeat music on its sprightly soundtrack. (Home Vision Cinema)
* LATE SPRING - Worried that his daughter is renouncing her chances at happiness out of concern for his lack of companionship, an aging widower pretends he's planning to remarry and start a newly independent life. Brilliantly directed by Yasujiro Ozu, perhaps the greatest filmmaker in the history of Japanese cinema, this exquisitely understated 1949 drama has more insight into true family values than all the opportunistic politicians now cluttering the media landscape. Superb performances by Setsuko Hara and the great Chishu Ryu also contribute to the film's impact, which is at once deeply moving and profoundly thoughtful about moral and spiritual issues. (New Yorker Video)