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Costars' chemistry: the `Human' strain

Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman aren't quite the dream teaming one might hope in "The Human Stain" (2003), director Robert Benton's adaptation of Philip Roth's novel about deep secrets and damaged hearts forging an unlikely connection -- so unlikely is this incarnation, in fact, as to never be quite believable. Hopkins is Coleman Silk, a respected New England classics professor who's unjustly accused of racism and finds his life suddenly unraveling as his college unceremoniously forces him out and his wife is effectively killed by the stress of it all. Coleman anchors himself partly though an affair with rough-edged Faunia (Nicole Kidman), a cleaning woman who indifferently offers herself to him as just one more diversion from a life of hidden pain. Coleman, meanwhile, has for years been sitting on a jaw-dropper of his own, a mystery set up through recurring flashbacks and finally laid bare at an oddly routine point in the film. Your willingness to accept that Hopkins's character was a boxer in his youth may well be a gauge for your inclination to roll with -- or hoot at -- this big reveal. The film's core relationship, though, ultimately feels like the bigger stretch. Those around Coleman repeatedly warn him that Faunia is trouble, but he persists in a way that goes beyond infatuation; she, meanwhile, keeps him at arm's length emotionally. So why, indeed, are they bothering? When the chemistry between Hopkins and Kidman is strained to begin with, this is a question that should be better answered.

Extras: Production featurette. (Miramax, $29.99)

"STARSKY & HUTCH" (2004) Spoofing old TV shows on the big screen can be harder than it seems. Once you get past the fashions on this solid but not exactly seminal '70s cop series -- or at least once you get past street-smart informant Huggy Bear -- is there really all that much to spoof? Frequent costars Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson give it a go, but somewhere around the time they go undercover in "Easy Rider" get-ups, you'll realize that the proceedings aren't going to get funnier, because the source material just isn't there. Appropriately, the movie's best bits generally come from Snoop Dogg's neo-Huggy, who's even more lanky, laconic, and funk-stylin' than the original.

Extras: Production "mockumentary" and -- why not -- "Fashion Fa Shizzle Wit Huggy Bizzle" segment. (Warner, $27.95)

"DIRTY DANCING: HAVANA NIGHTS" (2003) A remake rather than a sequel, this confection's awkward branding is largely unnecessary. After all, the original's story line isn't exactly timelessly unique. If anything, the filmmakers actually improve on the premise by having well-to-do, all-American Katey Miller (newcomer Romola Garai) shake up the gringo country-club set by learning to salsa with nice-guy local Javier (Diego Luna of "Y Tu Mama Tambien"). The requisite "Dirty Dancing" class conflict element works better in this setting, certainly, than in that notorious hotbed of social tensions, the Catskills. Luna and Miller can't match the fancy footwork of the original, but they're appealing to watch and largely make you forgive the movie's ham-fisted political commentary.

Extras: Production featurettes; filmmaker commentary. (Lions Gate, $26.98)

"K STREET: THE COMPLETE SERIES" (2003) This D.C.-set fiction-reality hybrid directed by Steven Soderbergh for HBO bears a fresh viewing, if only to further puzzle over how he did it. (Confoundingly, the no-frills DVD isn't telling.) The series follows a political consulting outfit run by vaguely familiar faces (actors Mary McCormack and John Slattery) and some very familiar ones (real-life strategists James Carville and Mary Matalin) as they tackle their day-by-day routine: prepping Howard Dean for a debate, having the office swept for eavesdropping bugs, etc. There's a little too much improv and, frankly, a little too much Carville-Matalin to make viewers want to plow through all 10 half-hour episodes in succession, but digested slowly, they've got an interesting flavor. (HBO, $24.98)

"CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE DRAMA QUEEN" (2004) Lindsay Lohan moves from New York to the 'burbs and gets all up in our grill about the hardship of it before deciding that life can be so randomly beautiful. If you a) followed all that, and b) were intrigued, then be sure to watch.

Extras: Lohan music video; filmmaker commentary. (Disney, $24.99)
"THE BIG BOUNCE" (2004) Owen Wilson and Morgan Freeman star in this update of Elmore Leonard's caper comedy. Slightly heavier on wacky characters -- and lighter on memorable ones -- than Leonard showcases like "Out of Sight" and "Get Shorty."

Extras: Production featurettes. (Warner, $27.95)
"PEOPLE I KNOW" (2003) Veteran New York publicist Al Pacino finds himself being dragged into events even he can't spin-control when celebrity client Ryan O'Neal's private life turns dicey. Not "The Sweet Smell of Success," but Pacino on autopilot is still Pacino.

Extras: Director commentary; deleted scenes. (Miramax, $19.99)
"THE SHIRLEY TEMPLE COLLECTION" (2004) This five-disc set comes pretty nicely loaded for the price, with nearly a dozen shorts, the feature-length "The Little Princess," and throw-ins like Temple singing at Roosevelt's inauguration. (Now available from Passport Video, $29.98)
"TITANIC" (1943) AND "MUNCHHAUSEN" (1943) These two little-seen extravaganzas, dug out from the vaults and restored, are a window into the world of Germany's wartime film industry. Amid the propaganda and bombast, there's some good work here; portions of "Titanic" were even used without credit in 1958's "A Night to Remember."

Extras: On "Titanic," a vintage promo film tour of sister ship the Olympic; on "Munchhausen," production featurette. (Kino, $29.95 each)
"SEASIDE" (2002) A favorite at Cannes, this French-language ensemble piece claims Edward Hopper's imagery as an inspiration. For our part, the film's deliberately paced look at life and work in a faded resort town plays like a European take on John Sayles. (First Run, $29.95)
"MILLENNIUM": THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (1996-'97)Chris Carter's grim chronicles of psychically gifted (and cursed) psycho profiler Lance Henriksen never quite rated with "The X-Files." Still, the show was watchably creepy, particularly here, before some later dubious retooling to avoid cancellation.

Extras: Commentary by Carter; production featurette. (Fox, $59.98)
"ALL IN THE FAMILY": THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON (1972-'73) For all the issues Norman Lear and Co. tackled, you'd think that "ripped from the headlines" would have been a TV cliche long before "Law & Order." Of course, there were always episodes like "The Bunkers and the Swingers" to keep things light. (Columbia, $29.95)
Capsules are written by Globe correspondent Tom Russo and titles are in stores Tuesday unless otherwise specified.
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