If your doctor has advised you to stay away from fatty substances (or if you're just naturally health conscious), consider taking a look at "Lower Your Cholesterol, Now" (Family Experiences Productions, $43.45), an excellent "how-to" video whose message is that good food doesn't have to be fatty food.
This small, Texas-based video company divides the question of how to lower your cholesterol into six segments. That's just as well, because there is so much information here that watching it in one sitting could leave you overwhelmed.Taken in small bites, however, it's more palatable and the information is likely to stick with you longer.
The segments range from "Oils" to "Fruits, Vegetables & Grains." The segments are coded, so you can fast-forward and reverse to pinpoint the specific information you're searching for.
As the tape makes clear, saturated fats are the thing to avoid. These can raise your blood cholesterol to unhealthy levels. The tape, on the other hand, introduces a number of foods and visually displays the fat content in colorful, memorable ways.
This isn't your Saturday-night-with-popcorn video. Some viewers might find its direct lecture style a bit professorial.
But you'll be hard pressed to find a better presentation on cholesterol. And "Lower Your Cholesterol, Now" is a fine example of how, after it is done entertaining you, home video also can serve to enlighten.
- IMAGINE BEING TOLD that your dining etiquette is less than acceptable. That's the rather insulting premise behind "Table Manners for Everyday Use" (30 minutes, $24.95), a new how-to tape that dares to question American eating habits.
It's the sort of presumption that one might find offensive were it not for the lighthearted approach taken by producer and director Elliott Landy, who's marketing the program on his own home video label, LandyVision.
Landy also participates on-screen as an exemplar of the incorrect way to eat and drink, digging carelessly into soup, salad, corn and so forth while his colleague and narrator, Diana Oestreich, shows us the proper way.
Throughout, instruction is juxtaposed with old silent-era snippets, black-and-white newsreels and stock footage that form a humorous counterpoint. For example, when Oestreich warns that fingers and nails should be well-scrubbed, there's an inset of a threatening vampire's clutching hands from an old silent reel.
This type of humor (along with repeated scenes of grotesque eating contests) may be dismissed as juvenile, but "Table Manners' " intended audience - besides the socially inept and insecure adult - is the poorly trained child. Kids should find Landy at least as amusing as Big Bird.
"Table Manners" acknowledges that there's room for disagreement on what constitutes proper behavior. Oestreich, who introduces herself as a native Australian who has spent 18 years in the United States, prefers the European custom of wielding one's fork in the left hand. She lifts her vegetables, and other foods, on the back of the tines. The American custom of transferring the fork from left to right hand before raising it to the mouth is "all right," she says (without much conviction).
When it comes to fast food such as burgers and pizza, Oestreich is perhaps too exacting. For a soggy burger she recommends knife and fork, and she thinks an oily pizza slice should be tilted before eating to allow the liquid to run off. Well, maybe in Australia!
Oestreich consistently frowns on handling food without benefit of utensils. Pick up a steak bone? Never - although holding a smaller chop bone is OK. If you think of bacon as finger food, think again. Oestreich says one must do the best one can with knife and fork. Even the bite-size cherry tomato can be sliced for a more dainty presentation.
Where to get tapes: Because LandyVision is a small publisher with a specialized title, its original marketing plan calls for putting "Table Manners for Everyday Use" in gift shops, libraries and schools. To learn where the cassette can be found in your area, write to LandyVision Inc., 1173A Second Ave., Suite 379, New York, NY 10021. - Andy Wickstrom (Knight-Ridder)VIDEO QUESTION
Q: My VCR is behaving strangely. It will let me load the tape, but as soon as it starts playing, the VCR stops itself. What's wrong?
A: Any number of things could be wrong. The VCR has a safety mechanism that's thwarting your attempts to use it, thereby sparing your tape from damage. You're going to have to take it for service. - Andy Wickstrom (Knight-Ridder)THE TALL BLOND MAN WITH ONE BLACK SHOE - France's Yves Robert directed this international comedy hit, an engagingly madcap tale of mistaken identities featuring frantic Pierre Richard in the title role. The Tall Blond, actually a boob of a concert violinist, is caught up in a covert rivalry between factions of French intelligence when he innocently becomes a dupe in a multifarious attempt to take over the French government. Richard, that king of of Gallic comedy, displays his ungainly slapstick grace in this classic farce with its echoes of Watergate-era intrigue. Do not mistake this for the appalling 1985 American remake, "The Man With One Red Shoe." In French, with English subtitles. 1972. Connoisseur Video. $59.95. - Rita Kempley (Washington Post)
STRAPLESS - Bruno Ganz oozes into David Hare's "Strapless" like a Cerruti-clad snail. Elegantly soft-spoken, he's a dapper enigma, an aloof figure of mystery. When he approaches Lillian (Blair Brown), a London-based American doctor on vacation alone in Europe, his moves have a practiced ease. He's done this before, and he knows the lady's objections even before she does. "Strapless," which Hare wrote as well as directed, is a muffled, romantic art movie, enervating and preposterously rarefied. From its stately opening shots of classical statuary, the movie seems to be about a certain kind of bone-tired sophistication; its characters' joints ache from Old World fatigue. 103 minutes. RCA/Columbia. $79.95. - Hal Hinson (Washington Post)
GHOSTS CAN'T DO IT - It's not just that Bo Derek can't act (her eyes reflect such a depthless blankness, it's hard to believe there is even enough brain activity to command her heart to beat). Or that her husband-lord John Derek is a narcissistic autocrat. A film in which an old billionaire (Anthony Quinn) dies, then his ghost and his slavishly loving young wife spend the rest of the film figuring out a way to have sex is going to be, um, stupid. But when the woman refers to her husband as "Great One," and when a man threatens her, asking, "Do you want to get raped?" and she responds, "Yes, every day of my life, if being killed is my other choice," this movie becomes a lot more than stupid. RCA/Columbia. - Tom Maurstad (Dallas Morning News)