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The Monitor Movie Guide


Excellent ++++

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Good +++

Fair ++

Poor +

The Worst DUD

NEW RELEASE BLUE STREAK (PG-13) Director: Les Mayfield. With Martin Lawrence, Luke Wilson, Peter Greene, David Chappelle, Nicole Parker, Graham Beckel. (93 min.) + 1/2 Sigh. Not a diamond. Not even a diamond in the rough. Its a blue streak of mouthy, predictable cops n robbers comedy clichs. A jewel thief (Lawrence) poses as a cop to gain access to a police station that was under construction at the time of his arrest (and where he hid his ill-gotten gain, a $17 million diamond). The movies Hope diamond moment comes when Lawrence disguises himself as a pizza guy who delivers some fabulous physical comedy. More such antics were needed. By Katherine Dillin ++1/2 Funny, creative, some suspense. Sex/Nudity: A little innuendo. Violence: 12 scenes ranging from comic bits to lengthy shoot-outs. Profanity: 114 expressions, many harsh. Drugs: 2 scenes with smoking; 1 lengthy sequence involving a drug-ring bust.

BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS (R) Director: Alan Rudolph. With Bruce Willis, Nick Nolte, Albert Finney, Barbara Hershey, Glenne Headly, Omar Epps, Buck Henry, Lukas Haas, Vicki Lewis, Ken Campbell, Jake Johanssen. (110 min.) ++ The lives of several people including a car dealer who might be losing his mind, a salesman with a secret sex life, and a wildly eccentric science-fiction writer come together in unexpected ways as a Midwestern town prepares for an arts festival. This manic adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut Jr.s smart, sensitive novel is too frantic and furious for its own good, but the acting and screenwriting have flashes of interest along the way.

GUINEVERE (NOT RATED) Director: Audrey Wells. With Sarah Polley, Stephen Rea, Gina Gershon, Carrie Preston, Jean Smart, Jasmine Guy. (104 min.) + Just when shes supposed to head for college, a talented but insecure young woman falls in love with a much older photographer, who shows every sign of being a dubious influence on her impressionable personality. The good cast wrestles with an uneven screenplay that eventually drowns in unpersuasive sentimentality.

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LUCIE AUBRAC (NOT RATED) Director: Claude Berri. With Daniel Auteuil, Carole Bouquet, Patrice Chereau. (115 min.) ++ A member of the French Resistance is captured by Nazi authorities, and his resourceful wife vows to secure his release at any price. Berri has been a thoughtful and inventive filmmaker in the past, but his treatment of this remarkable fact-based story is regrettably bland. In French with English subtitles

MUMFORD (R) Director: Lawrence Kasdan. With Loren Dean, Hope Davis, Alfre Woodard, Ted Danson, Jason Lee, Martin Short, David Paymer, Mary McDonnell, Robert Stack, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Dana Ivey, Kevin Tighe, Zoopy Deschnel, James Adams. (111 min.) +++ The title character is a psychotherapist who helps his small-town neighbors cope with their problems while guarding a secret about his own checkered past. This good-natured comedy serves up plenty of laughs while suggesting that the best experts in human psychology are plain old humans, with or without fancy credentials and degrees.

STIGMATA (R) Director: Rupert Wainwright. With Patricia Arquette, Gabriel Byrne, Jonathan Pryce, Rade Sherbedgia, Nia Long, Ann Cusack, Dick Latessa, Enrico Colantoni, Thomas Kopache, Portia de Rossi, Patrick Muldoon. (102 min.) ++ Confronted with a series of bizarre occurrences, a Roman Catholic priest investigates the tormented life of an ordinary woman who appears to be possessed by supernatural forces. Unabashedly cloned from bygone hits like "The Exorcist" and "The Omen," this gory chiller accompanies the usual package of horror-movie effects with a subplot pitting reactionary church authorities against religious growth and understanding. This is an unusual mix of ingredients, but the filmmakers are clearly more interested in violent thrills than serious ideas.

CURRENTLY IN RELEASE AMERICAN BEAUTY (R) Director: Sam Mendes. With Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch, Wes Bentley, Mena Suvari, Peter Gallagher, Scott Bakul, Allison Janney, Sam Robards, Chris Cooper. (118 min.) +++ Bored by their increasingly dull marriage, a middle-aged couple are seduced by morally reckless behaviors that bring them into edgy relationships with everyone from their towns real-estate magnate to the local drug dealer. Stay away from this sometimes violent tragicomedy unless youre interested in a ruthless dissection of suburban malaise. +++ Great ensemble cast, disturbing, bleak, thought-provoking. Sex/Nudity: 8 scenes including 4 scenes with sometimes graphic sexual activity, 1 with implied sex, 3 scenes with partial nudity; 5 instances of innuendo. Violence: 8 scenes total from mild to a disturbing beating. Profanity: 55 expressions, mostly harsh. Drugs: 6 scenes with marijuana, 1 drug deal, 5 scenes with alcohol.

CHILL FACTOR (R) Director: Hugh Johnson. With Cuba Gooding Jr., Skeet Ulrich. (112 min.) ++ Ignore the fact that the story line is fantastically implausible. And that the bad guy role is loaded with ludicrous antics. Theres something utterly fun about this movie. Goodings enthusiasm is infectious, and Ulrich is a brooding counterweight in this story about two average guys trying to keep a heat- sensitive weapon from a revenge-bent ex-colonel. By Katherine Dillin ++1/2 Buddy flick, humorous, unlikely, grisly. Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 18 total including a variety of slapstick and more graphic scenes. Profanity: 99 expressions, mostly harsh. Drugs: 1 cigarette smoked.

FOR LOVE OF THE GAME (PG-13) Director: Sam Raimi. With Kevin Costner, Kelly Preston, John C. Reilly, Brian Cox, J.K. Simmons. (135 min.) ++ Costner plays a 40-year-old pitcher with a passel of problems: His team is being sold, his throwing hand isnt what it used to be, and his love affair is apparently in its last inning. Like a contest between unequal teams, this sentimental drama is wildly uneven as it switches between ballpark scenes, which are very involving, and romantic episodes, which are badly overplayed. ++1/2 Loved the baseball scenes, romantic, entertaining. Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes with implied sex; 1 sex scene. Violence: 2 mild scenes. Profanity: 40 expressions, many harsh. Drugs: 7 scenes with alcohol, 2 with smoking.

IN TOO DEEP (R) Director: Michael Rymer. With Omar Epps, LL Cool J, Nia Long, Stanley Tucci, Hill Harper, Pam Grier. (95 min.) ++1/2 An undercover cop with a mission (Epps) tries to nail a likably psychopathic drug lord called God (LL Cool J). The filmmakers quest for authenticity and the leads gripping performances produce a suspenseful story, despite lame attempts to make us believe Epps may be too deeply into his alter ego as a drug pusher to get out when the big bust goes down. By M.K. Terrell ++1/2 Taut, suspenseful, unoriginal. Sex/Nudity: 2 sex scenes, 1 is graphic; 1 scene with a nude model. Violence: 11 scenes with harsh violence. Profanity: 234 expressions, mostly harsh. Drugs: 13 scenes total: 8 with alcohol, smoking, or both; 1 with marijuana; 4 involving drug deals.

THE MUSE (PG-13) Director: Albert Brooks. With Albert Brooks, Sharon Stone, Andie MacDowell, Jeff Bridges. (97 min.) +++ Afraid that his career is stalling in midstream, a Hollywood screenwriter seeks assistance from a woman who claims to be an ancient muse in a modern guise, but soon wonders if his newfound inspiration is worth the trouble this unusual friend keeps bringing him. Stone is superb, the movie-business cameo performances are very funny, and Brooks's screenplay is sharp enough to suggest he's found a muse of his own. +++ Entertaining, intelligent comedy, uneven. Sex/Nudity: 1 brief instance of nudity, some innuendo. Violence: None. Profanity: 11 expressions, some harsh. Drugs: 9 scenes with alcohol.

OUTSIDE PROVIDENCE (R) Director: Michael Corrente. With Shawn Hatosy, Alec Baldwin, Amy Smart, George Wendt. (95 min.) ++ A working-class father packs his trouble-making son off to a prep school, where the well-heeled students show instant contempt for his blue-collar background. The story is lively and energetic, if you can take its raunchy jokes and rowdy behavior, but Corrente's flair for ethnic portraiture fails to raise the movie above a zillion other pictures about high-school high jinks. ++ Predictably funny, sometimes entertaining, dazed 1970s atmosphere. Sex/Nudity: 3 scenes with sexual activity; 5 instances of innuendo. Violence: 2 mild scenes plus a couple of car crashes. Profanity: 165 expressions, mostly harsh. Drugs: 21 scenes with alcohol, smoking, marijuana, or some combination of these.

THE SIXTH SENSE (PG-13) Director: M. Night Shyamalan. With Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Colette, Olivia Williams. (107 min.) ++ A child psychologist treats an eight-year-old boy who has ghostly visions that cant be explained away by the doctor's theories. The thriller's best and worst features all stem from a highly unusual plot structure that builds to a genuinely startling conclusion. Some viewers may feel the ending justifies the means used to achieve it, while others may reject the picture's leisurely pace and literal-minded depiction of supernatural events. ++1/2 Gloomy, surprising, a little stiff. Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 9 scenes including bloody ghosts and a shooting. Profanity: 10 harsh or crude expressions. Drugs: 1 scene with wine.

THE SOURCE (NOT RATED) Director: Chuck Workman. With Johnny Depp, Dennis Hopper, John Turturro, and figures associated with the Beat Generation. (90 min.) +++ The rebels, radicals, and rapscallions of the Beat Generation renew their howls of antiauthoritarian protest in this wide-ranging documentary. The film traces the Beat scene from its origins in the war-torn 1940s to its influence on the hippie movement and its traces in todays sociocultural scene. Contains fascinating material, but lacks the freshness it could have gained by plugging into the Beats improvisational spirit instead of hewing to conventional filmmaking styles. ++1/2 Mosaic, nonjudgmental, never adequately explains the Beat-hippie transition. Sex/Nudity: 2 photos of frontal nudity; 8 instances of innuendo. Violence: 3 scenes: 1 very mild, 1 clip from a movie, 1 from news footage. Profanity: 27 expressions, many harsh. Drugs: 12 scenes with smoking, 12 with marijuana, 1 with heroin, 1 with alcohol.

STIR OF ECHOES (R) Director: David Koepp. With Kevin Bacon, Kathryn Erbe. (99 min.) ++ To his confusion and dismay, an ordinary blue-collar worker finds himself in touch with supernatural forces linked to a sinister event that once happened in his house. Bacon seems oddly self-conscious in his regular-guy role, and director Koepp relies more heavily on editing tricks than old-fashioned atmosphere. Still, the movie provides a few effective thrills. Sex/Nudity: 1 sex scene; 1 instance of nudity; some innuendo. Violence: 11 instances, several disturbing. Profanity: 29 expressions, mostly harsh. Drugs: 2 scenes with alcohol and smoking.

THE 13TH WARRIOR (R) Directors: Michael Crichton, John McTiernan. With Antonio Banderas, Omar Sharif. (114 min.) +++ During the Dark Ages, a dozen Viking warriors ride to the rescue of a kingdom under attack from a mysterious terror that has no name. A visiting diplomat (Antonio Banderas) from the far more advanced Arab world, is forced to join them. During all manner of hacking and slashing, interrupted by a little romance, the diplomat must become a warrior. Based on Michael Crichton's novel, Eaters of the Dead. By Greg Lamb ++ Action-packed, engrossing, gruesome. Sex/Nudity: 1 scene of implied sex. Violence: 10 scenes, sometimes graphic. Profanity: 3 mild expressions. Drugs: 3 scenes with alcohol. double jeopardy: (l. to r.) Ashley Judd and Tommy Lee Jones star in this action-thriller about a woman framed for the murder of her husband. A capsule review will appear in next weeks guide. Opens today. Rob mcewan/paramount

OUT ON VIDEO RAVENOUS (R) Director: Antonia Bird. With Robert Carlyle, Guy Pearce, Jeffrey Jones, David Arquette, Jeremy Davies, Stephen Spinella, Neal McDonough. (105 min.) ++ A horror movie disguised as a western, with cannibals stalking victims in the mountainous terrain of the American frontier. Most of the pictures ideas are drawn from the old vampire-film tradition; viewers with no tolerance for grisly violence should stay away from it, but Birds keen visual imagination keeps the action grimly watchable for those who can stomach such stuff.

COMING SOON ... (In stores Sept. 28)

THE MUMMY (PG-13) Director: Stephen Sommers. With Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah. (125 min.) ++ High-tech remake of the 1932 horror classic about an ancient Egyptian schemer who launches an evil plot after 20th-century adventurers revive him. The movie is long, bombastic, and violent, but fantasy fans may enjoy its fast- moving energy, and some of the digitized effects are entertainingly hokey. ++1/2 Imaginative, over the top, adventurous.

PUSHING TIN (R) Director: Mike Newell. With John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, Cate Blanchett, Angelina Jolie. (120 min.) ++ Romance and rivalry among a group of air-traffic controllers, portrayed as suburban roughnecks with a penchant for rowdy behavior. The movie bids for novelty by focusing on a profession that Hollywood rarely notices, but theres nothing fresh about the smart-alecky characters or love-triangle plot. Such an appealing cast deserves more appealing material to work with.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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