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The Monitor Movie Guide


Excellent ++++

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Good +++

Fair ++

Poor +

The Worst DUD

NEW RELEASE THE BEST MAN (R) Director: Malcolm Lee. With Taye Diggs, Nia Long, Morris Chestnut, Harold Perrineau, Terrence Howard. (118 min.) +++ Written and directed by Malcolm Lee (cousin to well-known director Spike Lee), the movie is what some are calling a black The Big Chill, a coming-of- age film about a group of young black professionals who are reunited after college graduation for the wedding of one of the group. When a thinly disguised autobiographical novel written by the best man reveals truths the group cant handle, old and new wounds surface. This is a compelling, well-made story that appeals across age and race lines. (See story, page 18.) By Gloria Goodale

BRINGING OUT THE DEAD (R) Director: Martin Scorsese. With Nicolas Cage, Patricia Arquette, John Goodman, Ving Rhames, Tom Sizemore, Mary Beth Hurt, Marc Anthony. (120 min.) +++ Harrowing portrait of a New York City ambulance driver whos haunted by visions of suffering people hes tried and failed to save. While the story is shaped by Scorseses visual expressionism, its driving force is Paul Schrader's screenplay, which is equally fascinated by the afflictions of life and the usually squandered opportunities these afford for courage and self-sacrifice. Contains graphic depictions of urban misery including violence, illness, drug abuse, and despair.

THE CITY (LA CIUDAD) (NOT RATED) Director: David Riker. With Jose Rabelo, Stephanie Viruet, Gene Ruffini, Sylvia Goiz, Antonio Peralta. (88 min.) +++ Four stories of Latin immigrants struggling to build new lives in New York City without forgetting their family roots and responsibilities. Each minidrama is quietly touching and compassionate, and Riker is honest enough to avoid suggesting easy solutions for the social, cultural, and personal challenges his characters confront. In Spanish with English subtitles

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CRAZY IN ALABAMA (PG-13) Director: Antonio Banderas. With Melanie Griffith, David Morse, Lucas Black, Cathy Moriarty, Meat Loaf, Rod Steiger. (111 min.) ++1/2 In 1965 Alabama, a young woman (Griffith) kills her cruel husband and drives off for Hollywood to try her hand as an actress. Banderas, in his directorial debut, attempts too much when he intercuts her hilarious adventures with a sensitively handled civil rights battle back home. Steigers bit as a Southern judge steals the show, and ex-rocker Meat Loaf is well cast as the bigoted sherriff. Less than the sum of its parts, perhaps, but some of the parts are wonderful. By M.K. Terrell Sex/Nudity: 1 sex scene; mild-to-strong innuendo. Violence: 4 scenes including police brutality. Profanity: 24 expressions, some harsh. Drugs: 2 scenes with alcohol, 1 with alcohol and smoking.

MEN CRY BULLETS (NOT RATED) Director: Tamara Hernandez. With Steven Nelson, Jeri Ryan, Honey Lauren, Harry Ralston. (106 min.) + Pitch-dark comedy about a young man distracted from his career as a drag performer when hes seduced by an older woman and then lured by a beautiful but egotistical debutante. The movie strains to be shockingly original but winds up as cheap and cheesy as its characters. Molly (PG-13) Director: John Duigan. With Elisabeth Shue, Aaron Eckhart, Jill Hennessy, Lucy Liu, Thomas Jane. (91 min.) + A young man cares for his mentally challenged sister as she undergoes an experimental medical procedure that could increase her intelligence and allow her to live a normal life. Many moviegoers enjoyed the male version of this plot when Charly became a 60s hit, but its 90s incarnation is shallow and sentimental in the sappiest Hollywood tradition.

NORTH BY NORTHWEST (NOT RATED) Director: Alfred Hitchcock. With Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason, Martin Landau, Leo G. Carroll, Jessie Royce Landis, Adam Williams. (136 min.) ++++ Reissue of the 1959 classic about a bewildered businessman on the run from cops and crooks whove mistaken him for a spy, a murderer, and a master of international intrigue. Not as deep as Hitchcocks greatest films, but nonstop fun from its Manhattan beginning to its Mt. Rushmore climax, spiced with Bernard Herrmanns exciting music, a superb supporting cast, and one of the most nuanced performances of Grants great career.

THREE TO TANGO (PG-13) Director: Damon Santostefano. With Matthew Perry, Neve Campbell, Dylan McDermott, Oliver Platt. (98 min.) 1/2 Heres one turkey thatll be gone before Thanksgiving. Perry and Platt are partners in an architecture firm bidding for a project from McDermotts tycoon. Perry falls in love with the tycoon's mistress (Campbell), who, through a series of confusions, believes he is gay. Campbell tries to hide her acting limitations behind a goofy grin, while Perrys exuberant energy and comic timing are rendered void by puerile humor. Oh, and some chemistry between the romantic leads wouldve been helpful. Its back to television for these actors. By Stephen Humphries

CURRENTLY IN RELEASE THE ADVENTURES OF ELMO IN GROUCHLAND (G) Director: Gary Halvorson. With Kevin Clash, Mandy Patinkin, Vanessa L. Williams, Sonia Manzano. (73 min.) ++1/2 Elmo has lost his blanket, and nothing can deter him from getting it back from a villain named Huxley (Patinkin). A doorway inside Oscar the Grouchs home transports him to Grouchland in a "Wizard of Oz"-type display. The musical numbers are cute and catchy, though they can be a bit rowdy in typical Seasame Street fashion. The characters are endearing. Children will learn lessons in sharing and how to find courage in sometimes scary situations. By Katherine Dillin

DRIVE ME CRAZY (PG-13) Director: John Schultz. With Melissa Joan Hart, Adrian Grenier, Stephen Collins. (103 min.) ++ In her big-screen debut, Hart (Sabrina, The Teenage Witch) stars as Nicole, a perky high school overachiever who wants to date the star basketball player; her next-door neighbor Chase (Grenier) is a mellow rebel whose girlfriend just broke up with him. Nicole then steps in and changes his appearance and attitude. By pretending theyre dating, both hope to make their dream mates jealous. This movie is cute, lightweight, and will appeal to the teen set. By Lisa Leigh Parney ++ Good-natured, fresh performers, somewhat scattered. Sex/Nudity: Some innuendo. Violence: 1 instance involving sexual assault. Profanity: 23 expressions, many harsh. Drugs: 4 scenes with alcohol, 1 with smoking.

FIGHT CLUB (R) Director: David Fincher. With Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter, Jared Leto, Meat Loaf. (135 min.) ++ Bored with the tedium of yuppie life, two young men start a secret society dedicated to the proposition that feeling a punch in the nose is better than feeling nothing at all. Soon their masochistic clique has a widespread membership and its leader is plotting the next logical step, escalating from personal pain to terrorist destruction. Fincher is a gifted filmmaker, but the picture undermines its serious undertones with an avalanche of smirky cynicism designed to flatter the hipper-than-thou fantasies of adolescent moviegoers. Contains a great deal of very explicit violence. + Gritty, gross, angry, sloppy, confused message. Sex/Nudity: Frank sexual talk, frontal nudity, 1 instance of graphic sex, and a couple of implied sex scenes. Violence: 33 scenes of excessive violence. Profanity: 140 expressions, most harsh. Drugs: 31 scenes with smoking, 3 with alcohol, 5 with alcohol and smoking, 1 prescription drug overdose.

THE LIMEY (R) Director: Steven Soderbergh. With Terence Stamp, Peter Fonda, Lesley Ann Warren, Amelia Heinle. (100 min.) +++ Stamp gives another bravura performance as an English hit man who visits Los Angeles to wreak vengeance on the criminals he blames for his daughters death. The violent story is standard film noir fare, but Soderbergh treats it with oomph and imagination.

RANDOM HEARTS (R) Director: Sydney Pollack. With Harrison Ford, Kristin Scott Thomas, Charles Dutton, Bonnie Hunt. (133 min.) ++ A policeman (Ford) and a congresswoman (Scott Thomas) are brought together in the aftermath of a plane crash by the discovery that their deceased spouses were having an affair. The shock of learning of the accident is well-observed, but the burgeoning love affair between the lead characters is awkward. Their respective partners infidelity is never fully explained, while a contrived subplot seems to have wandered in from another movie. A movie as clumsy as its title. By Stephen Humphries ++1/2 Stagnant, romantic, one-dimensional. Sex/Nudity: 1 scene of implied sex. Violence: 4 scenes with fairly graphic violence. Profanity: 13 instances, mostly mild. Drugs: 12 scenes with alcohol.

THE STORY OF US (R) Director: Rob Reiner. With Bruce Willis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Rob Reiner, Julie Hagerty, Rita Wilson. (100 min.) + Dramatic comedy about a couple who realize their marriage is coming apart and wonder if theyd be better off patching things up or calling it quits. Audiences may want their own speedy divorce from this irritating collection of stale jokes, pointless vulgarities, and warmed-over clichs. ++ Disappointing, depressing, sort of sweet, crude, best scenes already in preview. Sex/Nudity: 2 brief flashbacks of sexual activity, 1 with nudity; 1 scene with backside nudity; 4 instances of crass sexual talk. Violence: None. Profanity: 59 expressions, sometimes harsh. Drugs: 6 scenes with wine.

THE STRAIGHT STORY (G) Director: David Lynch. With Richard Farnsworth, Sissy Spacek, Harry Dean Stanton. (111 min.) +++ Determined to pay his ailing brother an overdue visit, an elderly man travels from Iowa to Wisconsin on a lawnmower tractor, having low-key adventures with the strangers he meets during his eccentric odyssey. As slow- moving as the voyage it portrays, this warmly human comedy-drama marks a radical departure for Lynch, whos known for violent and surrealistic fare like Blue Velvet and the Twin Peaks series. View it carefully, though, and youll see a surprisingly complex view of contemporary life beneath its good- natured surface.

SUPERSTAR (PG-13) Director: Bruce McCulloch. With Molly Shannon, Will Ferrell, Elaine Hendrix, Harland Williams. (92 min.) ++1/2 Mary Katherine Gallagher (played by Shannon who created the character on Saturday Night Live) is a nerdy but ambitious Catholic schoolgirl who dreams of superstardom. She begins her quest by trying to win a talent contest at school for the first-place prize trip to Hollywood. Meanwhile, she sets her sights on the schools dream date, Sky Corrigan (Ferrell), in hopes of getting her first kiss from him (hes really a goofball). Theres also an excellent robot-dance number in the cafeteria. By Lisa Leigh Parney Sex/Nudity: Much sex-related humor. Violence: 1 schoolgirl fistfight. Profanity: 18 expressions, mostly mild. Drugs: None.

THREE KINGS (R) Director: David O. Russell. With George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Ice Cube, Spike Jonze. (105 min.) ++ At the close of the Persian Gulf War, a small group of American soldiers go on a treasure hunt for piles of gold bullion hidden away by Saddam Hussein, and become involved in more geopolitical intrigue than they know how to handle. Russells stylish and imaginative filmmaking wages its own war against lunkheaded and sometimes offensive material. +++ One of the years best, hard-hitting, intelligent, gritty. Sex/Nudity: 1 sex scene, 1 scene with backside nudity. Violence: 33 scenes of war-related violence, sometimes graphic. Profanity: 103 expressions, many harsh. Drugs: 2 scenes with alcohol. bats: Dina Meyer (l.) and Lou Diamond Phillips star in this horror movie about a man-eating swarm of intelligent bats terrorizing a Texas town. A review will appear next week. fred hayes/destination films

OUT ON VIDEO THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (R) Directors: Eduardo Sanchez, Daniel Myrick. With Heather Donahue, Michael Williams, Joshua Leonard. (87 min.) ++ Three film students disappeared after trekking into a supposedly haunted forest, and were watching the film and video they shot before meeting their mysterious fate. The video features unseen footage. +++ Riveting, scary, realistic.

COMING SOON ... (In stores Oct. 26)

ARLINGTON ROAD (R) Director: Mark Pellington. With Jeff Bridges, Tim Robbins, Joan Cusack, Hope Davis. (117 min.) +++ A widowed college teacher gets the idea that his clean-living suburban neighbors may be involved in a terrorist plot. ++ Painfully slow-paced, edgy.

HIDEOUS KINKY (R) Director: Gillies Mackinnon. With Kate Winslet, Sad Taghmaoui, Bella Riza, Carrie Mullan. (99 min.) +++ After moving to North Africa in search of 60s-style adventure, a young Englishwoman raises her little girls and plans a visit to an Algerian guru for an encounter with Sufi wisdom.

MUPPETS FROM SPACE (G) Director: Tim Hill. With Muppet performers and Ray Liotta, David Arquette, Jeffrey Tambor. (82 min.) ++ Gonzo always knew he was unique, and now he learns why: His family is from outer space, and a reunion is long overdue. +++ Boisterous, nutty, good clean fun.

NEVER BEEN KISSED (PG-13) Director: Raja Gosnell. With Drew Barrymore, Leelee Sobieski, David Arquette, Jeremy Jordan. (108 min.) ++ Colorful comedy about a 25-year-old journalist assigned to relive her senior year in high school, this time as an undercover reporter getting the scoop on todays kids.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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