Director: Neal Slavin. With William H. Macy, Laura Dern, David Paymer, Meat Loaf Aday. (100 min.)
Sterritt *** Macy plays a 1940s businessman who doesn't worry much about anti-Semitism until some people get the idea that he looks sort of Jewish himself, sparking events that cause him to lose his job. Neighbors are also angry at a local Jewish shopkeeper, and he's tempted to regain their trust by joining in their attacks. Slavin treats the tale as a philosophical fable about the never-ending struggle between good and evil. The result would be an important drama if the screenplay (based on an early Arthur Miller novel) didn't lapse into preachiness and imprecision at times.
Directors: The Hughes Brothers. With Johnny Depp, Heather Graham, Ian Holm, Robbie Coltrane. (137 min.)
Sterritt *** Depp plays a 19th-century police inspector whose hunt for Jack the Ripper smokes out an enormous number of complications. The movie works well as a straight-out horror yarn, proving that the Hughes
Brothers are more versatile than their previous "ghetto pictures" suggest. But it lacks the near-cosmic resonance of the book it's based on, a "graphic novel" by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell that makes far more interesting speculations on mysteries of myth and history, space and time, good and evil, life and death.
Director: Terry Gilliam. With Michael Palin, Annette Badland, Max Wall. (105 min.)
Sterritt *** Palin, one of the most gifted members of England's fabled Monty Python comedy troupe, plays a mud-spattered medieval peasant whose life turns adventurous when a monster starts stalking the countryside. Gilliam's first solo flight as a director is more notable for its inspired visual ideas than for the frequency of its laughs, but Python devotees will have fun. First released in 1977.
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