MOVIE GUIDE

The following summaries of current, widely shown films are provided to help readers plan what to see. If additional coverage of a film has appeared in the Monitor, the date of the article is given in italics after the summary. Inclusion of a movie does not imply Monitor endorsement. The Movie Guide appears on the first and third Thursdays of the month. AFTER THE REHEARSAL - Talky, dense, emotionally complex ''chamber film'' about a stage director and two actresses having a deeply felt confrontation over their personal and professional lives. Written and directed by Ingmar Bergman. (Rated R; contains vulgar language and mature subject matter.) ALPHABET CITY - Sympathetic portrait of a New York City dope dealer, packed with cliches of the genre. Partly redeemed by the visual imagination of director Amos Poe, who attracted notice with his underground thriller ''The Outsider'' and turns parts of his present opus into an infernal tone poem. (Rated R; contains violence, vulgarity, and incredibly sleazy characters.) May 17. THE BOUNTY - Fletcher Christian and Captain Bligh sail again, only this time it's Lieutenant Bligh, since producer Dino De Laurentiis wants to get the historical details right and tell ''the true story.'' The result is pure hokum, nonetheless, in the old tradition of big-screen epics, competently directed by Roger Donaldson and occasionally inspired by Anthony Hopkins's portrayal of a surprisingly sympathetic skipper. (Rated PG; contains nudity and violence.) May 17. EL NORTE - Saga of a peasant brother and sister who flee oppression in their native Guatemala, only to find poverty in Mexico and new forms of hardship and servitude in California. Intelligently and resourcefully directed by Gregory Nava, though some of his storytelling strategies seem rather studied. (Not rated; contains violence and vulgar language.) March 1. ENTRE NOUS - Perceptive drama about two French women who forge a strong and loving friendship while fencing with family and personal problems. Directed with uncommon insight by Diane Kurys, who vividly paints not only specific characters but the deceptively complex moods and attitudes of the 1950s, when most of the action takes place. (Rated PG; contains some violence, nudity, and frank sexual talk.) March 8. ERENDIRA - A bizarre, surrealistic visual style marks this account of a young woman pushed into prositution by her grandmother, on whom she eventually takes revenge. Directed by Ruy Guerra from a screenplay by Nobel Prize-winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez, based on part of his novel ''One Hundred Years of Solitude.'' (Not rated; contains sex, nudity, and violence.) FINDERS KEEPERS - Raucous comedy about a young man and his friends on the trail of a coffin-full of purloined money. Raggedly directed by Richard Lester. (Rated R; contains much vulgar language.) FIRESTARTER - Yet another silly thriller based on a Stephen King story, this about a little girl who can set distant objects on fire, an ability that sounded more impressive in the novel than it looks on screen. Directed by Mark L. Lester with no particular flair. (Rated R; contains vulgar language and violence.) May 31. FOOTLOOSE - In a small town where people think rock-and-roll is a synonym for sex, a teen-ager tries to organize a dance while romancing the preacher's daughter. John Lithgow's sensitive portrayal of the minister towers over everything else in the picture, which was slackly directed by Herbert Ross and contains some very silly production numbers. (Rated PG; contains vulgar language and talk about sex.) GREMLINS - At first there's only one, and he's very cute, but if you aren't careful he has zillions of babies that shift from mischievous to malicious. There's lots of fun and inventiveness to the tale, although director Joe Dante has trouble balancing the humor and horror, both of which are surprisingly blunt. (Rated PG; contains a little vulgar language and a lot of strong though cartoonlike violence.) June 7. GREYSTOKE, THE LEGEND OF TARZAN, LORD OF THE APES - Big, colorful, utterly predictable throwback to the wide-screen epics of the 1950s, rehashing the story of everyone's favorite ape-man with lots of hokey drama and a little real emotion. Directed by Hugh Hudson with the same dry dignity he brought to ''Chariots of Fire,'' missing the earnestly silly spirit of Edgar Rice Burroughs , who wrote the original tale. (Rated PG; contains violence and a little vulgarity.) April 12. INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM - This time the hero of ''Raiders of the Lost Ark'' must restore a holy stone to an Indian village, or evil cultists will take over the world. Although director Steven Spielberg provides plenty of action and technical brilliance, the all-purpose violence is joined by a racism and sexism that have no place even in a pastiche of old Saturday-matinee styles. (Rated PG; contains much violence and yucky effects.) May 31. MOSCOW ON THE HUDSON - There's an engaging lilt to this bittersweet comedy about the immigrant experience, focusing on a jazz-loving Russian who defects to the United States and moves in with a poor black family. Still, director Paul Mazursky loses credibility with his contrasting portraits of Moscow and New York , picturing Russian poverty as harsh and spirit-killing but American poverty as romantic and kind of fun. (Rated R; contains sex and vulgar language.) MY BEST FRIEND'S GIRL - Romantic comedy about two residents of a ski resort who are great pals until they both fall in love with Isabelle Huppert. Drearily directed by Bertrand Blier, with his habitual male bias just a little more muted than usual. (Not rated; contains sex and nudity.)

THE NATURAL - The story is nice and old-fashioned, as a brilliant but aging baseball player finds glory despite the temptations of a nasty world. But there's little life to the screenplay, which misses the superbly sustained style of Bernard Malamud's novel, and Robert Redford's performance is as ho-hum as Barry Levinson's directing style. (Rated PG; contains extramarital sex.) May 31. ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA - Though substantially shortened for its United States release, this violent drama still has the feel of an epic, as director Sergio Leone explores the seamiest byways of urban Americana through the story of two gangsters who start their partnership as Brooklyn kids in 1921 and tragically end it in the late '60s. Yet the story has gaps, and many of the incidents have a flatness, that suggest deeper flaws than cutting and trimming probably account for. (Rated R; contains much sex and violence, sometimes mingled.) RACING WITH THE MOON - There's nothing fresh about the story, as yet another young couple discover romance, sex, and the burdens of maturity, this time in a small American town during World War II. Still, the sensitive directing of Richard Benjamin and the exquisite cinematography of John Bailey give the comedy and drama a special glow, as do the strong performances by Sean Penn and Nicolas Cage and the stunning one by Elizabeth McGovern. (Rated PG; contains vulgar language, brief nudity and sex, and a subplot about abortion.) ROMANCING THE STONE - A shy novelist finds herself in the middle of an exotic adventure after a treasure map falls into her life. Robert Zemeckis directed the fast-moving, humorously self-mocking action, which is marred by a few inexplicably limp scenes and a condescending attitude toward Latin America, where most of the story takes place. (Rated PG; contains sex and violence.) April 12. ROPE - The wordy screenplay is more awkward than the actual plot of this reissued 1948 thriller about two men who prove their ''superiority'' by killing a friend and get betrayed by their own arrogance. But the brilliant Alfred Hitchcock lends it visual and dramatic interest by filming the action in long, uninterrupted ''takes'' that take on an engrossing, almost musical rhythm of their own. (Rated PG; contains violence.) SIXTEEN CANDLES - As if her scanty romantic life weren't enough for our heroine to worry about, her parents clean forget it's her 16th birthday, leaving her to grope her own way through this important way station on the rocky road to coming of age. Along with the lapses of taste that have become standard in pictures aimed at teen audiences, filmmaker John Hughes offers moments of wit and warmth. (Rated PG; contains nudity, bigotry, and much vulgar language.) May 17. SPLASH - Boy meets mermaid. Directed by Ron Howard, who keeps the performances roaring along, and fills the screen with funny sight gags whenever the story slackens. (Rated PG; contains vulgar language, fleeting nudity, and sexual innuendo.) March 22. STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK - Although the last ''Star Trek'' movie killed Spock off, it turns out he's not exactly dead. He isn't exactly alive, either, but his friends aren't fussy, and they set off to find him in this surprisingly restrained, autumnal adventure. (Rated PG; contains some violence.) June 7. SWING SHIFT - There's not much freshness to the plot, about a young woman who has a love affair when her husband sails off to fight World War II. But director Jonathan Demme shows the same keen interest in Americana that sparked his fine ''Melvin and Howard,'' and while some story details are murky or unconvincing, his probing lens captures delicate nuances of atmosphere and performance. (Rated PG; co'ntains adultery and some vulgarity.) May 17. TERMS OF ENDEARMENT - There's not enough substance to support the sentiment of this longish comedy-drama about a young woman and her crusty middle-aged mother, which culminates in an episode of illness and death. Written and directed by James L. Brooks, who never settles into any aspect of his subject long enough to explore it thoroughly. (Rated PG; contains some vulgar language, sexual activity , and illness.) Dec. 22, 1983. THIS IS SPINAL TAP - Mock documentary about a British rock group with a new album called ''Smell the Glove'' and a big American tour that's falling apart before their eyes. Cleverly directed by Rob Reiner, who energetically deflates an impressive number of musical, cinematic, and just plain human foibles. (Rated R; contains vulgar language.)

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