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 is scheduled to appear on the first and third Thursdays of the month.

Brash farce about an eccentric woman whose spirit transmigrates into the body of a no-nonsense lawyer. Uneven but sometimes very funny under Carl Reiner's direction. (Rated PG; contains bathroom humor and sex.) THE BEING -

The satire works better than the horror, but everything is pretty limp in this thriller about nuclear monsters invading Pottstown, Idaho. Written and directed by Jackie Kong, who must have been kidding. (Rated R; contains violence and nudity.) BLUE PLANET -

The yearly rhythms of nature are condensed into a single day in this visually imposing epic, which offers an unconventional blend of documentary realism and visionary structure in place of standard plot and character development. Inventively directed by Franco Piavoli. (Not rated; contains sexuality.)

BOLERO -

This tedious romance, about a rich American woman's love affair with a bullfighter, is a strong candidate for worst picture of the year. Produced by star Bo Derek and directed, after a fashion, by her husband, John Derek. (Not rated; contains several graphic sex scenes.) THE BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET -

Running from outer-space slaveholders, a black alien flees to Harlem and passes as just another New York weirdo. Written and directed by John Sayles, with biting wit and scathing insights into earthly race relations. (Not rated; contains vulgar language and sex.) C.H.U.D. -

Pretty bad, but what did you expect from a cheapie about ''cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers,'' anyway? Directed by Douglas Cheek, who throws in everything from graphic gore to sociopolitical commentary. (Rated R; contains violence.) COMFORT AND JOY -

After his girlfriend abruptly leaves him, a Glasgow radio personality starts poking around the city and finds himself in the middle of a war between ice cream dealers. A gentle and ingenious comedy, written and directed with quiet charm by Scottish filmmaker Bill Forsyth. (Rated PG; contains a little vulgarity.) COUNTRY -

A farming family struggles to keep its land in the face of hard times and an unfeeling loan bureaucracy. Conservatively but sensitively directed by Richard Pearce, who gives political issues a very human face. (Rated PG; contains vulgarity.) DREAMSCAPE -

After learning how to enter people's dreams, a psychic and a psycho struggle over a bizarre plot to assassinate the president of the United States. The plot is ragged but director Joseph Ruben gives it humor and visual pizazz. (Rated PG- 13; contains some violence and sex.) EXTERMINATOR 2 -

A vigilante takes on the thugs of New York with a flamethrower. A hate-filled drama, directed by Mark Buntzman in a snazzy pop style lifted from Walter Hill and Philip Kaufman. (Rated R; contains sex and lurid violence.) IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES -

The bittersweet story of a marriage that started better than it ended, from the viewpoint of a neglected child who wants a divorce from her parents. Directed by Charles Shyer, who brings much imagination to the first half but loses all momentum in the homestretch. (Rated PG; contains vulgar language.) LAST NIGHT AT THE ALAMO -

A bunch of good old boys have a boozy evening at their favorite saloon, and the good old girls get fed up with them. The performances are excellent and the low-budget production values are right at home in this dark, rambunctious comedy written by Kim Henkel and directed by Eagle Pennell. (Not rated; contains a great deal of vulgar language.) LOVE STREAMS -

The confused plot centers on a loose-living writer, his mentally unstable sister, and sundry others caught in ungainly relationships with them. But the real point is the exhilaratingly eccentric filmmaking of John Cassavetes, whose instinctive and emotional style is charged with passion, imagination, and courage. (Rated PG-13; contains vulgarity.) PLACES IN THE HEART -

A widow struggles to keep her home and family together in Texas during the depression. The story is slight and sentimental, but the incidents are vividly realized by director Robert Benton, and the finale is positively transcendent. (Rated PG; contains some violence and vulgarity.) A SOLDIER'S STORY -

A black sergeant is murdered near a Louisiana military base in 1944, and the investigation uncovers sad truths about black self-hatred as well as white racism. Directed rather broadly by Norman Jewison, but well acted and intelligent. (Rated PG; contains vulgar language and violence.) STRANGER THAN PARADISE -

Obliviousness is a way of life to the three heroes of this dark comedy, who travel from New York to Cleveland to Florida and never notice anything beyond themselves. One of the very best American movies of the year, directed by Jim Jarmusch with a stripped-down style full of visual imagination and storytelling wit. (Rated R; contains occasional vulgar language.) TIGHTROPE -

A provocative subject, the ''dark side'' of every personality, is exploited rather than explored in this fiercely sordid drama about cop Clint Eastwood chasing a prostitute-killer. Written and directed by Richard Tuggle, with nice attention to the protagonist's family relations. (Rated R; contains graphic violence and kinky sex.) UNTIL SEPTEMBER -

A young American woman has an affair with a dapper Frenchman. A dull drama, directed by the technically proficient Richard Marquand. (Rated R; contains sex and vulgar language.)

WINDY CITY -

A windy movie, about a young man having a happy-sad love affair while his best friend copes with a fatal illness. Gently but dully directed by Armyan Bernstein. (Rated R; contains vulgarity.) THE WOMAN IN RED -

There are moments of real humor and real emotion in this otherwise frivolous sex comedy about a married man smitten with a glamorous model. Written by, directed by, and starring Gene Wilder. (Rated PG-13; contains vulgar language and a preoccupation with sex.)

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