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Freeze Frames

The Monitor Movie Guide

(Page 5 of 5)


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uu A husband's infidelity sparks a crisis in a seemingly happy marriage. Fans of the overrated ''Steel Magnolias'' should find much to enjoy in Lasse Hallstrom's dramatic comedy, which combines a character-driven screenplay with a colorful Southern setting. Both the humor and the poignancy stay strictly on the surface, though, and the story's occasional signs of lifelike ambiguity are canceled by a tacked-on happy ending. Julia Roberts gives one of her best screen performances, but is still out-classed by Gena Rowlands and Robert Duvall. Written by Callie Khouri and photographed by Sven Nykvist. V P

uu Funny, uneven, not high-reaching.


uu A dangerous alien is on the loose in Los Angeles, and must be tracked down before she mates with an unsuspecting man. The first 30 minutes are exciting, inventive, and witty, but the picture soon settles into a routine of chases and gross-out scenes. Most surprising is its misogynistic tone, suggesting that strong women are still more feared than respected in Hollywood. Roger Donaldson directed. V S N P

uu Repulsive, gory, a poor man's ''Alien.''


uuu Wildly entertaining documentary tracing the activities of fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi as he prepares to unveil his 1994 collection at a New York show. Directed with nonstop energy by Douglas Keeve and imaginatively photographed by Ellen Kuras in black-and-white and color. Bold, boisterous, beautiful. P


uuu Five shady characters meet in a police-station lineup and decide to take advantage of their acquaintance by planning a crime together; but the story's key character turns out to be a master criminal who's so elusive it isn't even clear whether he exists or not. Bryan Singer's thriller is awfully violent in spots, but a breakneck pace and truly surprising story raise it well above average for its genre. The cast includes Chazz Palminteri, Stephen Baldwin, and Gabriel Bryne. V S P

uu Dark, crude, absorbing.


uu A former convict battles a computer-generated villain. Like the more inventive ''Natural Born Killers,'' this is a movie that chides its audience for gawking at violence while wallowing in violence from beginning to end. Occasional flashes of wit and imagination can't disguise its basic nastiness, although Denzel Washington's talent manages to shine through the mayhem. Directed by Brett Leonard. V N P

uu Amateur, cybertrash, laughable.


uuu A recently returned World War II veteran poses as the husband of an unwed mother-to-be, and finds himself in a complex relationship with her Mexican-American family, who operate a vineyard as traditional as the Old World values they espouse. The tale is far from original, but director Alfonso Arau bathes it in a golden glow that goes beyond nostalgia to sheer dreaminess, lending a touch of Latin-style magic realism that suits the picture perfectly. Keanu Reeves and Aitana Sanchez-Gijon make appealing protagonists, although Giancarlo Giannini and Anthony Quinn get the best lines to say by the screenwriters. V

uu Touching, unconvincing, beautifully filmed.


uu Kevin Costner plays a web-footed mutant who steers his ecologically correct sailboat through a future world inundated with water. Also on hand are two female companions and a villain who leads his wicked crew from a stronghold on the infamous Exxon Valdez tanker. Despite its record-setting budget, the movie is just a high-tech comic book that borrows from the ''Mad Max'' movies of the early '80s. At least Dennis Hopper plays the bad guy with wildness and wit. Costner's stolid hero seems a washout by comparison. Kevin Reynolds directed. V N P

uuu Rambunctious, exhausting, entertaining.