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Freeze Frames

The Monitor Movie Guide

(Page 2 of 5)



uu Sophomoric, bathroom humor; Jim Carrey shines.

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THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT (PG-13)

uuu Comedy about a well-meaning but wishy-washy chief executive who happens to be a widower. He learns a few things about principle and commitment when political enemies make a phony character issue out of his romantic relationship with an attractive lobbyist. Michael Douglas and Annette Bening head the well-chosen cast, but what gives the movie substance is its willingness to take real stands on real political issues. Rob Reiner directed. P

uuu Clintonesque, lightweight, snappy dialogue.

BLUE IN THE FACE (R)

uuu Harvey Keitel reprises the role he played in ''Smoke,'' a friendly cigar-store clerk whose modest establishment serves as a meeting place for various denizens of his racially mixed Brooklyn neighborhood. This time all the scenes are improvised around brief scenarios written by Paul Auster, who directed the movie in partnership with Wayne Wang. The results are ragged, disjointed, and endearing. Other cast members include Giancarlo Esposito, Jim Jarmusch, Madonna, and Roseanne. P S N

A BUSINESS AFFAIR (Not rated)

uu Comedy-drama about an aspiring writer caught between her egotistical husband, an established author, and a self-important publisher who wants to steal her away from him. Carole Bouquet is an attractive heroine, and it's fun watching actors as talented as Christopher Walken and Jonathan Pryce compete for attention. Charlotte Brandstrom's directing rarely shines, though, and the jokes are more pretentious than amusing. N V P

CARRINGTON (R)

uuu Drama about the long relationship between author Lytton Strachey and painter Dora Carrington, with emphasis on the complications raised by Strachey's homosexuality. Although it lapses into sensationalism, explicit sex, and historical inaccuracy, the movie convincingly portrays unconventional artists who crystallized a unique moment in post-Victorian culture. Emma Thompson is appealing as the title character, and Jonathan Pryce does more acting with his bushy beard than most actors manage with their whole bodies. Christopher Hampton directed his own screenplay, and Michael Nyman composed the evocative score. S N P

uu Self-indulgent, amoral, well-acted.

CASINO (R)

uuu Martin Scorsese spins the seamy tale of a gambling impresario who runs a Las Vegas casino with help and hindrance from tough-guy associates, his drug-abusing wife, and a childhood friend with a dangerously unstable streak. The filmmaking is brilliant and creative, but the story is as cold and superficial as the jewels one crooked character likes to steal. Robert De Niro and Sharon Stone head the excellent cast. S N V P

uu Excessively violent, long, Stone is superb.

THE CONVENT (Not rated)

uuu John Malkovich and Catherine Deneuve play husband-and-wife researchers poking around an old monastery in search of evidence about William Shakespeare's ancestry. Portugal's greatest filmmaker, Manoel de Oliveira, directed this comedy-drama, which is as mischievous as it is mysterious. V S

COPYCAT (R)

uu Holly Hunter and Sigourney Weaver play a cop and a psychologist trying to trap a serial killer who imitates the crimes of his most famous predecessors. The acting is capable and the suspense is effective at times, but the gore is grisly and the climax is surprisingly hokey. Jon Amiel directed. V P N

THE CROSSING GUARD (R)

uuu Sensitive, sometimes disturbing drama about a grieving father who wants revenge against the man who killed his daughter in a drunken-driving accident. Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston give mature performances as the bereaved parents, and David Morse brings an offbeat touch to the basically decent man who traumatized their lives. Written and directed by Sean Penn, fast becoming one of the most interesting filmmakers of his generation. N S P V

DEAD PRESIDENTS (R)