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Freeze Frames

The Monitor Movie Guide

(Page 4 of 5)



KICKING AND SCREAMING (R)

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uuu A visit with twenty-somethings who stick around their college after graduation because they can't think of anything else to do. Written and directed by newcomer Noah Baumbach with an excellent ear for absurdity and a keen eye for the offhand realities of everyday life in a den of unmitigated slack. P N S

LEAVING LAS VEGAS (R)

uuu The ill-starred love affair of two misfits in an uncaring world. Rarely have the miseries of alcoholism and prostitution been portrayed with such cautionary force, or such an unshakable sense of compassion for their victims. Directed by Mike Figgis with a keen eye for revealing visual details and a brilliant ear for visual underpinnings. A tacked-on ''uplifting'' finale and a scene of needless brutality against the heroine provide the only false notes. Nicolas Cage and Elisabeth Shue head the excellent cast. Spectators should be warned that the film contains explicit depictions of jarringly objectionable material. S N V P

MIGHTY APHRODITE (R)

uu Woody Allen plays a married sportswriter who adopts a baby boy, becomes obsessed with finding the child's mother - a prostitute with the proverbial heart of gold - and then tries to hold his marriage together as he and his wife flirt with illicit relationships. Tabloid readers will find many connections between this slightly dark comedy and the highly publicized controversies of Allen's own life. Others will find a few hilarious jokes surrounded by flimsy attempts at self-justification. Mira Sorvino and Helena Bonham Carter lead the fine supporting cast. P

MONEY TRAIN (R)

uu Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson are back together for some laughs and macho action. This time, instead of sinking baskets they're transit-cop brothers trying to steal an armored subway train full of cash, and seduce their equally tough female partner along the way. Slick and slightly amusing at times, but for the most part unimaginative. Still, the public will sleep better knowing this duo has our best interests in mind. Directed by Joseph Ruben. P V S By Caren Krams

NICK OF TIME (R)

u Johnny Depp's daughter is kidnapped, and he has 90 minutes to assassinate the governor of California or the kid gets it. What can he do? If you're him or anyone in the audience, you keep looking at your watch. The story is told in real time, starting at noon and ending at 1:30 - probably how long it took to shoot the movie. Christopher Walken walks through his role as the looming psycho in this misdirected action thriller, where the gimmick runs out of time before the film does. Directed by John Badham. P V By Caren Krams

NOW AND THEN (PG-13)

uuu Lightweight coming-of-age movie about girls growing up in a small Indiana town in the 1970s. Of the three current films about women (''Moonlight and Valentino'' and ''How to Make an American Quilt'' are the others), this is the least introspective but the most fun. Baby boomers will enjoy the trip back to tract housing and music from the Monkees and the Jackson 5. Demi Moore, Rosie O'Donnell, and Melanie Griffith open and close the movie, but it's the younger lesser-known actresses who give it spunk. By Joyce McMillin P

uu Predictable, heartwarming, pat.

PERSUASION (PG)

uuu Glowingly filmed adaptation of Jane Austen's late novel about life and love in 19th-century England, centering on the emotional life of a young woman who reencounters an attractive man she once spurned on the advice of a misguided friend. Directed by Roger Michell from Nick Dear's literate screenplay, which reflects the sly charm if not the rich complexity of Austen's prose.

uuuu Authentic, understated, a Jane Austen gem.

SEVEN (R)

uuu Two cops, a fresh newcomer, and a jaded veteran track down a serial killer whose grisly crimes echo the seven deadly sins. Although the story isn't original, it's powerfully directed by David Fincher, and Morgan Freeman gives another of his superbly understated performances. Be warned that the picture contains enough horrific details to make it a worthy successor to ''The Silence of the Lambs,'' which was its inspiration. Brad Pitt and Kevin Spacey round out the principle cast. S V P N