The Monitor Movie Guide
(Page 5 of 5)
u Horrifying, repulsive, masterly cinematography.Skip to next paragraph
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STRANGE DAYS (R)
uuu On the eve of the 21st century, a former cop hustles an illegal entertainment device that pumps sensory impressions into the brain, and could provide clues to a murder that's threatening a massive race riot. Kathryn Bigelow's science-fiction epic is a stunning technical achievement and a bold catalog of provocative social issues, converging in a finale that's either a Hollywood happy ending or a blatant ideological cop-out, depending on your point of view. The picture contains enough violence to spark a controversy all its own. Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Lewis, and Angela Bassett star. S V N P
u Perverse, caustic, leaves you spinning.
THINGS TO DO IN DENVER WHEN YOU'RE DEAD (R)
u Seeing this movie isn't one of them. Accepting one last job, a retired hit man finds himself on the wrong side of a nasty enemy, and the outcome is like a nincompoop version of ''The Usual Suspects,'' which unfolds a similar story with more success on every level. Gary Fleder directed Scott Rosenberg's screenplay. Andy Garcia and Christopher Walken head the unfortunate cast. S N V P
TO DIE FOR (R)
uuu Convinced that her lackadaisical husband is weighing down her hoped-for career as a media star, a TV weatherwoman seduces a high-school student into eliminating her spouse. This satire of middle-class media madness owes more to screenwriter Buck Henry than to director Gus Van Sant, who courts mass-market appeal by soft-pedaling his usually subversive style. The result is a conventional dark comedy with moments of un-expected- ly biting wit. S V P N (Includes explicit sex scenes.)
uuu Captivating, sly; Kidman's role is a scream.
TOY STORY (G)
uuu Computer-animated film about two action toys, a cowboy and an astronaut, trying to reunite with the boy who's lost them. With its many eye-catching shots of consumer products, the picture starts off more like a promotional ploy than a kid-friendly entertainment. Happily, the plot and dialogue turn out to be hilarious, making this the most enjoyable picture of its kind in a very long while. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen provide the heroes' voices. John Lasseter directed, and Randy Newman wrote the songs. V
uuuu Computerrific, highly creative, refreshing.
TWO BITS (PG-13)
uu A boy scavenges his Depression-ravaged neighbor- hood for the price of a movie ticket, diverting his attention from the imminent death of his much-loved grandfather. Al Pacino and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio are fun to watch, but the picture's main asset is Juan Ruiz-Anchia's luminous cinematography. James Foley directed. V P
WHITE MAN'S BURDEN (R)
u In a fictional US where race relations are reversed, a white laborer kidnaps a black executive who inadvertently ruined his life, and each grows a bit wiser before events take a tragic turn. The novelty of the premise doesn't keep the story from seeming trite and arbitrary, and despite its apparently good intentions the picture can be seen as just another exercise in making African-Americans look unappealing on the screen. Harry Belafonte and John Travolta give earnest performances, though. Written and directed by Desmond Nakano. V P
uu Contrived, unpolished, powerful.
WILD BILL (R)
uu Raucous retelling of the Wild Bill Hickok story, portraying the frontier hero as dirty, dangerous, lecherous, and so ill-tempered you wonder why any sane person would stay in the same town with him. Jeff Bridges has a good time wallowing in his down-and-dirty role, and Ellen Barkin almost makes Calamity Jane into a character from life instead of legend. Directed by action specialist Walter Hill, the movie is a job well done but not necessarily one worth doing. V S N P