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March 8, 1996



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The Monitor Movie Guide

MARCH 8, 1996

Movies containing violence (V), sexual situations (S), nudity (N), and profanity (P) are noted. Ratings and comments by the panel (blue stars) reflect the sometimes diverse views of at least three other viewers. Look for more guidance in our full reviews.

EVALUATION SYMBOLS

David Sterritt Monitor Panel Meaning

O O Forget it

s p Only if it's free

ss pp Maybe a matinee

sss ppp Worth full price

ssss pppp Wait in line

New Releases

THE BIRDCAGE (R)

sss Armand and Albert are homosexual, but Armand's son wants to marry the daughter of a conservative senator, so they agree to "act straight" for a while. Based on the popular French movie "La Cage aux Folles," the fast-moving comedy was directed by Mike Nichols from Elaine May's screenplay. Robin Williams and Gene Hackman head the well-chosen cast. Contains a great deal of material about homosexuality. P N

CHUNGKING EXPRESS (PG-13)

sss Two separate stories about Hong Kong policemen with romantic problems. One meets a female smuggler who helps him forget his former girlfriend, and the other gets involved with a music-loving waitress who pokes into his life behind his back. Written and directed by Wong Kar-wai, the film is an imaginative piece of filmmaking and an evocative essay on the mood in contemporary Hong Kong as it prepares for a return to Chinese rule. V S P

DOWN PERISCOPE (PG-13)

ss Kelsey Grammer of TV's "Frasier" commands a crew of misfit submariners in his first big screen role. The loopy plot and hijinks of Grammer's sailors provide some laughs as he captains a 1950s diesel sub in war games against the Navy's best. Critics may consign this farce to the briny deep, but teens could enjoy its good-natured spoof of all things nautical. P S By John Dillin

pp Outlandish, mischievous, coarse jokes.

FARGO (R)

ss Strapped for cash, a small-time businessman arranges for his wife to be kidnapped to get the ransom. Directed by Joel Coen and produced by Ethan Coen, the pitch-dark comedy has good acting by William H. Macy as the devious husband and Frances MacDormand as the pregnant policewoman who cracks the case. Contains explicit sex and much grotesquely exaggerated violence, though. S V P

THE FLOWER OF MY SECRET (R)

ss Leo has been writing popular romance novels for years, but lately her personal problems have grown so oppressive that she can't muster her old enthusiasm for entertaining plots and happy endings. Pedro Almodovar's Spanish drama is his most involving work since the comedy "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown," but its mood of ironic melancholy doesn't hold up enough to make the picture a full success. P S N

HOMEWARD BOUND II: LOST IN SAN FRANCISCO (G)

ss Two dogs and a cat have an adventurous outing in the Bay Area after their family loses them during a vacation. The story is lively enough, but kids will know these talkative pets are strictly from Hollywood. Directed by David R. Ellis. Contains some vulgar humor. V

IF LUCY FELL (R)

O Years earlier, painter Joe and psychotherapist Lucy decided they'd jump off the Brooklyn Bridge if they didn't find romance by their 30th birthdays. Now the deadline is near - but if anyone jumps it's likely to be moviegoers who paid to see this amazingly dumb comedy, about which there's nothing good to say except that the Brooklyn Bridge looks as handsome as ever. Directed by Eric Schaffer, who made the somewhat better "My Life's in Turnaround" two years ago. He also stars with Sarah Jessica Parker. P S

UP CLOSE & PERSONAL (PG-13)