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*** Two youngsters trek through the Alaskan wilderness in search of their father, whose plane has crashed, and run into trouble with unscrupulous poachers during their journey. The adventure is colorful, suspenseful, and entertaining, and Charlton Heston plays one of the bad guys with the kind of masterful movie-star presence that Hollywood rarely comes up with anymore. Some animal scenes might be upsetting for young children. Directed by Fraser Heston. VSkip to next paragraph
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*** Adventurous, exciting, beautiful scenery.
AVENTURERA (Not rated)
*** Reissue of a flamboyant Mexican melodrama about a young woman who leaves her unhappy family for life as an unwilling prostitute and then as a singing star in nightclubs. Directed by Alberto Gout in 1949, this "musical tragedy" treats its unsavory material with relative taste and restraint despite its amusingly excessive style. V
* Jean-Michel Basquiat was a young black painter who became a protg of pop artist Andy Warhol, captivated the celebrity scene with his offbeat work, and tragically died young from drug abuse. Written and directed by Julian Schnabel, himself a gifted painter, this is one of the rare art-world movies that succeeds as both human drama and visual artistry. The acting is also excellent, with Jeffrey Wright imaginatively supported by Christopher Walken, Dennis Hopper, Gary Oldman, Parker Posey, and David Bowie as Warhol. But it contains vulgar language and drug use. P V S
*** Moving, depressing, believable acting.
COURAGE UNDER FIRE (R)
*** Ordered by the White House to determine whether a female helicopter pilot should receive a posthumous medal, an army investigator hears a different version of her story from everyone he interviews, raising questions of military honor and the chaotic nature of wartime. Edward Zwick directed this thoughtful drama, helped by Denzel Washington and Meg Ryan in the main roles. Contains a great deal of explicit violence and foul language as well as alcoholism and drug addiction. V P
*** Intense, compelling, well-crafted, violent.
*** Gwyneth Paltrow is enchanting as a self-confident young woman who decides to wile away her time by playing matchmaker for a friend whose romantic life would fare much better without interference. Directed by Douglas McGrath from his own screenplay, based on the same richly ironic Jane Austen novel that inspired "Clueless," the gorgeously filmed comedy features good supporting performances by Greta Scacchi and Juliet Stevenson.
**** Genteel, sprightly, romantic.
ESCAPE FROM L.A. (R)
* The year is 2013, the place is a lawless island called Los Angeles, and the hero is a rough-and-ready outlaw who must find the president's runaway daughter and retrieve an electronic device that could return the industrialized world to the stone age. Although the special effects are cheesy, the social-satire wisecracks are pretty funny. Kurt Russell heads the cast, but Cliff Robertson, Stacy Keach, Steve Buscemi, and Peter Fonda are more fun to watch. Directed by John Carpenter, who also made the earlier "Escape From New York." V P
* Endless violence, retrograde, depressing, goofy special effects.
THE FAN (R)
* Wesley Snipes plays a major-league star who's stuck in a bad slump, and Robert De Niro plays a down-on-his-luck salesman who's become dangerously obsessed with the ballplayer and turns to violent crime to get his attention. The first half has some scary insights into modern-day competitiveness in business and sports, but the second half sinks into suspense-movie clichs and bone-crunching mayhem. Tony Scott directed Phoef Sutton's screenplay. V P
FLIRT (Not rated)