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*** Gripping, emotionally compelling, powerful.Skip to next paragraph
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* After being diagnosed with a grave illness, a young man abducts a skilled surgeon and forces him into a long, frantic flight away from the authorities and toward a distant place where he hopes he can be cured. Michael Cimino directed this action-filled chase picture, which tries to add substance with touches of "new age" mysticism but winds up seeming utterly inconsequential all the same. Woody Harrelson, Jon Seda, and Anne Bancroft star. V P S
* A struggling actor reaches for success in Hollywood while pining away for a former girlfriend he left in New York. Jon Favreau wrote the screenplay and gives a sharp comic performance as the unhappy hero. The film con- tains foul language and strong sexual innuendo, though. Directed and photographed by Doug Liman. S P V
TWELFTH NIGHT (PG)
*** William Shakespeare's popular romance spins comic webs about twins separated by a shipwreck, a countess who's sworn off men for seven years, and a power struggle in her household involving several hilariously obnoxious characters. Trevor Nunn's lively interpretation makes the play into a witty meditation on the need to overcome gender stereotypes. Ben Kingsley, Helena Bonham Carter, Nigel Hawthorne, and Imogen Stubbs head the cast. V
Currently in Release
AMERICAN BUFFALO (R)
* Dustin Hoffman and Dennis Franz play a small-time crook and a junk-shop owner who plan to rob a coin collector with help from a youngster in their neighborhood. Although the movie is less powerful than some stage productions of David Mamet's drama, his staccato screenplay etches a ferocious portrait of human possibilities gone astray, and depicts the sad results that occur when talking becomes a substitute for thinking. Contains extremely foul language. Directed by Michael Corrente. P 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.
BEAUTIFUL THING (R)
* A young black woman who's obsessed with Mama Cass and a white teenager who's discovering a gay identity are the main characters of Hettie Macdonald's modest comedy-drama about life in an English working-class neighborhood. S V P
*** Bleak, inconclusive, colorful characters.
BIG NIGHT (R)
* A struggling Italian restaurant is the main setting for this poignant comedy about two brothers whose financial problems overlap with romantic woes and a touch of family rivalry. Stanley Tucci wrote the screenplay with Joseph Tropiano and directed the picture with Campbell Scott. He also leads the talented cast, which includes Isabella Rossellini and Ian Holm. Contains a great deal of foul language. P V S
**** Heartwarming, appetizing, witty.
* Two women, a former convict and a gangster's girlfriend, team up for a criminal job and a love affair. Larry and Andy Wachowski directed this lurid, sexually explicit thriller. S V P N
THE CHAMBER (R)