Freeze Frames: The Monitor Movie Guide
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** Not long after she begins a happy married life, a deeply religious woman's new husband becomes severely disabled and asks her to start relationships with other men. Lars von Trier's drama poses complicated moral questions, leaving the audience to decide whether the wife is engaging in noble self-sacrifice or allowing unhealthy impulses to rule and ruin her life. Unfortunately, the film is more successful at setting up ethical conundrums than at profitably exploring them. Robby Mller did the striking cinematography, using the unusual combination of wide-screen format and hand-held camera work. V S N PSkip to next paragraph
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*** Jarring, eerie, a movie that isn't easily forgotten.
THE ENGLISH PATIENT (R)
** Badly wounded in World War II, a pilot attempts to recover under the care of a sensitive nurse while remembering his wartime experiences and his earlier involvement with another woman. Told through persuasive performances and stunning camera work, the sweeping story shows how pressures of war may shake up conventional notions of loyalty, integrity, and even identity itself. But the film doesn't gather the emotional momentum that would make it compelling as well as impressive. Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, and Kristin Scott Thomas head the cast. Directed by Anthony Minghella. S V N P
*** Profound, engaging, beautiful cinematography.
FOOLS RUSH IN (PG-13)
*A yuppie from New York spends a night with a Latina from Las Vegas, marries her when she announces she's pregnant, and then faces the huge differences in their habits, backgrounds, and lifestyles. Andy Tennant's featherweight comedy is clearly pitched at the date-movie crowd, and couples may enjoy it if they can get past the picture's simplistic ethnic stereotypes and its willingness to wish away every real-life family problem the characters will surely face after the feel-good finale. Matthew Perry and Salma Hayek star. S V P
*** Funny, heartwarming, entertaining.
*** The most ambitious screen version of Shakespeare's most celebrated tragedy, shown in a dazzling big-screen format and featuring an all-star cast. Kenneth Branagh's acting and directing are equally immodest, but he keeps the action hopping at a lively pace. Most noteworthy in supporting roles are Derek Jacobi as the king, Kate Winslet as Ophelia, the wonderful Julie Christie as Gertrude, and Billy Crystal as the gravedigger. Other familiar faces, from Robin Williams and Jack Lemmon to Charlton Heston and Gerard Depardieu, are pretty much wasted. S N V
**** Riveting, exquisite, well-directed.
JERRY MAGUIRE (R)
** An athletics agent tries to start his own company after losing his job, and learns a lot about human decency from a family-loving football player who stays loyal to him. The movie takes a refreshing stance in favor of family life, but the repetitious story moves erratically and runs on too long. Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding Jr. are fine as the agent and client, and Rene Zellweger is better yet as the hero's new girlfriend. Contains foul language and a very explicit sex scene. S P V N
*** Laugh-out-loud humor, action-oriented, gives viewer a window into the sports business.
*** Not long before the fall of the Soviet bloc and the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, a middle-aged Czech musician agrees to a marriage of convenience with a Russian woman, then finds himself caring for her five-year-old son after she unexpectedly leaves the country. This thoughtful comedy-drama demonstrates how difficult it is to draw lines between the personal and political in the rapidly changing modern world. Directed by Jan Sverak from a screenplay by his father, Zdenek Sverak, who plays the leading role. N S P
*** Moving, endearing, film does good job of weaving in Czechoslovakian context.
LOST HIGHWAY (R)