Freeze Frames: The Monitor Movie Guide
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+++ An ambitious TV reporter (Dustin Hoffman) happens to be nearby when a gun-toting security guard (John Travolta) storms into a museum with hopes of regaining his former job, sparking a hostage crisis and a frenzy of cynical maneuvering by media manipulators hoping to capitalize on the event. Strongly influenced by Billy Wilder's classic "Ace in the Hole," this dark comedy-drama rambles on too long and strains credibility at times; still, it calls needed attention to the increasingly blurred boundary between journalism, entertainment, and public spectacle for its own sake. Directed by Costa-Gavras, a thoughtful filmmaker with a commendable list of socially alert movies to his credit. V PSkip to next paragraph
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RED CORNER (R)
++ Richard Gere plays an American businessman framed for murder in Beijing, where the rights of defendants are limited and an independent-minded Chinese attorney is the only person who might save him from a punishment as severe as it is unwarranted. The film wobbles between mediocre suspense scenes and critical barbs aimed at China's criminal-justice system; it would be more persuasive if its sociopolitical commentary weren't squeezed so relentlessly into the familiar formulas of Hollywood melodrama. Bai Ling is very good as the Chinese lawyer. Jon Avnet directed. Contains sex, nudity, and a considerable amount of violence. S N V P
++ Slow, intense, sincere.
+ An intense, gripping, often scary thriller about a lone FBI agent (Dennis Quaid) tracking down a knife-wielding serial killer. The mystery, also featuring Danny Glover, takes several unexpected turns that often make it entertaining. But an all-too-predictable finish, graphic violence, and a script cheapened by Hollywood's current penchant for profanity and nudity leave a foul aftertaste. V N P By John Dillin
+++ Exploitative, action-filled, shocking, gory.
THE WINGS OF THE DOVE (R)
+++ Sensitive adaptation of Henry James's melancholy novel about an illicit affair between an upper-class socialite and a middle-class journalist, which seems headed for a dead end until the man agrees to woo a fatally ill heiress whose fortune will solve their social problems after her death. Helena Bonham Carter and Linus Roach play the lovers, capably supported by Alison Elliott, Elizabeth McGovern, and Charlotte Rampling. Thoughtfully directed by the versatile Iain Softely from Hossein Amini's screenplay, which reduces James's intricately structured narrative to feature-film scale without losing the book's rueful psychological tone. Contains an unerotic nude scene that forcefully conveys the sad wages of immoral behavior. S N
Currently in Release
BADLANDS (Not rated)
+++ Reissue of Terrence Malick's impeccably filmed, highly influential drama about a young psychopath and his baton-twirler girlfriend on a deadly Midwestern crime binge. Originally released in 1973, it helped turn Sissy Spacek and Martin Sheen into major stars. S V N P
BOOGIE NIGHTS (R)
++ A money-driven pornographer (Burt Reynolds) invites a handsome teenager (Mark Wahlberg) to earn lowdown fame and fortune as a sex-movie star. Heavily influenced by Quentin Tarantino's brand of quirky sensationalism, this high-energy saga by Paul Thomas Anderson goes a long way toward exposing the greed and stupidity of the pornography trade, then loses its moral compass and steers toward a sadly superficial ending. Contains a very large amount of extremely graphic sex. S N V P
+++ Thought-provoking, well-acted, definitely not appropriate for children.
DEEP CRIMSON (Not rated)
++ An unhappy woman falls in love with a small-time con artist, and they set up a sort of lonely-hearts crime operation that soon turns deadly. Mexican director Arturo Ripstein applies his usual degree of cinematic imagination to the sordid tale, which is loosely based on Hollywood's cult movie "The Honeymoon Killers," but look out for some disturbing mayhem before the end. V S N P
THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE (R)