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The Monitor Movie Guide

By Staff / April 17, 1998


Reviews in this weekly guide are written by Monitor critic David Sterritt (the first set of '+' marks in each review) unless otherwise noted. Ratings and comments by the Monitor staff panel (the second set of '+' marks in each review) reflect the sometimes diverse views of at least three other viewers. Information on violence, drugs, sex/nudity, and profanity is compiled by the panel.

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++++ Excellent

+++1/2 Very Good

+++ Good

++ 1/2 Average

++ Fair

+1/2 Poor

+ Worst

New Releases


Director: Wayne Wang. With Jeremy Irons, Gong Li, Maggie Cheung, Ruben Blades. (99 min.)

++ A gravely ill British journalist observes the return of Hong Kong to Chinese rule while cultivating complex relationships with two very different Asian women. The screenplay is as ambitious and multilayered as its subject, but filmmaker Wang doesn't achieve either the artful insights of his "Chan Is Missing" or the audience-pleasing drama of "The Joy Luck Club."


Director: Brad Silberling. With Nicolas Cage, Meg Ryan, Dennis Franz. (112 min.)

++ In love with a beautiful heart surgeon, an angel decides to "fall" into mortality so he can experience human love. Many will welcome the movie's interest in spirituality, but some may wonder why it's couched in a celebration of sensual pleasures ranging from sex to cigarette smoking. Based on Wim Wenders's more insightful German film "Wings of Desire."

+++ Life-affirming, thought-provoking, pensive.

Sex/Nudity: Fairly explicit sex scene, a sensuous bath scene, and one character is shown nude from behind while running into the ocean. Violence: One mugging scene. Profanity: 13, mostly mild. Drugs: 6 instances of smoking, drinking.


Director: Henry Jaglom. With Victoria Foyt, Stephen Dillane, Vanessa Redgrave, Anna Massey. (116 min.)

++ Just as her long-delayed wedding approaches, a woman falls crazily in love with a married man, and coincidence throws them together even when she seeks to avoid the temptation he poses. Jaglom's heavily romantic style is not for every taste, but the story's corny sincerity lends it a mild interest.


Directors: David Maysles, Albert Maysles, Ellen Hovde, Muffie Meyer, Susan Froemke. With Edie Beale, Edith Bouvier Beale. (95 min.)

++++ Reissue of the classic 1976 documentary about two eccentric relatives of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, visiting them in their run-down Long Island home and savoring the quirks of their utterly unpredictable personalities. One of the most entertaining films ever made by the legendary Maysles brothers and their gifted associates.


Director: Werner Herzog. With Dieter Dengler, Werner Herzog. (80 min.)

+++ Fascinating nonfiction movie about a German-American pilot who endured harrowing experiences as a captive in Vietnam but survived to tell the tale with energy and high spirits. One of the better documentaries by one of Germany's most renowned filmmakers.


Director: Michael Lehmann. With Billy Crystal, Kathleen Quinlan, Gheorghe Muresan. (103 min.)

+++ While traveling in Romania on business, a hustling but good-hearted American talent agent named Sammy (Crystal) happens upon a giant, Max (portrayed by basketball player Gheorghe Muresan). The agent's attempt to exploit his "client" for the sake of a Hollywood movie deal lands the pair in Las Vegas, where Sammy must call on his disillusioned wife to bail him out. The comedy, which produces more smiles than laughs, hits its introspective stride after a corny, mostly flat start. By Ross Atkin


Director: Nicholas Hytner. With Jennifer Aniston, Paul Rudd, John Pankow, Alan Alda, Nigel Hawthorne. (112 min.)

++ A young woman decides to have a baby without marrying her somewhat hard-to-take boyfriend, turning to her new gay roommate as a partner and confidant. Paints a reasonably tasteful if not exactly credible portrait of domestic life among the unconventional urban set.

Sex/Nudity: No nudity, but there's one seduction scene and sexual innuendo. Violence: None. Profanity/Obscenity: 3 mild expressions. Drugs: Some high-society wine drinking, cigarette smoking.


Director: Howard Deutch. With Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Christine Baranski, Jonathan Silverman, Barnard Hughes. (96 min.)