The Monitor Movie Guide
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. ++++ Excellent +++1/2 Very Good +++ Good ++ 1/2 Average ++ Fair +1/2 Poor + WorstSkip to next paragraph
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NEW RELEASES ALASKA: SPIRIT OF THE WILD (IMAX, NOT RATED) Director: Harold Ramis. Narrated by Charlton Heston. (40 min.) +++ Glacial avalanches, aurora borealis, baby bears and thousands of seabirds are but a few of the visual thrills of Alaska. Rodney Taylor, director of photography, spent several years and shot 66 miles of footage to bring the most recent great Ice Age to IMAX theaters. By Leigh Montgomery
ANALYZE THIS (R) Director: Harold Ramis. With Robert De Niro, Billy Crystal, Lisa Kudrow, Joe Viterelli, Chazz Palminteri. (105 min.) ++ Bothered by a vulnerable streak in his personality, a New York mobster decides to visit a psychiatrist, and soon the unwilling therapist is up to his ears in revelations, confidences, and confessions hed rather have nothing to do with. Ramis doesnt reach the comic heights of his Groundhog Day or National Lampoons Vacation, but the acting is excellent, and the screenplay offers some hearty laughs if you can stand bursts of violence and language as foul as a Mafiosos business agenda.
CRUEL INTENTIONS (R) Director: Roger Kumble. With Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Reese Witherspoon, Selma Blair, Christine Baranski. (90 min.) 1/2 Two wealthy New York teenagers, a stepsister and stepbrother, enjoy tormenting their peers and flaunting their sexual conquests. They meet their downfall when they try to debauch the daughter of their school's new headmaster. The film is yet another movie version of the 18th-century French novel Dangerous Liaisons, and easily the worst. The cruelest intentions of this film are aimed at its audience, who gets only lame comedy and unconvincing drama as it wallows in its sordid subject matter. By Greg Lamb
LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS (R) Director: Guy Ritchie. With Nick Moran, Jason Statham, Jason Flemyng, Dexter Fletcher, Vinnie Jones, P.H. Moriarty, Steven Mackintosh, Sting. (107 min.) ++ Boisterous comedy about a young gambler who loses a high-stakes card game, fears for his life if he doesnt pay his debt, and coaxes his motley friends into a robbery that will score them a pile of money if theyre smart enough to pull it off. The humor is as rude and crude as the characters, but the picture certainly isnt lacking in energy.
200 CIGARETTES (R) Director: Risa Bramon Garcia. With Ben Affleck, Casey Affleck, David Chappelle, Janeane Garofalo, Courtney Love, Jay Mohr, Gaby Hoffman. (96 min.) + A cast of oddball New Yorkers celebrate New Years Eve 1981 by complaining about how much their lives stink because they cant find love. They converge at a party simply to choose whom they should spend the night with. Although David Chappelles performance as a cabbie is amusing, the film should have been packaged with a Surgeon Generals Warning Cigarettes is bad for you. By John Christian Hoyle u1/2 Silly, plotless, slow. Sex/Nudity: Constant instances of sexual innuendo. Violence: None. Profanity: 67 expressions. Drugs: One scene with drug use; incessant cigarette smoking and drinking throughout.
OSCAR NOMINEES IN RELEASE CHILDREN OF HEAVEN (PG) Director: Majid Majidi. With Mohammad Amir Naji, Mir Farrokh Hashemian, Bahare Seddiqi. (88 min.) +++ Burdened by the poverty of his family, a young boy in Tehran dreams of winning a prize in a local race so he wont have to share a pair of shoes with his sister. This modestly produced family drama has all the poignancy and humor associated with todays vibrant Iranian film industry. Sex/Nudity/Violence/Profanity/Drugs: None.
LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL (PG-13) Director: Roberto Benigni. With Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi, Giorgio Cantarini. (122 min.) ++ In the late 1930s, an Italian man finds his household in peril because of his Jewish background. He determines to protect his little boy from physical and psychological harm, even when they're sent to a brutal concentration camp. This prizewinning Italian comedy has good intentions, but its exaggerated celebration of quick-witted improvisation ultimately trivializes the human and historical horrors evoked by the story. ++++ Exceptional, well- crafted, uplifting. Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: Some slapstick. Profanity: Mild. Drugs: Smoking and drinking.