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.Skip to next paragraph
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++++ Excellent +++1/2 Very Good +++ Good ++ 1/2 Average ++ Fair +1/2 Poor + Worst
NEW RELEASES AMERICAN HOLLOW (NOT RATED) Director: Rory Kennedy. With Iree Bowling and members of the Bowling family. (90 min.) +++ Thoughtful documentary about a year in the life of an extended family that has lived for years in the same rural Kentucky area, capturing close-up views of everything from an on-and-off engagement to a sons incarceration for a crime he didnt commit. The movie presents much to learn from, although it would be more persuasive if it probed the filmmakers own relationship with the people theyve intruded on.
BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB (NOT RATED) Director: Wim Wenders. With Ry Cooder, Ibrahim Ferrer, Eliades Ochoa, Rubn Gonzlez, Compay Segundo, Omara Portuondo. (106 min.) +++ This excursion into Cubas traditional pop-music scene had its start when Cooder decided to record an album in Havana, and one of Germanys most expressive filmmakers decided to make a record of the experience, spotlighting a number of old-time musicians who were rediscovered in the course of this project. Not great cinema, but lots of toe-tapping fun.
THE CASTLE (R) Director: Rob Sitch. With Michael Caton, Anne Tenney, Stephen Curry, Sophie Lee, Anthony Simcoe, Charles (Bud) Tingwell. (85 min.) +++ An ordinary man who loves his home refuses to budge when a government-run airport decides to expand onto his property. He launches a feisty campaign to protect his rights despite a total lack of resources to wage the battle. This often hilarious Australian comedy is touching, smart, and brimming with genuine family values.
FINDING NORTH (NOT RATED) Director: Tanya Wexler. With Wendy Makkena, John Benjamin Hickey. (95 min.) + A romantically inclined woman accompanies an unhappy gay friend on a pilgrimage from New York to Texas so he can visit the childhood home of his recently deceased lover. The movie aims for laughter and emotion but sinks into silliness, sentimentality, and schmaltz.
INSTINCT (R) Director: Jon Turteltaub. With Anthony Hopkins, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Donald Sutherland, Maura Tierney, John Ashton, George Dzundza. (126 min.) ++ Looking like Hannibal Lecter with a beard, Hopkins plays another demented scientist a primate researcher whos killed some African park rangers and Gooding plays an ambitious psychiatrist who wants to learn why he did it. Both stars have high-octane moments, but too many of the storys ideas are borrowed from better pictures. Call it The Silence of the Gorillas.
IN THE PRESENCE OF A CLOWN (NOT RATED) Director: Ingmar Bergman. With Erland Josephson, Pernilla August, Brje Ahlstedt, Marie Richardson. (118 min.) +++ Bergman retired from filmmaking in 1982, but his ongoing video career continues in this unconventional comedy-drama about two 1920s mental patients who decide to parlay a fascination with composer Franz Schubert into an invention called a talking picture. Not one of Bergmans best works, but compelling in a fitful, sometimes mysterious way.
LIMBO (R) Director: John Sayles. With Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, David Strathairn, Vanessa Martinez, Casey Siemaszko, Kris Kristofferson. (126 min.) +++ Working to support her alienated teenage daughter through a small-time singing career, a woman meets a new boyfriend with a troubled past, and the three of them enter an unexpected adventure that could have deadly consequences. The movie is less about plot twists than about the struggles of decent people to sustain one another at lifes most trying moments. Sayles takes great storytelling risks to explore this theme; his unusual approach will please some viewers and irritate others.
THE LOSS OF SEXUAL INNOCENCE (R) Director: Mike Figgis. With Julian Sands, Saffron Burrows, Jonathan Rhys- Meyers, Kelly Macdonald, Stefano Dionisi, Rossy De Palma, Femi Ogunbanjo. (101 min.) +++ A modern retelling of the Adam and Eve story frames this extremely offbeat study of the relationships among sexuality, love, possessiveness, hostility, and guilt. The nonlinear story consists of loosely linked fragments, some more effective than others, threaded together in a broodingly poetic way. Contains explicit sexual and scatological material.