BOSTON — STAR RATINGS
The Worst DUD
BOWFINGER (PG-13) Director: Frank Oz. With Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, Heather Graham, Robert Downey Jr., Christine Baranski, Terence Stamp. (90 min.) ++ An untalented filmmaker gets turned down by the superstar he wants for his new action fantasy, so he decides to film the celebrity on the sly, using hidden cameras. This comedy is a cross between Ed Wood and EDtv, although it gains its own personality from a subplot about the superstars unique blend of egomania and paranoia. It would be a better entertainment if it separated itself more convincingly from the bad-movie scene it wants to satirize.
BROKEDOWN PALACE (PG-13) Director: Jonathan Kaplan. With Claire Danes, Kate Beckinsale, Bill Pullman, Jacqueline Kim, Lou Diamond Phillips, Daniel Lapaine. (100 min.) ++ During a brief vacation in Thailand, two young American women are arrested on a narcotics charge, and a money-minded attorney is the only person standing between them and decades in prison. Variations on this tale had a little more oomph in Midnight Express and the recent Return to Paradise. Kaplan keeps it moving at a reasonably good pace, but the dialogue and acting are often too corny for comfort.
CRUEL STORY OF YOUTH (Not rated) Director: Nagisa Oshima. With Miyuki Kuwano, Yusuke Kuwazu, Fumio Watanabe. (96 min.) +++ Reissue of a minor classic from 1960, which skewers the moral and ethical hypocrisies of postwar Japanese society through the deliberately lurid tale of two undisciplined young people who cruise through the night in search of easy money and cheap thrills. Oshimas explosive visual style is steadily on display. In Japanese with English subtitles.
DICK (PG-13) Director: Andrew Fleming. With Kirsten Dunst, Michelle Williams, Dan Hedaya, Will Ferrell, Bruce McCulloch, Teri Garr, Dave Foley, Jim Breuer. (110 min.) ++1/2 Released near the 25th anniversary of President Nixons resignation, Dick is a frolic through Watergate. Two teenage girls are more interested in boys than politics and become witlessly (oops, unwittingly) embroiled in the scandal. Its at once hilarious and uncomfortable to make fun of the messy chapter in US history. But no need to take life that seriously. We learn all kinds of juicy stuff the source of Nixons paranoia, the true reason for the missing minutes on the tapes, and Deep Throats identity ... maybe. The soundtrack is pretty groovy, too. By Katherine Dillin +++ Witty, political spoof, good angle on an old story, irreverent. Sex/Nudity: Some innuendo. Violence: 1 mild scene. Profanity: 23 instances, many harsh. Drugs: 4 scenes with drinking, 4 with marijuana-laced cookies.
LES BONNES FEMMES (Not rated) Director: Claude Chabrol. With Stphane Audran, Bernadette Lafont, Lucille Saint-Simon, Clotilde Joano, Claude Berri. (102 min.) +++ Revival of a 1960 drama that helped launch Chabrol as a key figure in Frances innovative New Wave movement, focusing on four young women who dream of escaping their dreary shop-clerk routines and finding more romantic, exciting lives. Not as memorable as Chabrols greatest movies, but definitely worth a visit by fans of European film and anyone curious about the New Waves huge influence on Hollywood cinema. Photographed by the great Henri Deca. In French with English subtitles.
MARCELLO MASTROIANNI: I REMEMBER (Not rated) Director: Anna Maria Tat. With Marcello Mastroianni, and film clips with Sophia Loren, Federico Fellini, Claudia Cardinale, and others. (199 min.) +++ The celebrated Italian star reminisces about his life and career with candor, intimacy, and charm. Film clips gleaned from his many movies, including the Fellini classics La Dolce Vita and 8 1/2, liberally illustrate his recollections. A delicious treat for those who know his work, an enchanting revelation for those who dont, and worth every one of its three hours and 19 minutes. In Italian with English subtitles.
CURRENTLY IN RELEASE
THE BLAIR WITCH Project (R) Directors: Eduardo Sanchez, Daniel Myrick. With Heather Donahue, Michael Williams, Joshua Leonard. (87 min.) ++ The premise behind this offbeat picture is that three film students disappeared after trekking into a supposedly haunted forest, and were watching the film and video they shot before meeting their mysterious fate. The concept is clever, suggesting a new way to build horror-movie suspense without much on- camera gore. The movie would be better as a 30-minute short, though, since its shaky camera work and fuzzy images get monotonous after a while, and theres not much room for character development within the very limited plot. +++ Riveting, scary, realistic, unsettling. Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 3 deaths but not seen taking place. Profanity: 216 expressions, many harsh. Drugs: 2 instances of drinking, 6 of smoking.
DEEP BLUE SEA (R) Director: Renny Harlin. With Samuel L. Jackson, Saffron Burrows, LL Cool J, Thomas Jane. (100 min.) ++ Set in a scientific research facility, the story can be summarized in an equation: 3 very big sharks + 1 biological experiment = 3 eating machines a lot smarter than the humans theyre chasing. Much of the story is Jaws updated to the 90s, but its just the thing for moviegoers craving violent adventure, smart-alecky dialogue, and enough water-drenched cinematography to make Titanic look parched. u1/2 Summer screamer, Jaws lite, all wet. Sex/Nudity: 2 instances of sexual innuendo. Violence: 16 scenes including explosions and shark feeding frenzies. Profanity: 37 mild expressions, 1 profane gesture. Drugs: 8 scenes with alcohol and/or tobacco.
ILLUMINATA (R) Director: John Turturro. With John Turturro, Susan Sarandon, Christopher Walken, Beverly D'Angelo. (111 min.) ++ An ambitious playwright, an actress he's infatuated with, a self-important critic, and an insecure star are among the many characters of this comedy-drama about a theater troupe peddling its cultural wares in New York a century ago. While the cast and material have promise, Turturro's uneven filmmaking is stronger on superficial energy than deep-seated resonance.
THE IRON GIANT (PG) Director: Brad Bird. With voices of Jennifer Aniston, Harry Connick Jr., Eli Marienthal, Cloris Leachman. (90 min.) +++ A huge robot drops from the sky into the woods near a little Maine village, and a nine-year-old boy becomes its only friend, protecting it from fear-driven officials who think anything they don't understand must come from a communist plot. This remarkably clever, often hilarious animation derives much of its humor from its satirical view of the 1950s, when the story takes place. There's nothing old-fashioned about its wonderfully vivid characters and nonviolent message, though.
A LITTLE BIT OF SOUL (R) Director: Peter Duncan. With Geoffrey Rush, Frances O'Connor, David Wenham, Heather Mitchell. (83 min.) ++ Two rival scientists carry their romantic and professional feud into the country home of a high government official, who could help their research if he weren't so caught up in some kind of weird, possibly devilish cult. This dark Australian comedy has much funny dialogue and many unexpected twists, but runs out of steam before it's over.
MYSTERY MEN (PG-13) Director: Kinka Usher. With Ben Stiller, Janeane Garofalo, William H. Macy, Geoffrey Rush, Greg Kinnear. (121 min.) +++ A superhero named Captain Amazing gets kidnapped by his archenemy, and the only people who can save him are a rag-tag group of amateur superheroes armed with nothing more exotic than shovels, bowling balls, and dinner-table cutlery. The movie will disappoint people expecting a genuine superhero epic or an over- the-top spoof, but those in the mood for an offbeat satire with a gifted cast will have a surprisingly good time. Contains comic-book violence and gross-out humor. ++1/2 Funny, comic bookish, grows on you. Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 8 scenes including fights and slapstick violence. Profanity: 4 very mild expressions. Drugs: 4 instances of alcohol and/or smoking.
RUNAWAY BRIDE (PG) Director: Garry Marshall. With Julia Roberts, Richard Gere, Joan Cusack, Paul Dooley, Hector Elizondo. (110 min.) ++ A jaded journalist writes a column about a woman whos ditched three bridegrooms at the altar, then visits her small Southern town to meet her and her latest hopeful fianc. The screenplay provides enough cute one-liners and love-struck speeches to give the comedy intermittent charm. Still, star-power is its main asset as it reunites Gere and Roberts with director Marshall for the first time since their Pretty Woman became a runaway hit. +++ Nice, light, predictable, fun. Sex/Nudity: Some mild sexual innuendo. Violence: 1 punch. Profanity: 8 mild expressions. Drugs: 10 scenes with alcohol.
THE SIXTH SENSE (PG-13) Director: M. Night Shyamalan. With Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Colette, Olivia Williams, Donnie Wahlberg. (107 min.) ++ A child psychologist treats an eight-year-old boy who has ghostly visions that cant be explained away by the doctor's theories. The thriller's best and worst features all stem from a highly unusual plot structure that builds to a genuinely startling conclusion. Some viewers may feel the ending justifies the means used to achieve it, while others may reject the picture's leisurely pace and literal-minded depiction of supernatural events. In any case, it's always refreshing to find a late-90s horror movie with fairly little on-screen violence and a minimum of special effects. ++1/2 Gloomy, surprising, a little stiff, original. Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 9 scenes including bloody ghosts and a shooting. Profanity: 10 harsh or crude expressions. Drugs: 1 scene with wine.
THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR (R) Director: John McTiernan. With Pierce Brosnan, Rene Russo, Denis Leary, Faye Dunaway. (114 min.) +++ A suave art thief spars with a gorgeous insurance agent who uncovers his secrets while falling in love with him. An appealing cast, handsome camera work, and snappy music make this updated version of Norman Jewison's popular 1968 thriller an enjoyable if lightweight affair. +++ Intelligent caper, debonair, inspired remake, lively. Sex/Nudity: 5 scenes including 1 graphic scene with nudity. Violence: 1 mild scene. Profanity: 30 expressions, mostly mild. Drugs: 10 scenes with drinking, 1 with a cigar.
TWIN FALLS IDAHO (Not rated) Director: Michael Polish. With Michael Polish, Mark Polish, Michele Hicks. (105 min.) +++ The bittersweet story of 25-year-old conjoined twins, the woman who falls in love with one of them, and the challenges they face when they realize that the other twin is in uncertain health. Made by actual (not conjoined) twins, the emotionally powerful drama unfolds its distinctive tale through understated images that counteract any possibility of exploitation or sensationalism.
THE WOOD (R) Directed by Rick Famuyiwa. With Omar Epps, Taye Diggs, Richard T. Jones. (106 min.) ++1/2 Debut feature of twentysomething director Rick Famuyiwa, who draws on his growing-up experiences in the Wood Inglewood, Calif., a predominantly African- American community near L.A. As two buddies try to get a runaway bridegroom to his wedding, the three of them recall how they became friends. Some viewers may be put off by a preoccupation with sex in some segments and the street talk, but its really about friendship and commitment. By M. K. Terrell ++ Nostalgic, amusing, sometimes compassionate, long. Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes including an explicit teenage sex scene; mild innuendo. Violence: 4 scenes including a fist fight and a robbery. Profanity: 217 expressions, many harsh. Drugs: 1 scene with marijuana, one with champagne.
COMING SOON ... (In stores Aug. 17)
ANALYZE THIS (R) Director: Harold Ramis. With Robert De Niro, Billy Crystal, Lisa Kudrow, 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 confessions hed rather have nothing to do with. Ramis doesnt reach the comic heights of his Groundhog Day or National Lampoons Vacation, but the screenplay offers some hearty laughs. +++ Hilarious, a bit hammy, great to see De Niro in a comedic role.
EDTV (PG-13) Director: Ron Howard. With Matthew McConaughey, Jenna Elfman, Woody Harrelson, Ellen DeGeneres, Martin Landau, Elizabeth Hurley. (110 min.) ++ A hammy video-store clerk volunteers to star in a round-the-clock TV series displaying his everyday life to a nation of tube-watching strangers. The movie begins as an interesting new spin on the basic idea behind The Truman Show, but veers toward cheapness and vulgarity. ++1/2 Interesting characters, short on surprises, no Truman Show.
SIMPLY IRRESISTIBLE (PG-13) Director: Mark Tarlov. With Sarah Michelle Gellar, Sean Patrick Flanery, Patricia Clarkson. (100 min.) ++ An uninspired chef bewitches a love-skeptical man when her emotions become the magic in her recipes. While the combination of movie romance and culinary craft can be rewarding, this movie mixes its ingredients too carelessly to provide much onscreen enchantment. By Laura Danese ++1/2 Cute, quirky, fluffy.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society