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The Monitor Movie Guide

By Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor / September 10, 1999


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Excellent ++++

Good +++

Fair ++

Poor +

The Worst DUD

NEW RELEASES BLACK CAT, WHITE CAT (R) Director: Emir Kusturica. With Bajram Severdzan, Srdan Todorovic, Branka Katic, Florijan Ajdini. (129 min.) ++ A gypsy community on the Danube River is the setting of this rowdy comedy involving a bungled train robbery, an arranged marriage, and a tangled web of double-crosses and triple-crosses spanning at least three generations. Kusturica doesn't paint these rogues and rascals as vividly as the characters in his excellent Time of the Gypsies, but their shenanigans rarely run short of explosive energy. In Serbo-Croatian and Romany with English subtitles

A DOG OF FLANDERS (PG) Director: Kevin Brodie. With Jack Warden, Jeremy James Kissner, Jesse James, Jon Voight, Cheryl Ladd. (100 min.) u1/2 This superficial movie based on a childrens classic of the same name about an orphan boy who wants to be a great painter but is weighed down by his poverty is too goody-goody for its own good. No doubt the filmmakers intentions were the right ones to create a wholesome childrens film but the already saccharine tale is bogged down by poor acting, too many long faces, and flat dialogue. By Katherine Dillin ++ Cute kids, beautifully filmed, far-fetched. Sex/Nudity: 1 mildly implied instance of sex. Violence: 2 scenes of fairly graphic violence. Profanity: 3 mild expressions. Drugs: 2 scenes with a pipe, 1 with alcohol, 1 with both a pipe and alcohol.

DUDLEY DO-RIGHT (PG) Director: Hugh Wilson. With Brendan Fraser, Alfred Molina, Sarah Jessica Parker, Robert Prosky, Eric Idle. (93 min.) ++ Wilsons funnier-than-expected comedy based on (yet another) television cartoon stars Fraser as a clumsy but endearingly Boy Scout-good Canadian Mountie, Dudley Do-Right. Dudley must stop his childhood nemesis, Snidely Whiplash, from fulfilling his villainous career goals, and win back his sweetheart, Nell Fenwick. Funny lines (Canadian bacon is actually ordinary ham) and lively hamming by the actors make it an entertaining diversion for a Saturday afternoon. There are some caricatures of American Indians and Japanese tourists that could offend. By Katherine Dillin

EARTH (NOT RATED) Director: Deepa Mehta. With Maia Sethna, Rahul Khanna, Nandita Das, Aamir Khan. (99 min.) +++ Ethnic and religious tensions of northern India in 1947 trouble the life of an eight-year-old girl growing up in a Parsee family, which hopes to remain neutral as the movement to create a separate Pakistan churns up tragic waves of suspicion and violence. Historical resonance and emotional impact keep this drama involving even when the acting and dialogue don't live up to their powerful subject. In Hindi, Urdu, Parsee, and Punjabi with English subtitles

IN TOO DEEP (R) Director: Michael Rymer. With Omar Epps, LL Cool J, Nia Long, Stanley Tucci, Hill Harper, Pam Grier. (95 min.) ++1/2 An undercover cop with a mission (Epps) tries to nail a likably psychopathic drug lord called God (LL Cool J). The filmmakers quest for authenticity and the leads gripping performances produce a suspenseful story, despite lame attempts to make us believe Epps may be too deeply into his alter ego as a drug pusher to get out when the big bust goes down. By M.K. Terrell ++1/2 Taut, suspenseful, unoriginal. Sex/Nudity: 2 sex scenes, 1 of which is graphic; 1 scene with a nude model for a photography class; 2 instances of innuendo. Violence: 11 scenes with harsh violence. Profanity: 234 expressions, mostly harsh. Drugs: 13 scenes total: 8 with alcohol, smoking, or both; 1 with marijuana; 4 involving drug deals.

I WOKE UP EARLY THE DAY I DIED (NOT RATED) Director: Aris Iliopulos. With Billy Zane, Christina Ricci, Will Patton, Sandra Bernhard, Tippi Hedren, Rick Schroder, Eartha Kitt, Max Perlich, John Ritter. (90 min.) + An unproduced screenplay by Edward D. Wood Jr., the legendary master of incompetent filmmaking, inspired this silent-movie tale about a mixed-up thief trying to find a pile of stolen money he's managed to lose. Spotting the celebrities in the cast is more fun than following the pointless story, but at least the movie is different from anything else around.

STIR OF ECHOES (R) Director: David Koepp. With Kevin Bacon, Kathryn Erbe, Illeana Douglas, Kevin Dunn. (99 min.) ++ To his confusion and dismay, an ordinary blue-collar worker finds himself in touch with supernatural forces linked to a sinister event that once happened in his house. Bacon seems oddly self-conscious in his regular-guy role, and director Koepp relies more heavily on editing tricks than old-fashioned atmosphere. Still, the movie provides a few effective thrills.