The Monitor Movie Guide

STAR RATINGS

Excellent ++++ Good +++ Fair ++ Poor + The Worst DUD

NEW RELEASE CREMASTER 2 (NOT RATED) Director: Matthew Barney. With Matthew Barney, Norman Mailer, Lauren Pine, Patty Griffin, Scott Ewalt, Michael Thompson. (79 min.) +++ A surrealistic excursion into the life of Utah murderer Gary Gilmore as indelibly chronicled in The Executioners Song by Norman Mailer, who appears in the film as escape artist Harry Houdini, a mythical figure for Gilmore and Barney alike. Barney is more a video artist than a theatrical filmmaker, but the next-to-last installment in his five-part Cremaster series is the most vivid and imaginative yet, confirming his growing reputation as one of the most creative imagemakers of the 90s. Contains a few moments of violence and explicit sex.

FEVER PITCH (NOT RATED) Director: David Evans. With Colin Firth, Ruth Gemmell, Stephen Rea, Lorraine Ashbourne, Neil Pearson. (97 min.) ++ A sports-minded English schoolteacher swings between his passion for soccer and a love affair that would be wobbly even if the other partner shared his athletic interests, which she doesnt. The story is unmemorable, but the characters are engaging and their predicaments are all too recognizable.

FIGHT CLUB (R) Director: David Fincher. With Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter, Meat Loaf. (139 min.) + Disenchanted with corporate life and tired of filling up sleepless nights ordering furniture from catalogues to make himself feel complete, Jacks numbingly dull state of affairs takes a right-hook into sensory overload when he meets Tyler, soap salesman. Tyler and Jack start Fight Club, a secret group of men that fight bare knuckled in hopes that the ensuing pain will remind them they are alive. Its a warped, unpredictable story that splatters excessively bloody and disturbing images across the big screen. By Katherine Dillin Sex/Nudity: Frank sexual talk, frontal nudity, 1 instance of graphic sex, and a couple of implied sex scenes. Violence: 33 scenes of excessive violence. Profanity: 140 expressions, most harsh. Drugs: 31 scenes with smoking, 3 with alcohol, 5 with alcohol and smoking, 1 prescription drug overdose.

A GIRL CALLED ROSEMARIE (NOT RATED) Director: Bernd Eichinger. With Nina Hoss, Mathie+ Carrire, Heiner Lauterbach, Horst Krause, Hannelore Elsner. (127 min.) ++ Fact-based story of a young West German woman who uses her sexuality as a steppingstone to money and adventure in the post-World War II era. The imaginative spirit if not the directorial brilliance of Rainer Werner Fassbinder hangs over this energetically shot production, which aims for the late filmmakers trademarked blend of campiness, melodrama, and social criticism. Hoss is striking in the title role. In German with English subtitles

THE GRANDFATHER (PG) Director: Jos Luis Garci. With Fernando Fernn-Gmez, Cayetana Guilln Cuervo, Rafael Alonso, Alicia Rozas, Cristina Cruz. (145 min.) ++ An elderly patriarch searches for the identity of his granddaughter in this prettily filmed drama, set in Spain a century ago. Some will welcome its old- fashioned storytelling, which follows the same path Garci traveled in his Oscar-winning To Begin Again in 1983. Others will wonder why it doesnt get to the point more quickly and entertainingly. In Spanish with English subtitles

PLUNKETT AND MACLEANE (R) Director: Jake Scott. With Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle, Liv Tyler, Alan Cumming, Iain Robertston, Ken Stott, Tommy Flanagan, Stephen Walters. (93 min.) +++ Set to pounding and occasionally haunting modern music, the film unfolds across an 18th-century landscape as seen through the eyes of a director of late 20th-century TV commercials and rock videos. The result is a high-class if gritty romp through a world of familiar young faces (Tyler and Cumming), who are laced into lavish costumes, riding astride frothing steeds while fighting a corrupt government and morally bankrupt leaders. Think Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid meets Shakespeare in Love meets Smashing Pumpkins. By Gloria Goodale Sex/Nudity: 2 sex scenes, some innuendo. Violence: 15 instances from robbery to sexual assault. Profanity: 30 expressions, mostly harsh. Drugs: 8 scenes with alcohol, 1 with smoking.

SAME OLD SONG (NOT RATED) Director: Alain Resnais. With Pierre Arditi, Agns Jaoui, Jean-Pierre Bacri, Jane Birkin, Sabine Azma, Andr Dussollier, Lambert Wilson. (120 min.) ++ A real-estate agent, a Paris apartment, and a shifting web of romantic feelings spark this lighthearted comedy-drama, which gains most of its interest from the vintage songs that percolate through the story in homage to Dennis Potters patented style. The results are diverting at times, but have none of the interest or resonance of Resnais classics like Night and Fog or Last Year at Marienbad. In French with English subtitles

SHOW ME LOVE (NOT RATED) Director: Lukas Moodysson. With Alexandra Dahlstrm, Rebecca Liljeberg, Mathias Rust, Erica Carlson, Stefan Hrberg. (89 min.) ++ Two schoolgirls learn lessons about life, loyalty, and sexuality while growing up in a Swedish town they find insufferably boring. An amiable if undistinguished example of the coming-of-age genre that European filmmakers never seem to tire of. In Swedish with English subtitles

THE STORY OF US (R) Director: Rob Reiner. With Bruce Willis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Rob Reiner, Julie Hagerty, Rita Wilson, Tim Matheson, Tom Poston, Red Buttons, Jayne Meadows, Betty White, Paul Reiser, Colleen Rennison, Jake Sandvig. (100 min.) + Dramatic comedy about a couple who realize their marriage is coming apart and wonder if theyd be better off patching things up or calling it quits. Audiences may want their own speedy divorce from this irritating collection of stale jokes, pointless vulgarities, and warmed-over clichs. ++ Disappointing, depressing, sort of sweet, crude, best scenes already in preview. Sex/Nudity: 2 brief flashbacks of sexual activity, 1 with nudity; 1 scene with backside nudity; 4 instances of crass sexual talk. Violence: None. Profanity: 59 expressions, sometimes harsh. Drugs: 6 scenes with wine.

THE STRAIGHT STORY (G) Director: David Lynch. With Richard Farnsworth, Sissy Spacek, Harry Dean Stanton. (111 min.) +++ Determined to pay his ailing brother an overdue visit, an elderly man travels from Iowa to Wisconsin on a lawnmower tractor, having low-key adventures with the strangers he meets during his eccentric odyssey. As slow- moving as the voyage it portrays, this warmly human comedy-drama marks a radical departure for Lynch, whos known for violent and surrealistic fare like Blue Velvet and the Twin Peaks series. View it carefully, though, and youll see a surprisingly complex view of contemporary life beneath its good- natured surface.

SUPERSTAR (PG-13) Director: Bruce McCulloch. With Molly Shannon, Will Ferrell, Elaine Hendrix, Harland Williams, Mark McKinney, Glynis Johns. (92 min.) ++1/2 Mary Katherine Gallagher (played by Shannon who created the character on Saturday Night Live) is a nerdy but ambitious Catholic schoolgirl who dreams of superstardom. She begins her quest by trying to win a talent contest at school for the first-place prize trip to Hollywood. Meanwhile, she sets her sights on the schools dream date, Sky Corrigan (Ferrell), in hopes of getting her first kiss from him (hes really a goofball). Theres also an excellent robot-dance number in the cafeteria. By Lisa Leigh Parney Sex/Nudity: Much sex-related humor. Violence: 1 schoolgirl fistfight. Profanity: 18 expressions, mostly mild. Drugs: None.

CURRENTLY IN RELEASE THE ADVENTURES OF ELMO IN GROUCHLAND (G) Director: Gary Halvorson. With Kevin Clash, Mandy Patinkin, Vanessa L. Williams, Sonia Manzano. (73 min.) ++1/2 Elmo has lost his blanket, and nothing can deter him from getting it back from a villain named Huxley (Patinkin). A doorway inside Oscar the Grouchs home transports him to Grouchland in a "Wizard of Oz"-type display. The musical numbers are cute and catchy, though they can be a bit rowdy in typical Seasame Street fashion. The characters are endearing. Children will learn lessons in sharing and how to find courage in sometimes scary situations. By Katherine Dillin

DOUBLE JEOPARDY (R) Director: Bruce Beresford. With Tommy Lee Jones, Ashley Judd, Bruce Greenwood, Annabeth Gish. (105 min.) + Ashley Judd violates her parole after she is framed for the murder of her husband. Tommy Lee Jones shows up in Act 2 to do some lazy showboating as the officer in pursuit (weve seen this somewhere before). Judd has engaging presence and clearly relishes playing a gutsy heroine, but the featherweight script leaves her looking far too ponderous. Given the obviousness of the material, there ought to be at least some thrill in the chase, but when the audience is laughing by the end, yo+ know the film is in trouble. By Stephen Humphries ++ Unbelievable, underdeveloped, had potential but came up short. Sex/Nudity: 1 fairly explicit sex scene with nudity. Violence: 6 scenes including shooting. Profanity: 35 expressions, many harsh. Drugs: 6 scenes with alcohol, 1 cigar.

DRIVE ME CRAZY (PG-13) Director: John Schultz. With Melissa Joan Hart, Adrian Grenier, Stephen Collins. (103 min.) ++ In her big-screen debut, Hart (Sabrina, The Teenage Witch) stars as Nicole, a perky high school overachiever who wants to date the star basketball player; her next door neighbor Chase (Grenier) is a mellow rebel whose girlfriend just broke up with him. Nicole then steps in and changes his appearance and attitude. By pretending theyre dating, both hope to make their dream mates jealous. This movie is cute, lightweight, and will appeal to the teen set. By Lisa Leigh Parney ++ Fresh performers, trite, somewhat scattered. Sex/Nudity: Some innuendo. Violence: 1 instance involving sexual assault. Profanity: 23 expressions, many harsh. Drugs: 4 scenes with alcohol, 1 with smoking. The Limey (R) Director: Steven Soderbergh. With Terence Stamp, Peter Fonda, Lesley Ann Warren, Amelia Heinle. (100 min.) +++ Stamp gives another bravura performance as an English hit man who visits Los Angeles to wreak vengeance on the criminals he blames for his daughters death. The violent story is standard film noir fare, but Soderbergh treats it with oomph.

RANDOM HEARTS (R) Director: Sydney Pollack. With Harrison Ford, Kristin Scott Thomas, Charles Dutton, Bonnie Hunt. (133 min.) ++ A policeman (Ford) and a congresswoman (Scott Thomas) are brought together in the aftermath of a plane crash by the discovery that their deceased spouses were having an affair. The shock of learning of the accident is well-observed, but the burgeoning love affair between the lead characters is awkward. Their respective partners infidelity is never fully explained, while a contrived subplot seems to have wandered in from another movie. A movie as clumsy as its title. By Stephen Humphries Sex/Nudity: 1 scene of implied sex. Violence: 4 scenes with fairly graphic violence. Profanity: 13 instances, mostly mild. Drugs: 12 scenes with alcohol.

THREE KINGS (R) Director: David O. Russell. With George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Ice Cube, Spike Jonze. (105 min.) ++ At the close of the Persian Gulf War, a small group of American soldiers go on a treasure hunt for piles of gold bullion hidden away by Saddam Hussein, and become involved in more geopolitical intrigue than they know how to handle. Russells stylish and imaginative filmmaking wages its own war against lunkheaded and sometimes offensive material. +++ One of the years best, hard-hitting, intelligent, gritty. Sex/Nudity: 1 sex scene, 1 scene with backside nudity. Violence: 33 scenes of war-related violence, sometimes graphic. Profanity: 103 expressions, many harsh. Drugs: 2 scenes with alcohol.

OUT ON VIDEO COMING SOON ... (In stores Oct. 19)

ELECTION (R) Director: Alexander Payne. With Matthew Broderick, Reese Witherspoon, Chris Klein. (104 min.) ++ The director of "Citizen Ruth" strikes again with this pitch-dark satire about a high-school election. Many moviegoers will find its rough sexual humor offensive. Others may consider this the perfect teen comedy for the Clinton era.

EXISTENZ (R) Director: David Cronenberg. With Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jude Law, Willem Dafoe, Ian Holm. (90 min.) ++ Fantastic experiences zap a young man who meets a computer-game designer and agrees to test her most ambitious creation, which generates a more-than-virtual reality by plugging directly into the senses of its participants.

LIFE (R) Director: Ted Demme. With Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence, Ned Beatty, Obba Babatund. (118 min.) +++ Two small-time criminals are sentenced to life on a Mississippi prison farm for a murder they didnt commit, and sway between hope and despair as the decades roll by. Murphy and Lawrence are a natural-born comedy team and the supporting cast is fine.

A WALK ON THE MOON (R) Director: Tony Goldwyn. With Diane Lane, Liev Schreiber, Anna Paquin. (107 min.) ++ The first lunar landing and the Woodstock music festival are the historical backdrops of this mostly well-acted drama about a married woman who has an affair with a traveling salesman while tending her kids at a Jewish bungalow colony in the summer of 1969.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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