The Monitor Movie Guide

Red stars denote the reviews of Monitor movie critic David Sterritt unless otherwise noted. Ratings and comments by the Monitor panel ( blue stars) reflect the sometimes diverse views of at least three other moviegoers. Information on violence, drugs, sex/nudity, and profanity is compiled by the Monitor panel.

STAR RATINGS

David Sterritt, Monitor panel Meaning

**** **** Excellent

*** *** Good ** ** Fair

* * Poor

DUD DUD The Worst

NEW RELEASES

All About My Mother (R)

Director: Pedro Almodvar. With Cecilia Roth, Penlope Cruz, Marisa Paredes, Eloy Azorn, Candela Pea, Antonia San Juan, Rosa Mara Sard, Fernando Fernn-Gmez, Toni Cant, Fernando Guilln, Carlos Lozano. (101 min.)

*** The joys of acting, the complexity of human relationships, and the slippery nature of sex and gender roles are among the concerns of this dramatic comedy about a woman trying to reorder her life after the untimely death of her teenage son. Some will find the movie's sexual antics too explicit and unconventional for comfort. Others will find this Almodovar's most finely crafted picture since the 1988 comedy "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" established him as Spain's most important living director. In Spanish with English subtitles.

42 Up (Not rated)

Director: Michael Apted. With Tony Walker, Suzanne Lusk, Jackie Bassett, Susan Davis. (135 min.)

**** Back in 1964, director Apted made a documentary about a diverse group of seven-year-olds in England, and every seven years he has revisited his subjects for an update on their developing lives. The latest installment is packed with surprises and emotion for people who've seen earlier stages of

the project, but even newcomers will be fascinated by the vivid glimpses it provides of everything from love and family to political action and the pervasiveness of class distinctions in British life.

Goodbye 20th Century! (Not rated)

Directors: Aleksandar Popovski, Darko Mitrevski. With Lazar Ristovski, Nikola Ristanovski, Vlado Jovanovski, Sofija Kunovska, Irena Ristic. (83 min.)

** Fractured fantasy spanning 100 years and focusing on a vengeful Santa Claus, the first wedding filmed by a movie camera, and a dark hero condemned to the fate of neverending life. This rare Macedonian production doesn't make a lot of sense, but it packs enough surprises to generate interest and occasional suspense. In Macedonian with English subtitles

Home Page (Not rated)

Director: Doug Block. With Justin Hall, Doug Block, Lucy Block. (102 min.)

** Director Block set out to make a documentary about his young daughter but got sidetracked by the growing importance of computers and Internet communications. This observation led him to film an extended portrait of a collegiate Web-head, who embodies both the explosive energy and on-the-brink anarchy of the virtual scene. An offbeat blend of motion-picture reportage and personal rumination.

The Legend of 1900 (R)

Director: Giuseppe Tornatore. With Tim Roth, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Clarence Williams III, Mlanie Thierry. (125 min.)

** An aging trumpet player recalls the life and times of his most eccentric friend, a gifted pianist who was born on a steamship in the first year of the 20th century and decided to spend his entire life there, resisting the wiles of fame and romance that might have tempted him ashore. The movie is overacted, overdirected, and overcooked in the usual Tornatore manner, but sheer energy and enthusiasm keep it watchable and listenable most of the way through.

Liberty Heights (R)

Director: Barry Levinson. With Ben Foster, Adrien Brody, Rebekah Johnson, Bebe Neuwirth, Joe Mantegna, Orlando Jones, David Krumholtz. (132 min.)

*** Levinson's fourth movie about the Baltimore of his youth focuses on ethnic, religious, and class-based tensions among the high-school set and their parents in the 1950s era. Filmed in a quietly impressionistic style and splendidly acted by a well-chosen cast, the movie would be a top-of-the-line entertainment if its delicately balanced perspective weren't marred by a few moments of racially insensitive excess.

Mansfield Park (PG-13)

Director: Patricia Rozema. With Frances O'Connor, Embeth Davidtz, Alessandro Nivola, Jonny Lee Miller, Harold Pinter. (98 min.)

*** The adventures of a poor young woman sent to live with a more privileged branch of her class-conscious British family. This pared-down adaptation of Jane Austen's richly textured novel loses much of the book's complexity but gains dramatic power from a cleverly streamlined screenplay (partly based on sources outside the novel) and several persuasive performances. No previous movie has made Austen's vision seem so vivid and alive for contemporary times. Contains a small amount of heavy-breathing sex that seems contrary to her supremely restrained spirit, though.

Pokmon: The First Movie (G)

Director: Kunihiko Yuyama. With voices of Veronica Taylor, Philip Bartlett, Rachael Lillis, Eric Stuart, Addie Blaustein, Ikue Otani. (75 min.)

* Kids and their "pocket monsters" visit a distant island to fight a cloned creature who rejects human and Pokmon rules. The story is trite and the cartooning is cut-rate, but youngsters will enjoy seeing their TV heroes in a movie-length adventure. Shown with a 20-minute short called "Pikachu's Vacation," so sloppily made that it's barely coherent.

Sleepy Hollow (R)

Director: Tim Burton. With Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Casper van Dien, Michael Gambon, Christopher Walken. (110 min.)

*** There's lots of over-the-top violence in this reshuffled version of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," and admirers of Washington Irving's great story will be surprised to find Ichabod Crane turned into a detective investigating a series of gruesome murders in 1799. There's also lots of brilliant filmmaking and high-spirited acting, at least until the story turns repetitious and formulaic in the last 30 minutes.

The World Is Not Enough (PG-13)

Director: Michael Apted. With Pierce Brosnan, Sophie Marceau, Robert Carlyle, Judi Dench, Denise Richards, John Cleese, Desmond Llewelyn. (128 min.)

** James Bond battles terrorists, criminals, and a sore shoulder in his 19th adventure, which is both propelled and circumscribed by the well-worn formulas that guide its path. Fans of Agent 007 will get the payoffs they expect, but if moviegoers really thought about the violence, sexism, and materialism at the core of the series, the whole shebang might vanish overnight.

CURRENTLY IN RELEASE

Anywhere But Here (PG-13)

Director: Wayne Wang. With Susan Sarandon, Natalie Portman, Bonnie Bedelia, Shawn Hatosy. (113 min.)

*** A single mom heads from Wisconsin to Los Angeles with dreams of Hollywood stardom for her teenage daughter, who'd rather be exactly what the title says. The story is a sort of "Stella Dallas Meets Slums of Beverly Hills," helped by heartfelt acting from its talented stars.

** Touching, sad, edgy, funny lines.

Sex/Nudity: A couple instances of innuendo. Violence: 1 mild scuffle. Profanity: 11 mild expressions. Drugs: 3 scenes with alcohol, 7 with smoking, 3 with alcohol and smoking.

The Bone Collector (R)

Director: Phillip Noyce. With Denzel Washington, Angelina Jolie, Queen Latifah, Michael Rooker. (118 min.)

** From his electronically enhanced apartment, a paralyzed policeman guides a talented young colleague through a dangerous hunt for a sadistic serial killer. This variation on the "Rear Window" format works best when director Noyce gives free rein to Washington's thoughtful charm. But the story grows more unpleasant as it goes along, escalating its gory details as it builds toward a standard horror-movie climax.

**1/2 Explicitly graphic, ruthless, entertaining but nothing spectacular, clich.

Sex/Nudity: 1 implied sex scene. Violence: 14 very graphic scenes (including a less graphic instance of police photos of brutalized victims). Profanity: 27 expressions, some harsh. Drugs: 1 instance of drinking, 2 of smoking.

Dogma (R)

Director: Kevin Smith. With Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Janeane Garofalo, Chris Rock. (115 min.)

** Wildly irreverent fantasy about two fallen angels who hope to reenter Heaven by exploiting a loophole in a feel-good version of Roman Catholic dogma being promoted by a New Jersey church. The satire contains as much foul language, bathroom humor, and sexual innuendo as other gross-out comedies aimed at primarily young audiences, along with occasional insights into the value of religion as a living force.

**1/2Piercing one-liners, ambitious, issue-based, shocking.

The Insider (R)

Director: Michael Mann. With Al Pacino, Russell Crowe, Diane Venora, Philip Baker Hall, Christopher Plummer, Lindsay Crouse, Debi Mazar, Rip Torn, Michael Gambon, Colm Feore, Gina Gershon, Bruce McGill. (155 min.)

**** Pacino is in top form as a crusading "60 Minutes" journalist and Crowe is even better as a whistle-blower in the tobacco industry whose life is almost ruined by his decision to take a stand against corporate greed and deceit. Excellent acting, a stirring screenplay, and crisply intelligent directing make this fact-based movie a great human drama as well as a riveting and revealing look at crucially important social issues.

**** Emotionally powerful, gripping story, excellent cinematic style.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 6 instances from minor shoving at an airport to death threats. Profanity: 71 expressions, mostly harsh. Drugs: 8 scenes with alcohol; 3 scenes with cigarettes.

The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (R)

Director: Luc Besson. With Milla Jovovich, John Malkovich, Faye Dunaway, Dustin Hoffman, Tchky Karyo, Pascal Greggory, Vincent Cassel, Richard Ridings. (140 min.)

** Besson's account of the Maid of Orleans presents itself as a celebration of a martyr's faith but shows more interest in the violence and hatred that surrounded her life. It doesn't help that Jovovich plays the young heroine with a bravado resembling movie-star charisma more than saintly fortitude.

** Mythical, uneven, weird, sweeping, overly stylized.

Sex/Nudity: 1 brief nonsexual instance of nudity. Violence: 19 scenes with bloody battle violence including a burning at the stake, and beheadings. Profanity: 21 expressions, often harsh. Drugs: 2 scenes with alcohol.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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