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The Monitor Movie Guide

December 10, 1999

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.

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David Sterritt Monitor panel Meaning

**** **** Excellent

*** *** Good

** ** Fair

* * Poor

DUD DUD The Worst


The Cider House Rules (PG-13) ** Director: Lasse Hallstrm. With Tobey Maguire, Michael Caine, Charlize Theron, Delroy Lindo, Kate Nelligan, Erykah Badu, Kieran Culkin, Paul Rudd, Heavy D, Jane Alexander, Kathy Baker. (140 min.)

An orphan grows up under the guidance of an eccentric physician, moves to a different sort of life in a community of African-American laborers, and undergoes a series of adventures that test his understanding of life's often conflicting rules and assumptions. The movie leaves out portions of John Irving's novel that would have given it more balance and perspective, but the acting by Maguire and Caine is first-rate by any standard.

Cradle Will Rock (R) *** Director: Tim Robbins. With Emily Watson, John Turturro, John Cusack, Joan Cusack, Susan Sarandon, Bill Murray, Ruben Blades, Vanessa Redgrave, Angus MacFadyen, Cary Elwes, Philip Baker Hall, Hank Azaria, Cherry Jones. (122 min.)

Set in the New York theater scene during the 1930s, this colorful comedy-drama scampers through various plots and subplots about everything from the ambitions of a starving actress to the love-hate relationship of an American millionaire and a Mexican muralist. It culminates in a struggle between boy-wonder Orson Welles and government officials who want to veto his production of a pro-union opera. Some may find the movie too crowded and preachy to serve as a meaningful history lesson, but it will delight anyone who thinks our cynical age could benefit from recalling the vigorous idealism and venturesome artistry of a bygone era.

The Green Mile (R) ** Director: Frank Darabont. With Tom Hanks, David Morse, Michael Clarke Duncan, Bonnie Hunt, James Cromwell, Graham Greene, Michael Jeter, Harry Dean Stanton. (180 min.)

Death-row guards in a Southern penitentiary meet a highly unusual prisoner with a gift for healing that appears incongruous next to the horrific crime he's been convicted of. The movie deals with substantial issues, but it treats capital punishment as a plot device rather than a moral issue, and its view of spiritual healing is closer to Spielberg fantasy than religious insight. Still, its good acting and good intentions will be enough to please many viewers.

Miss Julie (R) *** Director: Mike Figgis. With Saffron Burrows, Peter Mullan, Maria Doyle Kennedy. (100 min.)

Intensely filmed version of August Strindberg's great 19th-century melodrama about the love affair of an aristocratic young woman and an ambitious servant. Stressing fundamental human emotions over historical details and eye-catching effects, Figgis creates a visually claustrophobic yet steadily absorbing atmosphere in which the barely controlled feelings of his characters take on an almost palpable reality.

Wallowitch & Ross: This Moment (Not rated) ** Director: Richard Morris. With John Wallowitch, Bertram Ross, John S. Wilson, Dixie Carter, Lynn Lobban. (77 min.)