The Monitor Movie Guide
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Topsy-Turvy (R) **** Director: Mike Leigh. With Jim Broadbent, Allan Corduner, Timothy Spall, Lesley Manville, Ron Cook, Wendy Nottingham, Kevin McKidd, Shirley Henderson, Martin Savage, Dorothy Atkinson, Eleanor David. (161 min.)Skip to next paragraph
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Leigh has earned international applause for hard-edged stories of contemporary life, but here he travels a century into the past for a vivid portrait of the great operetta duo Gilbert and Sullivan as they enjoy public acclaim, wrestle with private doubts, quarrel with one another, and manage to create "The Mikado" despite all these distractions. The movie is brilliantly acted, sumptuously filmed, and overflowing with mellifluous music. It also contains glimpses of sex and drug use that make this drama less light and sanitized than Gilbert and Sullivan's own frolicsome works.
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. (See story, page 20.)
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 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. (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 Cusack, Joan Cusack, Susan Sarandon, Bill Murray. (122 min.)
Set in the New York theater scene during the 1930s, this colorful comedy-drama scampers through various plots and subplots from the ambitions of a starving actress to the love-hate relationship of an American millionaire and a Mexican muralist. Some may find the movie too 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. (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.
Liberty Heights (R) *** Director: Barry Levinson. With Ben Foster, Adrien Brody, Rebekah Johnson. (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. ***1/2 Thoughtful, unpredictable, polished.
Sex/Nudity: 6 instances of innuendo, 1 instance of nudity in a burlesque scene, 1 sexual situation. Violence: 2 scenes including 1 with a fistfight. Profanity: 62 expressions, some harsh. Drugs: 1 scene with alcohol, 5 with smoking, 4 with alcohol and smoking.
Ride With the Devil (R) *** Director: Ang Lee. With Tobey Maguire, Jeffrey Wright, Jewel, Skeet Ulrich, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Simon Baker, James Caviezel. (138 min.)