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The Monitor Movie Guide

February 25, 2000

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


Claire Dolan (Not rated) ** Director: Lodge Kerrigan. With Katrin Cartlidge, Colm Meaney, Vincent D'Onofrio. (95 min.)

The somber tale of a young woman who turns to prostitution as a way of supporting her fatally ill mother, developing complex relationships with the pimp who exploits her and a working man who may be able to ease her dilemma. Kerrigan's careful, clinical filmmaking lacks the charged-up excitement of his extraordinary "Clean, Shaven," but he remains an insightful stylist with impressively high artistic standards.

Judy Berlin (Not rated) *** Director: Eric Mendelsohn. With Barbara Barry, Bob Dishy, Edie Falco, Aaron Harnick, Madeline Kahn, Julie Kavner, Anne Meara. (97 min.)

The residents of a Long Island town while away the hours during a solar eclipse, and we get revealing glimpses into their lives as discontented spouses, well-meaning schoolteachers, and younger folks including a man who's returned home with broken dreams and a woman who's leaving home with great expectations. The comic and dramatic scenes are consistently low-key, but the strikingly original movie has a dreamlike spell that gets farther under your skin as the eclipse stretches beyond the bounds of astronomical possibility.

Mifune (R) ** Director: Soren Kragh-Jacobsen. With Iben Hjejle, Anders W. Berthelsen, Jesper Asholt. (99 min.)

An ambitious Copenhagen businessman becomes the reluctant guardian of his older brother, a mentally slow fellow whose eccentricities include a huge enthusiasm for Toshiro Mifune, the Japanese movie star. Made in the stripped-down style of Denmark's offbeat Dogma 95 movement, the picture makes up in solid acting what it lacks in Hollywood-type frills, even if it isn't very memorable in the end. In Danish with English subtitles

Not of This World (Not rated) *** Director: Giuseppe Piccioni. With Margherita Buy, Silvio Orlando, Carolina Freschi, Maria Cristina Minerva, Sonia Gessner. (104 min.)

A fledgling nun and a dry-cleaning entrepreneur strike up an unexpected friendship when she asks his assistance in finding the mother of an abandoned infant who's come under her care. Piccioni weaves this unpredictable tale into a personality-filled tapestry, blending vivid Italian settings with emotions that moviegoers anywhere will recognize. In Italian with English subtitles

Reindeer Games (R) ** Director: John Frankenheimer. With Ben Affleck, Charlize Theron, Gary Sinise, Clarence Williams III, James Frain, Dennis Farina, Donal Logue, Isaac Hayes. (104 min.)

Affleck plays a freshly released jailbird who's determined to go straight until he meets the girlfriend of a former cellmate - and her psychopathic brother, who's planning a robbery that won't succeed unless his reluctant new acquaintance gets involved. The wildly implausible story twists every expectation into the shape of a particularly gnarled reindeer horn, but what you'll remember most vividly is the sadistic violence that breaks out almost every time Sinise's evil character enters a scene. A director of Frankenheimer's stature deserves less sensationalistic material, and so does his audience.