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

American Psycho (R) ** Director: Mary Harron. With Christian Bale, Reese Witherspoon, Willem Dafoe, Chlo Sevigny, Jared Leto, Samantha Mathis, Matt Ross, Guinevere Turner. (100 min.)

A crazed yuppie divides his time between power lunches on Wall Street and vicious murders in the streets and skyscrapers of a Manhattan suffering its own hyperactive madness in the narcissistic '80s era. Bret Easton Ellis's novel is a manic blend of incisive satire and repellent violence. Harron and screenwriter Guinevere Turner reduce it to a standard-issue slasher movie, stylishly shot, but with little to distinguish it from a long line of "Psycho"-spawned gorefests.

East Is East (R) ** Director: Damien O'Donnell. With Om Puri, Linda Bassett, Jordan Routledge, Emil Marwa, Archie Punjabi, Chris Bisson, Raji James. (96 min.)

The place is England in the early 1970s, and the main characters are members of a suburban family presided over by a Pakistani patriarch who can't understand why his thoroughly British children aren't just as Asian as he is. Puri's sensitive performance is the movie's best asset, but Ayub Khan-Din's irreverent screenplay packs a few clever surprises, too.

Eve (Not rated) **** Director: Joseph Losey, With Jeanne Moreau, Stanley Baker, Virna Lisi, Giorgio Albertazzi, James Villiers, Checco Rissone, Alex Revides. (120 min.)

Reissue of a legendary 1962 melodrama with 20 minutes of restored footage (included in a recently discovered Scandinavian print) previously unseen in American theaters. Moreau plays a French charmer who makes emotional mincemeat of a celebrity author (Baker) while a fiance waits for him offscreen and a humiliating secret threatens to pop up from his past. Losey's exalted reputation is more convincingly confirmed by masterpieces like "The Servant" and "Accident," but this near-operatic yarn demonstrates his dazzling ability to balance over-the-top storytelling with serious social and psychological concerns. In English with Swedish and Finnish subtitles

Keeping the Faith (PG-13) *** Director: Edward Norton. With Edward Norton, Jenna Elfman, Ben Stiller, Eli Wallach, Anne Bancroft, Ron Rifkin, Milos Forman. (129 min.)

The plot sounds like a joke: A rabbi woos a non-Jewish woman while their best friend, a Roman Catholic priest, juggles his own set of contradictory romantic feelings. Norton gives the comedy unexpected sparkle in his directorial debut, matching the perky performances of his cast (and himself) with smartly timed editing and colorful camera work. But what made the filmmakers think this lightweight fare could chug along for more than two hours without losing steam? ***1/2 Heartwarming, super, romantic, original, witty.

Sex/Nudity: 13 suggestive scenes or implied sex. Violence: 5 instances of mild violence, mostly for comic effect. Profanity: 39 expressions, mostly mild. Drugs: scenes with alcohol and/or tobacco.

The Specialist (Not rated) **** Director: Eyal Sivan. With Adolf Eichmann, Giddeon Hausner, Robert Servatius. (128 min.)

Riveting documentary about the 1961 trial of Nazi officer Adolf Eichmann, whose chief line of defense - that he was merely following the orders of his superiors - has become a classic illustration of "the banality of evil," in philosopher Hannah Arendt's inspired phrase. Compiled from 350 hours of videotape shot in the courtroom by American filmmaker Leo Hurwitz, this is an astonishing human, political, and historical document. In English, Hebrew, German, and French, with English subtitles

Third World Cop (Not rated) ** Director: Chris Browne. With Carl Bradshaw, Paul Campbell, Audrey Reid, Mark Danvers. (98 min.)

The title character spars with an old friend who's become a dangerous gun smuggler and wants to recruit him into Jamaica's illicit underworld. There's not much depth to the slam-bang story, but it's worth viewing as one of the rare Caribbean films to hit the international market. In Jamaican dialect with English subtitles

Where the Money Is (PG-13) ** Director: Marek Kanievska. With Paul Newman, Linda Fiorentino, Dermot Mulroney, Susan Barnes, Anne Pitoniak. (89 min.)

Where the excitement isn't. A crafty old crook fakes a chronic illness to facilitate a jailbreak, then plans a new crime with his nurse and her suspicious husband. Newman's magnetic face isn't enough to raise this intermittently amusing thriller above the ordinary caper-comedy crowd.

CURRENTLY IN RELEASE

Black and White (R) *** Director: James Toback. With Brooke Shields, Robert Downey Jr., Mike Tyson, Stacy Edwards, Ben Stiller, Gaby Hoffman, Elijah Wood, Jared Leto, Claudia Schiffer, Marla Maples, Scott Caan, Joe Pantoliano, Bijou Phillips, Brett Ratner. (100 min.)

Wishing to explore the influence of black hip-hop culture on white youngsters, a filmmaker and her husband start hanging around the Manhattan youth scene to see what revelations might pop up. The story is a mess, as usual with Toback's movies, but intricacies of contemporary urban culture are vividly illuminated by his insistence on blurring the boundaries between fiction and reality. Contains some very explicit sex. ** Angry, soulless, thought-provoking.

High Fidelity (R) ** Director: Stephen Frears. With John Cusack, Iben Hjejle, Joan Cusack, Jack Black, Todd Louiso, Lisa Bonet. (107 min.)

Cusack plays a record-store proprietor who tries to end his string of romantic failures by tracking down his former girlfriends - back to junior high - and asking why they dumped him. Along the way he finds time to banter with his goofy shop assistants and strike up a new affair with a gorgeous singer. Music fans and Cusack admirers will find much to enjoy, but the comedy's meandering story and channel-surfing style prevent it from gathering the emotional momentum it would need to get below the hero's skin and let us know what really makes him tick. *** Clever, hip, intelligent, very funny.

Sex/Nudity: 2 sex scenes, 2 of implied sex, 1 sexual situation. Violence: 2 instances, both in comical contextProfanity: 79 expressions, mostly harsh. Drugs: 10 scenes with alcohol, 11 with smoking, 4 with both

Joe Gould's Secret (R) *** Director: Stanley Tucci. With Ian Holm, Stanley Tucci, Hope Davis, Susan Sarandon, Steve Martin. (104 min.)

Bittersweet drama based on journalist Joseph Mitchell's real-life friendship with an eccentric writer of the 1940s who lived a hand-to-mouth existence in Greenwich Village while claiming to be at work on an epic history of modern life. The subject is fascinating and Holm is riveting as the title character, but the film never equals the pictures that appear to have influenced it, from newspaper dramas like "Citizen Kane" to studies of mental instability like "A Fine Madness" and even "The Shining."

Price of Glory (PG-13) ** Director: Carlos vila. With Jimmy Smits, Jon Seda, Clifton Gonzlez Gonzlez, Maria del Mar. (118 min.)

uu A father tries to manage his sons' boxing careers, hoping to spare them the exploitation that cheated him out of success. As the kids advance through juvenile and teen competitions to the pros, their father's growing obsessiveness leads to tragedy as well as triumph. The filmmakers go for realism and a positive message, but some audiences may wish they had picked a sport with less physical damage, backstage manipulation, and crime. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: Some mild innuendo. Violence: 13 scenes with mostly boxing violence, some brutal.Profanity: 42 expressions, some harsh.Drugs: 7 scenes with alcohol and/or smoking, 1 with alcohol and cocaine.

Ready to Rumble (PG-13) *1/2 Director: Brian Robbins. With David Arquette, Oliver Platt, Scott Caan, Martin Landau. (104 min.)

When an ambitionless duo's wrestling hero, Jimmy King, gets the boot from World Championship Wrestling, their mission is clear: They must help King regain his kingdom. Some fun moments with energetic acting and impressive acrobatics by real WCW wrestlers, but many a crude moment.

By Katherine Dillin

Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes of implied sex, 1 with nudity; some innuendo. Violence: 19 scenes of mostly wrestling-related violence. Profanity: 80 expressions, some harsh. Drugs: 6 scenes with alcohol, 2 with smoking.

Return to Me (PG) * Director: Bonnie Hunt. With David Duchovny, Minnie Driver, Carroll O'Connor, David Alan Grier, Joely Richardson, Robert Loggia, James Belushi, Bonnie Hunt. (116 min.)

A widower falls in love with a woman he's just met, not realizing she's the recipient of his late wife's transplanted heart. The picture goes for sentimentality rather than substance every chance it gets, and the cast falls right into its syrupy trap. *** Refreshing, genuine, slow at times, Belushi was great.

Sex/Nudity: Mild innuendo. Violence: 2 instances, including a fairly graphic hospital scene. Profanity: 27 expressions, mostly mild. Drugs: 13 scenes with alcohol, 2 with tobacco, 2 with alcohol and tobacco. mostly harsh.

Romeo Must Die (R **1/2 Director: Andrzej Bartkowiak. With Jet Li, Aaliyah. (130 min.)

A martial-arts expert, wrongly framed for a crime, breaks out of a Hong Kong prison and comes to the US to find his brother's killer. He lands in the middle of a gangland war between Chinese and black mobsters. Young R&B singer Aaliyah makes a winning film debut as his cross-cultural love interest. The stunts are spectacular, Li is a modest and genial hero, and the gunplay is mostly bloodless. By Gregory M. Lamb

Rules of Engagement (R) * Director: William Friedkin. With Samuel L. Jackson, Tommy Lee Jones, Guy Pearce, Blair Underwood, Ben Kingsley, Philip Baker Hall, Kim Delaney, Anne Archer. (127 min.)

A military lawyer defends an old friend who's being court-martialed on charges of killing civilians while they demonstrated outside the United States embassy in a Middle Eastern country. The grimly compelling plot builds toward a gripping courtroom climax. But the movie is spoiled by its simplistic portrait of people from the Mideast as incorrigibly violent and untrustworthy, and by its jingoistic suggestion that self-protective ends justify murderous means when American soldiers are at risk. ** Macho, stiff, dry, plot-heavy, sincere.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 11 scenes of violence, including 2 very long scenes and 3 with images of gore. Profanity: 69 expressions, many harsh. Drugs: 1 scene with alcohol, 1 with smoking, 1 with both.

Set Me Free (Not rated) *** Director: La Pool. With Karine Vanasse, Nancy Huston, Alexandre Mrineau, Miki Manojiovic. (94 min.)

Sensitively told, coming-of-age tale about an adolescent French-Canadian girl, her very different parents, and a teacher who strikes her as a life-changing role model. Beautifully acted and richly filmed, with superb use of an excerpt from Jean-Luc Godard's classic drama "My Life to Live." In French with English subtitles

The Skulls (PG-13) * Director: Rob Cohen. With Joshua Jackson, Paul Walker, Leslie Bibb, Craig Nelson, Hill Harper. (107 min.)

In his feature film debut, Jackson ("Dawson's Creek") stars as Luke McNamara, a student at Yale University who works in the cafeteria and aspires for something better. Then one night, he is invited to join The Skulls, a secret society that "lives by the rules and dies by the rules." It's a silly little thriller that will make you laugh more than it will make you tremble. By Lisa Leigh Parney

** Frightening, unbelievable, half baked plot.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 5 scenes, including a hanging. Profanity: 12 expressions, some harsh. Drugs: 7 scenes with alcohol and/or smoking.

OUT ON VIDEO

(In stores April 18)

The Bachelor (PG-13) **1/2 Director: Gary Sinyor. With Chris O'Donnell, Rene Zellweger, Peter Ustinov. (103 min.)

Bachelor Jimmie Shannon must work up his nerve to tie the knot before his 30th birthday or lose his inheritance. By Katherine Dillin

Boys Don't Cry (R) *** Director: Kimberly Peirce. With Hilary Swank, Chlo Sevigny, Brendan Sexton III. (114 min.)

The fact-based story of a young woman who felt uncomfortable with her gender and passed herself off as a man while drifting through rural Nebraska, eventually meeting a tragic death.

The House on Haunted Hill (R) DUD Director: William Malone. With Geoffrey Rush, Famke Janssen, Taye Diggs. (115 min.)

In this remake of the 1958 classic, four people are offered $1 million if they spend the night in a haunted mansion. By Lisa Leigh Parney

Mumford (R) *** Director: Lawrence Kasdan. With Loren Dean, Hope Davis, Alfre Woodard. (111 min.)

A psychotherapist helps his small-town neighbors cope with their problems while guarding a secret about his own checkered past.

The Red Dwarf (Not rated) ** Director: Yvan Le Moine. With Jean-Yves Thual, Anita Ekberg, Arno Chevrier. (102 min.)

Feeling himself an outsider because of his small stature, a law-office assistant strikes up emotionally charged relationships with a circus performer and an aging opera singer. In French with English subtitles.

Stuart Little (PG) *** Director: Rob Minkoff. With Geena Davis, Hugh Laurie, Jonathan Lipnicki. (83 min.)

The hero is a mouse adopted by a human mom and dad who want to give their son a little brother. Based on E.B. White's lovely children's novel.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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