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The Monitor Movie Guide

(Page 2 of 4)



First-time feature writer and director Prince-Bythewood makes an impressive debut with a story about a girl and boy who grow up to pursue their own hoop dreams. Young Monica competes with the boy next door, Quincy, in a nice Los Angeles neighborhood, but when the two enter high school and then college, the tension between them eventually disappears and they fall in love. The story is a bit overlong, but it's refreshing to see a woman portrayed as headstrong and opinionated as Monica is - a great role model for women. By Lisa Leigh Parney *** Refreshing, cute, clich.

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Sex/Nudity: 3 scenes with sexual content, including one fairly graphic sex scene; some innuendo. Violence: 1 mild scene with shoving. Profanity: 33 expressions, some harsh. Drugs: 3 scenes with alcohol.

Time Code (R) *** Director: Mike Figgis. With Salma Hayek, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Kyle MacLachlan, Stellan SkarsgŒrd, Holly Hunter, Julian Sands, Saffron Burrows, Laurie Metcalf, Suzi Nakamura, Mia Maestro, Xander Berkeley, Leslie Mann. (93 min.)

The plot focuses on an aspiring actress, her jealous lover, and film-industry executives she panders to for the sake of her career. But what matters more is the picture's radical style, with different aspects of the story - photographed in digital video and uninterrupted by shot-to-shot cuts - unfolding at the same time on four adjacent portions of the screen. It's a daring experiment, taking cinema into areas usually associated with music, theater, and multimedia. It would be even more impressive if the story and characters lived up to the inventive techniques, though.

Where the Heart Is (PG-13) ** Director: Matt Williams. With Natalie Portman, Ashley Judd, Stockard Channing, Sally Field, Joan Cusack. (120 min.)

Alone and penniless, a young woman gives birth to her baby in a shopping mart, then accepts help from an eccentric couple with generous hearts and a slightly older friend with numerous kids of her own. The story shows commendable interest in women's issues and the challenges of single motherhood. But it covers so many events over such a long stretch of time that its meaningful moments fly away from each other when they should be working together for dramatic effect. Ultimately, it's more an emotional hodgepodge than a compassionate look at real human problems.

CURRENTLY IN RELEASE

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. 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. **1/2 Grotesque, dark satire, eerily humorous.

Sex/Nudity: 13 scenes, including 2 graphic sex scenes, some shower scenes, and porn videos playing in the background. Violence: 7 scenes, including a shooting spree, a scene with dead bodies, and a murder with an axe. Profanity: 47 expressions, mostly harsh. Drugs: 13 scenes with alcohol, 10 with tobacco, 5 with hard-drug use or implied hard-drug use.

Black and White (R) *** Director: James Toback. With Brooke Shields, Robert Downey Jr., Mike Tyson, Stacy Edwards. (100 min.)