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The Monitor Movie Guide

May 12, 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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STAR RATINGS

David Sterritt Monitor panel Meaning

**** **** Excellent

*** *** Good

** ** Fair

* * Poor

DUD DUD The Worst

NEW RELEASES

Battlefield Earth (PG-13)

Director: Roger Christian. With John Travolta, Barry Pepper, Forest Whitaker, Kim Coates. (117 min.) * It's the year 3000 and a race called the Psychlos have invaded Earth and enslaved mankind for a mining operation. The film starts well with interesting comic book-style camera angles, but it never generates enough tension due to preposterous plot holes and liberal borrowings from other movies. Worse, alien villain Travolta delivers the script's risible lines in an over-the-top "Rocky Horror Picture Show" performance that is completely at odds with the square-jawed approach of the hero (Pepper). It's like another awful "Planet of the Apes" sequel.

By Stephen Humphries

Center Stage (PG-13)

Director: Nicholas Hytner. With Amanda Schull, Peter Gallagher, Susan May Pratt, Donna Murphy, Debra Monk. (113 min.) *** The place is a Lincoln Center ballet school that's as competitive as it is prestigious, and the main characters are young dancers who learn the rules of their new home, scope out the strengths and weaknesses of their teachers and fellow students, and plunge into their designated tasks with all the enthusiasm - and anxiety - of people who'll end the process as either newly discovered stars or instant has-beens. Rarely has a dance movie done so many cinematic pirouettes with such a graceful sense of audience-pleasing fun.

Sex/Nudity: 1 scene of implied sex, a few instances of innuendo. Violence: None Profanity: 52 expressions, mostly mild. Drugs: 3 scenes with alcohol, 5 with tobacco, 2 with both.

Committed (R)

Director: Lisa Krueger. With Heather Graham, Casey Affleck, Luke Wilson, Patricia Velazquez, Alfonso Arau. (98 min.) *1/2 A young wife heads west to bring home her deserting husband in this fluffy comedy. She intuits his undisclosed whereabouts with the same strength of conviction she places in her marriage vows ("for better or for worse"). Sweet, but alas, mostly flaky, the story frustratingly skims across character and content without ever committing to a more substantial, and more knee-slappingly funny, script. By Katherine Dillin

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Not rated)

Director: Luis Buuel. With Fernando Rey, Delphine Seyrig, Stphane Audran, Bulle Ogier, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Julien Bertheau, Paul Frankeur. (105 min.) **** Reissue of the 1972 classic about a group of allegedly refined French folks whose not-so-civilized urges surface too often for comfort as their dinner plans are endlessly postponed by a string of bizarre interruptions. Buuel devoted his brilliant career to surrealistic cinema, and this uproariously imaginative tale brought his subversive style to its pinnacle of popularity, helped by a picture-perfect cast and a screenplay written with Jean-Claude Carrire, one of his most trusty collaborators. Movies don't come more original, inventive, or outlandishly entertaining. In French with English subtitles

Luminarias (R)

Director: Jose Luis Valenzuela. With Evelina Fernandez, Scott Bakula, Cheech Marin, Liz Torres, Robert Beltran, Sab Shimono. (100 min.) *** The lives and loves of a small group of Mexican-American women, named after the Los Angeles restaurant where they gather to talk about their experiences and ideas. The movie is very small in scale, but the performances are appealing and Fernandez's screenplay casts an interesting light on the main characters' self-images as Latina women.

Sex/Nudity: 1 sex scene, 1 of implied sex, 10 instances of innuendo. Violence: 1 slap, 2 descriptions of abuse. Profanity: 94 expressions, many harsh. Drugs: 8 scenes with alcohol, 2 with tobacco, 2 with both.

The Sorrow and the Pity (Not rated)

Director: Marcel Ophuls. With Pierre Mends-France, Albert Speer, Sir Anthony Eden, and residents of Clermont-Ferrand. (270 min.) **** Reissue of the legendary 1971 documentary, subtitled "Chronicle of a French City Under the Occupation," about resistance and collaboration in Nazi-occupied France during World War II. Divided into two parts, "The Collapse" and "The Choice," it remains the classic cinematic study of its immensely important and disturbing subject. In French with English subtitles