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Movie Guide

October 20, 2000

Ratings and comments by David Sterritt and Monitor staff. Staff comments 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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**** Excellent *** Good ** Fair * Poor DUD The Worst

New Releases

Animal Factory (R)

Director: Steve Buscemi. With Willem Dafoe, Edward Furlong, Mickey Rourke, John Heard, Seymour Cassel, Steve Buscemi, Tom Arnold, Danny Trejo. (94 min.)

Sterritt *** Sent to prison by a politically ambitious DA who wants to make an example of him, a first-time felon tries to serve his time quietly with the help of a thick-skinned inmate who befriends him, but one misstep after another gets him entangled with the jail's worst elements. Buscemi's directing blends hard-hitting visual qualities with great emotional energy and a refusal to let the story's message - that potentially valuable lives can be lost rather than redeemed in the brutal penitentiary system - get lost in the gut-wrenching violence that runs through it.

Diary of a Chambermaid (Not rated)

Director: Luis Bunuel. With Jeanne Moreau, Michel Piccoli, Georges Geret, Jean-Claude Carriere. (98 min.)

Sterritt **** Storytelling ingenuity, surrealistic imagination, and sheer cinematic mischief are brilliantly intertwined throughout this sardonic 1964 melodrama about a self-assured servant who takes a job in a peculiar and perhaps dangerous French household. Moreau is superb in every way, but top honors go to Bunuel's subtly dreamlike telling of the tale. In French with English subtitles

Just One Time (Not rated)

Director: Lane Janger. With Joelle Carter, Jennifer Esposito, David Lee Russek, Lane Janger. (111 min.)

Sterritt * A young woman agrees to act out her fiance's fantasy of a menage trois if he'll reciprocate by indulging her own sexual whims. The comedy isn't quite as crude as it sounds, but there's not much of value here beyond a little lively acting.

The Ladies Man (R)

Director: Reginald Hudlin. With Tim Meadows, Karyn Parsons, Billy Dee Williams, Kevin McDonald, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen. (84 min.)

Staff * Tim Meadows brings his SNL character Leon Phelps, aka "The Ladies Man," to the big screen. After Phelps loses his job as a radio show host and gets hunted by a band of outraged husbands - whose wives he slept with - he realizes his life as a player is not so cool. There are moments of hilarious comedy, but for the most part, it's "kinky and disgusting." By Stuart S. Cox Jr.

Staff * Silly, juvenile, offensive, meritless.

Sex/Nudity: Sexual innuendo and dialogue in almost every scene. Violence: 4 scenes. Profanity: 49 instances. Drugs: 12 instances of alcohol and smoking; both served as "background" elements for entire movie.

Live Nude Girls Unite! (Not rated)

Directors: Julia Query, Vicky Funari. With Julia Query. (70 min.)

Sterritt *** A highly personal documentary about Query's participation in a movement to unionize the striptease trade. The ambience is often squalid, but the movie has much to reveal about the exploitation of women in this sleazy corner of the show-business world.

The Yards (R)

Director: James Gray. With Mark Wahlberg, Joaquin Phoenix, Ellen Burstyn, Charlize Theron, James Caan, Faye Dunaway. (115 min.)

Sterritt *** Determined to live an honest life after serving a prison sentence for a crime he didn't commit, a young man finds himself drawn into a network of criminal activity that grows more dangerous and violent. The cast is just right for this mini-"Godfather" yarn, and Gray's filmmaking is generally on target even if it does tend to dawdle along the way.