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Movie guide

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Sterritt *** The romantic adventures of several very different women who work at a Paris beauty parlor. Baye gives a stunning performance in the central role, backed by a first-rate supporting cast. The movie waits until its sublime finale before achieving greatness, though. In French with English subtitles

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Wonder Boys (R)

Director: Curtis Hanson. With Michael Douglas, Tobey Maguire, Frances McDormand, Rip Torn. (112 min.)

Sterritt ** The "Wonder Boys" returns to theaters this weekend. In the movie, Douglas and Maguire play writers at opposite ends of their careers, and both are apprehensive about what will happen when (and if) they finish the books they're working on. Douglas gives a nicely relaxed performance as the world-weary professor, but Maguire delves into an all too-familiar bag of tricks that grows tiring. While the story takes some clever turns, its momentum flags long before the finale.

Staff **1/2 Drug-hazed, wicked and wacky, good acting, somewhat a downer.

Sex/Nudity: Implied adultery, 2 instances of implied sex. Violence: 3 scenes with violence, including a gun threat. Profanity: 31 expressions, mostly mild. Drugs: 17 scenes with alcohol, smoking, and/or marijuana.

Yi Yi (A One and a Two) (Not rated)

Director: Edward Yang. With Wu Nienjen, Issey Ogata, Elaine Jin, Kelly Lee, Jonathan Chang. (173 min.)

Sterritt **** The insightful story of a Taiwanese family facing various challenges: a grandmother is ill, a granddaughter fears she contributed to this crisis; her father's company is considering a risky venture; and touches of jealousy are affecting the household's moods. These ingredients could have added up to a heated domestic melodrama, but Yang favors a gentle and introspective style that shows how deep and strong everyday emotions can run. A memorable treat. In Taiwanese, Mandarin, Japanese, and English with English subtitles

In Stores Nov. 14

Fantasia/2000 (G)

Directors: Pixote Hunt, Hendel Butoy, Eric Goldberg, James Algar, Francis Glebas, Gatan Brizzi, Paul Brizzi. With Steve Martin, Bette Midler. (75 min.)

Sterritt *** This ambitious Disney production opened on giant-size IMAX screens before moving to regular theaters. Although it's less novel and feisty than the original "Fantasia" of 1940, the collection of music-filled animations is highly entertaining at times.

Big Momma's House (PG-13)

Director: Raja Gosnell. With Martin Lawrence, Nia Long, Paul Giamatti. (105 min.)

Staff ** Lawrence makes his summer debut playing FBI agent Malcolm Turner. He heads down South to stakeout the house of Big Momma, whose soon-to-visit granddaughter used to date a recently escaped bank robber. When Big Momma has to leave town, Turner goes undercover as Big Momma. By Christy Ellington

Staff ** Funny, predictable, silly.

The Perfect Storm (PG-13)

Director: Wolfgang Petersen. With George Clooney, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. (127 min.)

Sterritt *** The crew of a New England swordfishing boat battles the Worst Weather Ever while their friends and spouses wait anxiously on shore. Fish elsewhere if you want originality; but dive right in if you're looking for an old-fashioned entertainment that delivers corny romance, turbulent action, and enough wave-churning seascapes to make "Titanic" seem landlocked.

Staff *** An emotional ride, definitely worth seeing, terrifying water scenes.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society