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.Skip to next paragraph
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STAR RATINGS MEANING
**** Excellent *** Good ** Fair * Poor DUD The Worst
Director: Lasse Hallstrom. With Juliette Binoche, Alfred Molina, Lena Olin, Judi Dench, Carrie-Anne Moss, Johnny Depp, John Wood, Leslie Caron. (121 min.)
Sterritt ** A peaceful French village gets more excitement than it bargained for when a feisty newcomer sets up a shop devoted to chocolate and other simple pleasures, and a local curmudgeon decides to combat her immoral influence at any cost. Binoche and Molina are as magnetic as usual, but the unsubtle story is full of simplistic divisions between right and wrong, and the filmmaking is pretty but predictable. As the title inadvertently hints, the picture's aftertaste is more sugary than satisfying.
Director: Ed Harris. With Ed Harris, Marcia Gay Harden, Jeffrey Tambor, Tom Bower, Jennifer Connelly, Bud Cort, John Heard, Amy Madigan, Val Kilmer, Robert Knott. (117 min.)
Sterritt *** Harris was born to play Jackson Pollock, the legendary artist who revolutionized modern painting in the 1940s before losing his life in a tragic accident brought about by his own weaknesses. The filmmaking sinks into cliches at times, as when Pollock's breakthrough into "drip painting" is announced with portentous close-ups of the artist's eyes and the blank canvas he's about to fill. The movie is enriched by its fine acting, though, and by its creative respect for an innovator whose influence still permeates contemporary art.
What Women Want (PG-13)
Director: Nancy Meyers. With Mel Gibson, Helen Hunt, Marisa Tomei, Ashley Johnson, Lauren Holly, Mark Feuerstein, Alan Alda, Aviva Gale, Delta Burke, Valerie Perrine, Judy Greer. (123 min.)
Sterritt ** Gibson makes an energetic entrance into romantic comedy with his alternately sweet and swaggering portrayal of a self-centered advertising man who acquires the ability to read women's thoughts. He's skillfully supported by Hunt as his pretty new boss and Johnson as his neglected teenage daughter, and director Meyers keeps the action bright and bouncy. Still, the dialogue isn't quite as sparkling and the plot twists aren't quite as snappy as you want them to be. And the story keeps rambling on after its oomph runs wearisomely thin.
CURRENTLY IN RELEASE
A Hard Day's Night (G)
Director: Richard Lester. With John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Wilfred Brambell, Victor Spinetti, Anna Quayle. (94 min.)
Sterritt **** Wit, joy, imagination, and sensational mid-'60s music spark this 1964 classic, starring the Beatles and providing a slyly fictionalized look at the skyrocketing fame that discombobulated their hitherto normal lives. Lester's filmmaking was never more inventive, and the fabulous foursome never made another movie that so perfectly suited their extraordinary talents.
Director: Don Roose. With Ben Affleck, Gwyneth Paltrow, Natasha Henstridge, Jennifer Grey, Tony Goldwyn, David Paymer. (105 min.)
Staff *** Paltrow stars as Abby, a real estate agent who tries to "bounce back" after her husband dies in a plane crash. As it turns out, Buddy (Affleck), a self-absorbed advertising agent, switched his ticket with a stranger he met in Chicago (Abby's husband) at the last minute. Riddled with guilt, Buddy shows up on her Los Angeles doorstep a year later to see if she's all right. Buddy then falls for her, but his "secret" creates problems. The movie is well acted, deeply moving, and unlike some love stories, it doesn't feel forced or contrived. By Lisa Leigh Parney