Movie Guide

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.

STAR RATINGS MEANING

**** Excellent *** Good ** Fair * Poor DUD The Worst

New Releases

Bread and Roses (R)

Director: Ken Loach. With Pilar Padilla, Adrien Brody, Elpidia Carrilo, George Lopez, Alonso Chavez. (110 min.)

Sterritt ***

Pitting his moral ideals against hard realities, a young American social worker helps two Mexican immigrant sisters and their friends with a strike they hope will improve their lives as economically exploited office-building janitors. This socially alert drama is Loach's first production shot in the United States, and while it doesn't measure up to his best British movies, like "Raining Stones" and "Ladybird, Ladybird," it continually strives to do the ethically right thing.

Farewell, Home Sweet Home (Not rated)

Director: Otar Iossiliani. With Otar Iossiliani, Nico Tarielashvili, Lily Lavina Philippe. (118 min.)

Sterritt ***

A privileged young man takes a window-washing job to get some rest from his reclusive father and eccentric mother, but discovers that his new set of streetwise friends can be as taxing as his own peculiar family. The evocative visual style that has made Iossiliani an internationally acclaimed filmmaker is the main reason to watch this whimsical comedy-drama.

In French with English subtitles

Striporama (Not rated)

Director: Jerald Intrator. With Jack Diamond, Mandy Price, Lili St. Cyr, Mr. America. (70 min.)

Sterritt *** The dignitaries of New York refuse to include burlesque films in their time capsule for future generations, so three small-time comedians stage a protest, singing the praises of low-rent comedy, music, and striptease acts. This cheaply made 1954 production is itself quite a time capsule, sampling various mid-century entertainment forms that made up in popularity what they lacked in class and subtlety. It's also quite tame despite its lurid title, containing little that would push the boundaries of today's PG-13 rating.

Currently in Release

About Adam (R)

Director: Gerard Stembridge. With Kate Hudson, Stuart Townsend, Frances O'Connor. (105 min.)

Staff **1/2

Adam (Townsend) doesn't mean any harm as he woos bookworm O'Connor and bored housewife Bradley - both of them sisters of his fiance (Hudson). In a storytelling technique dating back to at least to "Citizen Kane" and "Rashomon," we see each sister's version of the tale. Writer-director Stembridge's light touch and his comedy ensemble work to keep things fresh. But what this movie says about infidelity will prove more than a little dismaying to viewers. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 6 sex scenes, brief nudity. Violence: None. Profanity: 48 often- harsh expressions. Drugs: 13 scenes of drinking, 4 scenes with smoking.

Along Came A Spider (R)

Director: Lee Tamahori. With Morgan Freeman, Monica Potter, Michael Wincott, Jay O. Sanders. (104 min.)

Staff **1/2

Morgan Freeman is detective Dr. Alex Cross on the trail of a villain who has kidnapped the daughter of a US senator. "Along Came a Spider" is filled with surprising twists. By Steven Savides

Staff *

Stale dialogue, ridiculous twists, Morgan Freeman is the only redeeming aspect.

Sex/Nudity: 1 reference to sex. Violence: 9 instances of fairly graphic violence, including one car crash and several shootings. Profanity: 9 harsh expressions. Drugs: 1 cigarette.

Angel Eyes (R)

Director: Luis Mandoki. With Jennifer Lopez, Jim Caviezel, Sonia Braga, Shirley Knight. (104 min.)

Staff **

When a stranger (Caviezel) saves South Chicago cop (Lopez) from a dangerous situation, she thinks she may have met the perfect man. But relationship problems arise when she tries to find out about his past, including a fatal car accident which killed the man's wife and child. This unconventional love story captivates early on, but even Lopez's surprisingly good acting can't rescue this slow-paced yarn. By Joshua S. Burek

Staff **

Contrived, emotional, sweet moments.

Sex/Nudity: 1 mild sex scene. 3 instances of innuendo and several sexual references. Violence: 7 scenes, including a fistfight. Profanity: 62 often- harsh expressions. Drugs: 3 scenes of smoking, 3 scenes of drinking.

Blow (R)

Director: Ted Demme. With Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Ray Liotta, Paul Reubens, Rachel Griffiths. (119 min.)

uu The fact-based story of George Jung, a small-time California crook who became a big-time associate of a Colombia drug cartel, is inherently stale. But Depp evokes emotional depth with a characteristically subtle performance, and Demme elicits fine acting from the supporting cast.

uuu Realistic, thought-provoking.

Sex/Nudity: Brief nude shots in a photo collage, topless women in a pool, and backside shots of nude women. Violence: Graphic fighting scenes with guns and 1 slap to a woman. Profanity: 134 harsh expressions. Drugs: 31 scenes with alcohol and 39 with drugs.

Bridget Jones's Diary (R)

Director: Sharon Maguire. With Renee Zellweger, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Jim Broadbent. (94 min.)

Sterritt ** A

romantic Englishwoman searches for a man who won't mind her slightly bulky figure and slightly dissolute habits. This lightweight comedy evidently sees itself as a Jane Austen spinoff in the "Clueless" vein, and fans of the genre will enjoy it if they're not distracted by trite plot twists and Zellweger's accent.

Staff ***1/2

Exaggerated, v.g. (very good).

Sex/Nudity: 3 sex scenes, no nudity; several sexual references. Violence: 1 scene with a fistfight. Profanity: 35 including many harsh expressions. Drugs: 15 scenes of smoking and drinking.

The Golden Bowl (R)

Director: James Ivory. With Nick Nolte, Kate Beckinsale, Jeremy Northam, Uma Thurman, James Fox. (130 min.)

Sterritt ***

Henry James's psychologically dense novel inspired this introspective drama about an American businessman and his daughter, who discover that their new spouses share a hidden past. Ivory gives it a sumptuous visual style and an exquisitely crafted early-20th-century milieu, offering pleasures for the eye and the imagination.

Staff ***

Elegantly opulent, self-consciously arty, more surface than subtlety.

Sex/Nudity: 1 sex scene, no nudity. Violence: None. Profanity: 2 mild. Drugs: 9 instances of smoking, 6 instances of drinking.

A Knight's Tale (PG-13)

Director: Brian Helgeland. With Heath Ledger, Mark Addy, Alan Tudyk, Paul Bettany. (132 min.)

Staff **1/2

A kid from the wrong side of town (Ledger) makes his dream of becoming a knight a reality by posing as royalty. The only thing holding him back from winning the heart of a beautiful princess is his status in society. The blood and violence may be too intense for smaller kids, but this is fine family entertainment. By Heidi Wilson

Memento (R)

Director: Christopher Nolan, With Guy Pearce, Carrie-Ann Moss, Joe Pantoliano. (118 min.)

Sterritt ***

A young man hunts the criminal who murdered his wife, hampered by a physical condition that obliterates his short-term memory on a day-by-day basis. This unconventionally structured thriller moves at an energetic pace.

Staff ***

A reel-ful of Polaroid moments, fresh.

Sex/Nudity: None. V: 9 scenes of violence, including a rape. Profanity: 143 harsh expressions. Drugs: 6 scenes of drinking; 1 scene with smoking.

The Mummy Returns (PG-13)

Director: Stephen Sommers. With Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah. (125 min.)

Sterritt **

A handsome adventurer and his Egyptologist wife dash through an Indiana Jones-style story about the resurrection of a three-millennium-old nemesis. Writer-director Sommers serves up rousing visual effects and action. But there's more emphasis on computer-generated gimmickry than on persuasive acting and ideas.

Staff **1/2

Good romance, witty references to other films, over the top.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence:16 scenes, intense and scary, but not too gory. Profanity: 6 very mild expressions. Drugs: None.

Pearl Harbor (PG-13)

Director: Michael Bay. With Ben Affleck, Kate Beckinsale, Cuba Gooding Jr., Josh Hartnett. (182 min.)

Sterritt *

Two high-flying pilots and a spirited nurse are among the Americans whose lives and loves are disrupted by the Japanese air attack that brought the United States into World War II and shaped the rest of the 20th century. True to the tradition of director Bay and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, this complex historical subject is played entirely for action, romance, and spectacle, reducing cataclysmic world events to guts-and-glory cliches. Future anthropologists may find it a useful summary of Hollywood's skill at using fiction and fantasy to evade reflection on the world we actually live in.

Staff ***

Disappointing, overlong, thrilling, engrossing, shallow harbor.

Sex/Nudity: 1 sex scene, 11 scenes with partial nudity. Violence: 274 scenes. Profanity: 40 harsh expressions. Drugs: 5 scenes with cigarettes, 3 scenes with alcohol.

The Road Home

(Not rated)

Director: Zhang Yimou. With Zhang Ziyi, Honglei Sun, Hao Zheng, Yuelin Zhao. (89 min.)

Sterritt ***

As he prepares for his father's funeral, a man recalls the stories he's heard about the long-ago love affair between his parents, a young peasant woman and a village schoolmaster, during the 1950s. Zhang Yimou has directed much greater films, but this effort has a simplicity that many will find hard to resist. Ditto for the starring performance by Zhang Ziyi, who earned fame in "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."

Shrek (PG-13)

Directors: Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson. With voices of Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy. (90 min.)

Sterritt ***

An amiable ogre, a talkative donkey, and a domineering princess set off on a fairy-tale quest that brings out the hidden decency of the monster and the inner beauty of his royal companion. The story has rollicking moments and the visuals are amazingly realistic. Don't expect a cartoon on the level of "Toy Story," but animation fans will find a generous amount of fun.

Staff ***

Irreverent, fairytale turned inside out.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: None. Profanity: 4 mild. Drugs: None.

Spy Kids (PG)

Director: Robert Rodriguez. With Antonio Banderas, George Clooney, Alan Cumming, Teri Hatcher. (93 min.)

Staff **

Billed as a spy caper for all ages, "Spy Kids" is indeed that. Carmen and Juni Cortez are two ordinary kids who must save their parents - and the world - from the evil techno-wizard, Floop. The movie definitely skews toward the under-10 set. By Gloria Goodale

Staff ***1/2

Multicultural, fast-paced, creative.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 12 scenes of comic violence. Profanity: None. Drugs: 2 instances with drinking.

Startup.com (R)

Director: Jehane Noujaim. With Chris Hedegus. (103 min.)

Staff **

This fast-paced documentary follows the mercurial partnership of two longtime friends as they found a dotcom during the height of the internet gold rush. "Startup.com" epitomizes the Icarus mentality of the late 1990s, with numerous dotcom cliches. The film is ably edited and has a superb soundtrack, though the handheld camerawork can be dizzying. By Ben Arnoldy

Staff ***

Dark humor, makes you forget you're watching a documentary, well-edited.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: None. Profanity: 28 harsh. Drugs: None.

'Pearl harbor': Ben Affleck and Kate Beckinsale play two lovers on the eve of Japan's 1941 attack.

In Stores June 5

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (PG-13)

Director: Ang Lee. With Chow Yun Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Chang Chen, Zhang Ziyi, Lung Sihung. (119 min.)

Sterritt ***

A war-weary warrior, a legendary sword, a restless and romantic young girl, and a rascally bandit are among the main characters of this ambitious epic. But the movie's real interest lies in a series of fighting scenes that veer between comic-book violence and cinematic ballet. The film may be too talky for action-minded viewers and too fantastic for more serious spectators, but it brings appealing twists to the venerable martial-arts genre. In Mandarin with English subtitles

Staff ****

More than a martial arts movie, transcendent, subtle acting.

Coming Soon ... (in stores June 12)

Cast Away (PG-13)

Director: Robert Zemeckis. With Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt, Nick Searcy, Chris Noth, Lari White. (143 min.)

Sterritt ***

Marooned on an island in the middle of nowhere, a workaholic FedEx engineer looks within himself for the resources he needs to survive his physical, psychological, and spiritual ordeal. Hanks's extraordinary acting keeps the adventure involving even though the beginning is predictable, the middle is uneven, and the finale slips into Zemeckis's patented brand of "Forrest Gump" fuzziness.

Staff ***1/2

Best screenplay material, never a dull moment, one-man tour de force.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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