Director: Neal Slavin. With William H. Macy, Laura Dern, David Paymer, Meat Loaf Aday. (100 min.)Skip to next paragraph
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Sterritt *** Macy plays a 1940s businessman who doesn't worry much about anti-Semitism until some people get the idea that he looks sort of Jewish himself, sparking events that cause him to lose his job. Neighbors are also angry at a local Jewish shopkeeper, and he's tempted to regain their trust by joining in their attacks. Slavin treats the tale as a philosophical fable about the never-ending struggle between good and evil. The result would be an important drama if the screenplay (based on an early Arthur Miller novel) didn't lapse into preachiness and imprecision at times.
Directors: The Hughes Brothers. With Johnny Depp, Heather Graham, Ian Holm, Robbie Coltrane. (137 min.)
Sterritt *** Depp plays a 19th-century police inspector whose hunt for Jack the Ripper smokes out an enormous number of complications. The movie works well as a straight-out horror yarn, proving that the Hughes
Brothers are more versatile than their previous "ghetto pictures" suggest. But it lacks the near-cosmic resonance of the book it's based on, a "graphic novel" by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell that makes far more interesting speculations on mysteries of myth and history, space and time, good and evil, life and death.
Director: Terry Gilliam. With Michael Palin, Annette Badland, Max Wall. (105 min.)
Sterritt *** Palin, one of the most gifted members of England's fabled Monty Python comedy troupe, plays a mud-spattered medieval peasant whose life turns adventurous when a monster starts stalking the countryside. Gilliam's first solo flight as a director is more notable for its inspired visual ideas than for the frequency of its laughs, but Python devotees will have fun. First released in 1977.
Director: Rod Lurie. With Robert Redford, James Gandolfini, Mark Ruffalo, Delroy Lindo. (120 min.)
Staff ** In his follow-up to "The Contender," former film critic-turned-director Rod Lurie seems to be trying to create a prison drama that recalls "The Shawshank Redemption" and "The Great Escape." The prisoners this time are soldiers, including a legendary three-star general (Redford), serving a 10-year sentence. He soon finds himself rallying the men to oppose a ruthless colonel who runs the military prison. The film is often entertaining, but it's hampered by an unmerited sense of self-importance, too-obvious gestures, and ludicrous plot holes. By Stephen Humphries
Director: Penny Marshall. With Drew Barrymore, Steve Zahn, Brittany Murphy, Adam Garcia. (132 min.)
Staff **1/2 Beverly Donofrio (Drew Barrymore) is an ordinary teenager with an extraordinary sense of destiny. When she becomes pregnant at the age of 15 and reluctantly marries her young lover (Steve Zahn), her dreams are shattered by new - sometimes nasty - realities. She embarks on a 20-year quest to be a good mother and assert herself as a formidable writer. Based on the 1990 memoir of Beverly Donofrio, this film takes a touching, humorous look at the relationships and events that shaped one woman's life, and the lives of those closest to her. It's an enjoyable journey, though at times it loses its way and drags a bit. By Steven Savides
Director: Claude Lanzmann. With Yehuda Lerner.
Sterritt **** A feature-length interview with a Holocaust survivor who escaped from no fewer than eight Nazi strongholds and then participated in a Jewish rebellion against the overlords of the lethal Sobibor death camp. The conversation was shot in 1979 as part of Lanzmann's research for "Shoah," his nine-hour masterpiece on the Holocaust, and has now been fashioned into a rigorous and riveting stand-alone film. In Hebrew, French, and German with English subtitles
Director: Richard Linklater. With Wiley Wiggins, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Steven Soderbergh. (99 min.)