Director: Charles Shyer. With Hilary Swank, Jonathan Pryce, Adrien Brody, Simon Baker, Christopher Walken, Brian Cox, Joely Richardson. (120 min.)Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Sterritt ** Check off the ingredients for an old-fashioned historical melodrama: an orphan with noble blood, a secretly sinful churchman, an imperious queen, a mystic who may or may not know the future, and a piece of spectacular jewelry that becomes the center of an explosive 18th-century scandal. This sort of material goes back to D.W. Griffith and beyond, and Swank's persona seems too modern to compete with Lillian Gish on her own turf. The movie has almost enough corny appeal to offset its lack of originality, though, and Walken is fun as Cagliostro, the court's great prognosticator and all-around weirdo.
Director: John Moore. With Gene Hackman, Owen Wilson, David Keith, Joaquim de Almeida. (105 min.)
Staff ** See review, page 15
Director: Peter Weir. With Richard Chamberlain, David Gulpilil, Olivia
Hamnett. (106 min.)
Sterritt **** A corporate lawyer in Sydney, Australia, agrees to defend a group of Aboriginal men against a murder charge, only to find that his clients are reluctant to discuss some aspects of their lives. Probing deeper, he learns that tribal mysteries aren't as absent from the modern Australian city as he thought, and before long his findings take on increasingly apocalyptic implications. Weir had a truly magical touch in early films like this 1977 masterpiece, which offers a transfixing excursion into the "dream time" of Australian myth.
Directors: Charles Broune Jr., Joel Holt. With Jayne Mansfield, Mickey Hargitay. (90 min.)
Sterritt * Oddity alert! Made in 1968, not long after Mansfield's death, this tacky exploitation flick combines promotional footage shot during the actress's career - most of it during a European sightseeing tour - with coy shots of
"shocking" material (stripteases, drag queens) and a minidocumentary about the car crash that ended her life. The results are unbelievably tedious, but Mansfield buffs may find it intermittently worthwhile.
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet. With Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Rufus, Arthus de Penguern. (121 min.)
Sterritt *** Amélie is a waitress who anonymously becomes an eager do-gooder for people who never asked her to barge into their lives. Jeunet is never happy with a scene until he's directed it half to death with manic camera work and editing. But Tautou's acting is amiable enough to shine through any cinematic fuss. In French with English subtitles
Staff ***1/2 Unconventional, delightful, mischievous, visually stunning.
VS/N: 8 scenes with implied sex, innuendo and brief nudity. VV: 4 mild scenes of comic violence. VP: None. VD: 9 scenes with alcohol, 1 scene with a cigarette.
Director: Gil Junger. With Martin Lawrence, Tom Wilkinson, Marsha Thompson, Vincent Regan. (95 min.)
Staff ** Jamal (Martin Lawrence), a dispirited worker at Medieval World, a run-down amusement park, reaches for a medallion in the park's moat and hurtles back in time to 14thcentury England. There, his street smarts and a previously hidden streak of courage mobilize a ragtag bunch of rebels to depose the corrupt king. The movie is a lot better than you think it's going to be, thanks to Lawrence's energy, witty lines, and a good-natured take on old clichés. By M.K. Terrell.
Director: Chris Columbus. With Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Robbie Coltrane, Maggie Smith. (150 min.)
Sterritt *** This richly produced fantasy stays true to the letter and spirit of J.K. Rowling's novel about an 11-year-old boy who discovers he's a natural-born wizard. The picture's best assets are its marvelous special effects and superbly chosen cast. Its worst liabilities are John Williams's bombastic music and a too-long running time that could have used an extra wave of the film editor's wand.
Staff **1/2 Stirs childhood memories, a bit ordinary, enchanting, top-notch effects.