Director: Richard Eyre. With Judi Dench, Jim Broadbent, Kate Winslet, Hugh Bonneville, Eleanor Bron. (90 min.)Skip to next paragraph
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Sterritt *** Winslet and Dench play novelist Iris Murdoch at two very different periods in her life. Some scenes show her early years as a writer, when she flirted with everyone in sight and decided to marry fellow author John Bayley. Others paint a sad portrait of the declining mental and physical powers that eventually burdened her. Dench and Winslet give strong and creative performances, and Broadbent is positively brilliant as old Bayley.
Director: Mohsen Makhmalbaf. With Nilofaur Pazira, Sadou Teymouri, Hassan Tantai. (82 min.)
Sterritt *** See review, page 15.
Director: Cameron Crowe. With Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz, Jason Lee, Cameron Diaz. (136 min.)
Sterritt ** See review, page 15.
Director: Charles Shyer. With Hilary Swank, Jonathan Pryce, Adrien Brody, Christopher Walken. (120 min.)
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.
VS/N: 10 scenes, half innuendo. VV: 8 scenes. VP: 10 mostly mild expressions. VD: 12 scenes with alcohol, 1 with drugs.
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet. With Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Rufus, Arthus de Penguern. (121 min.)
Sterritt *** Amelie 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: Majid Majidi. With Hossein Abedini, Mohammad Reza Naji, Zahra Bahrami, Hossein Rahimi. (105 min.)
Sterritt **** The unglamorous setting is an Iranian construction site, and the unlikely hero is an Iranian man who falls in love with an Afghan woman after several misadventures with an illegal immigrant coworker. Majidi became one of Iran's most internationally famed filmmakers with "Children of Heaven" and "The Color of Paradise," but he far surpasses those melodramas with this expressively filmed story of rivalry, romance, and cultural conflict. In Farsi with English subtitles
Director: John Moore. With Gene Hackman, Owen Wilson, David Keith, Joaquim de Almeida. (105 min.)
Sterritt ** Comedian Owen Wilson in the role of a naval navigator whose plane is shot down over Bosnia? You'd be forgiven for thinking there was a casting-agent strike going on in Hollywood. Fortunately, Wilson's likeability goes a long way toward tempering the film's Rambo-like heroics as he evades Serbs on his way to a rendevouz with a rescue team. First-time director Moore does a sterling job with stylish camerawork, but cartoonish characterization and the score's unsubtle attempts to elicit a patriotic response from the audience are a liability. By Stephen Humphries
Staff **1/2 "The Fugitive" goes to war, gripping, melodramatic end, well-acted.
VS/N: None. VV: 6 gory scenes. VP: 18 mild expressions. VD: 7 scenes with smoking.
Director: Gil Junger. With Martin Lawrence, Tom Wilkinson, Marsha Thompson, Vincent Regan. (95 min.)
Staff ** Jamal (Lawrence), a dispirited worker at Medieval World, a run-down amusement park hurtles back in time to 14th century England. There, his street smarts mobilize a bunch of rebels to depose the corrupt king. It's a lot better than you'd think, thanks to Lawrence's energy and witty lines. By M.K. Terrell.