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Movie Guide

February 1, 2002

Maelström (Not rated)

Director: Denis Villeneuve. With Marie-Josée Croze, Jean-Nicolas Verreault, Stephanie Morgenstern. (86 min.)

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Sterritt *** (See review, page 15.)

Wannabees (R)

Directors: Charles Addessi, William DeMeo. With William DeMeo, Ray Serra. (110 min.)

Sterritt *Two tough-talking Brooklyn brothers seek wealth and self-improvement by dabbling in a string of illegal enterprises, from bookmaking to extortion, dealing with unsavory friends and formidable foes along the way. The plot is predictable, the characters are cliches, and all the actors look and sound like refugees from a movie Martin Scorsese would have made vastly better three decades ago. Where are the "GoodFellas" when we need them?

Black Hawk Down (R)

Director: Ridley Scott. With Josh Hartnett, Sam Shepard, Tom Sizemore. (148 min.)

Sterritt * The fact-based story focuses on US troops sent to Mogadishu in 1993 to disable a powerful Somali warlord by kidnapping high lieutenants who've helped him rule by terror. Their obstacles include aggressive enemy soldiers and hostile civilians, and the nightmare grows worse when two high-tech helicopters are shot down, sparking a hard-fought battle to rescue crash survivors and then the rescuers themselves. The screenplay lauds the resolute spirits of the troops, and Scott uses hard-hitting images. But the nature of warfare merits more thoughtful examination at this precarious time. Since the filmmakers offer no insights, their motives must be to sensationalize war's horrors and capitalize on its thrills. We deserve better.

Staff ***Gut wrenching, extremely violent, savage, lacks content, well directed.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: Most of the film is violent with at least 45 battle scenes, many very gory. Profanity: 22 expressions. Drugs: 10 scenes.

Brotherhood of the Wolf (R)

Director: Christophe Gans. With Jean Yanne, Emilie Dequenne, Vincent Cassel. (142 min.)

Sterritt **In the time of Louis XV, a French detective and a native American mystic uncover a web of skullduggery as they probe a series of killings thought by local peasants to be the work of a supernatural monster. Gans tries to match "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" with his mix of action, romance, and mythic overtones, but much of the historical horrorfest is more frenetic than fascinating. Look out for over-the-top violence. In French with English subtitles.

Staff ***Good monster movie, excessive, dark, mystical.

Sex/Nudity: 6 scenes. Violence: 18 scenes. Profanity: None. Drugs: 8 scenes with drinking or smoking; 2 with drugs.

The Count of Monte Cristo (PG-13)

Director: Kevin Reynolds. With Jim Caviezel, Richard Harris, Dagmara Dominczyk, Guy Pearce. (113 min.)

Sterritt *** Caviezel plays Edmond Dantes, a French sailor who hits hard times when his best friend steals his girlfriend, a corrupt magistrate brands him as a courier for Napoleon, and he's thrown into an island prison. Things look up when he escapes, finds a fortune in buried treasure, and sets about revenging himself on his treacherous enemies. The filmmakers focus more on personalities and emotions than action and violence, and the acting soars even when the dialogue sags. Don't worry swordfighting fans, there's plenty of flashing steel and fancy footwork. In all, it's a nifty comeback for 19th-century novelist Alexandre Dumas.

Staff ***Campy, clever, punctuated with comic relief, beautiful scenery.

Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes implied sex. Violence: 14 scenes, mostly swordfighting. Profanity: 1 instance. Drugs: 15 scenes of drinking or smoking.

Eisenstein (Not rated)

Director: Renny Bartlett. With Simon McBurney, Raymond Coulthard, Jacqueline McKenzie. (96 min.)

Sterritt **Biopic about Soviet filmmaker and theorist Sergei Eisenstein, who energized cinema from the '20s to the '40s, but ran afoul of narrow-minded authorities with his avant-garde notions. McBurney works hard to convey Eisenstein's conflicted personality as an artistic radical and gay man living in an oppressive society. But Bartlett's screenplay is riddled with clichés, and the rhythms of his visual style are worlds away from the electrifying montage of Eisenstein's early films and the stately arabesques of his later work.

Gosford Park (R)