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Movie Guide

March 8, 2002

Festival in Cannes (PG-13)

Director: Henry Jaglom. With Ron Silver, Greta Scacchi, Maximilian Schell, Anouk Aimée. (99 min.)

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Sterritt *** See review, page 15.

The Time Machine (PG-13)

Director: Simon Wells. With Guy Pearce, Samantha Mumba, Jeremy Irons, Phyllida Law. (96 min.)

Sterritt * See review, page 15.

Big Bad Love (R)

Director: Arliss Howard. With Howard, Debra Winger, Paul Le Mat, Angie Dickinson, Rosanna Arquette. (111 min.)

Sterritt *** Howard plays a cranky Mississippi writer who spends hours drinking with his buddy, feuding with his former spouse, worrying about his kids, and collecting rejection slips. He also deals with traumatic events like an alarming car accident and a tragic death in the family. The filmmakers clearly see him as a creative maverick, but he's really a likable cliché. The movie's best asset is Howard's filmmaking, which makes time-worn story ideas seem fresh and engaging through inventive camera moves and editing effects.

Big Fat Liar (PG)

Director: Shawn Levy. With Frankie Muniz, Paul Giamatti, Amanda Bynes. (83 min.)

Staff *** A Hollywood producer steals the English essay of eighth-grader and inveterate liar Jason Shepherd (Muniz) and turns it into a movie. Naturally, his parents and teacher don't believe him. To regain their trust, he and his girlfriend head to Tinseltown to extort a confession. The resulting romp through the Universal Studios lot will amuse older children and their parents. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 4 instances. Profanity: A few mild expressions. Drugs: 4 scenes.

Collateral Damage (R)

Director: Andrew Davis. With Arnold Schwarzenegger, Francesca Neri, Cliff Curtis. (110 min.)

Sterritt * Schwarzenegger strikes again, this time as a firefighter who embarks on a vendetta against Colombian terrorists, hunting them in their country and in Washington after his wife and child are killed in a L.A. bombing. The film paints a strikingly hostile portrait of its Latin American characters and some of its mayhem is vicious, even by debased standards of today's action-movie genre.

Staff **1/2 Standard, phone-in plot, suspenseful, intense.

Sex/Nudity: 2 instances innuendo. Violence: 16 scenes, some very bloody. Profanity: 33 expressions, mostly mild. Drugs: 4 scenes with drinking, smoking. 1 with illegal drugs.

Dragonfly (PG-13)

Director: Tom Shadyac. With Kevin Costner, Kathy Bates. (100 min.)

Sterritt ** A physician copes with grief after the untimely death of his wife, who was also a doctor, and starts to believe she may be communicating with him through messages passed along by her former patients, kids who've had near-death experiences. The story blends elements of "Ghost" and "Close Encounters" but lacks the romantic charge of the former and the imaginative thrill of the latter. Costner is convincing until the sappy finale.

Sex/Nudity: 1 scene implied sex. 1 with seminudity. Violence: 6 scenes. Profanity: 10 mild expressions. Drugs: 3 with drinking.

Esther Kahn (Not rated)

Director: Arnaud Desplechin. With Summer Phoenix, Ian Holm, Frances Barber. (145 min.)

Sterritt ** The setting is London a century ago; the heroine is a young daughter of Jewish immigrants who gradually overcomes her apathy toward life through enthusiasm for a theatrical career and the jolt of an unhappy love affair. Desplechin wants to film an adventure of the human spirit in the manner of a Hitchcockian drama, but he doesn't have a solid enough grasp of English culture to equal the complexity of his French productions like "The Sentinel" and "The Life of the Dead."

40 Days and 40 Nights (R)

Director: Michael Lehmann. With Josh Hartnett, Shannyn Sossamon, Maggie Gyllenhaal. (110 min.)

Staff * Seeking solace after a breakup with his ex-girlfriend, a young dot-com programmer can't seem to break his habit of engaging in a different one-night stand every day of the week. So, for Lent, he takes a vow of celibacy. The film's protagonist may be chaste, but the movie certainly isn't. With enough ribald humor to make the cast of "American Pie" blush, this sex comedy tries in vain to soften its edginess by having the sex-starved character fall in love with a girl he meets. The overall result: too few laughs, and a story that paints men as leering leches and woman as wanton