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profligates. By Stephen HumphriesSkip to next paragraph
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Sex/Nudity: 41 instances, mostly innuendo, but several nude scenes. Violence: 1 scene. Profanity: 54 mild and strong expressions. Drugs: At least 6 scenes of drinking. 1 with smoking.
Director: Gregory Hoblit. With: Bruce Willis, Colin Farrell, Cole Hauser. (125 min.)
Staff *** In a German POW camp, Lt. Thomas Hart (Farrell) must defend a black pilot accused of murdering a white racist. Hart, with only two years of law school, is up against his colonel (Willis), the self-appointed judge, and an experienced prosecutor. Two characters raise this drama well above the routine: the jazz-loving commandant, who permits the court martial in the first place, and the pilot, who testifies that back home in Alabama, German POWs eat in restaurants that won't serve black soldiers. By M.K. Terrell
Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 13 scenes. Profanity: 25 expressions. Drugs: 18 scenes, mostly smoking.
Director: Jessie Nelson. With Sean Penn, Michelle Pfeiffer, Laura Dern. (124 min.)
Sterritt * Penn's bravura acting is the only reason to watch this wildly sentimental comedy-drama about a mentally retarded man trying to regain custody of his daughter after social workers decide she needs a better home. The film means well, but scenes get clobbered by sappy screenwriting.
Staff **1/2 Creaky, mostly well-acted, trite.
Sex/Nudity: 3 scenes implied sex. Violence: None. Profanity: 8 expressions. Drugs: 1 scene with drinking.
Director: Nick Cassavetes. With Denzel Washington, Anne Heche, Robert Duvall. (116 min.)
Sterritt ** John is a working-class guy whose boy needs life-saving surgery not covered by his insurance. After failing to raise enough cash, and getting no sympathy from the hospital's financial office, he becomes a vigilante dad. The early scenes persuasively etch John's fatherly love and raise crucial questions about the US healthcare system. Things start to go wrong when he pulls a gun on a cardiac surgeon, and they go very wrong when Capra-esque crowds gather outside the emergency room to cheer him on. It's grimly fascinating to watch fine actors wrestle with the increasingly awful screenplay.
Staff ** Manipulative, bad dialogue, well-paced.
Sex/Nudity: 1 instance of innuendo. Violence: 8 scenes, including fistfighting. Profanity: 31 expressions, some harsh. Drugs: 2 scenes with smoking.
Director: Fred Schepisi. With Tom Courtenay, Helen Mirren, Michael Caine, David Hemmings. (109 min.)
Sterritt ** After the death of their closest chum, four old friends go for a long drive to dispose of his ashes by the seaside, reminiscing about the past in flashbacks that gradually reveal the complex ways in which their lives have crisscrossed over the years. Good performances by a distinguished cast don't quite overcome the weaknesses of the disappointing, predictable screenplay.
Director: Mira Nair. With Naseeruddin Shah, Roshan Seth, Lillete Dubey, Shefali Shetty. (111 min.)
Sterritt *** Celebrants gather in Delhi for the Punjabi wedding of an Indian-American groom and an Indian bride who's not sure she's ready for matrimony. Despite its entertaining trappings, this is a thoughtful story, touching on sensitive issues of sexuality and child abuse. Nair hasn't lost her eye for revealing details of personality, behavior, and environment. In English, Hindi, and Punjabi with English subtitles.
Director: Julien Duvivier. With Jean Gabin, Mireille Balin, Marcel Dalio, Gabriel Gabrio. (90 min.)
Sterritt **** Pépé is a gifted French criminal who's moved his operation to the Casbah, where he lords it over friends and foes until a slinky French temptress leads him into a romantic muddle that proves his downfall. Made in 1937, this masterpiece of poetic realism features one of Gabin's most renowned performances, a smart subtext about French colonialism, and enough exotic atmosphere to keep your head in the clouds long after the final scene. In French with English subtitles.
Director: Michael Rymer. With: Stuart Townsend, Aaliyah. (100 min.)