Director: Elie Chouraqui. With Andie MacDowell, David Straithairn, Adrien Brody, Elias Koteas. (130 min.)Skip to next paragraph
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Sterritt ** Refusing to accept the possibility that her news photographer husband has lost his life while covering fierce combat in Yugoslavia, an American woman travels there and plunges into wartime chaos on a desperate search for him. The movie makes a commendable effort to celebrate bravery and underscore the terrors of war, but its melodramatic approach is more spectacular than insightful, even if, for a change, a woman character gets to show courage under fire. (See related story, page 20.)
Director: Lieven Debrauwer. With Dora Van Der Groen, Ann Petersen, Rosemarie Berghmans. (78 min.)
Sterritt *** Three aging Belgian women face big decisions when the care of a mentally backward sister falls into their hands. Debrauwer brings crisp conviction to what might have been an overly sentimental tale, filming it with a straightforward style and good-natured sincerity that ring consistently true. In Flemish and French with English subtitles.
Director: Tom Dey. With Robert De Niro, Eddie Murphy, Rene Russo, Drena De Niro. (95 min.)
Sterritt * See review, page 15.
Director: Alfonso Cuarón. With Maribel Verdú, Diego Luna, Gael García Bernal. (115 min.)
Sterritt ** Faced with serious new problems in her life, a young Spanish woman living in Mexico City takes off on an impulsive road trip with two adolescent Mexican boys fueled by youthful energy, intoxicants, and hyperactive sex drives. Cuaron gives an offbeat flavor to this coming-of-age tale by combining up-close camera work with a modernistic third-person narration, and by touching on noteworthy social issues in the margins of the story. Too much repetition and an unconvincing finale take a toll on the film's overall effectiveness, though. In Spanish with English subtitles.
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 ex-wife, worrying about his kids, and collecting rejection slips. He also deals with traumatic events like a 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.
Staff *** Visually stunning, gritty yet poetic, compelling, original.
Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes implied sex. Violence: 8 scenes, including a severe car crash and fistfighting.
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.