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Movie Guide

May 10, 2002

Diamonds and Rust (Not rated)

Directors: Adi Barash, Ruth Shatz. With crew members of the Spirit of Namibia. (73 min.)

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Sterritt ** To make this documentary about the multiethnic crew of a South African diamond ship off the African coast, the filmmakers moved right in with them for three months, chronicling daily affairs from the tedium of ordinary work to the racial tensions smoldering in too many members of the crew. The movie suffers from their reluctance to shape their material into a form more expressive than straightforward chronological order, but you meet some fascinating personalities during this uncomfortable voyage.

Fleeing by Night (Not rated)

Directors: Li-Kong Hsu, Chi Yin. With Rene Liu, Lei Huang, Chao-te Yin, Ah-leh Gua. (123 min.)

Sterritt ** Emotional complications multiply as a Chinese cellist courts his music-loving fiancée while also becoming infatuated with a male opera singer who lives entirely for his art. The story is hardly original, but this well-directed Taiwanese drama paints an intermittently vivid portrait of life on the Chinese mainland in the 1930s era. In Mandarin with English subtitles.

Janice Beard: 45 Words Per Minute (Not rated)

Director: Clare Kilner. With Eileen Walsh, Rhys Ifans, Patsy Kensit. (80 min.)

Sterritt ** An overly imaginative young woman takes a job as an office temp to help with her mother's healthcare expenses; working at a second-rate automotive company, she finds herself in the thick of an industrial-sabotage scheme and a could-be love affair with a fellow employee. Lively acting and an amiable comic atmosphere offer partial compensation for generally lackluster filmmaking.

The Lady and the Duke (PG-13)

Director: Eric Rohmer. With Lucy Russell, Jean-Claude Dreyfus, Francois Marthouret, Caroline Morin. (129 min.)

Sterritt **** See review, page 15.

Baran (Not rated)

Director: Majid Majidi. With Hossein Abedini, Mohammad Reza Naji, Zahra Bahrami. (105 min.)

Sterritt **** See review, page 15.

The Cat's Meow (PG-13)

Director: Peter Bogdanovich. With Edward Herrmann, Kirsten Dunst, Cary Elwes, Jennifer Tilly. (112 min.)

Sterritt ** The place is newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst's yacht in the mid- 1920s, and the characters include comedian Charlie Chaplin, gossip columnist Louella Parsons, film producer Thomas Ince, and Hearst himself. They're hoping for a good time on their pleasure cruise, but the sea breezes carry whiffs of jealousy and danger. Based on a real-life murder case, this amiably dull comedy-drama resembles its setting: Everything is arranged for fun and diversion, but the vehicle takes too long to get us where we're going.

Changing Lanes (R)

Director: Roger Michell. With Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Affleck, Amanda Peet, Sidney Pollack. (96 min.)

Sterritt *** A corporate lawyer and an insurance salesman become adversaries after a highway fender-bender, sparking a day-long ordeal of threats and counter-threats. The filmmakers meant to whip up a high-tension thriller. What they ended up with is a psychological satire that's quite engrossing if you regard it as an absurdist morality tale rather than a straight-ahead suspense yarn. It loses its bite in a last-minute happy ending, but much of the way it's a refreshingly novel ride.

Sex/Nudity: 3 instances innuendo. Violence: 5 scenes, including assault. Profanity: 13 strong expressions. Drugs: 3 instances drinking.

Crush (R)

Director: John McKay. With Andie MacDowell, Imelda Staunton, Anna Chancellor, Kenny Doughty. (110 min.)

Staff ** "Crush" swoops over stereotypes of femininity, as three lovelorn 40-somethings – Kate (MacDowell), Molly, and Janine – meet to swap stories of amorous humiliation over gin, chocolate, and gibes. They are, ostensibly, allies in the quest for love, but when Kate gets involved with a former student, Molly spearheads a scheme to end the affair. Though engaging in its banter and its romance, the film's myopic vision of women borders on misogyny. When clumsy, catty Molly brings on disaster with her scheme, the women are softened by humiliation and a new awareness of their distinctly feminine failings. By Christina McCarroll

Staff **1/2 Predictable, silly gabby, twisted.