Director: Roman Coppola. With Jeremy Davies, Elodie Bouchez, Gérard Depardieu. (100 min.)Skip to next paragraph
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Sterritt ** Two filmmakers in Paris about 30 years ago one a documentary director, the other a science-fiction storyteller who can't figure out how to finish his current production head for confusion when they fall for the same glamorous actress. Coppola's satirical debut movie is too ambitious for its own good. The cast is good, though, and ambition isn't the worst fault a fledgling filmmaker can have.
Director: Mel Brooks. With Gene Wilder, Zero Mostel, Dick Shawn, Lee Meredith. (90 min.)
Sterritt ** Brooks won a best-screenplay Academy Award for this 1968 farce about a Broadway producer and a small-time accountant who decide to swindle theatrical investors by producing a deliberately rotten musical called "Springtime for Hitler." The idea of the movie is better than the movie itself Wilder and Mostel compete to see who can shout loudest and distract the camera longest but if old-fashioned outrageousness is what you're looking for, window shop no more.
Director: Phil Alden Robinson. With Ben Affleck, Morgan Freeman, James Cromwell, Liev Schreiber.
Staff **1/2 See full review, page 17.
Directors: Paul Weitz, Chris Weitz. With Hugh Grant, Toni Collette, Nicholas Hoult, Rachel Weisz. (101 min.)
Sterritt * Grant plays a mischievous bachelor who pretends he has a child so he can hunt wooable women in a single-parents club, then becomes the unexpected friend of a real 12-year-old who needs help to overcome his geekiness and make a hit with his peers. Hoult is excellent as the kid, but there's little he or Grant can do with the movie's most mawkish moments.
Staff *** Wryly humorous, cute, unconventional, Grant's best role.
Sex/Nudity: 1 scene, and some innuendo. Violence: About 5 scenes with bullying. Profanity: 44 expressions, some harsh. Drugs: 14 scenes with alcohol, 9 with smoking.
Director: Henry Bean. With Ryan Gosling, Summer Phoenix, Billy Zane, Theresa Russell. (92 min.)
Sterritt **** Gosling plays a 20-something Jew with a deadly hatred of Jewish life, faith, and history whose friends range from rage-filled local thugs to a pair of intellectually sophisticated neofascists. Based on an actual case history, Bean's screenplay paints an excruciatingly vivid portrait of the most dangerous person a tolerant society can have a zealot who's as mentally agile as he is morally misguided. The result is a stunningly smart, genuinely disturbing drama.
Director: Michael Apted. With Jennifer Lopez, Bill Campbell, Juliette Lewis, Dan Futterman. (111 min.)
Staff *1/2 "Slim" (Lopez) is a hardworking waitress who marries a wealthy stranger she meets while serving burgers and coleslaw. Mitch whisks her away into an ostensibly picture-perfect life, complete with a lavish house and fun-loving daughter. But when Slim discovers Mitch is a philanderer and confronts him, he starts beating her. With help, she musters the courage to escape from his possessive grip. This disturbing story highlights major flaws in our legal system and dire struggles abuse victims face: from a lack of money, housing, and food to a lost sense of security. It's exploitative at times, especially when the victim learns martial arts, then channels her newfound might to act aggressively against Mitch. The ending may seem justified, but unfortunately it teaches the only way to fight violence is with violence. By Stephanie Cook
Sex/Nudity: 7 scenes, mostly innuendo, 1 with partial nudity. Violence: 6 scenes, including fighting. Profanity: 11 harsh expressions. Drugs: 2 scenes with drinking.
Director: Oliver Parker. With Rupert Everett, Frances O'Connor, Reese Witherspoon. (94 min.)
Staff *** If a dreamy romp and Oscar Wilde don't seem as if they should go together, then British director Oliver Parker has a surprise for fans of one of Wilde's great comedies. This late Victorian-era farce, the first film rendition of this play in 50 years, is based on the slimmest of conceits: that only a man named Earnest is marriage material to two English lasses, played winningly by Witherspoon and O'Connor. Coming on the heels of his success with "An Ideal Husband," this latest version is a nice addition to the updating of classic British theater works. By Gloria Goodale