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Movie Guide

November 22, 2002

Better Housekeeping! (R)

Director: Frank Novak. With Bob Jay Mills, Petra Westen. (90 min.)

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Sterritt ** The boisterous story of a feuding couple whose fights disrupt friends and family when the husband builds a "Berlin Wall" in the middle of their home. The movie was originally called "Good Housekeeping," but the magazine didn't want louts like these associated with its name. It's hard to argue with that, but you don't see such feisty acting very often.

Die Another Day (PG-13)

Director: Lee Tamahori. With Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, John Cleese, Judi Dench. (110 min.)

Sterritt ** See review.

The Emperor's Club (PG-13)

Director: Michael Hoffman. With Kevin Kline, Emile Hirsh, Harris Yulin, Ron Morrow. (115 min.)

Sterritt ** An idealistic classics teacher sticks to his principles when less scrupulous folks around him let their moral values slide. Kline is excellent as the lovable hero, and the story makes valuable points about the importance of ethics in a society driven by money and prestige. But at a time when much public education is in a state of perilous decay, one wonders whether this sentimental ode to old-school dignity and privilege is in touch with today's pressing realities.

Personal Velocity (R)

Director: Rebecca Miller. With Kyra Sedgwick, Parker Posey, Fairuza Balk, Leo Fitzpatrick. (85 min.)

Sterritt **** Three separate tales of troubled young women: one on the run from an abusive husband, one sorting through mixed emotions as her professional fortunes rise, and one a pregnant runaway with a horrific past. The episodes don't give as much insight into their subjects or characters as one would hope, but Miller shows terrific talent as a director with a sharp eye for images, a keen ear for dialogue, and a refreshing willingness to take storytelling risks.

The Quiet American (R)

Director: Philip Noyce. With Michael Caine, Brendan Fraser, Do Thi Hai Yen. (101 min.)

Sterritt **** See review.

'R Xmas (Not rated)

Director: Abel Ferrara. With Ice-T, Drea de Matteo, Lillo Brancato. (85 min.)

Sterritt ** Don't expect Christmas cheer in this melodrama about a crooked cop, a drug-dealing couple, and a kidnapping. The title refers to the commercialization of just about everything in modern society, and Ferrara brings touches of his ornery filmmaking imagination to bear on the pessimistic parable. It's not as memorable as his best pictures, though.

Talk to Her (R)

Director: Pedro Almodóvar. With Javier Cámara, Darío Grandinetti, Geraldine Chaplin. (116 min.)

Sterritt **** See review.

Ararat (R)

Director: Atom Egoyan. With David Alpay, Arsinée Khanjian, Christopher Plummer, Elias Koteas. (116 min.)

Sterritt ** A young man explains to a troubled customs official why a film he's making - about the horrific treatment of Armenians by Turks in the World War I era - has strong reverberations in his own Armenian-Canadian family; this sparks a densely structured series of flashbacks, film-within-a-film scenes, and episodes from the present day. Egoyan is one of Canada's most ambitious and original filmmakers, but the power of this intricate drama falls short of its aspirations, despite his personal investment in the subject, since he is of Armenian ancestry himself.

8 Mile (R)

Director: Curtis Hanson. With Eminem, Kim Basinger, Mekhi Phifer, Brittany Murphy. (111 min.)

Sterritt ** A rapper called Rabbit lives an unhappy life in a trailer with his amoral mom, spending his time with a racially mixed group of friends and learning to express his anger in rhythmic rhymes that win the big rap competition (surprise!) that climaxes the story. Eminem plays his movie-debut role with a sullen naiveté that's not very interesting, and Hanson's directing has little vigor apart from kinetic camerawork and very, very large amounts of yelling on the soundtrack.

Staff *** Gritty, compelling story, sympathetic.

Sex/Nudity: 3 sex scenes, fairly graphic. Some innuendo in rap songs. Violence: 9 scenes, including violent fights. Profanity: 240 harsh expressions. Drugs: 3 drinking scenes; 12 smoking scenes. 1 scene of drugs.

Far From Heaven (PG-13)