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Director: Jane Campion. With: Meg Ryan, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kevin Bacon. (113 min.)Skip to next paragraph
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Sterritt *** After a murder victim is found near her apartment, a New York teacher (Ryan) becomes sexually involved with a detective (Ruffalo) who's working on the case and could possibly be the culprit himself. Grim and sordid though it is, this psychological thriller gains power from Campion's creative style and Ryan's willingness to trade her usual Hollywood cuteness for an utterly unglamorous portrayal of an utterly unglamorous role.
Director: Quentin Tarantino. With Uma Thurman, Vivica A. Fox, Sonny Chiba, Lucy Liu. (110 min.)
Sterritt *** Talk about pulp fiction. This extremely bloody martial-arts epic has the most straightforward story Tarantino has ever told, following a woman warrior (Thurman) as she takes gory revenge on many enemies. Once again, Tarantino's screenplay doesn't live up to his huge talent as a director. The filmmaking is lively, though, paying homage to the kung fu flicks he loves. Stay miles away if you have a single squeamish bone in your body.
Sterritt *** Gory, moody, stylish.
Violence: 97 scenes. Extreme violence throughout film, including rape, slaughters. Profanity: 28 profanities. Drugs: 5 scenes of drinking, smoking.
Director: Clint Eastwood. With: Tim Robbins, Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon, Laura Linney. (137 min.)
Sterritt **** The lives of a cop (Bacon) and a shopkeeper (Penn) intersect for the first time since childhood when the merchant's daughter is murdered and it appears that another boyhood friend (Robbins) may have committed the crime. Robbins is brilliant as a troubled man who was sexually abused as a child, and so is Linney as the shopkeeper's wife, a working-class woman with a streak of Lady Macbeth in her nature. Best of all is Eastwood's decision to probe serious themes through a leisurely style and a lingering sense of ambiguity.
Sterritt ***1/2 Engrossing, great acting, complex.
Sex/Nudity: 1 scene of implied sex. Violence: 11 scenes, including dead body, child abuse. Profanity: 30 profanities. Drugs: 15 scenes of drinking, smoking.
Director: Mike Tollin. With: Cuba Gooding, Jr., Ed Harris, Alfre Woodard, Debra Winger. (109 min.)
Sterritt * In a small Southern town, a mentally slow African-American man (Gooding) comes under the wing of a high-school football coach (Harris) who helps him achieve a happier and more trusting relationship with the everyday world. This fact-based drama is very well-meaning but also cloying, sentimental, and simplistic. Gooding's fake-toothed grin deserves an Oscar for best makeup, though.
Sex/Nudity: 0 Violence: 2 mild scenes. Profanity: 14 profanities. Drugs: 2 scenes of tobacco use.
Director: Gary Fleder. With: Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, John Cusack, Rachel Weisz. (123 min.)
Sterritt ** A woman (Weisz) sues the gun manufacturer whose product killed her husband. She's represented by a folksy lawyer (Hoffman), and opposed by a mercenary jury-selection consultant (Hackman) who's willing to sway the verdict by illegal means - and may succeed because a juror (Cusack) has told both he'll manipulate the deliberations for money. The story raises ethical questions, but fails to treat them seriously, putting most of its energy into gimmickry.