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Movie Guide

November 14, 2003

The Gospel of John (PG-13)

Director: Philip Saville. With Henry Ian Cusick, Lynsey Baxter, Christopher Plummer. (180 min.)

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Sterritt ** The movie describes Jesus' life as related in the Book of John (Good News Bible translation). It's interesting to see a movie of this kind based on a single gospel, with no additions or interpolations from other sources. But except for a few scenes that evoke the reverent beauty of Renaissance painting, the filmmaking and acting are awfully stiff - certainly not worthy of the timeless story being told. Spending three hours with the original would be a far better use of time.

A House on a Hill (Not rated)

Director: Chuck Workman. With Philip Baker Hall, Laura San Giacomo, Henry Rollins, Shirley Knight. (94 min.)

Sterritt **** An aging architect (Hall) unexpectedly returns to a long-abandoned project at the same time as a documentary is being made about his life and work. Content and style dovetail superbly in this offbeat drama, where images continually change in size and shape, evoking the story's message that human experience is always a pathway, not a destination.

Looney Tunes: Back in Action (PG)

Director: Joe Dante. With Brendan Fraser, Joan Cusack, Steve Martin (91 min.)

Sterritt ** Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck join two humans on a search for a magical diamond, quarreling about star status all the way. Dante's technical tour de force combines live action and animation as good as anything in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" but the film is preoccupied with whiz-bang adventure rather than storytelling. There's also too much cartoon violence for young kids.

My Architect (Not rated)

Director: Nathaniel Kahn. With Nathaniel Kahn, Frank Gehry, I.M. Pei, Philip Johnson. (116 min.)

Sterritt **** See review.

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (PG-13)

Director: Peter Weir. With Russell Crowe, Paul Bettany, Billy Boyd, James D'Arcy. (138 min.)

Sterritt **** See review.

Brother Bear (G)

Directors: Aaron Blaise, Robert Walker. With voices of Joaquin Phoenix, Joan Copeland, Michael Clarke Duncan, Rick Moranis. (85 min.)

Sterritt ** This old-fashioned animation tells the story of three native American brothers, one of whom is mysteriously turned into a bear as a path to redemption from his human faults. All the old Disney trademarks are here, except the wit and surprise that were once the studio's stock in trade. There's little appeal to grownups, but kids should enjoy it.

Staff **1/2 Warm, scenic, enthralling storyline.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 8 scenes. Profanity: None. Drugs: None.

Elf (PG)

Director: Jon Favreau. With Will Ferrell, James Caan, Zooey Deschanel, Edward Asner. (92 min.)

Sterritt **** Buddy was raised at the North Pole by Santa, and when he learns he's an adopted human rather than an everyday elf, he heads for Manhattan to meet his dad, a Scrooge-like executive. The cast is perfect, and David Berenbaum has written a smart and funny sugarplum of a screenplay. Feel free to open before Christmas, or any other time of year.

Staff *** Sprightly, festive, good-hearted fun

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 4 scenes of violence, including a beating. Profanity: 2 mild profanities. Drugs: 5 scenes with alcohol, 1 scene with smoking.

The Human Stain (R)