Monthly Movie Guide

ANNIE - Reasonably entertaining romp about a cute little girl who wangles her way from a Dickensian orphanage to a rich man's mansion, on the strength of curly hair and sheer chutzpah. Energetic and well acted, but short on atmosphere - the feel of the Great Depression is evoked less vividly than in the Broadway version of the show - and marred by a silly attempt at action during the climax. Directed by John Huston. (Rated PG; contains drinking jokes and swearing.) BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS, THE - The forces of decency battle a brothel and finally succeed in having it shut down, which the film regards as a bittersweet ending. Directed by Colin Higgins. (Rated R; contains vulgar language, some nudity, and lewd situations.) BIRGITT HAAS MUST BE KILLED - Moody melodrama about a French policeman's plot to assassinate a terrorist by drawing an innocent decoy into a love affair with her. Resonant and involving much of the time, but slippery and superficial in its refusal to take a forthright stand on the issue of terrorism itself. Lisa Kreuzer gives a nuanced portrayal of the title character. Directed by Laurent Heynemann. (Not rated; contains a bit of vulgar language.) CHAN IS MISSING - In a wry variation on old detective movies, a middle-aged cabdriver and his young friend search the streets and shops of Chinatown for an acquaintance who has mysteriously vanished, and through their adventure filmmaker Wayne Wang offers witty and insightful comments on the ''assimilation'' of Chinese immigrants into American society. Made in San Francisco - on a staggeringly low budget of about $20,000 - by Wayne Wang. (Not rated; contains occasional vulgar language.) CHILLY SCENES OF WINTER - Reissue, under its originally intended title of ''Head Over Heels.'' A gently sad comedy about an infatuated young man who decides to ''rescue'' a young woman from her unhappy marriage. Directed by Joan Micklin Silver, based on the bittersweet novel by Ann Beattie. (Rated PG; contains a bit of vulgar language.) CHOSEN, THE - In a Jewish section of Brooklyn during the 1940s, a young man gradually grows away from his family's Hasidic way of life, and his father (a powerful rabbi) has trouble accepting the change. Contains the surface, but only bits and pieces of the substance, of the fine Chaim Potok novel on which it is based. Directed by Jeremy Paul Kagan. CIAO MANHATTAN - Incompetently made melodrama about a drug-dependent young woman , based on the sadly decadent life of its own star, the late Edie Sedgewick. Directed by John Palmer and David Weisman. (Rated R; contains nudity and vulgar language.) DAS BOOT - Except for a number of scatological details and vulgar words, this is an old-fashioned action movie about a German submarine during World War II. As everyone knows, there isn't much you can do in a submarine picture, but this one contains all the venerable conventions of the genre, from the emergency dive to the obligatory close-ups of the water-pressure gauge. A film from West Germany, directed by Wolfgang Petersen. DINER - The preoccupation with sex and some of the hijinks recall the brash vulgarity of ''Animal House,'' but as a whole this is the most mature treatment so far of the 1950s ''nostalgia'' theme, and the most accurate in its facts and feelings. The action centers on a group of young men in their early 20s who hang around an eatery and wonder what it'll be like when (and if) they finally grow up. Directed by Barry Levinson. (Rated R; contains vulgar language and situations.) DIVA - Fast and furious thriller about a young music fan who secretly records a performance by his favorite prima donna, a gaggle of cops and robbers who think his tape holds criminal evidence, and some crazed capitalists who will stop at nothing to get their hands on the real opera recording. Directed by French newcomer Jean-Claude Beineix with lots of style, it avoids sensationalism except for a little nudity and some violence near the end. E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL - Lost on the planet Earth, a friendly spaceman becomes the secret pal of a little boy, who can't believe his own good fortune. A grade-school version of ''Close Encounters of the Third Kind,'' directed by Steven Spielberg with lots of wit in the first half, but too much artificial emotion in the long climax, which leads to a resolution right out of ''Peter Pan.'' (Rated PG; contains a little vulgar language and a sci-fi medical sequence.) FRIDAY THE 13th, PART 3 - This movie doesn't have a plot, it has a schedule; each character is murdered right on time, and the mayhem escalates a little with each foul scene. A stupid and nasty film, though the final chase sequence is capably edited. Directed in 3-D by Steve Miner. (Rated R; contains graphic and gratuitous violence.) GREGORY'S GIRL - Scottish comedy about a gangly young man who can't get a date with the only girl on the soccer team, but finds romance knocking on his door anyway. A gentle and winsome movie, though loosely glued together. Directed by Bill Forsyth. (Rated PG; contains occasional vulgar language and a brief peeping-tom scene.) INCUBUS - Run-of-the-mill, reasonably well-made, sometimes nastily violent horror movie about a young man haunted by an evil spirit. Directed by John Hough. (Rated R; contains gore, nudity, and vulgar language.) KOYAANISQATSI - A rich and riveting guided tour of our planet, conducted by a filmmaker of wit, intellect, and compassion. There's no story, just a string of images careening across the screen. The one problem is that nearly everything in this stunningly shot movie looks compelling, even though the director apparently wants to imply that our civilization has grown dangerously out of proportion to our natural environment. Still, such carefully crafted and clearly committed filmmaking is something to celebrate, despite the ambivalence of its message. It's a dazzling, dizzying, and diverting experience. Directed by Godfrey Reggio, with splendid music by Philip Glass, who may now find the mass audience that has eluded him so far. (Not rated.) LA VIE CONTINUE - Gentle story, made in France, of a widow who learns to face life on her own with the help of her family and friends. Directed by Moshe Mizrahi. (Rated PG; contains some adult situations.) L'ADOLESCENTE - Memory movie about a girl entering maturity while living on a farm, surrounded by relatives and friends of diverse types and dispositions. Has a warm and nostalgic glow, though sometimes trite, artificial, or distasteful. Directed by French actress Jeanne Moreau. (Not rated; contains occasional vulgarity.) LE BEAU MARIAGE - ''A Good Marriage'' is the English title of this charming French romance about a young woman who decides to get married and settle down. The irony is her conviction that this is a bold and innovative decision in today's restless and rootless age. The poignance and much of the humor come from her pursuit of an eligible bachelor who has all the qualifications except a noticeable interest in her. Impeccably directed by Eric Rohmer, as the second in his new series of ''Comedies and Proverbs.'' (Rated PG; contains a little dimly lit nudity.) LOLA - In a plot recalling the classic ''The Blue Angel,'' a respectable bureaucrat falls in love with a nightclub singer and gradually abandons his scruples. Directed by the late Rainer Werner Fassbinder, as the second film in his trilogy on postwar economic life in West Germany. (Rated R; contains some verbal and visual vulgarity.) MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S SEX COMEDY, A - Three couples flirt relentlessly in a pastoral turn-of-the-century setting, amid satirical jabs at personal and social foibles. Gorgeously photographed by Gordon Willis. Written and directed by Woody Allen. (Rated PG; contains some lewdness.) NEST, THE - Tragicomedy about an aging widower who strikes up a friendship should we say innocent ? with a 13-year-old girl, arousing the consternation (and unfounded suspicion) of everyone in town, including himself. Tastefully directed by Spanish filmmaker Jaime de Arminan and starring the unique child actress Ana Torrent. (Not rated.) OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN, AN - Except for its realisticaly rotten language and sexual activity, this is a surprisingly old-fashioned military drama about a young man dragged into maturity by a tough-but-kindly drill sergeant. The training and growing-up scenes are very effective. But the movie also wants to be a love story, and here it sinks into trite and sometimes distasteful formulas. Directed by Taylor Hackford. (Rated R; contains vulgar language and nudity.) PIRATE MOVIE, THE - Wretched rehash of ''The Pirates of Penzance,'' with flat jokes and pop songs where Gilbert and Sullivan once reigned. Unrelated to the lively ''Penzance'' now running on Broadway, which is also being made into a film. Directed by Ken Annakin. (Rated PG; contains some vulgar language and bawdy jokes.) POLTERGEIST - Spooks invade a suburban home, cause some harmless mischief, and then turn nasty. The buildup is slow and deliberate, creating a vivid sense of love and warmth within the family who share the harrowing adventure. The climaxes are horrific, with effects recalling ''Raiders of the Lost Ark,'' but in a less exotic setting. Directed by Tobe Hooper, with Steven Spielberg as producer. (Rated PG; contains violent episodes.) ROAD WARRIOR, THE - Brute violence and a fascist mentality are the hallmarks of this Australian fantasy about a macho young man dealing death and destruction to his enemies, set in a mythical future after the decline and fall of Western civilization. Directed by George Miller. (Rated R; contains much violence and a little sexual activity.) ROCKY III - It's more of the same as the Italian Stallion battles his way back to duh heavyweight championship of duh world, this time facing a demented adversary named Clubber Lang. Written and directed by Sylvester Stallone, with a good sense of how to please an audience - or a mob - but no more than echoes of the sensitivity and surprise that marked the first ''Rocky'' as a very special film. (Rated PG; contains graphic boxing scenes.) SIBERIADE - An epic drama from the Soviet Union, following two Siberian families from 1909 through the '60s. Directed by Andrei Mikhalkov-Konchalovsky. (Not rated.) SPLIT IMAGE - A young man is lured into a religious cult, kidnapped by his parents, and brought back to normal by a mercenary ''deprogrammer.'' Doesn't get much farther under the skin of the cult phenomenon than ''Ticket to Heaven'' did a few months ago but includes a savage performance by James Woods as the deprogrammer, a sort of anticult guerrilla fighter. Directed by Ted Kotcheff. (Rated R; contains frequent vulgar language.) STAR TREK/THE WRATH OF KHAN - It's talk, talk, talk as Captain Kirk and his crew battle an intergalactic villain, wrestle with personal problems, and try to prevent an experimental ''life force'' from falling into the wrong hands. Just as wacky as the first ''Star Trek'' movie, but not so spectacular. Directed by Nicholas Meyer. (Rated PG; contains a few scenes of cartoonish violence, some of which is unusually creepy.) TEMPEST - Contemporary comedy-drama that takes lots of cues from Shakespeare's great play, featuring a New York architect (an updated Prospero) sojourning on a lonely Greek island with his teen-age daughter, his platonic girlfriend (the Ariel of the piece), and a feisty goatherder named Kalibanos. Alternately sublime, silly, and stupid, and rarely dull. Directed by Paul Mazursky. (Rated PG; contains vulgar language.) TEX - Sensitive, moving intelligent drama of a teen-age boy who wants to grow up but isn't sure how to go about it. The plot, adapted from S.E. Hinton's popular novel, follows the title character through several adventures, touching on difficult topics including drugs and tentative sex but maintaining a tasteful and responsible attitude in every scene. Directed with tact and insight by newcomer Tim Hunter for Walt Disney productions. (Rated PG; contains some violence and mildly vullgar language.) TRON - Dazzling but lightweight epic about a young scientist kidnapped into a computer, where he battles an evil "master control program" that runs the place like an electronic facist. Has some tantalizing moments, as when computer-generated characters debate the "religious" question of whether "users" really exist. In the end, though, it's squarely in the old Walt Disney tradition of anthropomorphizing everything in sight, only this time it's circuits (instead of cuddly animals) that look and talk like people. Directed by Steven Lisberger for Walt Disney Productions. (Rated PG; contains a little cartoonish violence.) WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP, THE - Episodic adaptation of John Irving's overrated novel about a boy who grows up to become an author, a wrestler, and a family man , influenced by his unconventional mother and her odd friends. Paints a moving portrait of the contentments of middle-class life, especially in the second half , but begs a lot of questions (particularly economic ones) and has a weird sexual uneasiness that touches many of the situations and most of the characters , including a transsexual and a group of violently extreme feminists. Directed by George Roy Hill.(Rated R; contains vulgar language, offbeat sexual activity, and some violence.)

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