Monthly Movie Guide

The following summaries of current, widely shown films are provided to help readers plan what to see. Inclusion of a movie does not imply Monitor endorsement. Further description is often supplied in articles on the arts-entertainment pages. The Movie Guide appears on the third Thursday of each month. AIDA - Revival of an amateurish Italian film version of the Verdi opera, with Renata Tebaldi's voice coming from Sophia Loren's mouth. Directed in 1954 by Clemente Fracassi. (Not rated.) 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.) BARBAROSA - All the old cliches, including the offensive ones, are trotted out in this revisionist yet trite Australian western about a legendary bad guy and his young sidekick. Directed by Fred Schepisi. (Rated R; contains violence.) 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.) BURDEN OF DREAMS - Engaging, sometimes harrowing, sometimes hilarious documentary about West German filmmaker Werner Herzog shooting his current movie , ''Fitzcarraldo,'' in a South American jungle. Directed by Les Blank. (Not rated.) CELESTE - Immaculately filmed account of the last years of the great French author Marcel Proust, based on an account written by his housekeeper (Celeste Albaret) and eminently Proustian in its attention to detail, sense of humor, and weakness for dandyism. Directed in German by Percy Adlon. (Not rated; contains scenes of illness.) 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. 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.) DOCUMENTEUR: AN EMOTION PICTURE - Atmospheric, rather gloomy account of a woman mooning about, accompanied by her young child, after the end of a love affair. Directed by French filmmaker Agnes Varda, and usually paired with her ''Mural Murals'' (reviewed elsewhere in this guide). Not rated; contains a brief, clinical glimpse of sexual activity. 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. EATING RAOUL - Canniballistic comedy about a bourgeois couple who are more shocked by sex than by murder. Directed by Paul Bartel. (Rated R; contains cartoonish sex and violence, and vulgar language.) 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.) FITZCARRALDO - An obsessive music-lover tries to strike it rich in South America so he can realize his dream of building an opera house in the jungles of Peru. Directed by West German filmmaker Werner Herzog, who neatly pulls off the great physical stunts at the heart of the film, but neglects the flow and logic of the movie as a whole. (Rated PG; contains a bit of violence and a character who runs a brothel.) 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.) HEY GOOD LOOKIN' - Elaborate but generally ugly cartoon about city kids growing up in the 1950s. Written and directed by Ralph Bakshi. (Rated R; contains vulgar language, sex, and violence.) 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.) 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.) 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.) LOOKIN' TO GET OUT - Though trashed by many critics, and set in the sleazy gambling dens of Las Vegas, this uneven comedy features energetic performances by Jon Voight (who co-wrote the screenplay) and Burt Young, and comes up with some involving situations as its foolish heroes try to strike it rich at the gaming tables while running from mobster enemies. Directed by Hal Ashby. (Rated R; contains vulgar language and sexual innuendo.) MOONLIGHTING - Funny, suspenseful, ingeniously filmed allegory on recent tragic events in Poland, focusing on four Poles working illegally in London at the moment when martial law is imposed in their native country. Directed by Polish expatriate Jerzy Skolimowski with his usual audiovisual audacity. (Rated PG; contains very brief nudity.) MURAL MURALS - Lively documentary about outdoor wall murals in Los Angeles. Directed by French filmmaker Agnes Varda, and usually paired with her ''Documenteur: An Emotion Picture'' (reviewed elsewhere in this guide). Not rated. MY FAVORITE YEAR - Sharp jokes and clever sight gags rub elbows with cheap humor and low slapstick in this comedy about a dissolute movie star preparing to appear on a 1950s TV show. Directed by Richard Benjamin. (Rated PG; contains vulgar language, drunkenness, and a bit of sexual innuendo.) 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.) 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.) 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.) STALKER, THE - Sweeping science-fiction epic set in a gloomy future, about three men who explore a mysterious ''zone'' where people disappear and wishes come true. Directed by Soviet filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky with the same unearthly visual style, and the same mingled concern with technology and psychology, that he showed in his towering ''Solaris'' a few years ago. (Not rated.) 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 vulgar language.) TIME STANDS STILL - Hungarian drama about highschool students in the 1960s coming to grips with adolescence while weathering the storms of a shifting sociopolitical climate. Skillfully directed by Peter Gothar. (Not rated; contains some sexual activity.) VERONIKA VOSS - Glowingly filmed but often sordid ''Sunset Boulevard'' -type melodrama about a faded movie star in the clutches of a doctor (symbolizing the worst aspects of capitalism) who artificially eases her angst. Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, as the centerpiece of his trilogy on postwar economic life in West Germany, shortly before his untimely passing last June. (Rated R; contains references to sex and drugs.) WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP, THE - Episodic adaptation of John Irving's overrated novel about a boy who grows up to become an author, wrestler, and a family man, influenced by his unconventional mother and her odd friends. Paints a moving portrait of the countentments of middle-class life, especially in the second half, but begs a lot of questions (particularly economic ones) and has 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. XICA DA SILVA - Dull though sometimes coloful Brazilian drama about a slave woman who uses her feminine wiles to gain power and prestige. Directed by Carlos Diegues. (Not rated; contains nudity and sexual activity.) YOL - Turkish drama about five ordinary men facing personal and family crises while on furlough from prison. Smoothly, almost slickly calculated to convey a pungent message about the oppressive nature of poverty and social ritual. Directed by Serif Goren from instructions smuggled out of prison by the real author of the film, dissident Yilmaz Guney. (Rated PG; contains violence and sexual references.)

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