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.) BRIMSTONE & TREACLE - A demonic young man barges into the home of a middle-class couple with apparent designs on their handicapped daughter. Directed by Richard Loncraine with misdirected energy. (Rated R; contains nudity and sexual activity.) 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. COME BACK TO THE 5 AND DIME, JIMMY DEAN, JIMMY DEAN - Near the Texas town where ''Giant'' was filmed, members of a fan club mark the 20th anniversary of James Dean's death, and we learn something lurid about almost everyone. Sensitively directed by Robert Altman from an uneven and sometimes sensationalistic script by Ed Graczyk. (Rated R; contains vulgar language and sexual discussion.) CREEPSHOW - Like the old ''horror comics'' it mimics, this heavily written and directed black comedy includes several fantastic yarns, ranging from the intermittently suspenseful to the merely gross. Directed by George A. Romero, the trivial film is from from a script by Stephen King. (Rated R; contains violence 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. DIARIES (1971-1976) - Boston filmmaker Ed Pincus chronicles his life over a period of five years in this 200-minute documentary, capturing a lengthy but narrow range of human foibles as embodied by himself, his family, and his friends. (Not rated; contains sexual discussions and nudity.) 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 - Cannibalistic 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.) ENDANGERED SPECIES - A sheriff sets out to discover who's mutilating cattle in her territory and stumbles on a nasty secret involving chemical-warfare experiments. Directed by Alan Rudolph with a wacky energy and wit that help compensate for its excesses. (Rated R; contains sexual behavior, occasional vulgar language, and shots of animal carcasses.) 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.) FIVE DAYS ONE SUMMER - Sean Connery plays a middle-aged Scottish doctor who appears to be having a happy vacation in the Swiss Alps with his young wife but is actually caught in a relationship fraught with strains and secrets. Directed by Fred Zinnemann with consistent taste and artistry despite some touchy subject matter. (Rated PG; contains an unconventional sexual relationship.) 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.) JINXED! - For better or worse, depending on your taste, Bette Midler dominates this pitch-black comedy about a plot to murder a roughneck gambler. Directed by action specialist Don Siegel with some of his usual energy along with plenty of bad taste. (Rated R; contains vulgar language, some violence, and sexual activity.) 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.) MISSIONARY, THE - Hilarity battles bad taste to a standoff in this British comedy about a clergyman assigned to save ''fallen women.'' Directed by Richard Loncraine from a screenplay by star Michael Palin. (Rated R; contains much sexual innuendo.) 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.) PINK FLOYD THE WALL - ''Tommy'' meets ''Heavy Metal'' in this bloody, garish, effectively paranoid fantasy that seems to be about a hallucinatory young man holed up with his nightmares in a ritzy apartment. Directed by Alan Parker and based on the Pink Floyd record album, which is far from their best work. (Rated R; contains sex and violence.) 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.) Q - If you can believe an ancient Aztec god would be reincarnated in New York City and lay an egg in the Chrysler Building, you may find some redeeming features in this extravagantly filmed horror-comic fantasy, though its bizarre violence will turn most viewers off from the start. Directed by Larry Cohen. (Rated R; contains much gore and a little nudity.) SWEET HOURS - A man falls in love with a woman who reminds him of his mother. Directed by Spanish filmmaker Carlos Saura, in a wildly Freudian mood. (Not rated; contains nudity.) 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 high school 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, 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.) XICA DA SILVA - Dull though sometimes colorful 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.)

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