The following summaries of current, widely shown films are provided to help readers plan what to see. If additional coverage of a film has appeared in the Monitor, the date of the article is given in italics after the summary. Inclusion of a movie does not imply Monitor endorsement. The Movie Guide appears on the first and third Thursdays of the month.m AND THE SHIP SAILS ON - Another of Federico Fellini's wry metaphors for the human condition, set in 1914 on a ship full of musicians heading for an unusual funeral. Although the screenplay is often trite and silly, the images have a moody rhythm that partly redeems the colorful but very choppy voyage. (Rated PG; contains a little sexual innuendo.) BACKSTAGE AT THE KIROV - A gorgeous visit to the Kirov Ballet in Leningrad, loosely centered on a young Soviet dancer preparing for her solo debut in ''Swan Lake.'' A treat for balletomanes and newcomers alike, and a worthy reminder, in this time of cold-war political rhetoric, that aspirations toward beauty and artistic excellence are universal. (Not rated.) BIG CHILL, THE - College friends from the '60s get together at a crony's funeral and find out how they have, or haven't, changed since their salad days. Written and directed by Lawrence Kasdan, who has a knack for comic scenes but doesn't always plumb the depths of the situations his characters wade through. (Rated R; contains vulgar language and a subplot about unmarried pregnancy.) Sept. 29, 1983 BROADWAY DANNY ROSE - Woody Allen wrote, directed, and stars in this crisp, funny, ultimately bittersweet comedy about a small-time talent agent who can't separate business from personal feelings, and bumbles into an adventure with a client's girlfriend and her weird acquaintances. A modest but thoroughly enjoyable romp. (Rated PG; contains a little vulgar language and sexual innuendo.) Feb. 9 BURROUGHS - A documentary study of author William S. Burroughs, exemplar of the Beat Generation and one of the granddaddies of bad taste in American literature. Directed by Howard Brookner, who never quite gets below the surface of his subject, although he uses many devices ranging from simple interview footage to a bizarre reenactment of a scene from the mightmarish novel ''Naked Lunch.'' (Not rated; contains vulgar language.) Feb. 16 CHRISTINE - Standard horror story about a nerdy high-schooler who falls in love with a killer car. Based on a Stephen King novel and directed by shock specialist John Carpenter, who brings little verve to the predictable plot except for some carefully crafted scenes of teen-age life that recall his earlier ''Halloween.'' (Rated R; contains violence and vulgar language.) CONFIDENTIALLY YOURS - The enormously talented Francois Truffaut mingles whodunit, comedy, romance, and melodrama in this affectionate tribute to life, love, and bygone movie styles. Originally called ''Vivement Dimanche,'' and starring Fanny Ardant as a strong-minded secretary who wants to clear her boss of the murders he's charged with. (Rated PG; contains some violence and sexual references.) Feb. 2 DEMONS IN THE GARDEN - Sibling rivalry, sexual jealousy, and other domestic dilemmas trouble a family-owned grocery in the wake of the Spanish Civil War. Directed and cowritten by Manuel Gutierrez Aragon, who handles the ruefully comic moments more memorably than the melodramatic show-pieces. (Not rated; contains violence and sexual activity.) GORKY PARK - Plotty crime drama about a Soviet cop investigating a grisly triple murder with connections to the KGB and the international fur trade. Directed by Michael Apted, who keeps the action hopping at least for the first hour, and treats most of his Russian characters as reasonably whole human beings. (Rated R; contains some vulgar language, violence, and sex.) LIFE IS A BED OF ROSES - ''La Vie est un roman'' is the French title of this ambitious but badly uneven fantasy that deals variously with a conference of teachers on ''education of the imagination,'' a psychedelic ''palace of happiness'' where people take mental time-trips and reexperience their own births, and a legendary adventure dreamed up by a trio of children. The hugely talented director, Alain Resnais, is at his most audacious but least effective. (Not rated; contains references to sex and drugs.) Feb. 2 MAN WHO LOVED WOMEN, THE - Hollywood rehash of Francois Truffaut's dramatic comedy about a man so smitten with womankind that he can't settle for any one representative. Directed by Blake Edwards, who plays up the melancholy overtones as well as the farcical possibilities of the story. (Rated R; contains sex and vulgar language.) Dec. 29, 1983 NEVER CRY WOLF - A biologist travels above the Arctic Circle to study the ecological balance between wolves and caribou, and discovers new complexities in both his own nature and the animals he becomes increasingly fascinated with. Directed for Walt Disney Pictures by Carroll Ballard, but never reaches the sense of mystery and splendor that marked his earlier movie, ''The Black Stallion.'' (Rated PG; contains some earthy biological details.) Nov. 17, 1983 REAR WINDOW - Reissue of Alfred Hitchcock's 1954 suspense classic about a snoopy photographer stuck in his apartment with a broken leg and his gradual realization that there's something, well, wrong in the building across the courtyard. Ingeniously conceived, grippingly directed, and gorgeously performed by James Stewart and Grace Kelly, whose rocky relationship provides a delicious romantic subplot. (Rated PG; contains a smidgen of sexual innuendo and some dialogue about gruesome doings.) Oct. 20, 1983 RIGHT STUFF, THE - A freewheeling account of the Mercury space project and the first seven astronauts. Big and lively, but lacking the intelligence, wit, and fierce irony of the Tom Wolfe book. (Rated PG; contains vulgar language and bathroom humor.) Oct. 25, 1983 SCARFACE - Nasty crime drama based vaguely on the old Howard Hawks classic, with Al Pacino as a Cuban cocaine dealer who hits the big time in Miami's underworld. Directed by Brian DePalma, who apparently considers ''money isn't everything'' an original message. (Rated R; contains violence, sex, and such rotten language that even one of the characters complains.) SILKWOOD - Meryl Streep gives a stunningly complex performance in this drama about a real-life union organizer who died in an unexplained auto accident after seeking evidence of dangerous corner-cutting at the nuclear equipment plant where she worked. Sensitively directed by Mike Nichols, but the screenplay is so bent on giving all sides of every issue that the drama gets badly diluted. (Rated R; contains vulgar language and a subplot about lesbians.) Jan. 5 SUDDEN IMPACT - Clint Eastwood and his most enduring character, policeman Dirty Harry, are no more subtle than usual in this loosely plotted excuse for mayhem. Directed by Eastwood with less imagination than he sometimes shows, and featuring Sondra Locke as the vengeful sister of a mentally disturbed rape victim. (Rated R; contains violence, sex, and vulgar language.) TERMS OF ENDEARMENT - There's not enough substance to support the sentiment of this longish comedy-drama about a young woman and her crusty middle-aged mother, which culminates in an episode of illness and death. Written and directed by James L. Brooks, who never settles into any aspect of his subject long enough to explore it thoroughly. (Rated PG; contains some vulgar language, sexual activity , and illness.) Dec. 22, 1983 THAT SINKING FEELING - Rootless teen-agers in a depressed city decide to enliven their lives with a heist in this ever-so-slightly-dark 1979 comedy by Bill Forsyth, the talented Scottish director who made this before ''Gregory's Girl'' and ''Local Hero.'' Minor and rough-edged, but has its moments. (Rated PG; contains a little vulgarity.) TO BE OR NOT TO BE - A remake of Ernst Lubitsch's 1942 comedy classic about a Polish stage company that outwits the Nazis. Since the original stands up brilliantly well, this is an unnecessary picture, but director Alan Johnson keeps it colorful and funny by staying close to his source and keeping star Mel Brooks under pretty firm control. (Rated PG; contains a little sexual innuendo and an exaggerated homosexual character.) Dec. 15, 1983 WOMAN IN FLAMES, A - A bourgeois housewife becomes a prostitute, and a kinky one at that, in this ironic, slickly shot melodrama. Directed by the highly touted West German filmmaker Robert van Ackeren, who told me recently it's ''old-fashioned'' to be a moralist. (Not rated; contains graphic sex and sadomasochism.) YENTL - Romantic comedy-drama about a feisty young woman who disguises herself as a man in order to study and learn, pursuits forbidden to females in Eastern Europe around the turn of the century. Based on an Isaac Bashevis Singer story and capably directed by Barbra Streisand, who plays the title character with more conviction than energy. (Rated PG; contains a little sexual innuendo and seminudity.) Dec. 22, 1983

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