The 5th annual Mega Movie guide


David Sterritt Monitor panel Meaning

**** **** Excellent

*** *** Good

** ** Fair

* * Poor

DUD DUD The Worst

Red stars denote the reviews of Monitor movie critic David Sterritt unless otherwise noted. Ratings and comments by the Monitor panel (blue stars) reflect the sometimes diverse views of at least three other moviegoers. Information on violence, drugs, sex/nudity, and profanity is compiled by the Monitor panel.

Motion picture Association of America ratings are as follows:

G General Audiences: All ages admitted.

PG Parental Guidance: Some material may not be suitable for children.

PG-13 Parents Strongly Cautioned: Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

R Restricted: Children under 17 require accompanying parent or adult guardian.

NC-17 No Children Under 17 Admitted: Age may vary in certain areas.


eXistenZ (R) *** Director: David Cronenberg. With Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jude Law, Willem Dafoe, Ian Holm, Sarah Polley. (90 min.)

Fantastic experiences zap a young man who meets a computer-game designer and agrees to test her most ambitious creation. Cronenberg reaches tantalizing new heights in his longtime project of blurring the boundaries between human and machine. Viewers should stay far away unless they have a strong stomach for deliberately disgusting effects. **1/2 Highly original, creepy, unexpected twists.

Sex/Nudity: 1 scene with a sexual situation. Violence: 18 scenes including shooting and gory lab sequences. Profanity: 12 obscenities, many harsh. Drugs: 2 scenes with smoking.

Eyes Wide Shut (R) *** Director: Stanley Kubrick. With Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Sydney Pollack, Marie Richardson. (159 min.)

After his wife confesses to having sexual fantasies, a successful physician drifts into unexpected events that lead him to a mysterious mansion full of illicit activities and what might be deadly dangers. Brilliantly filmed in his usual transfixing style, Kubrick's last movie pleads for alertness to the temptations that assail human nature from within and without. Contains explicit sex, nudity, and drug use. *** Deviant, slow, richly layered, graphic, sensual, exquisite camera work.

Sex/Nudity: 17 instances with 7 scenes of full frontal and/or partial nudity, 1 graphic orgy scene, propositioning, and implied child sex. Violence: 2 instances of mild violence, one implied. Profanity: 35 expressions, mostly harsh. Drugs: 4 scenes with social drinking, 1 with marijuana, 1 death by overdose.

The Faculty (R) * Director: Robert Rodriguez. With Elijah Wood, Jordana Brewster, Josh Hartnett, Famke Jannsen. (102 min.)

Teenagers discover their school has been taken over by aliens from outer space and use the products of a local drug dealer to knock them dead. ** Creepy, alienesque, heart-pounding.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 21 violent scenes. Profanity: 108 expressions. Drugs: 4 scenes with cigarettes, 2 with alcohol, 5 with drug use.

Fantastic Planet (PG) *** Director: Ren Laloux. With voices of Jennifer Drake, Sylvie Lenoir, Jean Topart, Jean Valmont. (71 min.)

Reissue of a 1973 animated feature, presented with its original French soundtrack for the first time in US theaters. Set in an exotic world inhabited by humanoids of wildly different sizes, the fantasy reflects the interest of director Laloux and designer Roland Topor in surrealistic art.

Felicia's Journey (Not rated) ** Director: Atom Egoyan. With Bob Hoskins, Elaine Cassidy, Arsine Khanjian, Peter McDonald. (116 min.)

Searching for her boyfriend in an English city, a pregnant runaway is befriended by a middle-aged man with a sinister agenda.

Fever Pitch (Not rated) ** Director: David Evans. With Colin Firth, Ruth Gemmell, Stephen Rea, Lorraine Ashbourne, Neil Pearson. (97 min.)

A sports-minded English schoolteacher swings between his passion for soccer and a love affair that would be wobbly even if the other partner shared his athletic interests, which she doesn't. The story is unmemorable, but the characters are engaging.

Fight Club (R) ** Director: David Fincher. With Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter, Meat Loaf. (135 min.)

Bored with the tedium of yuppie life, two young men start a secret society dedicated to the proposition that feeling a punch in the nose is better than feeling nothing at all. Soon their masochistic clique has a widespread

membership and its leader is plotting the next logical step, escalating from personal pain to terrorist destruction. Contains a great deal of very explicit violence. * Gritty, gross, angry, sloppy.

Sex/Nudity: Frank sexual talk, frontal nudity, 1 instance of graphic sex, and a couple of implied sex scenes. Violence: 33 scenes of excessive violence. Profanity: 140 expressions, most harsh. Drugs: 31 scenes with smoking, 3 with alcohol, 5 with alcohol and smoking, 1 prescription drug overdose.

Finding North (Not rated) * Director: Tanya Wexler. With Wendy Makkena, John Benjamin Hickey. (95 min.)

A romantically inclined woman accompanies an unhappy gay friend on a pilgrimage from New York to Texas so he can visit the childhood home of his recently deceased lover.

Flawless (R) * Director: Joel Schumacher. With Robert De Niro, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rory Cochrane. (110 min.)

Stricken with a disability, a macho cop swallows his distaste and turns to a transvestite neighbor for therapeutic singing lessons.

Sex/Nudity: 4 scenes including 2 of implied sex; 3 instances of innuendo. Violence: 7 instances including beatings and threats with guns. Profanity: 242 expressions, mostly harsh. Drugs: 4 scenes with alcohol, 7 with smoking, 3 with both, 3 with drugs.

Following (Not rated) ** Director: Christopher Nolan. With Jeremy Theobald, Alex Haw, Lucy Russell, John Nolan. (70 min.)

Hoping to become a writer, a young man develops an exaggerated curiosity about other people's lives that brings unintended consequences when he meets a kindred spirit with a criminal streak. An unconventional thriller. The picture is brief enough to sustain interest before this novelty begins to fade.

Foolish (R) * Director: Dave Meyers. With Master P, Eddie Griffin, John Marlo, Andrew Dice Clay, Bill Duke. (110 min.)

The title character is a stand-up comic struggling to maintain a career that's being exploited by the entertainment industry and his gangster brother. There's nothing funny about the movie's discriminatory material.

By Laura Danese

For Love of the Game (PG-13) ** Director: Sam Raimi. With Kevin Costner, Kelly Preston, John

C. Reilly, Brian Cox, J.K. Simmons, Jena Malone. (135 min.)

Costner plays a 40-year-old pitcher with a passel of problems: His team is being sold, his throwing hand isn't what it used to be, and his love affair is apparently in its last inning. This sentimental drama is wildly uneven. ** Loved the baseball scenes, romantic, entertaining.

Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes with implied sex; 1 sex scene. Violence: 2 mild scenes. Profanity: 40 expressions, many harsh. Drugs: 7 scenes with alcohol, 2 with smoking.

Forces of Nature (PG-13) *** Director: Bronwen Hughes. With Sandra Bullock, Ben Affleck, Maura Tierney, Blythe Danner. (102 min.)

Romantic comedy about a bridegroom-to-be who gets sidetracked on the way to his wedding, especially by an unexpected traveling companion who's both free-spirited and beautiful. **1/2 Quirky, romantic, bumpy.

Sex/Nudity: 10 instances of innuendo. Violence: 1 mild instance. Profanity: 61 expressions. Drugs: 17 scenes with cigarettes and/or alcohol.

42 Up (Not rated) **** Director: Michael Apted. With Tony Walker, Suzanne Lusk, Jackie Bassett, Susan Davis. (135 min.)

Back in 1964, director Apted made a documentary about a diverse group of seven-year-olds in England, and every seven years he has revisited his subjects for an update. The latest installment is packed with surprises.

Friends & Lovers (Not rated) * Director: George Haas. With Robert Downey Jr., Claudia Schiffer, Stephen Baldwin, Alison Eastwood. (98 min.)

A close-knit group of young adults goes to Utah for skiing, romantic adventures, and an emotional encounter with one man's neglectful father. The screenplay is an uneasy mixture of sex comedy and family drama.

The Gambler (Not rated) ** Director: Karoly Makk. With Michael Gambon, Polly Walker, Luise Rainer, Jodhi May, Dominic West. (97 min.)

Russian author Feodor Dostoyevsky writes his sardonic masterpiece "The Gambler" while coping with real-life problems of romance, professional responsibility, and yes, gambling. The plot swings between fact-based drama and pure fiction.

The General's Daughter (R) ** Director: Simon West. With John Travolta, Madeleine Stowe, James Woods, James Cromwell, Timothy Hutton. (116 min.)

A military cop and a rape investigator make disturbing discoveries as they probe the bizarre murder of a female officer whose father, a top-ranking commander, is about to enter politics. Contains explicit sexual violence. *** Dark, clever, disturbing flashbacks.

Sex/Nudity: 1 scene with nudity, 1 with disturbing videotaped sexual exploits. Violence: 13 harsh scenes with gang rape, assault, and a gun wound. Profanity: 57 expressions, mostly mild. Drugs: 16 scenes with alcohol and/or smoking.

Genesis (Not rated) *** Director: Cheick Oumar Sissoko. With Sotigui Kouyat, Salif Keta, Fatoumata Diawara. (102 min.)

This richly filmed drama from Mali retells the biblical story of Jacob and Esau with an eye toward illuminating today's widespread conflicts between communities holding different ideas of what constitutes a decent way of life. In French with English subtitles

Get Bruce! (Not rated) ** Director: Andrew J. Kuehn. With Bruce Vilanch, Whoopi Goldberg, Billy Crystal, Nathan Lane. (72 min.)

A documentary visit with Bruce Vilanch, who writes comedy routines for Oscar telecasts, nightclub acts, and everything in between. Vilanch is as flamboyant as the sometimes raunchy material he dreams up.

Get Real (R) ** Director: Simon Shore. With Ben Silverstone, Brad Gorton, Charlotte Brittain, Louise J. Taylor. (110 min.)

Shore's debut movie is a nicely understated comedy about the challenges of growing up gay in a suburban English town.

A Girl Called Rosemarie (Not rated) ** Director: Bernd Eichinger. With Nina Hoss, Mathieu Carrire, Heiner Lauterbach, Horst Krause. (127 min.)

Fact-based story of a young West German woman who uses her sexuality as a steppingstone to money and adventure in the post-World War II era. In German with English subtitles

Girl, Interrupted (R) * Director: James Mangold. With Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie, Vanessa Redgrave, Whoopi Goldberg, Clea Duvall, Brittany Murphy, Jared Leto, Elisabeth Moss. (125 min.)

A young woman fights mental illness in a well-appointed institution, alternately helped and hindered by the similarly afflicted patients who become her closest companions. For a movie about people with hugely complicated inner lives, this sadly unconvincing drama stays resolutely on the surface, rarely hinting at anything like an insight or idea. Based on Susannah Kaysen's bestselling memoir.

Gloria (R) * Director: Sidney Lumet. With Sharon Stone, Jean-Luke Figueroa, Jeremy Northam, George C. Scott. (119 min.)

Stone plays Gloria, an aging, tough-as-nails New Yorker who's bitter because she took the rap for her thug boyfriend and served prison time. She finds new meaning in her life when she decides to mother a seven-year-old boy whose family has been brutally murdered. By John Christian Hoyle

Sex/Nudity: Some sexual innuendo and 1 instance of backside male nudity. Violence: 9 instances of shootings and beatings. Profanity: 104 instances, mostly strong. Drugs: 1 scene of wine drinking.

Go (R) ** Director: Doug Liman. With Sarah Polley, William Fichtner, Katie Holmes, Taye Diggs, Jay Mohr. (100 min.)

Three interrelated stories about a teenage checkout clerk who gets involved in a drug scam, two men on the run from outraged enemies, and a cop who may be pushing a sinister scheme. The screenplay often seems like a

rehash of Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction."

Don't go, vile, unoriginal, fast-paced.

Sex/Nudity: 5 total: 3 with partial nudity including a sex scene, and 2 explicit sex scenes; several instances of innuendo. Violence: 4 scenes with violence including shootings. Profanity: 89 expressions, many harsh words and use of graphic sexual language. Drugs: 8 scenes with alcohol, 5 with smoking, 3 with drug use, 3 with drug deals.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.