The Monitor Movie Guide

Article excerpt

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.

STAR RATINGS

David Sterritt Monitor panel Meaning

**** **** Excellent

*** *** Good

** ** Fair

* * Poor

DUD DUD The Worst

NEW RELEASES

Beyond the Mat (R)

Director: Barry Blaustein. With Mick Foley, Terry Funk, Jack Roberts. (102 min.) **** Riveting, rambunctious documentary about the professional-wrestling scene, focusing on the personal experiences of the "athletes" who bash one another around in the ring. The movie reveals much about public and private aspects of this so-called sport. But stay far, far away unless you can handle the copious amounts of blood (some of it phony) and agonizing psychological problems (all of them real) that its participants face on what seems like a daily basis.

The Carriers Are Waiting (Not rated)

Director: Benot Mariage. With Benot Poelvoorde, Margane Simon, Bouli Lanners, Dominique Baeyens. (94 min.) **** Sensitive, imaginative comedy-drama about a man who grows tired of his ordinary life, starts yearning for a touch of fame, and coerces his teenage son into trying to set a world record - not by engaging in some useful task, but by opening and closing a door more times than anyone's managed before. At once dreamily surreal and socially acute, the Belgian production features a splendid cast headed by Poelvoorde, previously celebrated for his searing 1992 performance in "Man Bites Dog." In Flemish with English subtitles

Cotton Mary (R)

Director: Ismail Merchant. With Greta Scacchi, Madhur Jaffrey, James Wilby, Sakina Jaffrey, Neena Gupta. (125 min.) *** The arrival of a new baby sparks a conflicted relationship between a privileged British woman and her Anglo-Indian maid in South India during the 1950s. Although his directorial expertise doesn't yet match his brilliance as a movie producer, Merchant brings keen insight and rich humanity to this culturally revealing tale of psychological unease in a tense postcolonial world.

Erin Brockovich (R)

Director: Steven Soderbergh. With Julia Roberts, Albert Finney, Aaron Eckhart. (131 min.) *** Roberts plays a tough-talking but warm- hearted woman who wangles a job in a lawyer's office and becomes fascinated by a real-estate transaction involving a utility company and a family that's been dogged by a surprising amount of illness. Soon she's canvassing the community to organize its environmentally impacted residents into fighting for their rights. The acting is amiable and the story is crisply told. Still, the movie is less personal and inventive than Soderbergh's best pictures, and its love- interest subplot seems tacked on as an afterthought. **** Gripping, outstanding, explosive.

Sex/Nudity: 1 implied sex scene; plunging necklines throughout movie. Violence: 1 telephone threat. Profanity: 88 expressions, mostly harsh. Drugs: 2 scenes with alcohol, 1 with smoking.

Spectres of the Spectrum (Not rated)

Director: Craig Baldwin. With Sean Kilkoyne, Caroline Koebel, Beth Lisick. (94 min.) **** An exhilarating "activist science- fantasy collage" blending new material, clips from vintage movies, and high-energy narration into the often-hilarious tale of a telepathic woman who thinks a global catastrophe can be avoided through clues embedded in old TV signals wafting through the cosmos. At once politically charged and wildly imaginative, this unique extravaganza confirms director Baldwin as an avant-garde superstar. …