The Monitor Movie Guide

Article excerpt

Reviews in this weekly guide are written by Monitor critic David Sterritt (the first set of '+' marks in each review) unless otherwise noted. Ratings and comments by the Monitor staff panel (the second set of '+' marks in each review) reflect the sometimes diverse views of at least three other viewers. Information on violence, drugs, sex/nudity, and profanity is compiled by the panel.

++++ Excellent

+++1/2 Very Good +++ Good ++ 1/2 Average ++ Fair +1/2 Poor + Worst New Releases THE BIG CHILL (R) Director: Lawrence Kasdan. With Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Mary Kay Place, Meg Tilly, JoBeth Williams. (105 min.) ++ Reissue of the popular 1983 comedy-drama about a group of '60s friends who get together for an '80s funeral, learning from the reunion how time and circumstances have wrought unexpected changes in their lives. The film gave boosts to several star careers, but it's rarely as clever or revealing as it thinks it is. THE CRUISE (NOT RATED) Director: Bennett Miller. With Timothy "Speed" Levitch. (76 min.) +++ Funny, fascinating documentary about a New York City tour guide who sees his occupation as a mercurial metaphor for life itself. The movie is at once a portrait of a great city, a penetrating character study, and an existential rumination on the human condition, all in less time than it takes the average Hollywood picture to set up its big chase scene. ELIZABETH (R) Director: Shekhar Kapur. With Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Joseph Fiennes, Richard Attenborough, Christopher Eccleston, Kathy Burke, John Gielgud, Fanny Ardant. (124 min.) +++ Pungent bio-pic about the famous queen and the tumultuous times in which she lived. Acted and directed with great energy and imagination, it may be too explicit in its depictions of sex and mayhem for moviegoers accustomed to more old-fashioned historical epics. GODS AND MONSTERS (NOT RATED) Director: Bill Condon. With Ian McKellen, Brendan Fraser, Lynn Redgrave, Lolita Davidovich, David Dukes. (105 min.) +++ A fictionalized portrait of Hollywood director James Whale near the end of his life, as he reminisces about the long-ago fame he earned for pictures like "Frankenstein" and "The Invisible Man," and indulges homosexual fantasies about the unartistic young man who mows his lawn. Although the film doesn't probe Whale's personality as deeply as it might, the acting is excellent and movie buffs will enjoy its behind-the-scenes references and nostalgic film clips. LENNY BRUCE: SWEAR TO TELL THE TRUTH (NOT RATED) Director: Robert B. Weide. With Lenny Bruce, Nat Hentoff, Sally Marr, Honey Bruce, Steve Allen, Robert De Niro. (94 min.) +++ A thoughtful look at a true American tragedy, showing how a gifted humorist was thrown into an ultimately fatal decline by a combination of his own self-destructive urges and the repressiveness of American society in the supposedly swinging '60s. A must-see for people seriously interested in moral, ethical, and legal aspects of modern popular culture. THE SIEGE (R) Director: Edward Zwick. With Denzel Washington, Annette Bening, Bruce Willis, Tony Shalhoub, Sami Bouajila, David Proval. (109 min.) ++ Struggling to stop a blitz of terrorist attacks on American targets, a dedicated FBI agent spars with a slippery CIA operative, and then with a tough-skinned military commander who takes control when New York is placed under martial law and Arab-Americans are herded into internment camps. The story is an odd mixture of preachiness and paranoia, but the stars provide sizzling performances and the action moves at a lively clip. UNMADE BEDS (NOT RATED) Director: Nicholas Barker. With Aimee Kopp, Michael Russo. (100 min.) +++ Four ordinary New Yorkers play characters like themselves in this sometimes hilarious docu-fiction about the neverending quest for companionship and contentment, directed by Barker with methods that filmmakers Jean Rouch and Robert Duvall have also explored over the years. …


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