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Capsule Film Reviews

****: Excellent

***: Good

**: Mediocre

*: Poor

Bille August's presentation of Ingmar Bergman's screenplay is a lush but delicate work of art. The story deals with the troubles created by Bergman's parents, both to their vastly different families and to themselves. A priest (Samuel Frler) and a nurse (Pernilla August), the two believe themselves to be skilled at dealing with the pains of others, but remain either oblivious to or indifferent about the pains that they cause one another. The entire three-hour movie, particularly in the tremendous final scene, manages to convey a fragile image of beauty concealing a tragic core. Loews Charles

The classic film Blade Runner celebrates its 10th anniversary with the release of the film director Ridley Scott originally wanted to make, without the annoying voice-over and the upbeat ending. The result is a wonderful, Kubrickian film with a meditative mood and a soaring Vangelis score. Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, and Sean Young give career performances in an apocalyptic urban nightmare of the future that was and may still be years ahead of its time. Worth seeing over almost any "new" movie currently playing. Loews Nickelodeon

The filmmaking trio of James Ivory, Ismail Merchant, and Ruth Prawer Jhabvala have translated E. M. Forster's novel of class struggles in 20th-century England into a brilliant film that is an astonishing achievement. The screen is filled with contrasting elements such as the rich and the poor, the romantic and the pragmatic, and the urban and the pastoral. The alternately funny and moving story considers which group will ultimately inherit the nation. Anthony Hopkins, Helena Bonham Carter, and Samuel West are excellent, and Vanessa Redgrave and Emma Thompson are outstanding. Loews Nickelodeon

Bleak and powerful, Woody Allen's new film examines the state of relationships today and concludes that unending love is little more than a myth. Shot as a documentary, it follows the members of two marriages as they grow disillusioned with one another and begin to look for happiness elsewhere. Judy Davis gives a wonderfully neurotic comic performance, Sydney Pollack is amazing as a man full of frustration but still deserving pity, and Allen and Mia Farrow appear to be haunted by pain. The movie is occasionally funny, but is most convincing when it dramatizes the characters' inabilities to find fulfillment. Loews Paris

*** Singles

This light and entertaining film focuses on the struggles of six singles in their 20s as they try to understand love and relationships. Steve Cambell, Kyra Sedgwick, Bridget Fonda, and Matt Dillon are all good, director Cameron Crowe's script is often extremely funny, and Seattle locations and music provide an interesting backdrop. Although it is not as realistic as Crowe's Say Anything, the movie is filled with wonderful isolated moments that are filled with truthful familiarity. Loews Cheri

*** Single White Female

Strong performances by both Bridget Fonda and Jennifer Jason Leigh and director Barbet Schroeder's interesting use of lighting and color to create a vividly sinister setting start the film off strongly, but the early promise is never followed through. The interesting but glaringly sexist premise is that recently single Fonda has a deep need for companionship and Leigh happily fills the void with a similar but dangerous desire for attention. Eventually formula takes over, but despite a few ridiculous implausibilities, the film remains effective. Loews Cheri

*** Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me

Beautifully filmed, cleverly plotted, brilliantly characterized, and incredibly confusing -- all these phrases describe David Lynch's latest freakshow. The film is a deep exploration of the last seven days of Laura Palmer's mysterious and tragic life. If you enjoyed the television show, you'll love the movie ... but if you don't remember what the dancing dwarf or One-Eyed Jack's have to do with the story, you might as well stay home and watch Studs. Loews Charles

**** Unforgiven

One of the better westerns ever made, David Webb People's story about a retired gunslinger (Clint Eastwood) who agrees to hunt down two men for reward money is a richly written deconstructionist work that relishes its elliptical morality. In this version of the west, "sheriffs" beat men to keep violence out of their towns, "villains" are remorseful for what they've done, "heroes" only feel alive when killing, and no one can be forgiven when no one can really define a sin. Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, and Richard Harris are all excellent, and Eastwood's direction has a slowly building pace that allows even the most minor characters and events to be embellished with fine detail. Loews Copley Place

**1/2 Wind

Visually spectacular sailing sequences which start and end the film combine the drama of being in the America's Cup with the excitement of controlling big boats on the open seas. Between the two races, however, the movie fails. The plot is incoherent and the main characters, played by Matthew Modine and Jennifer Grey, are poorly developed. The story of desperate attempts to reclaim the Cup has its charming moments, but overall it is never as convincing as the phenomenal racing scenes. Loews Cheri

1/2 Whispers in the Dark

The first half plays like a cinematic 900 number as patients describe their sadomasochistic fantasies and realities to their quietly attentive psychiatrist (Annabella Sciorra). The second half is a boring, laughable thriller with a killer whose identity is fairly obvious much too early. Terribly written, poorly realized, and completely useless, this is an unqualified disaster. Only Anthony LaPaglia as a police detective with a background in psychiatry escapes relatively unscathed by giving a moderately interesting performance. Loews Copley Place