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Capsule movie reviews

****: Excellent

***: Good

**: Mediocre

*: Poor

**** Aladdin

Never less than enormously entertaining, Disney's latest animated delight is a hilarious musical adventure based loosely on the Arabian Nights tale of a peasant boy and a magical lamp. Thanks to the vocal talents of comedians Robin Williams and Gilbert Gottfried and clever animation by Disney artists, this is probably the funniest animated film ever, but it never loses sight of the exuberant sense of wonder that permeates all of Disney's best works. And with a breakneck pace and an abundance of wonderful images, only a second viewing reveals most of the background gags and beautiful artistry that went into producing this absolute pleasure. --Chris Roberge. LSC Saturday

**** The Crying Game

Neil Jordan's story of an IRA terrorist (Stephen Rea) is a remarkably well-written piece of work that at first seems to follow its protagonist in aimless yet intriguing directions, but eventually reveals itself to be a perfectly structured look at violence, race, love, and sexuality. Rea is ordered to guard a kidnapped British officer (Forest Whitaker), but he begins to care for the hostage and later flees to London, where he meets the officer's girlfriend (Jaye Davidson). The two halves of the film, which contain some completely unpredictable plot twists, become mirrors of one another, reflecting how understanding and compassion may be a means of salvation. --CR. Loews Harvard Square

*** The Dark Half

This mystery/horror film based on the Stephen King novel of the same name is a psychological and visceral treat. Timothy Hutton stars as Thad Beaumont and George Stark, Beaumont's pseudonym who has suddenly come to life and is going on a killing spree. Amy Madigan is Thad's wife Liz and Michael Rooker is Sheriff Alan Pangborn in director George A. Romero's occasionally loose translation of the original. Romero is able to effectively realize the mix of suspense and gore that has come to mark King's horror novels. This movie is not for the squeamish and has enough "ideas" to keep the intellectuals happy. --Douglas D. Keller. Loews Fresh Pond

* Falling Down

When Michael Douglas cracks under the pressures of society and lashes out with violence and rage, his actions should provide the basis for an intense and important movie, but this is an inane attempt to comment on the problems of America today, a thriller that is laughable at best, and a film that deserves to be deplored for the enjoyment it derives from the violence it claims to be critical of. Rather than strive for scathing realism, the story bloats into a ludicrous cartoon by portraying all of Douglas' victims as caricatures that offer mostly comic relief. And Douglas is really nothing more than a psychotic control freak, not a normal person the audience can feel empathy towards. --CR. Loews Copley Place

* Indecent Proposal

A horribly derivative film starring Robert Redford as the millionaire, Woody Harrelson as the architect, and Demi Moore as the woman for sale. This movie is essentially Honeymoon in Vegas without the comedy and flying Elvises. Director Adrian Lyne applies his high-gloss directing style like Tammy-Faye Baker applies makeup. Sprinkled throughout the film are elements of Pretty Woman, Good Morning Vietnam, Wall Street, and Fatal Attraction. If you haven't seen any of these movies and want to be treated to a misogynistic validation of '80s yuppie greed, then this is the movie for you. --DDK. Loews Cheri

*** Three of Hearts

Billed as the typical "Girl meets girl, girl loses girl, girl hires boy to get girl back, with a twist" plot, this movie is an exploration of the bizarre ways that friendships get started in the '90s. William Baldwin (as the boy) and Kelly Lynch (as one of the girls) are very convincing in their friendship, but Sherilyn Fenn (as the other girl) falls flat in her romance with Baldwin. Overall the movie is a pleasant one which thankfully resists the typical Hollywood ending but fails to deliver any insightful commentary on lesbian relationships in the '90s. --DDK. Loews Cheri

**** 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. --CR. Loews Copley Place