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On The Screen

****: Excellent

***: Good

**: Average

*: Poor

***1/2 Malcolm X

Spike Lee has translated the complex life of Malcolm X into a fascinating and involving epic which, like most of Lee's work, raises more questions than it does answers. Despite occasional lapses into excess and the omission of some of Malcolm's more incendiary remarks, the film is a well-balanced portrayal of a man who went through many different phases, each flawlessly acted out by Denzel Washington, in an attempt to right the injustices done to blacks. Although the film, like Malcolm, never comes to a truly workable solution, it expresses the racist problems at the roots of society more powerfully than any other recent movie. LSC Sunday

*** Mrs. Doubtfire

After a messy divorce, Daniel Hillard (Robin Williams) will do anything to see his kids again. His plot involves becoming a woman. As Mrs. Doubtfire, he manages to turn around his life and the lives of others. Williams' hilarious performance and a few touching scenes make up for a dismal beginning and much run-of-the-mill slapstick. --Craig K. Chang. Loews Cheri

**1/2 A Perfect World

Kevin Costner plays Butch Haynes, a criminal with a soft spot for kids. The movie is the story of how Haynes comes to take Phillip -- a 7-year-old Jehovah's Witness whom he has kidnapped -- as his son. Haynes protects the child as they proceed across the state of Texas fleeing from the state troopers, led by Clint Eastwood, who are pursuing Haynes. Although Costner does a very good job as Haynes, the movie falters with several other problems. Among these are a poorly defined role for Eastwood and curiously undeveloped setting of November 1963. Both of these serve only to distract the audience from the interaction between Haynes and Phillip. --PM. Loews Copley Place

**1/2 The Pelican Brief

Julia Roberts is a law student who has created a legal brief which details her ideas on who recently murdered two Supreme Court justices and how it relates to the president. Denzel Washington is a reporter for the Washington Herald whom Roberts contacts when her lover and his friend are killed after they see the brief. Roberts is near perfect, and plays the stressed and paranoid student to the hilt. Washington is convincing in his role as the determined reported who will stop at nothing to get a story. The strength of the film is in its ability to carefully develop its plot and keep the audience's attention until the contents of the brief are revealed at the very end. --PM. Loews Cheri