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On The Screen

HHHH: Excellent

HHH: Good

HH: Average

H: Poor

HHH Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

Though this silly movie is merely a vehicle for the comedic talent of Jim Carrey, it is genuinely funny. Carrey's facial and vocal caricatures are hilariously fresh, and he shines in this, his first starring role. Playing Ace Ventura, the world's only pet detective, he is hired to track down Snowflake, the Miami Dolphins mascot. The abduction of Dan Marino (as himself) complicates the plot, which is surprisingly interesting, considering the genre of the film. In a cascade of foolhardy blunders and semi-decent detective work, Ace tracks down the perpetrators in his own unique way. Be prepared to laugh a lot at the up-and-coming big-screen comedian. --J. Michael Andresen. Loews Copley Place

HH Blink

Just as too many cooks can spoil a broth, so can too many subplots spoil a movie. Blink tries to deliver a heartwarming tale about a woman struggling to rediscover herself, a passionate love story, and a gripping murder mystery plot all at the same time. Unfortunately, it fails on all three counts on what is an intriguing, if unnecessarily complex, story line. Madeline Stowe is Emma, who regains her sight through an operation just in time to become a key witness to a murder, and Aidan Quinn plays the police detective assigned to protect her. --JMA. Loews Cheri

HHH Fearless

Director Peter Weir (Witness, Dead Poets Society) does a masterful job of capturing the audience in this story about the survivor of a plane crash. All the performances are superb, but Jeff Bridges (as Max, the survivor) turns in a remarkable performance as a man reborn as the master of his fate; Max believes that he has already passed through death and has become invincible. Isabella Rosselini and Rosie Perez also star. Despite a few lapses of emotional restraint, Weir directs with assurance and makes good use of the camera. In short, Fearless is an entertaining and compelling story. --Scott Deskin. LSC Friday

HHHH In the Name of the Father

Daniel Day-Lewis offers a riveting portrayal of a young man named Gerry Conlon who is convicted, along with friends and family, of an IRA bombing of a British pub in 1974. The film addresses the grave injustice that the British government dealt the Conlons, but it uses the relationship in prison between Gerry and his father Guiseppe (an excellent Pete Postlethwaite) to carry the film's message of hope and redemption. Director Jim Sheridan's pro-Irish bias provides an effective retaliation against England's tendency to make Ireland a scapegoat for the IRA's actions. And Emma Thompson gives a solid performance as the lawyer who struggles to bring freedom to the Conlons. Quite simply, it ranks as one of the best films of 1993. --SD. Loews Copley Place

HHH 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 fewtouching scenes make up for a dismal beginning and much run-of-the-mill slapstick. --Craig K Chang. Loews Copley Place

HHH Philadelphia

Hollywood's film "about" AIDS is really about discrimination and human dignity. Tom Hanks is the HIV-positive lawyer who alleges he was fired from his prestigious law firm because of AIDS discrimination, and Denzel Washington is the homophobic lawyer that agrees to take his suit to court. The film's power lies in its message, but at times it suffers from Jonathan Demme's heavy-handed direction, mistaking stilted sentiment for raw emotion. Still, the performances of Hanks, Washington, and a fine supporting cast carry the film to a near-triumphant conclusion. --SD. Loews Cheri

HHH Reality Bites

Finally, here is a twenty-something movie with a message. Winona Ryder stars as a recent college graduate grappling with questions of identity. Following her dream of making documentary films, she interns with a television program and encounters a world of people too self-absorbed to pay her efforts much attention. She meets a nice TV executive named Michael (Ben Stiller), doesn't fall in love, and is forced to choose between having fun with him and having a true connection with her old friend Troy (Ethan Hawke). Through all these trials, the movie still succeeds as a comedy, full of crazy details and witty one-liners. The actors' wonderful performances, as well as insightful writing by Helen Childress and directing by Ben Stiller, make this a very entertaining movie. --Gretchen Koot. Loews Cheri

HHHH Schindler's List

Director Steven Spielberg triumphs in this historical drama about Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), who was responsible for saving the lives of more than a thousand Jews during the Holocaust. Shot almost entirely in black and white, the film takes you to the Poland of the late 30s and early 40s. Neeson is great, carefully portraying the slow change from a man who only cares about money to one who cares only about saving lives. Ben Kingsley perfectly plays Itzhak Stern, Schindler's Jewish accountant who cunningly sidesteps Nazi officials. Ralph Fiennes portrays the unswervingly-loyal Amon Goeth, the Commandant of the Nazi labor camp. Through Fiennes the audience is able to witness the hatred, brutality, and widespread death. Overall the movie is incredibly powerful, and brings to light one of the darkest periods of human history. --Patrick Mahoney. Loews Nickelodeon

HHH1/2 Six Degrees of Separation

Will Smith (the Fresh Prince of Bel Air) stars as a young man who cons his way into the ritzy apartment of an upper-class, New York couple (Donald Sutherland and Stockard Channing) by pretending he is the friend of their child's college friend and the son of Sidney Poitier. Not the combination of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Different Strokes that the plot suggests, Six Degrees is a witty, sophisticated satire. Adapted from John Guare's hit Broadway play, this movie has been described as "a comedy of manners," "a drama of ideas," and "a rich, funny, and disturbing parable of life in the morally wormy Big Apple." For audiences used to modern movies, which are lucky to have one main message, this film's multiplicity of themes could be overwhelming. But whether you love or hate this ambiguity, you'll find it hard to stop thinking about this film and its haunting, dazzling style. --Robert Marcato. Loews Harvard Square

HHH1/2 What's Eating Gilbert Grape

Bolstered by excellent performances by Leonardo DiCaprio, who received a Golden Globe nomination for his role, and Johnny Depp, this film may be the most honest and original film of the year. Gilbert Grape (Depp) is plagued through much of the film by a nagging ambivalence to the problems in his life. The ways in which he eventually confronts these problems, however, are so subtlely reached that the story can never be accused of plot manipulation or cliche. --SD. Loews Nickelodeon