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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

HHH1/2 Faraway, So Close

Director Wim Wenders takes another look at the angels of his 1987 masterpiece Wings of Desire. Angels are not supposed to intervene directly in the lives of humans, but Cassiel (Otto Sander) breaks that rule and becomes human. Wenders follows Cassiel's adjustment to his new life, and builds a complicated plot involving gun runners, trapeze artists, and a crew of angels-become-humans. The plot is something of a mess, but Wender's brilliant visual style and Sander's bravuro performance more than compensates. The large cast also includes Willem Dafoe, Peter Falk, Heinz Ruhmann, Nastassja Kinski, and, in a cameo appearance as himself, Mikhail Gorbachev. --Jeremy Hylton. Coolidge Corner Theater

H Gunmen

A politically incorrect film about a race to find a boat full of cash. The film relies on two rules: 1) Shoot anyone that gets in your way. 2) Keep your eyes on the money. If for nothing else, watch it to see Patrick Stewart say a Hail Mary and various expletives while being buried alive. Definitely not for kids. --Craig K. Chang. Loews Fresh Pond

HHH Grumpy Old Men

The only person John Gustafson dislikes more than Max Goldman is the tax collector who periodically shows up at his front door. John and Max (Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau) are neighbors who seem more chilled by each other's presence than by the bitter Minnesota weather they live in. Their 56-year rivalry burns icily fresh when the vivacious, sensual widow Ariel Truax (Ann-Margaret) moves into the house across the street from them. Not even the point of a frozen fish nose can cool the jealousy between these grumpy old men, whose childish antics delight and inspire all who have ever thought of getting even. --Ann Ames. Loews Danvers

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. --Scott Deskin. Loews Copley

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 few touching scenes make up for a dismal beginning and much run-of-the-mill slapstick. --CKC. Loews Cheri

HHH1/2 Orlando

Tilda Swinton's curious, angular beauty makes her a perfect cast as Orlando, an Elizabethan courtier who never ages and wakes up one morning to discover that he has become a woman. Bestowed everlasting youth by Queen Elizabeth (a delightfully campy Quentin Crisp), Orlando survives a broken heart, insults to his poetry, a stint as ambassador in a war-torn Arab country, dreadfully boring salon conversation, and even a final assault on her home and property rights, which as a woman, she must relinquish. Based on the Virginia Woolf novel of the same name, Orlando is a frank, witty look at the differences not only in the way society treats men and women, but ultimately, at the differences between the sexes. LSC Friday

HH 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 play the stressed and paranoid student to the hilt. Washington is convincing -- playing the determined reported who will stop at nothing to get a story. The strength of the film is in how it is able to carefully develop its plot and keep the audience's attention until contents of the brief are revealed at the very end. --Patrick Mahoney. 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

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. --PM. Loews Nickelodeon