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Ots the Screen

HHHH: Excellent

HHH: Good

HH: Average

H: Poor

HH1/2 Exit to Eden

Garry Marshall (Pretty Woman) directs this screen adaptation of Anne Rice's novel, which deals with a fantasy sex resort. The principal characters in the book are Dana Delaney's dominatrix and Paul Mercurio's citizen/slave, and their story describes the trust that can develop in a mistress-slave relationship. The film deflects much of the novel's themes through two police officers (Rosie O'Donnell and Dan Aykroyd) who investigate the activities of diamond smugglers who have infiltrated the resort. This comic element provides some minor amusement, but it also confuses the main plot. This film is an interesting cultural study: Cute and friendly, it makes fun of social repressions while allowing the viewer to indulge in one or two of the ubiquitous sex acts. - Teresa Esser. Loews Cheri.

HHH Natural Born Killers

Oliver Stone's latest film focuses on a marauding couple (Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis) whose sensational mass-killing spree catapults them into the national spotlight. Their lives are consequently exploited by a TV tabloid journalist (Robert Downey Jr.), a sadistic cop (Tom Sizemore), and a somewhat dimwitted prison warden (Tommy Lee Jones). All elements of justice and the media machine are represented as cartoonish caricatures, which degenerate as the film goes on: The main problem is the director's somewhat hypocritical attitude that fails to recognize that he is part of that same machine. The main attractions in the film are the hyperkinetic performances of the cast members, the excessive violence, and the bizarre, rapid-fire editing of picture and sound - all of which Stone executes brilliantly. By the end of the film, audiences will either revel its visual audacity or deplore its apparent lack of message. - Scott Deskin. Loews Fresh Pond.

HHH Only You

This is an amusing, enjoyable film for people who haven't given up on old-fashioned romance. Exploiting Italy as a romantic locus, this film recalls a film like Roman Holiday. Marisa Tomei is Faith, a quirky schoolteacher who takes off to Italy with her best friend on the eve of her wedding. Faith is determined to track down a soul mate named Damon Bradley, a name she obtained from a Ouija board as a child. This far-fetched premise leads her to the land of midnight walks, gondoliers, and opera, where she encounters Peter (Robert Downey, Jr.), who immediately falls for her. The rest of the film unfolds in a similar fashion, although it's not as predictable as you might think. Tomei, in the tradition of Audrey Hepburn and Ava Gardner, is extremely engaging as Faith, and director Norman Jewison brings a light touch to the American-Italian relations just beneath the film's surface. - Evelyn Kao. Loews Copley Place.

HHHH Pulp Fiction

Winner of the Palm d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival, this movie combines standard plots of hit men, junkies, and criminals, with an amazing facility with storytelling. The story consists of three principle stories: first, the daily experiences of two hit men (John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson); second, Travolta's character involved with his gangster boss's wife (Uma Thurman) as an escort; and third, the plans of a boxer, who has been paid off to take a dive in the ring, instead choosing to win the fight and take off with the money and his girlfriend. Although these film noir concepts may seem a bit clich, writer-director Quentin Tarantino infuses his characters with crackling dialogue and a sense of purpose (i.e., Jackson's hit-man character quoting bible verses as a prelude to execution). Tarantino's career may still be young, beginning with the cult hit Reservoir Dogs (1992) and recently surfacing in his scripts for True Romance and Natural Born Killers, but his latest film confirms his mission to shake up the current course of cinema. - Rob Marcato. Loews Cheri.

HHHH Quiz Show

The quiz-show scandals of the 1950s forced America to probe the changing face of morality. Robert Redford directs this fresh look at television and honesty in an age of illusions and image-making. Excellent performances by Ralph Fiennes and John Turturro, as quiz-show contestants Charles Van Doren and Herbert Stempel, make this reality-based drama worth the contemplation and dissection of ethical issues amid the phoniness of television. - Craig K. Chang. Loews Copley Place.

HHHH The Shawshank Redemption

This extraordinary movie about hope, friendship, and renewal in the face of suffering in life is much more heartfelt than its title suggests. Tim Robbins embodies the classic protagonist in Andy Dufresne, a banker who is imprisoned for two murders he swears he did not commit, and he is forced to face the abrasive reality of prison life. He eventually comes out of his shell and cultivates a friendship with Red (Morgan Freeman), whose connections inside the prison provide a neat counterpart to Andy's own talents as a financial planner, which he eventually exploits to get on the good side of the prison guards. Through all of Andy's suffering in prison, he never loses the hope of being free, and this carries both Andy and Red through the tough times. This film transcends its short-story basis (originally written by Stephen King) with excellent performances and artful direction - it has "Oscar" written all over it. - John Jacobs. Loews Copley Place.

H1/2 The Specialist

The latest film in a long line of testosterone-dominated action flicks has a lot more going for it than its plot. It's a movie of moments, whether the scenes marvel at the modern-day sensitivity and chivalry of explosives expert Ray Quick (Sylvester Stallone) or succeed in evoking weak Basic Instinct/femme fatale parallels with the female lead, May Munro (Sharon Stone). Everyone on camera is ideal - at least physically - with Stone dressed in black and perfectly coiffured for the pivotal explosion scenes and Stallone hardly breaking a sweat in his confrontations with the bad guys. The plot, which concerns Quick being lured out of retirement for some of Munro's personal revenge killings, is secondary to the spectacle of normal action-movie exploits: violence and sex. You can love it, but you don't have to watch it. - TE. 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 only cares 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. LSC Saturday.