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On the Screen

HHHH: Excellent

HHH: Good

HH: Average

H: Poor

H1/2 Blown Away

Despite a Boston setting and a cameo by MIT, Blown Away is almost a complete disappointment. Jeff Bridges is James Dove of the Boston Bomb Squad who tries to catch bad guy Ryan Gaerity (Tommy Lee Jones), an escaped prisoner who can make "bombs from Bisquick" and uses his culinary talents to exact revenge on Dove. Jones is a disappointment as Gaerity, though it is interesting to watch the interaction between the father/son combination of Jeff and Lloyd Bridges on the screen. The only highlight of the film is the special effects in the explosion sequences, which are done well. Unfortunately, this doesn't compensate for the weak story and flimsy characters. -Evelyn Kao. LSC Saturday.

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. -EK. 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 plot 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 clichd, 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.

HH The Road to Wellville

Director Alan Parker (The Committments) orchestrates this tale of comic and social mishaps at an American turn-of-the-century health spa. The spa's owner, Dr. Kellogg (played by a buck-toothed Anthony Hopkins) preaches his gospel of once-a-day enemas and strict dieting in the confines of his "Temple of Health." A married couple, played by Matthew Broderick and Bridget Fonda, seek a new way of living that will improved the husband's health and solve their marital problems. This may sound like a good setup, but there is a nominal comic payoff, and the actors are unable to extract much from the mediocre script, although Dana Carvey, as Dr. Kellogg's crazed, estranged son, provides a few laughs. However, the pretty location and bathroom humor can't support the rest of the film on their own. -Carrie Perlman. Loews Nickelodeon.

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. - Teresa Esser. Loews Cinema 57.