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On The Screen

Tom Cruise starts in A Few Good Men, playing at LSC on Sunday.

HHHH: Excellent

HHH: Good

HH: Average

H: Poor

HH1/2 Before Sunrise

This movie is for all hopeless romantics who fantasize of acting on a chance encounter with an ideal soulmate. The characters are Jesse (Ethan Hawke), an American, and Celine (Julie Delpy), a French student. Jesse tempts Celine to get off the Eurorail and accompany him in an all-night stroll through Vienna before his plane departs for the States the next day. The movie is dominated by conversation, predominantly pop-culture philosophizing, that interrupts the short-term lovers' base flirtations. Director Richard Linklater pares down the cast to the two lovers, which is a novel and impressive contrast to his earlier efforts. But, despite engaging performances by the two leads, the long conversations become tiresome and the film makes you beg for the requisite sexual encounter. It's a good date movie, but it's pure fantasy. -Scott Deskin. Sony Nickelodeon.

HH Boys on the Side

A lesbian woman, played by Whoopi Goldberg, searches for love and instead finds friendship in another woman (Mary Louise Parker) during a cross-country road trip. Drew Barrymore joins the group as a woman trying to escape her past with an abusive husband. It's very confusing until one sifts through the garbage to discover the warmth between two people discovering instead of falling into each other's love. -Craig K. Chang. Sony Cheri.

HHH Death and the Maiden

Roman Polanski's recent film is a psychological thriller made all the more frightening by the knowledge that is based upon the political tactics of terror employed under many dictatorships in South America. Sigourney Weaver plays Paulina Escobar, a woman who believes she recognizes, by the sound of his voice, the man who tortured her years before to the tune of Schubert's Death and the Maiden. The accused man is a reputable doctor, played by Ben Kingsley: His performance is fantastic and one cannot decide whether the doctor performed the alleged acts or is an innocent man, wrongly accused. The character is a study in the possibility that the depths of human evil may lie dormant just below the surface. Stuart Wilson, whose position of confusion reflects the feelings of the audience, makes the best of the weakest of the three roles, Paulina's husband. Throughout the film, sincere belief in democracy is juxtaposed with the instinctive emotions which are the motivation behind both torture and revenge. At what point is the need for revenge sated and with how much memory of the past can one bear to live? The film ends in perfect irony as it provides one answer to these questions. -Carrie Perlman. Sony Copley Place.

HHH1/2 A Few Good Men

Nearly every element of director Rob Reiner's adaptation of the military murder/courtroom drama clicks into place with the efficiency of a finely tuned machine designed to churn out entertainment. Sure it's unoriginal, but it's also extremely effective. The performances by Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson are stirring, and the photography, with crystal clarity and frequent symmetry in its images, is polished until it shines. For the officers in the story, precision leads to tragedy, but for the film it leads to a triumph of sorts. LSC Sunday.

HHH How to Marry a Millionaire

Marilyn Monroe is sensational as the slightly dizzy romantic who, along with friends Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall, have a classic romp trying to find the perfect man. LSC Friday.

HHH Little Women

This new adaptation of the Louisa May Alcott classic tells the story of the four March sisters and their struggles against poverty, inequality, and sickness. Jo (Winona Ryder) is the leader of her sisters, Meg (Trini Alvarado), Beth (Clare Danes), and Amy (Kirstin Dunst and Samantha Mathis), and we trace their adventures as they grow older and pursue their interests. This is a feminine movie, and Susan Sarandon superbly plays the family matriarch; director Gillian Armstrong should also be praised for her ability to make 19th-century morals viewable, enjoyable, and lucrative with a 1990s audience. Modern-day viewers may be put off by the lack of sex and violence, but it's comforting to know that the story's message was not compromised. -Evelyn Kao. Sony Fresh Pond.

HH1/2 Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

Kenneth Branagh has remained fairly close to the original story in the newest film version of this tale of science-gone-bad. Branagh has created a film which is visually chilling - the cinematography is fantastic - but not as psychologically affecting as it should be. Doctor Victor Frankenstein (Branagh) becomes obsessed with immortality in medical school, where he gathers "raw materials" from the city morgue, stitches them together, and brings his creation to life via electricity. He's convincing as a lunatic-genius who later lives to regret his actions. As the monster, Robert DeNiro is nearly unrecognizable under his makeup, but he gives the character a lot of pathos and depth. Tom Hulce is enjoyable as Frankenstein's bumbling companion from medical school; but Helena Bonham Carter, as Frankenstein's adopted sister and love interest, becomes the weak link in the chain, making what is intended to be a climactic and dramatic scene rather silly. As a whole, the film is weakened by an eagerness to revel in Victorian-era excess, but the monster story remains a good one. - CP. LSC Saturday.

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' 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. Sony Fresh Pond.


Krzysztof Kieslowski's final film in his Three Colors trilogy is a beautiful, masterful fulfillment and exploration of human relationships. It's about a young Swiss model and student named Valentine (Irene Jacob) who runs over a dog with her car. The dog's rightful owner is a who gets his kicks from spying on the neighbors. After a first, unpleasant encounter, Valentine and the judge develop a tender friendship in which they confide their personal emotional wounds to each other. A parallel story involves a recently-graduated law student whose life is falling into the same pattern as the old judge's damaged life as a young man. The resolution, in which Kieslowski united the main characters of Blue, White, and Red is pretty fantastic, but the film is richly composed as a social meditation rather than an exercise in realism. Red is a perfect end to the trilogy which is both enjoyable and emotionally satisfying. SD. Sony Nickelodeon.