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On The Screen

HHHH:Excellent

HHH:Good

HH:Average

H:Poor

HHH Michael Collins

While it's not quite the equal of Lawrence of Arabia, Michael Collins is still one of the rare movies on an epic scale made with an intelligence powerful enough to control and shape it. Collins is known as the inventor of modern guerrilla warfare. He flashed across the firmament in the years just following World War I and accomplished the work of centuries - forcing the British out of Ireland - by the time he was 31 years old. Under the direction of Neil Jordan, Liam Neeson brings this complicated hero, often at war with himself, to vivid, emotional life. Ably assisted by Aidan Quinn, Stephen Rea, Alan Rickman, and even Julia Roberts, Neeson fills the role with an authority that justifies Collins' nickname, "The Big Fella." Jordan has done a masterful job of distilling the historical record and educating his audience about the Irish Revolution, but his insistence on constant movement - soaring camerawork, numerous scenes on moving vehicles, constant cross-cutting during climactic moments - can leave us feeling a little seasick. -Stephen Brophy. Sony Harvard Square.

HHH1/2 Palookaville

This charming little caper comedy opens with a jewelry store robbery that goes awry when the robbers find they've actually broken into the bakery next door to the jewelry store. From there we meet three young men with big dreams of breaking out of their stifling neighborhood but not quite enough brains and luck to match their dreams. The story follows them through the details of another attempted crime - an armored truck hijacking - to its comically ironic conclusion. In the process we meet families and friends and get to know an entire working class neighborhood. One of the funniest independent movies of the year. - SB. Sony Cheri.

HHH1/2 Romeo and Juliet

Shakespeare for the MTV generation, Luhrmann's vision of Romeo and Juliet takes place in Verona Beach, Florida, an edgy urban war zone patrolled by helicopters and fought over by gun-toting, Hawaiian-shirt-wearing, punk Montagues against Latino Mafioso Capulets. Claire Danes is a luminous Juliet, dominating the center of the story with her glamorous but not always convincing co-star Leonardo di Caprio as Romeo. Luhrmann's staging is true to the spirit of Shakespeare's teen tragedy while delighting eye and ear with a cornucopia of images and songs. Pete Postlethwaite plays Friar Lawrence with considerably more gravity than is usually granted to the role, which also helps to balance some of the more giddy, Ken Russell-like effects. This is not Shakespeare for the ages, but for right now it's almost perfect. -SB. Sony Nickelodeon.