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ON THE SCREEN

The following movies are playing this weekend at local theaters. The Tech suggests using <http://www.boston.com> for a complete listing of times and locations.

HHHH Excellent

HHH Good

HH Fair

H Poor

28 Days (H1/2)

This is a film about all the light and fluffy aspects of rehabilitation. Confused by wildly changing tones and disparate acting, 28 Days could use a serious reworking. Sandra Bullock does the best she can with a difficult script, but that is not enough to help the movie. -- Amy Meadows

American Beauty (H1/2)

An extremely annoying movie: this deadpan black tragicomedy is a laughable failure as a work of art, being pretentious, simplistic, and self-important. Excepting a truly remarkable performance by Kevin Spacey (whose part is disappointingly small), there’s nothing to this movie beyond tortured metaphors, caricatures instead of characters, and a messy pile-up of red herrings instead of a plot. --Vladimir V. Zelevinsky

American Psycho (HHH1/2)

An engaging satire about the vanity, greed, and insecurity of the twenty-something male lifestyle of the 1980s. Centered around Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), a driven Wall Street executive who also happens to be a serial killer in his off time, American Psycho smartly denounces a generation that often traded morals and values for designer labels and social status. -- Michael Frakes

Beyond the Mat (HH)

This unauthorized documentary about the people of the world of professional wrestling tackles some major issues, but seems to lack structure, and thus, loses some of its impact. While some wrestling fans will enjoy Beyond the Mat, the majority of viewers are likely to be turned off -- those unfamiliar with professional wrestling are likely to get confused by the constant name-dropping, while die-hard fans will be disappointed by the shallow coverage. And, by all means, this is no film for the faint-of-heart. -- Dan Katz

Dolphins (HHH)

Like most OmniMax movies, Dolphins is strong on visuals, filling the screen with eye-popping images, but falls somewhat short on story and characters. The film is stunning as it follows dolphins as they play and hunt, but is less successful when it attempts to say something about humans. -- VZ

Erin Brockovich (HHH1/2)

A great film that successfully combines many genres: courtroom drama, mystery, relationship and character study, satire, and wish-fulfillment fable. Erin Brockovich makes use of actress Julia Roberts’ and director Steven Soderbergh’s strong points and uses them to complement each other, creating a movie where story and characters matter and where the visuals are handsome and stylized at the same time. -- VZ

High Fidelity (HHH1/2)

John Cusack co-writes and stars as Rob Gordon, owner of a semi-failing used record store, in this honest, witty romantic comedy. When his longtime girlfriend Laura (Iben Hjejle) walks out on him, Rob is forced to examine his failed attempts at romance and happiness. But don’t expect a sugar-coated love story; High Fidelity offers a realistic look at the world of relationships. -- MF

Keeping the Faith (H1/2)

What do you get when you cross a priest, a rabbi, and a blonde with a clichÉd love triangle story line? A tepid film that is too serious to be really funny, too light-hearted to be serious, and ultimately leaves the viewer dissatisfied. Do yourself a favor and don’t keep the Faith. -- Rebecca Loh

Magnolia (HH1/2)

A sprawling incoherent mess of a movie, with a story and characters that manage to be both jaw-droppingly obvious and make no sense whatsoever. On the other hand, the annoying narrative bombast is compensated by great visual verve, and the climactic sequence is simply the most wildly creative bit of filmmaking of 1999, even though it has nothing to do with the rest of the movie. -- VZ

Onegin (HHH)

Three Feinnes (director Martha, actor Ralph, and composer Magnus) combine forces to create this visually enchanting film. Ralph Feinnes is excellent as the title character, but a poor performance by Liv Tyler in the role of the love interest Tatyana and an abrupt ending mar what would otherwise be an excellent, captivating film. -- Lianne Habinek

The Road to El Dorado (HH1/2)

In this animated movie, DreamWorks attempts to beat out the popularity of recent Disney films... by employing the same writers, voice talents, and song writers who previously worked on recent Disney films. While The Road to El Dorado is consistantly watchable and never boring, it is in danger of coming off as a pale copy of a not-too-sharp Disney picture. -- VZ