NEW FILMS FRIDAY

AFTERGLOW - The personal lives of two Canadian couples (Nick Nolte and Oscar nominee Julie Christie, Lara Flynn Boyle and Jonny Lee Miller) intersect when two of them have an affair in this drama from writer/director Alan Rudolph ("Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle"). Reviewed in this section on Page W8. R (sex, violence, profanity, vulgarity, nudity). (Exclusive, Broadway.)

THE APOSTLE - Actor Robert Duvall (another Oscar nominee) wrote, directed and stars in this drama about a disgraced preacher who rediscovers his faith when he's forced to flee Texas after he commits a crime of passion. Co-stars include Farrah Fawcett and Miranda Richardson. Reviewed in this section on Page W3. PG-13 (profanity, violence, racial epithets). (Exclusive, Broadway.)

BEAUMARCHAIS, THE SCOUNDREL - Recalling "Dangerous Liaisons," this farce from director Edouard Molinaro (who made the original film version of "La Cage Aux Folles") is loosely based on the real-life story of Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, a writer and inventor in 18th-century France. In French, with English subtitles. Reviewed in this section on Page W8. Not rated, probable R (nudity, violence, vulgarity, sex, profanity). (Exclusive, Tower.)

THE BORROWERS - One of Mary Norton's beloved children books about a clan of very, very tiny people comes to the big screen, courtesy of director Peter Hewitt ("Tom and Huck") and star John Goodman, playing an evil attorney who's trying to kick them out of the house he's seized illegally. Reviewed in this section on Page W12. PG (violence, vulgarity, mild profanity). (Carmike 12, Gateway, Holladay, Plaza 5400, Sandy 9, Trolley Square.)

CONSPIRATORS OF PLEASURE - More weirdness from surrealist Czech animator Jan Svankmajer, a black comedy about six lonely people that combines live action, puppetry and animation but which features no dialogue. Not rated, probable NC-17 (sex, nudity, vulgarity, violence, gore). (Exclusive, Tower.)

FOUR DAYS IN SEPTEMBER - Fact-based drama from director Bruno Barreto ("Carried Away") about four naive Brazilian idealists who kidnapped a U.S. ambassador (Alan Arkin) in 1969. Nominated for the Best Foreign Film Academy Award. Reviewed in this section on Page W8. R (profanity, violence, torture, nude photos, vulgarity). (Exclusive, Broadway.)

SPHERE - "Wag the Dog" director Barry Levinson and actor Dustin Hoffman re-team for this science-fiction thriller, based on Michael Crichton's bestseller about scientists investigating a long-submerged space craft resting on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Co-stars include Sharon Stone and Samuel L. Jackson. Reviewed in this section on Page W10. PG-13 (violence, profanity, gore, vulgarity, brief partial nudity). (Carmike 12, Gateway, Holladay, Plaza 5400, Reel, Sandy 9, Trolley Corners.)

THE WEDDING SINGER - This romantic comedy, set in the mid-'80s, stars comedian Adam Sandler ("Happy Gilmore") as the title character, a struggling musician and entertainer who falls in love with a waitress (Drew Barrymore) who's engaged to be married. Reviewed in this section on Page W10. PG-13 (profanity, vulgarity, violence, partial nudity). (Century, Cottonwood, Midvalley, Reel, South Towne, Trolley North, Trolley Square.)

ZERO EFFECT - Jake Kasdan, son of screenwriter/director Lawrence Kasdan, makes his directorial debut with this dark comedy about an agoraphobic P.I. (Bill Pullman) hired to find out who's been blackmailing a timber tycoon (Ryan O'Neal). Reviewed in this section on Page W10. R (profanity, violence, sex, brief partial nudity, brief gore). (Exclusive, Broadway.)

MIDNIGHT MOVIES

WONDER 7 - * * - Silly Hong Kong action-thriller - sort of a martial-arts takeoff on "The A-Team" - about a group of covert spies trying to stop terrorists from getting a credit card with some encoded information on it. While it's interesting to see Michelle Yeoh ("Tomorrow Never Dies" play a villain, former Chinese gymnast Li Ning doesn't make a very interesting hero. In Cantonese, with English subtitles. Not rated, probable PG-13 (violence, profanity, vulgarity). (Tower, Friday and Saturday only.) (Feb. 11, 1998)

SPECIAL SCREENINGS

THE CAMERAMAN - Considered by many to be the best of Buster Keaton's comedies, this 1928 silent film features "Old Stoneface" as a tin-type photographer covering a war between gangs in Chinatown. Accompanied by Blaine Gale on the Wurlitzer Theatre Organ. Made before ratings, but probable G. (Organ Loft, Thursday and Friday, Feb. 19-20, 7:30 p.m.)

THE STRINGLESS YO YO - Former children's entertainer Job Matusow tells the real-life story of his experiences as a witness for the U.S government during the 1950s U.S. Senate investigations of communism in America and his side career as a clown named Cockyboo. This program is not rated, but contains some PG-13 rated material. (Salt Lake Art Center, Friday only, 8 p.m.)

CONTINUING FILMS

AMISTAD - * * 1/2 - Steven Spielberg's new film - a historically based courtroom drama about 53 African captives tried in American court for taking over a slaveship while en route to Cuba in 1839 - is manipulative and heavy-handed and only comes to life in the final third, when Oscar-nominated Anthony Hopkins (playing John Quincy Adams!) is on-screen. It doesn't help that the excellent ensemble cast - which includes Matthew McConaughey, Morgan Freeman and newcomer Djimon Hounsou - isn't given enough to do. R (violence, gore, nudity, torture, mild profanity). (Midvalley, Olympus, South Towne.) (Dec. 12, 1997)

ANASTASIA - * * * - Fox Animation Studios' first movie is this funny but at-times inconsistent (in terms of animation) musical-comedy about the sole survivor of Russia's imperial family, based on the 1956 film. Great performances by the "voice" actors - Meg Ryan, John Cusack, Kelsey Grammer, Angela Lansbury and Christopher Lloyd - definitely help. G (animated violence and gore). (Avalon, Cinemas 5, Gateway, Kaysville, Olympus.) (Nov. 21, 1997)

AS GOOD AS IT GETS - * * * 1/2 - Alternately dramatic and brutally funny, this comedy from writer/director James Brooks ("I'll Do Anything") wouldn't fly if not for the stellar performance by Jack Nicholson as a tactless romance novelist. Greg Kinnear is surprisingly subtle as a gay artist, but Helen Hunt is miscast as Nicholson's romantic foil. Nominated for seven Academy Awards. PG-13 (profanity, vulgarity, nudity, violence, racial epithets). (Century, Crossroads, Gateway, Holladay, Midvalley, South Towne.) (Dec. 26, 1997)

BLUES BROTHERS 2000 - * * - The musical numbers are actually better than those in the original (B.B. King, Koko Taylor and Erykah Badu are among the performers featured this time), but this otherwise lame sequel to 1980's surprise comedy hit suffers whenever it tries to tell a story. Star/co-writer/co-producer Dan Aykroyd doesn't embarrass himself, but co-stars John Goodman and Joe Morton should stick to acting. PG-13 (violence, profanity, partial nudity, vulgarity). (Century, Holladay, Midvalley, Reel, South Towne, Trolley Corners, Trolley North.) (Feb. 6, 1998)

DEEP RISING - * - "Anaconda" on a boat, this stupid and extremely gory B-horror movie pits a band of seafaring mercenaries against vicious sea monsters that have overrun a luxury cruiseship. But the characters are so annoying and the plot is so stupid that you may find yourself rooting for the heroes to be swallowed quickly. Yuck! R (violence, gore, profanity, vulgarity, nude photos). (Carmike 12, Plaza 5400, Sandy 9, Villa.) (Jan. 30, 1998)

DESPERATE MEASURES - * 1/2 - Proof that a movie can get dumber by the minute, this awful thriller stars Michael Keaton as a serial killer who gets loose in a hospital when he's freed to be a transplant donor for the son of a police officer (Andy Garcia). Keaton tries but he's hampered by a witless script. R (violence, profanity). (Century, Gateway, South Towne.) (Jan. 30, 1998)

FLUBBER - * * - Writer/producer John Hughes again gives a Disney classic the "Home Alone" treatment. This time it's the 1961 comedy "The Absent Minded Professor," as Robin Williams takes over the Fred MacMurray role as a scientist who invents a rubbery substance that seems to defy gravity. Kids may get a kick out of the computer-animated goo, but most of the jokes just aren't funny. PG (violence, vulgarity, profanity). (Cinemas 5, Kaysville, Olympus, Sandcastle, Sandy Starships, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (Nov. 26, 1997)

FOR RICHER OR POORER - * - Dull, unfunny and offensive comedy pairing TV stars Tim Allen and Kirstie Alley as unhappily married Manhattan socialites who wind up rediscovering their love while they're hiding from the IRS among the Amish. Also, the saccharine sweet ending can't cover up the otherwise mean-spirited jabs directed at the Amish. PG-13 (profanity, vulgarity, violence, sex). (Sandy Starships, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (Dec. 12, 1997)

GOOD WILL HUNTING - * * * 1/2 - Well-acted, though also profane and vulgar, comedy-drama about a troubled 20-something mathematics genius (Matt Damon) who must undergo therapy (from Robin Williams, playing a down-on-his-luck college professor) as part of his parole. Damon and co-star Ben Affleck also wrote the touching, funny screenplay. Nominated for nine Academy Awards. R (profanity, vulgarity, violence, sex, nude paintings, racial epithets). (Broadway, Century, Midvalley, South Towne, Trolley North.) (Dec. 26, 1997)

GREAT EXPECTATIONS - * * - A glossy buy shallow update of the Charles Dickens novel, starring Ethan Hawke as a naive young artist desperately trying to impress the snooty and manipulative socialite (Gwyneth Paltrow) he's loved for years. The dumbed-down script also seems to indicate that the writers didn't think Dickens knew how to end the story! R (profanity, nudity, sex, violence, brief gore, drug use, vulgarity). (Century, Holladay, Plaza 5400, South Towne, Trolley Corners.) (Jan. 30, 1998)

HALF-BAKED - turkey - Extremely unfunny drug-culture comedy about some pals (including comedians Dave Chappelle and Jim Breuer, from TV's "Saturday Night Live") trying to sell pot to bail out a friend (Harland Williams, from "RocketMan") who accidentally poisoned a diabetic horse - the equine partner of a New York City cop! The movie also features embarrassing cameos from Jon Stewart, Janeane Garofalo and Snoop Doggy Dogg. R (drug use, profanity, sex, nudity, vulgarity). (Cinemas 5.) (Jan. 17, 1998)

HARD RAIN - * 1/2 - A tense beginning and some decent acting (especially from Morgan Freeman) gets swamped by dumb character and plot developments in this long-delayed action thriller, originally titled "The Flood," about an armored-car guard (Christian Slater) trying to protect a cash shipment from robbers and a crooked sheriff (Randy Quaid) during a disastrous Midwestern rainstorm. R (violence, profanity, gore, vulgarity, attempted rape). (Carmike 12, Cinemas 5, Flick.) (Jan. 16, 1998)

HOME ALONE 3 - * 1/2 - Milking his favorite formula for all it's worth, writer/co-producer John Hughes recasts "Home Alone" with Alex D. Linz ("One Fine Day") as yet another Chicago youngster who sets booby traps for inept bad guys. If your idea of fun is someone being hit on the head with barbells, enjoy. PG (violence, vulgarity, profanity, partially nude poster). (Sandy Starships, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (Dec. 12, 1997) - Chris Hicks

I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER - * 1/2 - Empty-headed thriller from "Scream" scriptwriter Kevin Williamson about four teens (including TV stars Jennifer Love Hewitt and Sarah Michelle Gellar) stalked and killed, one by one, by a murderer. Even less wit than "Scream," and things play out like a standard "slasher" flick. R (violence, profanity, gore, sex, nude silhouettes). (Sandy Starships, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (Oct. 17, 1997)

THE JACKAL - * 1/2 - Dreadful "remake" of "The Day of the Jackal," though there is little resemblance in this story of an assassin (Bruce Willis) hired to kill the director of the FBI. The FBI's deputy director (Sidney Poitier) releases an imprisoned Irish terrorist (Richard Gere) to help. In-your-face approach, huge lapses in logic and ridiculous gore undermine any serious intentions. R (violence, gore, profanity, vulgarity). (Valley Fair.) (Nov. 14, 1997) - C.H.

JACKIE BROWN - * * - Quentin Tarantino's long-awaited followup to "Pulp Fiction," an adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel "Rum Punch," is way too long and lacks energy. Veteran character actor Robert Forster (nominated for an Academy Award) does steal things as a sympathetic bail bondsman, but former "blaxploitation" actress Pam Grier doesn't get enough to do as the lead character. R (profanity, racial epithets, violence, drug use, sex, vulgarity, brief partial nudity). (Brewvies.) (Dec. 26, 1997)

JOHN GRISHAM'S THE RAINMAKER - * * * - Since he wrote the screenplay and directed, maybe it should be "Francis Ford Coppola's The Rainmaker." Slick, all-star adaptation is still pulp fiction, but the "Rocky"-like courtroom drama about a young, idealistic lawyer (Matt Damon) taking on an insurance company is compelling. Subplot about an abused woman (Claire Danes) he takes under his wing is less so. Co-stars include Danny DeVito, Jon Voight and unbilled Danny Glover. PG-13 (violence, profanity) (Murray.) (Nov. 21, 1997) - C.H.

KISS THE GIRLS - * * - This psychological thriller, about a serial killer who kidnaps college co-eds, is fairly compelling in its first half, thanks largely to first-rate performances of Morgan Freeman as a forensic psychologist and Ashley Judd as a victim who has escaped. But it falls apart as with a ridiculous resolution. R (violence, attempted rape, profanity, vulgarity). (Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (Oct. 3, 1997) - C.H.

KUNDUN - * * - More like a series of beautiful snapshots than a compelling motion picture, director Martin Scorsese's dramatization of the life of the Dalai Lama, from his early childhood to his exile from Tibet, just skims the surface and is never involving enough. Some dazzling cinematography and a great Philip Glass score, though. PG-13 (violence, gore). (Creekside, Flick.) (Jan. 16, 1998)

L.A. CONFIDENTIAL - * * * - Good-looking and glitzy, but sometimes confusing and very violent crime thriller, based on James Ellroy's novel, about detectives in 1950s Los Angeles investigating murders and a conspiracy that involves crooked cops and prostitutes who look like famous starlets. The cast, which includes Kim Basinger, Kevin Spacey and Danny DeVito, certainly helps. Nominated for nine Academy Awards. R (violence, gore, profanity, nudity, sex, torture, drug use, racial epithets). (Creekside, Midvalley, South Towne, Trolley Square.) (Sept. 19, 1997)

THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO LITTLE - * * - A classic example of a performer being funnier than the material, this cloak-and-dagger comedy, starring Bill Murray as a bungling American who winds up embroiled in an assassination plot, is sillier than it is funny. Still, it's almost worth it to see Murray's hilarious dance with a troupe of Russian performers. PG (violence, vulgarity, profanity, torture). (Kaysville, Sugar House.) (Nov. 14, 1997)

MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL - * * - A disappointingly shallow adaptation of John Berendt's fact-based bestseller, about a young New York writer assigned to cover a Christmas party thrown by an eccentric Southern antiques dealer (Kevin Spacey), who is subsequently arrested and tried for murder. Director Clint Eastwood concentrates on too many details and not on the big picture. R (profanity, vulgarity, violence). (Sugar House.) (Nov. 21, 1997)

MORTAL KOMBAT ANNIHILATION - turkey - Stupid and headache-inducing sequel to 1995's surprise hit, based on the ultra-gory video game. In it, a team of martial-arts fighters try to save the world from an interdimensional dictator. Even the action isn't very exciting. PG-13 (violence, gore, profanity). (Valley Fair.) (Nov. 22, 1997)

MOUSE HUNT - * * - Good-looking but not nearly funny enough, this live-action cartoon pits Nathan Lane and British character actor Lee Evans against a pesky rodent (a real-life mouse, aided by computer-generated effects) for possession of a multi-million-dollar mansion. Too mean-spirited and far too vulgar for a "children's" film. PG (violence, vulgarity, brief partial nudity). (Cottonwood, Midvalley, Sandcastle, South Towne.) (Dec. 19, 1997)

MR. MAGOO - turkey - A dumb and extremely unfunny live-action comedy, based on the now-controversial '60s cartoon, that manages to offend more than just the visually impaired. Leslie Nielsen, who plays the bungling, nearsighted eccentric, has never been so irritating. PG (violence, vulgarity, bikini babes). (Cinemas 5.) (Dec. 26, 1997)

MRS. BROWN - * * * - Restrained version of one of history's most unusual relationships, between a Scottish horse-riding coach (Billy Connolly) and Queen Victoria (Oscar nominee Dame Judi Dench), who became reacquainted in the years following the death of Prince Albert. At times the action is too subdued and inconsistent, but dazzling performances from the leads help. PG (profanity, violence, brief nudity, vulgarity). (Midvalley.) (Aug. 1, 1997)

THE POSTMAN - * 1/2 - Ripping off "The Road Warrior" whenever possible, Kevin Costner's latest film is a visually arresting but laughable futuristic Western. And the story, about a drifter (Costner) who inadvertantly begins a revolt against a despotic leader when he poses as the title character, is unbelievably corny. R (violence, profanity, gore, nudity, sex, vulgarity, racial epithets, drug use.) (Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (Dec. 26, 1997)

THE RAINMAKER - See "John Grisham's The Rainmaker." THE REPLACEMENT KILLERS - * * * - It's definitely not brain fodder, but Hong Kong action star Chow Yun-Fat's U.S. feature film debut is a brisk-moving, exciting action-thriller about an assassin who discovers he has a conscience and winds up running from his former employers when he fails to execute a detective's son. And co-star Mira Sorvino has fun as his accidental sidekick. R (violence, gore, profanity, vulgarity). (Carmike 12, Century, Creekside, Gateway, Midvalley, Reel, Sandy 9, Trolley Square.) (Feb. 6, 1998)

SEVEN YEARS IN TIBET - * * 1/2 - Beautifully photographed and well-meaning, but emotionless, epic drama about Austrian mountain-climber Heinrich Harrar (Brad Pitt) who escaped from a British P.O.W. camp in India during World War II, and wound up being the tutor for the young Dalai Lama. Good support from veteran Asian character actors and co-star David Thewlis, but Pitt's performance is too distant and the screenplay is a bit shallow. PG-13 (violence, profanity, brief gore). (Kaysville, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (Oct. 10, 1997)

SPICE WORLD - turkey - An awful star vehicle for international pop stars the Spice Girls (an extremely unfunny blending of "A Hard Day's Night," "This is Spinal Tap" and "Speed!"), this stupid and tasteless musical comedy is unsuitable for all moviegoers - especially its obvious target audience of 8-year-old girls. PG (vulgarity, violence, brief nudity, profanity). (Carmike 12, Creekside, Gateway, Midvalley, Sandy 9, Trolley Square.) (Jan. 23, 1998)

STARSHIP TROOPERS - * - Corny, poorly acted and shockingly gory adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein's classic science-fiction novel about futuristic marines sent off to other worlds to repel an invasion of huge intergalactic insects. Director Paul Verhoeven ("Showgirls," "RoboCop") piles on the goo, but doesn't even attempt characterizations or real storytelling. R (violence, gore, nudity, profanity, vulgarity). (Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (Nov. 7, 1997)

TITANIC - * * * - Too long by at least 45 minutes, director James Cameron's romance/adventure epic - set aboard the ill-fated passenger ship - is also more passionate and thrilling than most of what we've seen lately. Things are helped enormously by stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, playing doomed lovers, and the fact that almost all of the reported $200 million budget seems to have gone to the dazzling historical recreations. Nominated for 14 Academy Awards. PG-13 (profanity, violence, nudity, vulgarity, sex). (Carmike 12, Century, Cottonwood, Crossroads, Gateway, Plaza 5400, Reel, Sandy 9.) (Dec. 19, 1997)

TOMORROW NEVER DIES - * * 1/2 - The plot is thin and the one-liners have never been so lame, but Pierce Brosnan's second outing as James Bond is still exciting in a mindless sort of way - especially because of the presence of Hong Kong action star Michelle Yeoh, who steals the picture as a Chinese spy who becomes Bond's sidekick. Co-stars Jonathan Pryce and Teri Hatcher are pretty much wasted, though. PG-13 (violence, vulgarity, sex, nudity, profanity). (Brewvies, Carmike 12, Cinemas 5, Cottonwood, Gateway, Kaysville, Sandy 9.) (Dec. 19, 1997)

WAG THE DOG - * * * 1/2 - As sharp a political satire as we've seen since "Bob Roberts," this wicked comedy features a dream pairing of Oscar nominee Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro as, respectively, a Hollywood producer and a White House "spin doctor" who create a "war" to deflect attention away from a presidential sex scandal just weeks before the election. Great performances all around and the script sparkles. R (profanity, vulgarity, violence). (Broadway, Carmike 12, Holladay, Midvalley, Sandy 9.) (Jan. 9, 1998)

THE WINGS OF THE DOVE - * * * 1/2 - Helena Bonham Carter and Alison Elliott should get Oscar consideration for their performances in this intelligent adaptation of Henry James' novel, about a society woman (Carter) forced to chose between her status and a journalist who is a commoner (Linus Roache), until she strikes on a scheme to have him court and marry a dying rich American (Elliott). Nominated for four Academy Awards. R (nudity, sex). (Carmike 12, Flick.) (Nov. 21, 1997)

*****

On Line

Past movie reviews and capsules by Chris Hicks and Jeff Vice are available online. Search for MOVIES.