NEW FILMS FRIDAY
GONIN - Japanese director Takashi Ishii, that country's version of Quentin Tarantino, made this stylish but ultra-violent thriller about a bunch of urban desperadoes on the run from gangsters. Reviewed in this section on Page W10. In Japanese, with English subtitles. Not rated, probable R (violence, gore, profanity, rape, nudity, torture, vulgarity). (Exclusive, Tower.)
OSCAR AND LUCINDA - An odd love story, adapted by director Gillian Armstrong ("Little Women") from Peter Carey's novel about an unconventional heiress (Cate Blanchard, from "Paradise Road") and a disgraced Anglican minister (Ralph Fiennes) addicted to gambling in 19th century Australia. Reviewed in this section on Page W10. R (violence, sex, nudity, vulgarity, profanity). (Exclusive, Broadway.)
PALMETTO - A former journalist and ex-con (Woody Harrelson) gets involved in the kidnapping of a teenage heiress in this blackly comic thriller from director Volker Schlondorff ("The Tin Drum," "Swann in Love"). Co-stars include Elisabeth Shue, Gina Gershon and Chloe Sevigny ("Tree's Lounge"). Reviewed in this section on Page W10. R (violence, profanity, sex, vulgarity, gore, brief partial nudity). (Century, Gateway, Holladay, Midvalley, South Towne, Trolley Square.)
SENSELESS - Marlon Wayans stars in this urban comedy as a struggling university student who volunteers to be a guinea pig for a scientist's experiments, which wind up heightening some of his senses and deadening others. Co-stars include David Spade and Rip Torn. Reviewed in this section of Page W8. R (vulgarity, profanity, nudity, drug use, violence, sex). (Creekside, Gateway, Midvalley, South Towne, Trolley Corners.)
THE SWEET HEREAFTER - Director Atom Egoyan's faithful and acclaimed adaptation of the Russel Banks novel (it was even praised by the author himself), about a lawyer (Ian Holm, from "The Fifth Element") capitalizing on the misery of parents whose children died in a tragic a bus crash. Reviewed in this section on Page W10. R (profanity, sex, violence, nudity, vulgarity). (Exclusive, Broadway.)
KRIPPENDORF'S TRIBE - A comedy starring Richard Dreyfuss as an anthropology professor forced to "create" a New Guinea tribe (himself and his children in disguise) to qualify for grant money. Jenna Elfman (TV's "Dharma and Greg") co-stars. To be reviewed when it opens Feb. 27. PG-13 (vulgarity, violence, profanity). (Saturday: Creek-side, South Towne.)
ANGEL ON MY SHOULDER * * * - Clever variation on "Here Comes Mr. Jordan" (by the same screenwriter), about a murdered gangster (Paul Muni) is given a second chance when the devil places him in the body of a dead judge who has been fighting crime. But instead of helping Satan, he strives to outwit him. Muni is great in a change-of-pace fantasy, with nice support from Anne Baxter and Claude Rains. Black and white; made before ratings (1946), probable PG (violence). (Avalon.) - Chris Hicks
THE CAMERAMAN - * * * 1/2 - Delightful comedy from the end of the silent era, with Buster Keaton as an aspiring newsreel photographer who tries to prove himself during a gang war in Chinatown. Intricately structured, with many hilarious sight gags. Accompanied by Blaine Gale on the Wurlitzer Theatre Organ. Made before ratings (1928), probable PG (violence). (Organ Loft, Friday, 7:30 p.m.) - C.H.
HUNTERS IN THE SNOW - University of Utah professor Kevin Hanson made this 42-minute 1990 drama, based on Tobias Wolff's short story, about power struggles between three men on a deer hunting expedition. This program is not rated but may contain some PG-13 or R-rated material. (Salt Lake Art Center, Friday only, 8 p.m.)
AFTERGLOW - * * - Writer/director Alan Rudolph ("Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle") looks at infidelity and marriage with this at-time interesting, but just as often annoying drama involving two Canadian couples (Oscar nominee Julie Christie and Nick Nolte and Lara Flynn Boyle and Jonny Lee Miller) - two of whom are having an affair. R (sex, violence, profanity, vulgarity, nudity). (Exclusive, Broadway.) (Feb. 13, 1998)
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 slave ship 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 Dji-mon Hounsou - isn't given enough to do. R (violence, gore, nudity, torture, mild profanity). (Brewvies.) (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, Kaysville, Olympus, Sandcastle, Sandy Starships, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (Nov. 21, 1997)
THE APOSTLE - * * * 1/2 - Robert Duvall's long-overdue third film as a director is this Oscar nominated drama about a disgraced preacher (Duvall, nominated in the Best Actor category) who rediscovers his faith when he's forced to flee Texas after viciously beating another man. Religion and faith usually aren't portrayed nearly as sympathetically and intelligently as they are here, and all the performances are very strong. PG-13 (profanity, violence, racial epithets). (Broadway, Sandy 9.) (Feb. 13, 1998)
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, Reel, South Towne.) (Dec. 26, 1997)
BEAUMARCHAIS, THE SCOUNDREL - * * * - Recalling "Tom Jones" in places, this witty farce from director Edouard Molinaro (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 revolutionary in 18th-century France. In French, with English subtitles. Fabrice Luchini, who plays Beaumarchais, isn't quite as charming as he needs to be, though. Not rated, probable R (nudity, vioilence, vulgarity, sex, profanity). (Exclusive, Tower.) (Feb. 13, 1998)
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). (Holladay, Midvalley, South Towne, Trolley North.) (Feb. 6, 1998)
THE BORROWERS - * * 1/2 - Marred by some tasteless and vulgar jokes, this big-screen version of Mary Norton's beloved children books - about a clan of very, very tiny people trying to thwart an evil developer (John Goodman) - has some dazzling visuals and a brisk pace. But in the process, some of the charm is lost. PG (violence, vulgarity, mild profanity). (Carmike 12, Gateway, Holladay, Plaza 5400, Sandy 9, Trolley Square.) (Feb. 13, 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, Creek-side, Plaza 5400, Sandy 9.) (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). (Olympus, Plaza 5400.) (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). (Kaysville, 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). (Kaysville, Sandy Starships, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (Dec. 12, 1997)
FOUR DAYS IN SEPTEMBER - * * * - Somewhat compelling, but also somewhat muddled, fact-based drama from director Bruno Barreto ("Carried Away") about a group of naive Brazilian idealists who kidnapped a U.S. ambassador (Alan Arkin) in 1969. The screenplay is smart, but Barreto tries to concentrate on one character too many, however. Nominated for the Best Foreign Film Academy Award. R (profanity, violence, torture, nude photos, vulgarity). (Exclusive, Midvalley.) (Feb. 13, 1998)
THE FULL MONTY - * * * - Somewhat raunchy, surprisingly touching and always hilarious British comedy about six financially strapped English steelworkers (including "Trainspotting's" Robert Carlyle) who are inspired by a touring Chippendales show to take it all off for a one-night show, in hopes of making a killing at the box office. But they find that their inhibitions get in the way. Strong characterizations and laugh-out-loud visual gags highlight this winner. Nominated for four Academy Awards. R (nudity, profanity, vulgarity). (Broadway.) (Sept. 12, 1997) - C.H.
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, Reel, 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). (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). (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) - C.H.
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). (Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (Oct. 17, 1997)
JOHN GRISHAM'S THE RAINMAKER - * * * - Since he wrote the screen-play 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) (Kaysville, Murray, Sandy Starships, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (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, drug use, racial epithets). (Gateway, Midvalley, South Towne, Trolley Square, Villa.) (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). (Sugar House.) (Nov. 14, 1997)
MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL - * * - A disappointingly shallow adaptation of John Berendt's fact-based best seller, 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)
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 multimillion-dollar mansion. Too mean-spirited and far too vulgar for a "children's" film. PG (violence, vulgarity, brief partial nudity). (Cinemas 5, Olympus.) (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)
PHANTOMS - * 1/2 - Offering further proof that authors shouldn't adapt their own works for the screen, this version of Dean Koontz's 1983 horror novel sinks because of his own terrible scripting. Stars Peter O'Toole, Joanna Going, Rose McGowan and Ben Affleck try to make it work and Joe Chappelle's direction is stylish, though. R (violence, gore, profanity). (Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (Jan. 23, 1998) 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, Midvalley, 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). (Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (Oct. 10, 1997)
SPHERE - * 1/2 - Some novels should never be made into movies, including this science-fiction thriller that's based on Michael Crichton's best seller, about a team of scientists (Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone and Samuel L. Jackson) investigating a long-submerged space craft resting on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Not nearly as cerebral as you'd expect from the cast and director Barry Levinson ("Wag the Dog"). PG-13 (violence, profanity). (Carmike 12, Century, Gateway, Holladay, Plaza 5400, Reel, Sandy 9, Trolley Corners.) (Feb. 13, 1998)
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, Midvalley, Sandy 9.) (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 re-creations. 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). (Carmike 12, Cinemas 5, Cottonwood, Gateway, Kaysville, Sandy 9.) (Dec. 19, 1997)
ULEE'S GOLD - * * * 1/2 - Wonderful, low-key, quietly reflective character piece about a withdrawn, embittered Florida beekeeper (Peter Fonda) who is raising his two granddaughters in a sea of domestic turmoil. But through circumstances he can't avoid, he becomes a reluctant hero. Excellent tale of redemption from filmmaker Victor Nunez ("Ruby in Paradise"), given a tremendous boost by Fonda's career-reviving performance. R (violence, profanity, vulgarity). (Midvalley.) (June 27, 1997) - C.H.
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 WEDDING SINGER - * * 1/2 - Surprising chemistry from stars Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore helps save this silly but sweet romantic comedy, set in the mid-'80s, about a struggling musician and wedding entertainer who falls in love with a waitress who's engaged to be married. PG-13 (profanity, vulgarity, violence, partial nudity). (Century, Cottonwood, Midvalley, Reel, South Towne, Trolley North, Trolley Square.) (Feb. 13, 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)
Past movie reviews and capsules by Chris Hicks and Jeff Vice are available online. Search for MOVIES.