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Review of the day for the week of December 8, 1997.

Monday:
Shine

Shine
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Shine is a true, intriguing story about a talented but disturbed young pianist in Australia. Under his father's thumb, David Helfgott learns to play the piano - and develops a remarkable talent. Although he is invited to join many famous colleges abroad, his father refuses to allow David to leave. Finally, David does insist on going away to the prestigious Royal College of Music in London - and his father disowns him.

Despite the fact that he is finally away from his half-crazed father, David's mental health continues to deteriorate. In one humorous scene, David goes out to get his mail - with absolutely no pants on!

Desperate to win an upcoming competition, David works night and day, practicing the difficult piano concerto, Rachmaninoff the 3rd. At the competition, he performs the piece perfectly, but then cracks up and is sent to the looney bin - literally. The rest of the movie depicts his life in the asylum - and eventually out again - and to his life as a musician today.

Following the ups and downs of David Helfgott's life becomes a strange but fascinating road. That's why I recommend this movie.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Tuesday:
The Craft

The Craft
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Although The Craft wasn't the spooky, gory horror masterpiece I'd hoped it would be, it was compelling enough to be entertaining.

Sarah (Robin Tunney), a new girl in town, whom we later find out tried to commit suicide, is drawn to a group of "witches" at her new school. These three girls, who have very different personalities, read witch "almanacs" and practice some decidedly strange rituals. Consequently, almost everyone at school is scared of them.

Sarah is invited to join their little group because she is what they call a "natural" witch - she has powers without creating spells or practicing strange rituals. (Near the beginning of the movie, she stands a pencil on end without touching it, and the other witches note this with interest.)

Now involved in the group, Sarah learns how to increase her powers, and she as well as her friends, cast various "spells" on people. This leads to causing a snob to lose her beautiful hair (well, she had it coming), and then to murder. Too late, Sarah tries to leave the group and its manipulative leader. Unfortunately, at this point, the movie turns into an all too predictable struggle of good versus evil, and we all know how that's going to end. "The Craft" does earn points for some originality, excellent special effects, and convincing acting.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Wednesday:
Sometimes They Come Back...Again

Sometimes They Come Back...Again
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Inspired by and intended to be a sequel to Stephen King's Sometimes They Come Back, this typically disgusting horror picture manages to hold a great deal of entertainment value. And it survives on more than just special effects: the acting is commendable, and the plot, while certainly not the most creative I've ever seen, is just new enough to keep you thinking, and prevent you from figuring out the ending in advance.

After his mother's sudden death, psychologist Jon Porter (Michael Gross) returns to his hometown with his daughter Michelle (Hilary Swank). Intending to look over the house he's inherited, get his mother's affairs in order, and leave shortly, he becomes a little sidetracked by the wacky characters in town, and a few "ghosts" from his past. The unclear cause of his sister's death years earlier, and the truth that only he knew, begin to trouble him, and the local teenager who has become Michelle's new love interest bothers him further. Two rather strange teenage girls also befriend Sarah, and the incredibly stupid yard boy provides comic relief.

This movie kept me very entertained with its lively, spooky pace, good acting, intriguing subplots, and even the eerie background music added to the movie's ambience.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Thursday:
The Full Monty

The Full Monty
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The Full Monty, a loony-bin inspired British comedy is a non-stop side splitter. While the British accents are a bit hard to interpret, they don't detract from the movie, and a funny line is a funny line, no matter what kind of accent you say it with.

Gaz (Robert Carlyle) a divorced and newly laid-off father, desperately needs to make some money so he can keep visitation rights with his son. His buddies are also out of work, and desperate. At one point, they humorously discuss how to kill themselves. One suggests drowning; another protests that he doesn't know how to swim; and the first says, "That's the whole point!" By then I was cracking up.

Finally Gaz devises a plan: he - and his friends - will become male strippers to earn money. Have I mentioned that these guys are all either completely ugly or just average looking? (An especially flabby friend named Dave is the funniest of all.) And, oh yes, Gaz lets his young and impressionable son watch them rehearse.

This results in many hilarious scenes, and the laughter never stops. The acting is, well, average for a comedy, but who cares? It's funny. I only regret I didn't see it sooner (it's been in the box office for months).

My Rating = Three Stars

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Friday:
Home Alone 3

Home Alone 3
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What can I say? This is sure to be a holiday hit, much like its prequels, and any critic who trashes it is sure to get enough hate mail to make her computer crash.

Not that I would trash it anyway - really, the movie wasn't that bad, and had some amusing scenes. It's not just a kids' movie either; even teens and adults will find some amusing scenes. Its star (Alex D. Linz) isn't Macauley Culkin (although he's obviously trying very hard to be Culkin's clone) and would have been much more endearing if he'd just developed the character with his own style, but his acting was certainly adequate, considering his age.

Linz portrays Alex Pruitt, a chicken pox afflicted youngster who is left home alone for only short periods of time during the day - not for the whole holiday season, as Culkin's character was in the first two movies. However, Alex manages to get into quite enough trouble. When he spies on his neighbors, he sees what he assumes is a burglar in a neighbors' house (it's really a spy trying to find a lost computer chip which Alex accidentally acquired). By the time Alex calls the police, the spy is already gone, and Alex is in deep trouble for the false alarm. Now the spies are after Alex and no one believes him.

My main problem with Home Alone III is that I am simply too old to accept the premise of a little kid fighting off the bad guys. The ending annoyed me because it was very apparent and I like at least a little suspense in movies. The audience was laughing uproariously the whole way through the movie, and even I had to laugh at a couple scenes. Unlike most PG-rated "comedies", it was certainly tolerable, and wasn't insulting to your intelligence. I am giving this Three Stars, but it actually is between two and three.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Saturday:
Broken Arrow

Broken Arrow
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Broken Arrow is the type of movie John Travolta should have kept making, rather than branching out into abstract concept movies like last year's Phenomenon".

Travolta plays a disgruntled navy pilot who, although deserving to, hasn't quite managed to make colonel yet. Partly out of resentment for the navy, partly out of the natural desire that everyone has to be rich and famous, he decides to kill his co-pilot and steal two nuclear missiles that his plane is carrying. (Crashing the plane seems an impromptu decision at first, but was actually carefully and elaborately planned with a rich businessman also interested in the missiles, whom Travolta later kills.) When the navy loses a nuclear missile, it's called a broken arrow, hence the movies' name - and hence the navy's panic.

Meanwhile Travolta's copilot unexpectedly survives the crash and meets up with an attractive female park ranger, and we all know that that spells romance - fortunately, they're pretty busy attempting to stop Travolta, so the plot doesn't dally on the romance too long, and doesn't spoil the movie. (If there's anything I hate, it's a romance written into an action movie. It's too much like those old forties movies.)

My Rating = Three Stars

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Sunday:
Beetlejuice

Beetlejuice
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As I've said before, some of the best comedies are disguised as horror movies.

Beetlejuice isn't one of them- although it obviously was intended to be.

Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton), who is supposed to be the star of the movie, doesn't show up until it's halfway over, at which point I already lost interest. Then it doesn't get much better. A young couple dies, only to enter the underworld when they step out their back door (The reason for this is not clearly explained; not that I was terribly interested). Meanwhile, a new family with a solemn but not creepy enough daughter (Winona Ryder, in one of her very early roles) moves into their home. The couple tries to get rid of the family by haunting the house, a hobby at which they fail miserably. So they appeal to Beetlejuice for help, and he finally makes his not so grand appearance.

This is definitely not Keaton's best work, and unless you're a member of the Bad Movie Fan Club, I'd recommend you skip it. I do have to say one thing, though: the false and tacky special effects of ten years ago make you appreciate the superior effects of today's movies.

My Rating = Two Stars

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