DANCE WITH ME
A handsome Cuban handyman sweeps a dance instructor off her feet with his unschooled footwork and charm in this passionate dancing yarn set to sizzling Salsa. Vanessa L. Williams and Latin American pop star Chayanne star in this old-fashioned romance in which an amateur teaches a professional a thing or two about discipline, dreams and love, all set to hot Latin grooves by Gloria Estefan, Ruben Blades, Jon Secada and others.
Director: Randa Haines. Stars: Vanessa L. Williams, Chayanne, Kris Kristofferson, Joan Plowright. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 126 min.), Musical drama, 1998, Box office gross: $15.814 million, (Columbia TriStar), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/12, DVD: Day & Date.
Unsatisfying thriller about high school kids scientifically conditioned to behave well who eventually go ballistic when the programming goes awry. This cross between "A Clockwork Orange" and "Stepford Wives" with hot teen stars has all the requisite elements of your typical high school horror film: good kids gone bad, a wacko doctor (here a slightly lunatic psychiatrist), a pretty heroine, a hunky hero, and the trigger for all the mayhem: sex. Stars James Marsden, Katie Holmes, Nick Stahl, Bruce Greenwood, William Sadler, Steve Railsback.
Director: David Nutter. Stars: James Marsden, Katie Holmes, Nick Stahl, Bruce Greenwood, William Sadler, Steve Railsback. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 83 min.), Thriller, 1998, Box office gross: $17.494 million, (MGM), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/5, DVD: Day & Date.
Life and love set against the backdrop of the famed, exclusive New York 1980s nightclub Studio 54. One of a host of 1998 films that are paeans to the me-me-me 1980s, this one follows the adventures of a young man who makes it past the velvet ropes into the inner workings of a wondrous and glamorous world inhabited by would-be disco singers, social climbing bus boys, the famous and the infamous. Highlighted by a throbbing disco soundtrack. Stars Mike Myers, Salma Hayek, Ryan Phillippe, Neve Campbell and Sela Ward.
Director: Mark Christopher. Stars: Mike Myers, Salma Hayek, Ryan Phillippe, Neve Campbell, Sela Ward. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 93 min.), Drama, 1998, Box office gross: $16.574 million, (Miramax), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/12, DVD: No.
HOW STELLA GOT HER GROOVE BACK
Spicy, touching romance about a 40-year-old black woman's (Angela Bassett) mid-life crisis: Though Stella has achieved success in the investment field, she's neglected her inner self. Divorced and without a man in sight, she joins her best friend (Whoopi Goldberg) on a trip to Jamaica where she surprises herself and rekindles her love life. Hunky Taye Diggs plays the 20-year-old who helps Stella win the battle with herself. Based on the best-selling Terry McMillan novel.
Director: Kevin Rodney Sullivan. Stars: Spicy Bassett, Whoopi Goldberg, Taye Diggs, Regina King, Suzzanne Douglas. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 125 min.), Drama, 1998, Box office gross: $37.279 million, (Fox), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/6, DVD: No.
Typical Jim ("Hot Shots") Abrahams' spoof, this time taking pot shots at the Mafia in a rough take-off of "The Godfather." Every scene you can imagine that might lend itself to parody takes a grilling by the talented cast: the late Lloyd Bridges (as the patriarch of the powerful crime family who, as a child, had to swim to America from Sicily), Jay Mohr, Christina Applegate and Olympia Dukakis. Definitely for fans of this genre only.
Director: Jim Abrahams. Stars: Lloyd Bridges, Olympia Dukakis, Christina Applegate, Jay Mohr. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 87 min.), Comedy, 1998, Box office gross: $19.847 million, (Buena Vista), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/19, DVD: No.
OUT OF SIGHT
Off-kilter love story-cop actioner-thriller about a U.S. Marshal (Jennifer Lopez) and a career bank robber (George Clooney) who meet and fall in love when he escapes from a prison in Florida and heads back to Detroit for one last score. Flashbacks fill out the characters and their motivations. Lopez steps out in her role as a lovestruck cop who always falls for the wrong man, while Clooney adds the right amount of sparkle with his fast talking charm. Based on an Elmore Leonard novel. Co-stars Ving Rhames, Dennis Farina and Don Cheadle.
Director: Steven Soderbergh. Stars: Jennifer Lopez, George Clooney, Ving Rhames, Dennis Farina, Don Cheadle. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 123 min.), Action thriller, 1998, Box office gross: $37.400 million, (Universal), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/5, DVD: Day and Date.
This very weird film -- about a somewhat mad young scientist who holes up in his urban garret with a variety of electronic gear in order to find a mathematical order to life -- balances an involving philosophical meditation on existence with an off-the-wall mystery. Max is close to discovering a 216-number sequence that could bring order to chaos. But he's being chased by a brokerage firm that wants the sequence to manipulate Wall Street, and is wooed by Hasidic Jews who feel the number represents a long- lost Kabalistic code for the coming of the Messiah. At every turn Max is followed and oppressed -- or is he just flat out a paranoid schizophrenic? A jarring soundtrack with grainy black and white images keeps you on the edge of sanity. Abstract and cerebral. A first time film with a fresh cast, well worth investigating.
Director: Darren Aronofsky. Stars: Sean Gullette, Mark Margolis, Ben Shenkman, Samia Shoaib, Pam Hart, Stephen Pearlman. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 85 min.), Drama, 1998, Box office gross: $3.171 million, (Artisan), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/12, DVD: Day & date.
RETURN TO PARADISE
A joy-ride Malaysian vacation of sex and drugs turns bad for a trio of three carefree guys when, after two of them return to the States, the third is arrested (unbeknownst to his friends) on drug charges and sentenced to death. Back in the U.S., the prisoner's lawyer tries to persuade the pair to return to Malaysia and take some of the heat: If they do three years apiece in a nasty prison, their ex-buddy's life will be spared. A kind of "Midnight Express" for the '90s. Stars Vince Vaughn, Anne Heche, Joaquin Phoenix, David Conrad and Jada Pinkett Smith.
Director: Joseph Ruben. Stars: Vince Vaughn, Anne Heche, Joaquin Phoenix, David Conrad, Jada Pinkett Smith. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 109 min.), Drama, 1998, Box office gross: $8.288 million, (PolyGram), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/19, DVD: No.
High-octane thriller teams up Jackie Chan (as a Hong Kong cop sent to the U.S. to help an old friend get back his kidnapped daughter) and Chris Tucker (as a misfit L.A. cop) for fantastic stunts, action and comedy. Both stars get to do what they do best: Chan's martial arts and acrobatic skills come to the fore and Tucker gets to lip-off non-stop. The duo fight off the bad guys (the Chinese Mafia) while eluding the FBI and the L.A.P.D. (who want the pair to keep off the case). Straight-ahead enjoyment.
Director: Brett Ratner. Stars: Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, Ken Leung, Elizabeth Pena, Julia Hsu, Chris Penn. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 97 min.), Action, 1998, Box office gross: $130.000 million, (New Line), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/26, DVD: Day & date.
SLUMS OF BEVERLY HILLS
Wonderfully funny and gentle coming-of-age-comedy about a 15-year-old girl's (the talented Natasha Lyonne) growing problems: her rising sexuality and her dysfunctional, nomadic family, (headed by a Willie Loman-type car dealer dad, played by Alan Arkin) who move from dump to dump in Beverly Hills so the kids can stay in the better Beverly Hills schools. Complicating matters is the arrival of messed-up cousin Rita (Marisa Tomei), fresh from a drug rehab hospital, whose stay with the family poses both a salvation and a threat. Though set in 1976, there's more than nostalgia at the heart of this tale of personal and familial acceptance. Highly recommended.
Director: Tamara Jenkins. Stars: Natasha Lyonne, Alan Arkin, Marisa Tomei, Kevin Corrigan, Jessica Walter, Rita Moreno, Carl Reiner. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 91 min.), Comedy, 1998, Box office gross: $5.376 million, (Fox), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/19, DVD: No.
Two men take off on a life-changing road trip in this off-beat film that won a Filmmakers Trophy and Audience Award at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. It's the story of a young Native American man's struggle to reconcile his relationship with his alcoholic father who, years earlier, set the family house afire while in a drunken stupor. Though laced with humor, the film takes a serious look at the demons that haunt many Native Americans forced -- for whatever reason -- to languish in 20th century reservations.
Director: . Stars: Adam Beach, Tantoo Cardinal, Irene Bedard. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 89 min.), Comedy, 1998, Box office gross: $6.653 million, (Miramax), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/19, DVD: No.
TRUMAN SHOW, THE
Possibly the finest film of the year is Peter Weir's astute dissertation on the nature of existence and faith, in the form of naif Truman Burbank, whose whole life -- unbeknownst to him -- has been orchestrated in a fabricated environment for the sole purpose of a TV show. Every second of every day from the moment he was born, Burbank (Jim Carrey) has been the unwitting star of "The Truman Show" -- the longest-running No. 1 soap opera in history -- living in a picture perfect town that's actually a gigantic soundstage, surrounded by an entourage of family and friends who are really actors. But a series of technical glitches one day sets into motion events that shatters Burbank's idyllic existence, forcing him to uncover the truth behind his life. A tour-de-force for everyone concerned.
Director: Peter Weir. Stars: Jim Carrey, Ed Harris, Laura Linney, Natascha McElhone. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 103 min.), Satire, 1998, Box office gross: $125.618 million, (Paramount), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/12, DVD: No.
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