MADAME SOUSATZKA -- Here's a perfect one-woman show, and the show belongs to its star, Shirley MacLaine. As directed by John Schlesinger, MacLaine plays an eccentric piano teacher who specializes in coaching - and maturing -- the brightest of her students. Adapted to the screen by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala from a book by Bernice Rubens, 'Madame Sousatzka' is a memorable film portrait of a multi-faceted and fascinating character, and a timeless story of separation, loss and the exhileration of new talent. Rated PG-13.
-- An ordinary tale of murderous drug dealers and renegade cops gets turned upside down with the invention of a new race of beings -- and some out-of-this-world acting -- in this film directed by Graham Baker and starring James Caan and Mandy Patinkin. This science-fiction thriller is giddy with oddball twists on the tired old cops-and-robbers genre. The cast, including Terence Stamp as the alien ringleader of an evil drug operation, plays every situation with the right amount of unselfconscious humor. Rated R.
-- The world of stand-up comedy is explored with a dark and angry intensity in 'Punchline,' an oddly uplifting movie written and directed by David Seltzer and starring Tom Hanks and Sally Field. Hanks's performance gives the movie its best moments looking at why sometimes the clown is really hiding a heart full of tears. Rated R.
-- Starring Jeremy Irons as a pair of twin gynecologists, and directed by David Cronenberg, 'Dead Ringers' is a beautifully structured and well-acted movie, but it certainly isn't an easy film to watch. Still, if you like horror movies, this one will keep you on the edge of your seat, albeit squirming every minute. Also starring Genevieve Bujold. Rated R.
MILES FROM HOME
-- A tale from the dark side of the nation's farm crisis. Directed by Gary Sinise and starring Richard Gere and Kevin Anderson, 'Miles From Home' chronicles two brothers who set fire to their farm rather than give it over to the banks, becoming reluctant and irresponsible heroes in the process. When the movie shows the brothers picking their dangerous path as much from selfishness and arrogance as from desparation, the film has a gritty, believable realism. Rated R.
-- Starring Mark Harmon and Jodie Foster, here is a sentimental movie that glows with golden hues while weaving a story of death and emotional loss. But though 'Stealing Home' packs a lot of emotional wallops, more often than not, the punches miss their mark. It's a nostalgia film that's pleasant to watch but tough to listen to. Every time you think the turbulent emotions will be explained, you get nothing more than another pretty shot. Rated PG-13.
A FISH CALLED WANDA -- An uproarious film by writer-actor John Cleese about ingenious and stupid jewel thieves who team up to steal millions in gems, and then to steal them again from each other. The antics alone are fun to watch, but the dialogue is priceless, and there's never been such a hilarious blend of American and British humor. Also starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline and Michael Palin.
MARRIED TO THE MOB
-- Avant-garde director Jonathan Demme takes a hip look at the world of mobsters, and the results are a monument to garishness. Trouble is, 'Married to the Mob' is too smart to be really funny. The only one having some fun seems to be Dean Stockwell, who plays gangster Tony the Tiger Russo. Also starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Matthew Modine and Alec Baldwin.
THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST
-- Martin Scorsese's most provocative film also turns out to be uncomfortably slow-paced and sluggish. It was adapted by Paul Schrader from the book by Nikos Kazantzakis, and stars Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel and Barbara Hershey. 'The Last Temptation of Christ' focuses on the human Christ's struggle as he realizes his divinity. Scorsese, though master of the intensity of the struggle of the human spirit, seems to be overawed with the subject. Rated R.
-- What promises to be a wacky misadventure of two psychic misfits ends up being a confused and confusing jumble of half-witted comedy and ridiculous drama. This stars Cindi Lauper, Jeff Goldblum and Peter Falk. The vibes for comedy on this set were definitely not in working order. Directed by Ken Kwapis.
-- Tom Cruise plays an irresistible bartender in his latest film, directed by Roger Donaldson. But his good looks, brash confidence and easy style don't save this small-minded movie. 'Cocktail' is so steeped in corn, the drama seems comedic and the comedy is about as funny as a hangover. This film is pure drivel. Also starring Elisabeth Shue and Bryan Brown. Rated R.