Movie capsules

THE JANUARY MAN -- Directed by Pat O'Connor, the film sets out to be large, dramatic and powerful -- as well as endearing -- and misses on every point. Aiming for a black comedy about betrayal and murder, O'Connor and John Patrick Shanley, the screenwriter of the mega-hit 'Moonstruck,' end up with an erratic hodge-podge that is never quite funny or dramatic, and often just doesn't make good sense. The star-studded cast tries to overcome the material, but it's a losing cause. They include: Kevin Kline, Harvey Keitel, Susan Sarandon, Danny Aiello, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Rod Steiger. Rated R.



-- Starring William Hurt, Kathleen Turner and Geena Davis, 'The Accidental Tourist' is a pleasurably unconventional and often poignant journey through a year in the life of Macon Leary, a man stuck in a groove of contradictions that threatens to bury him alive. Directed by Lawrence Kasdan, and based on the book of the same title by Anne Tyler, the strength of the film is that of the novel: an intoxicating brew of irresistable characters. Rated PG.



-- Barbara Hershey never looked and acted worse than she does with co-star Bette Midler in the sappy, unbelievable and totally predictable tear-jerker. Since Midler plays the part of a songstress who seems a carbon copy of her real self, her part is better but not great acting. Director Garry Marshall is at the helm of this doomed project; the vapid screenplay of 'Beaches' is the fault of Mary Agnes Donoghue. Rated PG-13.


-- Director Mike Nichols comes up with a morality play with a sense of humor that should have been a humor film with a sense of morality. It combines the best of '9 to 5' with Cinderella, but misses all the funniest scenes. Nevertheless, Melanie Griffith and Sigourney Weaver steal the show with their good guy-bad guy roles. Also starring Harrison Ford, Joan Cusack and Alec Baldwin. Rated R.


-- Barry Levinson's latest movie is a far-more complicated comedy than his previous hits, but it takes risks with intimacy and realism and relationships that bring it far beyond those films as well. Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise are haunting and memorable in their depictions of a slick hustler (Cruise) finding and learning to love again his long-lost brother, an autistic savant (Hoffman). Rated R.



-- Teaming the hulking Arnold Schwarzenegger and diminutive Danny DeVito in any movie is an irresistible sight gag. In 'Twins,' this very odd couple take the notion to new heights -- and depths. When the pair are trying the least, they make the double-barreled joke of this movie gut-bustingly funny. It's when Schwarzenegger and DeVito -- as long-lost twins Julius and Vincent Benedit -- seem to be aware of the joke themselves that 'Twins' wears thin. Directed by Ivan Reitman. Rated PG.


-- This story of a drug dealer, a cop and the woman who loves them both is seductive in every visual detail thanks largely to the enormous attractiveness of its stars -- Mel Gibson, Kurt Russell and Michelle Pfeiffer. But though director and writer Robert Towne provides 'Tequila Sunrise' with plenty of memorable scenes, and an edginess that keeps you waiting for the dramatic shoe to drop, it never does, unfortunately, and finally fades into a rather dull sunset. Rated R.


-- Bill Murray came back to the silver screen this Christmas as Frank Cross, a television industry Ebeneezer Scrooge. But this traditional Christmas story, based on the Dickens' classic 'A Christmas Carol,' is just a good excuse for 115 minutes of pure Murray doing some of his best snide and snotty schtick -- despite a disappointing and sappy conclusion. Rated PG-13.



-- Directed and written by Neil Jordan, 'High Spirits' is the story of how a perfectly miserable American couple named Jack and Sharon, played by Steve Guttenberg and Beverly D'Angelo, vacation in an enchanted Irish castle, and wind up falling in love with an equally mismatched pair of ghosts, played by Daryl Hannah and Liam Neeson. Peter O'Toole plays the ne'er do-well drunken heir to the castle, and 'High Spirits' tilts from one ghostly practical joke to the next, aided by high-tech special visual effects. Somehow, the performances of O'Toole and the rest keep the laughs down to earth. Rated PG-13.


-- Taylor Hackford directs this film starring Dennis Quaid and Jessica Lange. The story covers 25 years in the life of a Louisiana football hero called the 'Gray Ghost' (Quaid) and his 'Magnolia Queen' wife, played by Lange. But despite tantalizing performances by Lange and Quaid, convincing costuming and music, and a surprisingly emotional and powerful performance by John Goodman as a good ol' boy, gambling friend, the movie is long on corn and short on plot, motive and dialogue. Rated R.

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