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On the screen

STARTING THIS WEEK

INSTINCT -- Dramatic thriller from director Jon Turteltaub ("Phenomenon"), starring Anthony Hopkins as a gorilla expert imprisoned for murder. Cuba Gooding Jr. co-stars as an ambitious psychiatric student who tries to find out the truth. R (violence, profanity, gore). (Broadway; Carmike 12; Century; Creekside; Gateway; Midvalley; Redwood, with "10 Things I Hate About You"; Ritz; Sandy 9.)

THE MIRROR -- Using film-within-a-film story elements, this drama from Iranian director Jafar Panahi (1995's "The White Balloon") follows a young girl who has to make her way through Tehran's busy streets when her mother forgets to pick her up from school. In Farsi, with English subtitles. Not rated, probable PG (violence). (Exclusive, Tower.)

SPECIAL SCREENINGS

JET LI FILM FESTIVAL -- A two-week showcase of films featuring the "Lethal Weapon 4" star, including "My Father is a Hero," a 1995 thriller that stars Li as an undercover police officer falsely accused of a crime (June 4-8), and "Swordsman 2," a 1993 martial-arts adventure film with Li playing the title character (June 9-10). In Cantonese, with English subtitles. See story in this section. These films are not rated but may contain some R-rated material. (Tower.)

CONTINUING FILMS

ANALYZE THIS -- ** -- This mob comedy starts well but gets too frantic. Billy Crystal stars as a psychologist who reluctantly treats a panicky crime lord (Robert De Niro). De Niro has fun spoofing his earlier roles, but it's too violent and crude. R (profanity, violence, vulgarity, sex, partial nudity, ethnic slurs). (Brewvies, must be 21 or older; Cinemas 5.) (March 5, 1999)

BABY GENIUSES -- * 1/2 -- The adult performers (who include Kathleen Turner, Christopher Lloyd and Kim Cattrall) look embarrassed to be in this dumbbell kiddie comedy about superintelligent toddlers who escape a secret lab. Think "Baby's Day Out," on an even louder, stupider scale. PG (violence, vulgarity, profanity). (Cinemas 5, Kaysville, Sandy Starships, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (March 12, 1999)

BLACK MASK -- * 1/2 -- Horribly violent and gory thriller featuring action star Jet Li ("Lethal Weapon 4") as a medically enhanced super soldier forced to fight his former colleagues. Bad dubbing and a rap soundtrack only exacerbate the problems. Dubbed. R (violence, sex, profanity). (Redwood, with "Life.") (May 15, 1999)

BLAST FROM THE PAST -- ** 1/2 -- Another fish-out-of-water comedy for Brendan Fraser, who stars as a man who emerges from a fallout shelter after 35 years. While the first hour's too slow and the material's pretty thin, Fraser and Alicia Silverstone are appealing together. And the supporting cast is a hoot, especially Dave Foley ("A Bug's Life"). PG-13 (profanity, vulgarity, violence). (Valley Fair.) (Feb. 12, 1999)

THE CASTLE -- *** 1/2 -- Gently mocking -- but never in a cruel way -- this charmingly low-key Australian comedy follows a family of eccentrics as they try to save their home from being seized by airport developers. Great performances, and more belly laughs than any of its American comedic competitors. R (profanity, vulgarity, violence, ethnic slurs). (Exclusive, Broadway.) (May 21, 1999)

COOKIE'S FORTUNE -- *** 1/2 -- It's deceptively slow in the beginning, but director Robert Altman's latest is a delectable, character-driven comedy about the questionable death of a Southern matriarch. Wry wit and superb performances by the ensemble cast (includes Glenn Close, Julianne Moore, Liv Tyler, Charles S. Dutton and Patricia Neal) makes this one of Altman's best. PG-13 (profanity, sex, gore, violence). (Sandy 9.) (April 16, 1999)

CRUEL INTENTIONS -- * 1/2 -- An exploitative remake of "Dangerous Liaisons" for the teens crowd, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ryan Phillippe as a pair of manipulative step-siblings. Handsome looking, but the performances are terrible and the film appeals to the lowest common denominator. R (profanity, vulgarity, sex, violence, nudity, drug use). (Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (March 5, 1999)

THE DEEP END OF THE OCEAN -- ** -- A surprisingly uninvolving adaptation of Jacquelyn Mitchard's best seller about a couple (Michelle Pfeiffer and Treat Williams) reunited with their kidnapped son -- who now has no memory of them. Too superficial, and Pfeiffer's too-aware performance hurts. PG-13 (profanity, vulgarity, violence). (Kaysville.) (March 12, 1999)

DOUG'S 1ST MOVIE -- ** -- A half-hour of "Doug" is about as much "Doug" as anyone, of any age, can reasonably be expected to withstand at a time. But the success of "The Rugrats Movie" has apparently convinced those who should know better that "Doug" is ready for its multiplex close-up. G (animated violence, vulgarity). (Cinemas 5.) (March 26, 1999) -- Gene Seymour, Newsday

THE DREAMLIFE OF ANGELS -- *** 1/2 -- Stellar lead performances from Elodie Bouchez and Natacha Regnier (who shared the Cannes Film Festival's Best Actress prize) dominate this superb drama about the friendship between two young women sharing a stranger's apartment. Some explicit moments, but much deeper than you'd expect. In French, with English subtitles. R (nudity, sex, profanity, violence, vulgarity). (Exclusive, Broadway.) (May 28, 1999)

EDtv -- *** -- Despite the comparisons, "The Truman Show" was a chillingly observed allegory, while "EDtv" is a lighthearted fable. And it's something else: a witty look at what it's like to go public. PG-13 (sex, partial nudity, profanity, vulgarity, violence). (Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (March 26, 1999) -- Frazier Moore, Associated Press

ELECTION -- *** -- Too crude in at times, this funny satire is still a much-needed comeback vehicle for Matthew Broderick, who stars as a teacher too involved in school elections. Some very witty observances about modern-day politics, and Reese Witherspoon is terrific as the school's star student. R (sex, profanity, vulgarity, nudity, drug use, violence). (Broadway, Century, Plaza 5400.) (May 7, 1999)

ELIZABETH -- ** -- Oscar nominee Cate Blanchett is fabulous as the title character, England's 16th-century "virgin queen." But this drama about her tempestuous reign is too concerned with conspiracies and sexual exploits of the characters to be involving, and the darkly lit sets could have used a candle or two to brighten things up. R (violence, gore, sex, nudity, vulgarity, torture, profanity). (Sugar House.) (Nov. 26, 1998)

ENTRAPMENT -- ** -- Lack of chemistry between the leads is only one of several problems with this good-looking but dull thriller starring Sean Connery as an aging jewel thief being pursued by an insurance investigator (Catherine Zeta-Jones) posing as a fellow thief. PG-13 (violence, profanity, nudity, drug use). (Carmike 12; Century; Creekside; Gateway; Midvalley; Redwood, with "Never Been Kissed"; Reel; Ritz; South Towne; Trolley Corners.) (April 30, 1999)

FORCES OF NATURE -- ** -- Ben Affleck and Sandra Bullock are OK together, playing a nervous groom-to-be and a free spirit thrown together by circumstances. But the plot for this comedy leaves them nowhere to go and the ending is a downer. PG-13 (vulgarity, profanity, drug use, violence, partial nudity). (Cinemas 5; Redwood, with "Notting Hill.") (March 19, 1999)

GO -- *** -- This comedic thriller, which follows some young Los Angelenos during the course of a fateful Christmas Eve, is without socially redeeming values, yet it's still a thrillride as most of the characters get their well-deserved comeuppances. R (profanity, violence, sex, nudity, drug use, vulgarity, racial epithets, gore). (Brewvies, must be 21 or older.) (April 9, 1999)

IDLE HANDS -- turkey -- Gory, stupid rip-off of better horror movies (including the second "Evil Dead" film), which follows a teenage slacker (Devon Sawa) whose hand takes on a murderous life of its own. Just plain awful. R (violence, gore, drug use, vulgarity, profanity, nudity, sex). (Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (April 30, 1999)

JOHN CARPENTER'S VAMPIRES -- * 1/2 -- A disappointingly messy (both in terms of gore and storytelling) horror-thriller from the veteran filmmaker, starring James Woods as a professional monster hunter hired by the Vatican to eliminate some pesky bloodsuckers. Not enough chills, and the humor is uninspired. R (violence, gore, profanity, nudity, vulgarity, sex, torture). (Redwood, with "The Mummy.") (Oct. 30, 1998)

THE KING AND I -- ** -- Some decent performances of the Rodgers and Hammerstein songs, but this animated musical takes too many liberties with the story and even resorts to ugly racial stereotyping. Best used as an introduction for kids to the real thing. G (animated violence, vulgarity). (Kaysville, Sandy Starships, Valley Fair.) (March 16, 1999)

LIFE -- ** -- Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence have surprising chemistry in this uneven comedy about two men serving life sentences in prison for a murder they didn't commit. Unfortunately, the plotting is too ambitious, while much of the humor is still too lowbrow. R (profanity, racial epithets, violence, vulgarity, brief gore). (Redwood, with "Black Mask"; Reel; Ritz.) (April 16, 1999)

LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL -- *** 1/2 -- The premise for this film, a comedy set in a concentration camp, is truly odd. But Roberto Benigni pulls it off, thanks to his Oscar-winning performance as an Italian Jew who attempts to conceal death-camp horrors from his son. Winner of three Academy Awards. In Italian, with English subtitles. PG-13 (violence, ethnic slurs, brief nudity). (Avalon; Brewvies, must be 21 or older; Gateway; South Towne.) (Nov. 6, 1998)

LOST & FOUND -- * 1/2 -- Tasteless rip-off of "There's Something About Mary" starring David Spade as a lovelorn man who kidnaps his neighbor's dog as a part of a scheme to woo her. Spade's at his most irritating here, and he and co-star Sophie Marceau have no romantic chemistry. PG-13 (vulgarity, profanity, nudity, violence). (Kaysville; Redwood, with "The Matrix"; Sugar House; Valley Fair.) (April 16, 1999)

THE LOVE LETTER -- * 1/2 -- An awful vanity piece for Kate Capshaw (a k a Mrs. Steven Spielberg), who stars as a middle-aged bookstore owner who finds an anonymous piece of mail that complicates her love life. Virtually laughless, and there's no chemistry between any of the cast members. PG-13 (sex, profanity, nudity, vulgarity). (Carmike 12, Holladay, Midvalley, Trolley Square.) (May 21, 1999)

THE MATRIX -- *** -- Confusing and long but thrilling cyberpunk film starring Keanu Reeves as a computer hacker recruited to become a part of an underground resistance movement. Great special effects and action scenes overcome the murky plotting. R (violence, profanity, gore, vulgarity, drug use, torture, brief nudity). (Carmike 12; Century; Cottonwood; Crossroads; Plaza 5400; Redwood, with "Lost & Found"; Ritz; Sandy 9.) (March 31, 1999)

MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE -- ** -- Aloof star Kevin Costner is all wrong for this weepy romantic melodrama, based on the best-selling novel by Nicholas Sparks. Still, Robin Wright Penn is good as a journalist who finds a letter in a bottle and then falls in love with its author. And Paul Newman is terrific as his father. PG-13 (profanity, violence, sex). (Kaysville.) (Feb. 12, 1999)

METROLAND -- * 1/2 -- A dull and uninvolving lead performance from Christian Bale helps doom this dull and uninvolving comic drama, based on the Julian Barnes novel about a thirtysomething Londoner coming to terms with middle-class existence during the 1970s. Not rated, probable R (sex, nudity, profanity, drug use, violence, vulgarity). (Exclusive, Broadway.) (May 28, 1999)

THE MUMMY -- ** -- Don't expect too much and you might be pleasantly surprised by this special-effects driven action/thriller. Brendan Fraser is good as an adventurer who accidentally frees the title character, but there's too much goofy humor and the first hour's a snore. PG-13 (violence, vulgarity, nudity, mild profanity). (Carmike 12; Century; Crossroads; Holladay; Midvalley; Redwood, with "John Carpenter's Vampires"; Reel; Ritz; South Towne; Trolley North.) (May 7, 1999)

MY FAVORITE MARTIAN -- * 1/2 -- The 1960s television sitcom gets the "Dr. Dolittle" treatment with this idiotic comedy, which stars Jeff Daniels as an earthling who hides an extraterrestrial (Christopher Lloyd) in his home. Neat special effects, but there are flatulence gags galore and the ending is troublingly violent. PG (violence, vulgarity, nudity, mild profanity). (Kaysville, Sandy Starships, Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (Feb. 12, 1999)

NEVER BEEN KISSED -- ** -- Drew Barrymore pours on the charm again in this comedy about a shy newspaper reporter who goes undercover as a high school student. Unfortunately, the script isn't funny, and the geek-to-chic storyline doesn't work at all. PG-13 (vulgarity, profanity, drug use, violence, partial nudity). (Gateway; Midvalley; Redwood, with "Entrapment"; Ritz; Sandy 9.) (April 9, 1999)

NOTTING HILL -- *** -- Funny but foul-mouthed reunion for the "Four Weddings and a Funeral" team, including Hugh Grant, playing a bookstore owner who woos a movie star (Julia Roberts). Good chemistry helps, as do some well-placed jabs at the entertainment business. PG-13 (profanity, vulgarity, partial nudity). (Carmike 12; Century; Holladay; Midvalley; Redwood, with "Forces of Nature"; Reel; Ritz; South Towne; Trolley North; Trolley Square.) (May 28, 1999)

OCTOBER SKY -- *** -- A genuine family drama, adapted from Homer Hickam Jr.'s autobiographical novel "Rocket Boys." Young star Jake Gyllenhaal is terrific as Hickam, who escaped life in coal country to become a NASA engineer. And Chris Cooper and Laura Dern lend terrific support. PG (profanity, violence, vulgarity). (Gateway, Midvalley, South Towne, Villa.) (Feb. 19, 1999)

THE OTHER SISTER -- ** -- This comedy/drama about two mentally challenged people finding love goes wrong with the casting of two "normal" actors (Juliette Lewis and Giovanni Ribisi) in those parts. Also, the script is too heavy-handed and the thing runs on much too long. PG-13 (vulgarity, nude drawings, profanity, violence). (Sugar House.) (Feb. 26, 1999)

THE OUT-OF-TOWNERS -- ** -- A case where the performers make the material better, this remake of Neil Simon's 1970 comedy is marred by sexually oriented material. But Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn are charming, and John Cleese is a real hoot in a supporting role. PG-13 (vulgarity, sex, profanity, drug use, violence) (Plaza 5400, Sandy 9.) (April 2, 1999)

PAYBACK -- *** -- It's too violent, but this thriller from "L.A. Confidential" screenwriter Brian Helgeland also features Mel Gibson's best performance in a while. He stars as a thief who seeks vengeance on his former partner and his mob employers. Not for the squeamish. R (violence, profanity, gore, torture, nudity, sex, drug use, racial epithets, vulgarity). (Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (Feb. 5, 1999)

THE PRINCE OF EGYPT -- *** -- Marred by some "Cliff Notes" storytelling, this ambitious, animated retelling of the Book of Exodus is still powerful. The cast of vocal talents, including Val Kilmer as Moses and Ralph Fiennes as Rameses, helps, as does some dazzling animation (especially the breathtaking "Parting of the Red Sea" scene). PG (animated violence). (Sandy Starships.) (Dec. 18, 1998)

PUSHING TIN -- ** -- This dark comedy about the personal and professional rivalry between two air traffic controllers (John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton) starts well. But it comes crashing to earth with ludicrous sitcom-like plot contrivances and histrionics. A real disappointment. R (profanity, nudity, violence, vulgarity). (Plaza 5400.) (April 16, 1999)

SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE -- **** -- There's finally a film that "does" Shakespeare right -- this clever comedy follows the romantic misadventures of the famous playwright, who is having trouble writing until he finds a muse (Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow). Intelligent writing and the great cast also help. Winner of seven Academy Awards. R (sex, violence, nudity, vulgarity, profanity, torture). (Broadway, Cinemas 5, Cottonwood.) (Dec. 25, 1998)

SHE'S ALL THAT -- * 1/2 -- This bland, ugly-duckling comedy for teens features a mismatched pair of leads -- Freddie Prinze Jr., as high school heartthrob, and Rachael Leigh Cook, as an oddball he makes over on a bet. It also compounds the problem by throwing in some crass gags and awful performances. PG-13 (profanity, vulgarity, bikini babes, violence, brief sex). (Sugar House, Valley Fair.) (Jan. 29, 1999)

SLC PUNK! -- ** -- Dumb counterculture comedy from former Salt Lake resident James Merendino, about punk-rock slackers during the late '80s. And though Matthew Lillard brings the right amount of intensity to his role, the material isn't nearly funny or thought-provoking enough. R (profanity, violence, drug use, sex, vulgarity, gore, nudity). (Brewvies, must be 21 or older.) (April 16, 1999)

STAR WARS: EPISODE ONE -- THE PHANTOM MENACE -- *** -- Not nearly as bad as the initial reviews would indicate, the long-awaited first installment of George Lucas' prequels is a bit icy but still thrilling look back at the early life of Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) as he joins his fellow Jedi knights, including Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor). Great effects and action help it overcome some slow spots. PG (violence, vulgarity). (Carmike 12, Century, Cottonwood, Gateway, Midvalley, Reel, Ritz, Sandy 9, Trolley Corners.) (May 19, 1999)

10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU -- ** 1/2 -- Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew" gets the "Clueless" treatment with this too-crude but still somewhat appealing teen comedy about a sullen high school student who is persuaded to woo his hard-to-get classmate. PG-13 (vulgarity, profanity, nude drawings, violence). (Plaza 5400; Redwood, with "Instinct"; South Towne.) (March 31, 1999)

THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR -- * 1/2 -- Some good visuals, but this science-fiction thriller is also a half-baked noir piece about a programming genius who creates an alternate reality on a computer chip -- one that becomes frighteningly real when he is accused of murder. Awful performances, and even worse writing doom things. R (violence, profanity, brief gore). (Carmike 12, Century, Creekside, Crossroads, Midvalley, Ritz, South Towne, Trolley North.) (May 28, 1999)

THREE SEASONS -- *** 1/2 -- As mesmerizing as it is beautiful, this metaphorical drama from newcomer Tony Bui follows three different stories about the changing face of Vietnam. Well-acted and with a subtle emotional punch that hits you after the film has ended. In English and Vietnamese, with English subtitles. PG-13 (profanity, violence, partial nudity). (Exclusive, Broadway.) (May 21, 1999)

TREKKIES -- *** -- It's not the most flattering portrait of its subjects -- hard-core fans of the "Star Trek" television series and films. But this tongue-in-cheek documentary is also a very funny look at the activities at some of the infamous conventions. Former "Next Generation" star Denise Crosby co-produced and narrates. PG (vulgarity, partial nudity). (Plaza 5400.) (May 21, 1999)

A WALK ON THE MOON -- ** 1/2 -- Well-acted but contrived '60s-era drama from actor-turned-director Tony Goldwyn about a housewife (Diane Lane) who has an extramarital affair with a traveling salesman (Viggo Mortensen). As usual, Lane is very good, as is Anna Paquin, who plays her teenage daughter. R (profanity, nudity, sex, drug use, violence, vulgarity). (Plaza 5400.) (April 9, 1999)

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE'S A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM -- *** -- A star-studded attempt to make the Bard accessible to the masses again, which benefits from genuine laughs and well-timed comedic performances from Kevin Kline and Stanley Tucci. PG-13 (nudity, sex, mild profanity, vulgarity). (Carmike 12, Century, Gateway, Holladay, Ritz, Sandy 9, Trolley Square.) (May 14, 1999) -- Dainon Moody