Film Festivals

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Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on March 8, 2000. All rights


At the Movies

The Cider House Rules" is a gentle, touching,

heartbreaking, and groundbreaking film that deserves its seven Academy

Award nominations, including best picture, best director (Lasse Hallstrom),

best supporting actor (Michael Caine), and best adapted screenplay

(John Irving wrote the screenplay from his best-selling novel). The

acting performances here are superb, and in a time of bitter, edgy,

surreal, and lampooning movies, this one is straightforward, quiet,


It tells the story of Homer Wells (Tobey Maguire), an innocent, unemotional

young man who leaves the isolated Maine orphanage where he has been

raised and mentored by the resident doctor, Wilbur Larch played by

Michael Caine. Jane Alexander, soon to appear onstage at McCarter

Theater in "The Cherry Orchard," plays the doctor’s caring

assistant, Nurse Edna.

Yearning to explore the world, Homer catches a ride away with an unmarried

couple, serviceman Wally Worthington (Paul Rudd), and Candy Kendall

(the lovely Charlize Theron), who have come to Dr. Larch for a then-illegal

abortion. Homer gets a job apple picking on Worthington’s family farm

and is living in the cider house with its all-black transient crew

led by Mr. Rose (Delroy Lindo), when Worthington is called away to

combat. Now Homer falls into an affair with the lonely Candy.

This is a coming-of-experience movie that tackles big moral issues

and ultimately bespeaks an unquestioned morality. When Worthington

returns from combat, paralyzed from the waist down, Candy returns

unquestioningly to him, while Homer, with equal quietude, renounces

his love for her, accepts his duty to be of service (as Dr. Larch

has taught him), and returns to the orphanage. And there’s another,

higher, moral law reaffirmed, when an errant character grinds a knife

into his own gut.

This is one of few movies to deal with abortion: Dr.

Larch performs them; Homer won’t. Larch, whose orphanage is filled

with unwanted children, tries to teach Homer that he is saving lives

of women who might otherwise die from botched abortions. The young

Homer believes that in matters of sexuality people should "control"

themselves; until he himself is smitten with the seductive Candy.

Later, faced by quite different circumstances, Homer voluntarily performs

an abortion.

Clearly, this is no ordinary big-screen love story. Bookended by orphanage

scenes set in which the clear-eyed, earnest children long to be adopted

into families, the movie could sink into sentimentality. Yet these

scenes seem touchingly real. So does Homer’s repetition, upon his

eventual return to the orphanage, of the now-late Dr. Larch’s refrain

to the children: "Goodnight you Princes of Maine, you Kings of

New England."

And those Cider House rules? Readily ignored. Just as, in certain

circumstances, we may ignore some of the rules we profess to live

by. But forget morality. This is a beautiful, memorable, complex,

and thought-provoking film.

— Joan Crespi

The Cider House Rules. AMC, Destinta, Garden, Loews,

Montgomery, Regal.

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Film Festivals

Second Chance Cinema, presented by Princeton Adult School.

Weekly screenings of 13 films, Wednesdays, at 7:30 p.m., at Kresge

Auditorium, Princeton University. $5. 609-683-1101.

A Simple Plan, Sam Raimi’s 1998 film of two brothers who

find $4 million in a plane wreck, and become caught in a web of greed,

paranoia, and betrayal, with Bill Paxton and Billy Bob Thornton, Wednesday,

March 8. After Life, Kore-eda Hirokazu’s brilliant fantasy set

in a waystation to the afterlife, Wednesday, March 15.

New Jersey Film Festival is presented by the Rutgers Film

Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center. Screenings are Fridays through

Sunday in Scott Hall, Room 123, College Avenue campus, near the corner

of College Avenue and Hamilton Street. Thursday screenings are in

Loree Hall, Room 024, Douglass College campus, near the corner of

Nichol Avenue and George Street. All programs begin at 7 p.m. Call


Psycho, Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins in Alfred Hitchcock’s

notorious 1960 thriller — on the big screen, $5, Thursday, March

23. American Movie, Chris Smith’s comic 1999 feature, set in

Memomonee Falls, Wisconsin, about a filmmaker’s two-year struggle

to make a movie. $5, Friday to Sunday, March 24 to 26. Las Hurdes,

Luis Bunuel’s 1937 pseudo-documentary about poverty in Spain. Borders

Books, free, Wednesday, March 29.

Japanese New Wave Cinema, a 10-week series of classic

and rare films, presented by Princeton University’s East Asian Studies

Program, screens Mondays, at 7 p.m., in the James Stewart Film Theater,

185 Nassau Street. Free. 609-258-5722.

Death By Hanging, Nagisa Oshima’s notorious and damning

satire on capital punishment and the true story of the execution of

a young Korean worker, Monday, March 27., April 24.

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Mainstream Flicks">Mainstream Flicks

Confirm titles with theaters.

American Beauty. Annette Bening and Kevin Spacey in Sam

Mendes’ dark comedy about dysfunctional suburban families, leading

the pack with eight Oscar nominations. AMC, Loews, Mercer, Regal.

The Beach. Director Danny Boyle’s lush cinematography

and a cast of beauties led by Leonardo DiCaprio make this a treat

for the eyes. AMC, Destinta, Loews, Mercer.

Being John Malkovich. John Cusack plays a puppeteer who

accidentally enters Malkovich’s mind in this Spike Jonze spicy fantasy,

nominated for three Academy Awards. MarketFair.

Boiler Room. Ben Affleck plays a hot young stock trader

at a firm where the cost of success is high. Ben Younger wrote and

directs. AMC, Loews, Mercer, Regal.

Boys Don’t Cry. Hilary Swank’s powerful portrayal of gender-bending

Brandon Teena won her the Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination. AMC,

MarketFair, Montgomery, Regal.

Drowning Mona. Danny Devito is a cop investigating the

death of Mona (Bette Midler), a woman with more enemies than friends.

AMC, Destinta, Loews, Mercer, Regal.

Galaxy Quest. Tim Allen plays a has-been sci-fi TV show

star recruited by aliens to save their planet. AMC, MarketFair.

The Green Mile. Michael Clarke Duncan and Tom Hanks star

in a screen version of Stephen King’s prison story about an innocent

man with miraculous powers. Oscar nominee for best picture. AMC,

Loews, MarketFair.

Hanging Up. Meg Ryan, Lisa Kudrow, and Diane Keaton as

middle-aged sisters dealing with the approaching death of their father.

AMC, Destinta, Loews, Mercer, Montgomery, Regal.

Holy Smoke. When Kate Winslet leaves home for something

exotic and different, her mother sends Harvey Keitel to show her the

error of her ways. By Jane Campion (`The Piano’). AMC.

The Hurricane. Denzel Washington won a Golden Globe and

an Oscar nomination for his heroic performance based on the life of

the New Jersey boxer twice-tried for a triple murder. AMC.

The Insider. Al Pacino, Russell Crowe, and Christopher

Plummer star in Michael Mann’s movie based on the real-life story

Its seven Oscar nominations include best picture, best actor, and

best director. AMC.

My Dog Skip. The adorable Frankie Muniz of `Malcolm in

the Middle’ stars in this adaptation of Willie Morris’ book about

a lonely young boy who finds friendship in a Jack Russell terrier.

AMC, Destinta, Loews, Mercer, Regal.

The Next Best Thing. Madonna is back from maternity leave

to play a mother, with Rupert Everett as her gay friend who is also

the father of her child. AMC, Destinta, Loews, Mercer, Regal.

Pitch Black. If light is the only thing that keeps monsters

away, watch out for this solar eclipse. AMC, Destinta, Loews,

MarketFair, Regal.

Reindeer Games. Guns, explosions, and Santa suits abound

in this delayed Christmas release with Ben Affleck as a car thief

just out of jail and Gary Sinise who has a plan to get him back in.

AMC, Destinta, Loews, MarketFair, Regal.

Scream 3. Neve Campbell, David Arquette, and Courtney

Cox-Arquette return. AMC, Destinta, Loews, Mercer.

The Sixth Sense. The 1999 hit with Bruce Willis as a psychologist

working with a boy who communicates with the dead. Six Academy Award

nominations. AMC, Destinta, Regal.

Snow Day. Nickelodeon Films’ frosty family comedy. AMC,

Destinta, Loews, Mercer, Montgomery, Regal.

Snow Falling On Cedars. The bestselling novel of the Northwest

brought to the screen by Scott Hicks, starring Ethan Hawke and Youki

Kudoh. MarketFair.

Stuart Little. State-of-the-art moviemaking brings E.B.

White’s beloved mouse to the big screen. AMC.

The Tigger Movie. Winnie the Pooh and company on the big

screen. AMC, Destinta, Loews, MarketFair, Montgomery,


Three Strikes. Brian Hooks gets out of jail only to find

that his hoodlum friends are liable to get them all put away for life.

AMC, Destinta, Loews, Mercer.

What Planet Are You From? Garry Shandling plays a visiting

alien seeking an obliging human to bear his child and save a planet.

AMC, Destinta, Loews, MarketFair, Montgomery, Regal.

The Whole Nine Yards. Bruce Willis stars in a comedy about

an ex-hitman, with Matthew Perry as his uptight next door neighbor.

AMC, Destinta, Loews, MarketFair, Regal.

Wonder Boys. Suffering from writer’s block and a bad marriage,

Michael Douglas learns to grow up. AMC, Garden, Loews, MarketFair,

Montgomery, Regal.

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AMC Hamilton 24 Theaters, 325 Sloan Avenue, I-295 Exit

65A, 609-890-8307. 24-screen, stadium-seating multiplex. $7 adults;

$5 matinees; $5 twilight.

Destinta, Independence Plaza, 2465 South Broad Street,

Hamilton, 609-888-4500. Stadium-seating 12-screen multiplex. $6.75

adults; $5 matinees.

East Windsor Cinemas, Routes 130 and 571, 609-443-9295.

$3 adults; $2.50 matinees. Features Indian language films.

Garden Theater, 160 Nassau Street, 609-683-7595. $6.50

adults; $4 matinees.

Loews Theaters, Route 1 South, New Brunswick, 732-846-9200.

Stadium-seating multiplex. $8.50 adults; $5.25 matinees.

MarketFair-UA, Route 1 South, 609-520-8700. $7.50

adults; $4.75 matinees.

Mercer Mall General Cinemas, Route 1, 609-452-2868.

$7.25 adults; $4.75 matinees.

Montgomery Center Theater, Routes 206 and 518,

609-924-7444. $7 adults; $4.25 matinees.

Regal Cinemas Town Center, 319 Route 130 North, East

Windsor, 609-371-8470. Stadium-seating, 15 screens. $8; $5 matinees.

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