| (posted Tuesday, Nov. 12)|
| Movie The English Patient (Miramax). Critics rave. Words like "rapturous," "gorgeous," and "breathtakingly vivid" dominate reviews of the new movie by British director Anthony Minghella (Truly Madly Deeply). Starring two actors known for their "sexy mystery" and haughty "cool" (in the words of Time's Richard Corliss)--Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas--and set against the "stunning backdrops" of North Africa and Italy (Variety's Todd McCarthy), the movie follows the fortunes of four characters recovering from injuries, both emotional and physical, sustained during World War II. "The whole film is permeated with tenderness for its hurt characters," says SLATE's Sarah Kerr. "Predominant impression is one of a highly cerebral yarn fraught with ironies," McCarthy says. "This is a big film, serious and voluptuous," Corliss says. "This, you realize with a gasp of joy, is what movies can do." Stills and trailers are available at Miramax's site.|
| Book My Dark Places, by James Ellroy (Knopf). This account of a crime novelist's investigation into his own mother's murder has impressed Ellroy's harshest critics. New York's Walter Kirn writes that he once dismissed Ellroy's prose as "a riot of trivial jive talk," but now sees it as "genius." SLATE's Luc Sante and the New York Times' Michiko Kakutani both admire Ellroy's deft application of cool style to overheated subject matter. But Tom de Haven, writing in Entertainment Weekly, finds Ellroy's nonchalance in the face of grisliness "tiresome." (For an excerpt, see Random House's site for the book.)|
| Television Ink (Mondays, 8:30 p.m., on CBS). Critics award this newly overhauled sitcom the faintest of all possible praise: that it's not as bad as the original pilot. By common consensus, the Ted Danson-Mary Steenburgen series about a divorced couple working in the same newsroom shows promise, but lacks wit and star chemistry. The exacting Tom Shales of the Washington Post calls the show "polished, plucky, and professional--and stunningly devoid of interest." "Unfunny," says Entertainment Weekly, giving the show a C-.|
| Movie Breaking the Waves (October Films). Danish director Lars Von Trier's tale of a Scottish woman's sexual awakening won the Grand Prize at Cannes last spring and raves at the New York Film Festival this fall. A "raw, crazy tour de force," said Janet Maslin of the New York Times. "That rarest of films," echoed the Boston Globe's Jay Carr, "... that dares to be about spirituality." The film's general release, though, has sparked a small backlash. The New Yorker's Terrence Rafferty dismisses Breaking the Waves as "two and a half hours of ponderous sleight of hand," and SLATE's Sarah Kerr likens Von Trier to a dreamy, but manipulative, date.|
| Book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, by Samuel P. Huntington (Simon & Schuster). The Harvard political scientist's big-think foreign-policy tome is already promising to feed the quarrels set off by the 1993 Foreign Affairs article on which it is based. This treatise is "so sweeping in its effort to incorporate a vast panorama into a single concept" that it invites quibbling, says Richard Bernstein (in the New York Times), who quibbles with Huntington's reading of the Bosnian war. In the Wall Street Journal, Francis Fukuyama calls the new book "dazzling in its scope and grasp of the intricacies of contemporary global politics" before attacking its central premise--that civilizations have superseded nation-states as the main actors on the global stage. S LATE's Robert Wright devotes the most recent " The Earthling" to contesting the rest of Huntington's claims.
--Compiled by David Greenberg.
Illustrations by Nina Frenkel