A few good movies, along with many bad ones, will open and overstay their welcomes because studios know that summer releases will be forgotten by Oscar time.


A Illusion review by Joan Ellis.

Along with its many pleasures, summer brings a sinking feeling to the hearts of movielovers. A few good movies, along with many bad ones, will open and overstay their welcomes because studios know that summer releases will be forgotten by Oscar time. Although video is a paltry substitute for the real thing, you'd do well during the doldrums to catch the good movies you missed in '98.

A Merry War - This eccentric British story offers humor and sharp observations of class structure, money, and the arts. Helena Bonham Carter loves an aspiring poet, but is not about to follow meekly to his garret.

Artemesia - In a 17th century culture hostile to women artists, Artemesia is determined to do the forbidden. Director Agnes Merlet has created an astonishingly beautiful film. The flavor, mood, and landscape are glorious.

Black Cat, White Cat - A crazy comedy of multilingual, multicultural chaos in a Gypsy settlement on the Danube. A hilarious assortment of friends, relatives, and generations lives in frenzied chaos. It's the Gypsy culture bathed in bright light and gleeful energy.

Enemy of the State - An absorbing information-age thriller starring Jon Voight, Jason Robards, Will Smith, and Gene Hackman. The movie plays against the inevitable dark and chilling side of technology.

Sliding Doors - Gwyneth Paltrow shines in this story of the two lives of one woman who moves about in the tangled webs of contemporary courtship. It's a tale of missed connections and fateful accidents.

Great Expectations - With a tip of its hat to Dickens, this movie spins an otherworldly spell, as if it were filmed from our imaginations as we read from the page-with Gwyneth Paltrow, Ethan Hawke, and Chris Cooper.

Mrs. Dalloway - A cast of marvelous actors supports the luminous presence of Vanessa Redgrave, who moves among them quietly and majestically. It's a lovely movie set in a time of friendship, limitations, and parasols.

The Negotiator - A good cops versus bad cops hostage drama handled expertly by Kevin Spacey and Samuel L. Jackson, who add a cerebral touch to the violence.

Return to Paradise - Ann Heche and Vince Vaughn rise to the challenge of a morality play. A culture clash forces two people to reach deep inside themselves as they try to save an American imprisoned in Malaysia for drug dealing.

Slums of Beverly Hills - An amiable R-rated story about the Family Abramowitz, five nomads struggling to hold on to their dignity in the face of poverty. It's raunchy and funny, with an unusual measure of sweetness.

Pleasantville - A beautifully imagined movie about the struggle between self-realization and conformity. It's the world as a perfect TV show - a lesson on how to live in a blaze of color.

Oscar and Lucinda - A wondrously offbeat story of two wildly different people in a landscape of vivid imagery and surpassing natural beauty. Cate Blanchette and Ralph Fiennes--that says it all.

Remember to turn off the lights and cell phones. You can at least pretend you're at the movies.

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
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