A sampling of capsule reviews of movies from the U.S. Catholic Conference (USCC) Office for Film and Broadcasting:
Aaron's Magic Village (Avalanche)
Animated version of Isaac Bashevis Singer's stories about a Jewish village in Poland that becomes threatened by a wicked sorcerer's Golem until an orphaned lad helps save the hamlet and its foolish residents. Directed by Albert Hanan Kaminski and narrated by Fyvush Finkel, the humorous tale conveys the distinctive flavor of Jewish culture and tradition, though the story tends to drag between lively musical numbers. The USCC classification is A-I. The film is rated G—general audiences.
Different for Girls (First Look)
British drama in which a man (Rupert Graves) meets a woman (Steven Mackintosh) whom he finally recognizes is an old school chum who has undergone a sex-change operation, and unwittingly proceeds to wreck his friend's new life, then tries to make amends. Directed by Richard Spence, the story's bizarre situation is given some plausibility by the credible performances of the two leads, though what makes it notable is the serious treatment of the human dignity of a person who's attempted to switch genders. Troubling theme of transsexuality, several sexual encounters with brief nudity, and some rough language. The USCC classification is A-IV. The film is rated R—restricted.
The Edge (20th Century Fox)
Stranded in the Alaskan wilderness and trailed by a hungry Kodiak bear, a billionaire (Anthony Hopkins) and a fashion photographer (Alec Baldwin) struggle to survive the elements and their mutual mistrust over the rich man's much younger wife (Elle Macpherson). Directed by Lee Tamahori, the harrowing adventure is well acted, tautly edited, and psychologically suspenseful, despite a few lapses in logic. Some intense, gory violence, intermittent profanity, and recurring rough language. The USCC classification is A-III. The film is rated R—restricted.
In & Out (Paramount)
Sex farce about the comic confusions of a 40-year-old small-town teacher (Kevin Kline) whose life goes topsy-turvy days before his wedding when an Oscar-winning former student announces to the world that the teacher is gay. Director Frank Oz mixes warmhearted humor with broadly funny performances as the farcical proceedings poke fun at gay and straight stereotypes. Flippant treatment of homosexuality, brief male kissing scene, occasional profanity, and an instance of rough language. The USCC classification is A-IV—adults. The film is rated PG-13.
The Myth of Fingerprints (Sony Classics)
Prickly family relationships and tenuous romantic involvements are at stake when four adult children (including Noah Wyle and Julianne Moore) return to rural Maine for a tense Thanksgiving weekend with their gentle mother (Blythe Danner) and coldly critical father (Roy Scheider). Writer-director Bart Freundlich's keenly observed character study reflects how young adults continue to be affected by parental figures as they struggle to form lasting love relationships. Discreet sexual encounters, brief recreational drug use, some rough language, and much profanity. The USCC classification is A-III. The film is rated R—restricted.
The Assignment (Triumph)
Sordid thriller in which a callous CIA agent (Donald Sutherland) inveigles a Navy lieutenant (Aidan Quinn) into impersonating an international terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal in hopes this will lure the real Carlos (also Quinn) out of hiding. Directed by Christian Duguay, the loosely fact-based story emphasizes hard-edged violence in scenes of terrorism and of the lieutenant killing without hesitation while masquerading as the merciless assassin. Much brutal violence, rationalization of adultery, some seamy sexual encounters with full nudity, occasional profanity, and frequent rough language. The USCC classification is O. The film is rated R.
USCC Office of Film and Broadcasting classification guide
A-II—adults and adolescents
A-IV—adults, with reservations (This classification designates problematic films that, while not morally offensive in themselves, require caution and some analysis and explanation as a safeguard against wrong interpretations and false conclusions.)