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By Richard von Busack

A Map of the World
Plays at selected theaters.

A long but compelling and satisfying adaptation of Jane Hamilton's novel about the unsettling of America. Especially powerful is Sigourney Weaver's cool, controlled playing of the complex heroine Alice. She's a Wisconsin dairy-farm wife of today, not born to the stresses of rural life. Her marriage to a weak, self-absorbed husband (David Strathairn) makes matters bad. Worse, she's got a temper, and this anger nearly destroys her after the small town she lives in gears up for a witch hunt. In his debut, it's apparent that Scott Elliott--the latest theater director to pick up a camera--doesn't have an eye for cinema yet. His inability to cook up some routine camera angles during confrontation scenes sometimes defuses the drama. And yet the farm and the town look lived in, and the family emotions seem scalding.

The Big Tease
Plays at selected theaters.

Craig Ferguson of TV's Drew Carey Show stars in a dreadfully twee Scots imported comedy. He plays a locally famous Glasgow stylist who mistakenly believes himself to be a competitor in an international hairdressing competition being held in L.A. The Big Tease is predicated on the idea that everything Scottish is an absolute scream, from the accents to the kilts to the thistles. Every gag is stretched out like a last ration in a life boat.

Marcello Mastroianni Retrospective
Plays at the Castro Theater through Jan. 31

Fellini used the actor as his surrogate in 8-1/2 and La Dolce Vita. This changed the handsome leading man into the reigning figure of urbane detachment, which in age spread to include impotence and rot, suggesting capped teeth, sun lamps and toupee. Thus Mastroianni could be called the William Holden of Italy. Some features of the extensive retrospective, already in progress: John Boorman's most obscure movie, the 1969 Leo the Last (Jan. 27 and 30), about a dissipated aristocrat who moves to the slums of London; De Sica's farce Marriage Italian-Style, featuring Mastroianni's frequent co-star Sophia Loren (Jan. 29); and Visconti's adaptation of Dostoyevsky's heartbreaking story White Nights (Jan. 26 and 29).

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From the January 24, 2000 issue of the Metropolitan.

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