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OCTOBER 19, 1998: 

BELOVED (R)
Sethe (Oprah Winfry) is a runway slave struggling to forget. She and her two children scratch out a meager existence in 1873 rural Ohio, but the painful spirits of the past keep coming back to upset the delicate balance Sethe has worked so hard to achieve.
Prediction: Oprah is certainly not desperate for cash and can afford to wait for exactly the right script to come along. Somehow, I suspect this is it, even though this Toni Morrison Pulitzer Prize-winning masterwork seems like it would be incredibly tricky to bring to the screen. Director Jonathan Demme (Philadelphia, Silence of the Lambs) may be just the guy to help Oprah do it.
Probable Entertainment Value: A



CHILD'S PLAY 4: BRIDE OF CHUCKY (R)
Did you see the first three? It's a lot like those—only this time "Chucky Gets Lucky." Stars a veritable who's who of washed-up talent, including John Ritter and Jennifer Tilly. I'll spare you the details.
Prediction: Ooh. Scary.
Probable Entertainment Value: D



FIRELIGHT (R)
Charles Godwin loves his wife, despite the fact that she was crippled in a riding accident. Godwin wants a child and contracts with a Swiss governess to get one. She, however, can't bear to be parted from the tike these two conceive and arranges to become her nanny. Passions re-ignite. And you thought the Clinton scandal was steamy.
Prediction: When will people realize that writer-director William Nicholson's films, like Nell and Shadowlands, are quiet pleas for help? Generally very good pleas for help, mind you, but still solid indications that Nicholson may just need a big ol' hug.
Probable Entertainment Value: B



THE IMPOSTORS (R)
Think Abbott and Costello. Think Laurel and Hardy. Think Stanley Tucci and Oliver Platt as two 1930s comic geniuses who can't get a decent job. They accidentally insult a famous actor and need to lie low. So, they stowaway on the very ship that the famous actor is on. Let the slapstick ensue!
Prediction: Unfortunately, Tucci, who also wrote and directed, doesn't seem to have the same magic touch that he did with Big Night, proving that screwball comedy is hard while Italian food is very easy.
Probable Entertainment Value: C



PERMANENT MIDNIGHT (R)
Writer Jerry Stahl was a junkie—brilliant, granted, but a junkie nonetheless. Ben Stiller, Maria Bello, and Elizabeth Hurley star in this bleak adaptation of Stahl's autobiography. Reprising its role as a soulless machine sucking the life out of creative folk is Los Angeles.
Prediction: Take your lithium before you go. This should be a powerful, bumpy ride.
Probable Entertainment Value: B



PRACTICAL MAGIC (PG-13)
Sally (Sandra Bullock) and Gillian (Nicole Kidman) are two witches, doomed by a family curse, through which the men they fall in love with die an untimely death. Of course, one of them flips for Aidan Quinn, the other for Goran Visnjic and must figure out how to get the relationships to last, kind of like Maggie on Northern Exposure.
Prediction: Color me a sucker for flicks about sorcery. It all started with The Witches of Eastwick...
Probable Entertainment Value: B


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