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Melinda Miller


VALUE JUDGMENTS By Ellen Goodman Farrar Straus Giroux 345 pages, $22SHE SAYS Ross Perot "fancies himself the thinking man's Rambo." She thinks Dan Quayle missed the target when he struck out at Murphy Brown, that he should have aimed at Jake, her ex-husband, the new villain left out of the family picture -- the unwed and unwilling-to-wed father. And she believes the mil…

THE GOLDEN MEAN: In Which the Extraordinary Correspondence of Griffin & Sabine Concludes By Nick Bantock Chronicle Books 40 pages, $17.95"GRIFFIN & Sabine," a "Jolly Postman" for adults, broke into the mailboxes of two passionate correspondents in 1991 and, in doing so, broke through the upper strata of the best-seller lists. Illustrator/author Nick Bantock wisely fol…

THE "WIDE Sargasso Sea" imagined by filmmakers Jan Sharp and John Duigan turns the magic of love into sheer sorcery. In bringing to life Jean Rhys' acclaimed postmodern novel, they hold true to the spirit of the author's lyrical prose while elaborating on her themes of erotic sensuality and desperate obsession.The setting is Jamaica, about 150 years ago. Slavery has been…

FIRE WITH FIRE: The New Female Power and How It Will Change the 21st Century By Naomi Wolf Random House 373 pages, $21WOMEN have to count on themselves and one another if they ever expect to get anything near equality with men. But they are their own worst enemies. Either they misinterpret the goals of their feminist sisters as a radical man-hating lesbian agenda, or …

Anyone who hates children and dogs can't be all bad, W.C. Fields said. He would have liked the creators of "Beethoven's 2nd," for they certainly don't do either group any favors. Poor Beethoven, the lovable St. Bernard who was so resourceful in his film debut, has been shockingly domesticated for this sequel.At first his malaise is blamed on the lack of romance in his …

The performances of the Sugarplum Fairy and her assorted confections practically leap from the screen in the new filmed version of "The Nutcracker" by the New York City Ballet. As a stand-in for those unable to see one of the live versions of the holiday ballet, it fills its pointe slippers well.All the special effects here are those created by dancers. Director Emile Ardo…

TREACHERY, or at least deceit, figures prominently in three new video releases. "Dave," a comedy of a presidential pretender, shows treachery at a national level; in "Three of Hearts," the deception is purely personal; while the caper film "Shoot" tries to fool the audience into thinking they're seeing a real movie.Promos of "Shoot" call it the sleeper film of the season, …

"JOSH AND S.A.M." is a charming little-buddy road movie about brotherly love and brotherly hate, and how complicated growing up can be. The boys in the title are trapped between counter-costal divorced parents, with neither time nor inclination to understand their sons, and the kids are smart enough to know their situation stinks.But filmmaker Bill Weber wisely doesn't…

IN THE parallel universe where babies and animals soundlessly communicate in adult voices, the humor ranges from Bob Saget's voice-overs on "America's Funniest Home Videos" to Don Ameche's sage put-downs as a lost dog in the movie "Homeward Bound." Somewhere in the middle is "Look Who's Talking," now a three-part series with "Look Who's Talking Now."The original "Talki…

SUMMER GLOVES By Sarah Gilbert Warner 195 pages, $18.95IN THE photograph on the back of "Summer Gloves," author Sarah Gilbert's perfect white teeth smile out from under a cascade of brown curls with a cuteness that belies the bite of her extraordinary writing. It fits.The story of "Summer Gloves" is deceptively undemanding. Former beauty queen Pammy Outlaw packs up her …

REVIEW Mr. WonderfulRATING:** 1/2 A divorced couple can't let go of what they had, even when they each find someone new. Starring Matt Dillon, Annabella Sciorra, Mary-Louise Parker and William Hurt. Directed by Antho ny Minghella ("Truly, Madly, Deeply"). Rated PG-13, playing at the Ma ple Ridge 8, Market Arcade 8, Seneca Mall and Walden Galler ia cinemas.Wh…

Jeff and Jane Blue are top-notch secret agent crime fighters and new parents, but all their wit, style and flashy action can't keep character actor Stanley Tucci from stealing "Undercover Blues" right out from under them and their cute little baby.As a lunatic crook who calls himself "Muerte -- that's 'Death' in Spanish," and "Morty" to his frequent and unflappable target …

"Into the West" is a glorious tale of adventure and magic, a story for young and old and people in that wide range in between who like something special to go with their popcorn. It follows all the rules of good storytelling, making getting there half the fun and being there the other half. In honor of its Irish pedigree, let's call it the gold at the end of the rainbow.T…

The beginning of "Fortress" is dark and threatening in a way familiar to anyone who has seen "Road Warrior," "Blade Runner" or any of those movies with that scruffy, unwashed view of the future. It's understood in the story that soap company Colgate-Palmolive is no longer in the big corporate picture.But at least in these other futures, there also were no rules. In "Fortre…

POWER IN THE BLOOD By Greg Matthews HarperCollins 858 pages, $23HIDDEN deep inside "Power in the Blood," Greg Matthews' latest doorstop of a novel, is a heck of a tale. Wild West action and religious obsession, bloodthirsty Indians and cold-blooded bounty hunters, brothers and a sister cruelly separated by fate and astoundingly reunited. And a child branded at birth wit…