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Reviews of "Eye of the Beholder," "Isn't She Great," "The End of the Affair," and on video, "Stir of Echoes," "Blue Streak" and "Love Stinks"

Quick Flicks

!B! ""Eye of the Beholder" "
!B! "Isn't She Great"
!B! "The End of the Affair"
And on Video
!B! "Stir of Echoes"
!B! "Blue Streak"
!B! "Love Stinks"

"Eye of the Beholder" - Ashley Judd returns to the big screen in yet another thriller. But this time she's much more than a vengeful wife out to kill her husband. Here, she's a full-blown serial black widow. Hot on her trail is Ewan McGregor as a mixed-up British intelligence officer, code name "The Eye." As the two crisscross the country, Judd picks up and dispatches males at her whim, while McGregor spends his time talking to his estranged daughter and falling deeper under Judd's spell.

Sadly, we keep waiting for someone or something to tie this stylish but shallow thriller together. No such luck. Bottom line: McGregor is obsessed. He stalks. Judd kills. She misses her daddy. He misses being a daddy. We never grow to understand or care about either of them.

"Isn't She Great" - Although this movie appears to be about the life of famed trashy-novelist Jacqueline Susann, it's really a valentine to its star, Bette Midler. The first clue that something's amiss? The fact that The Divine Miss M looks nothing like the leggy Susann. I'm sure Nathan Lane looks nothing like Susann's hubby and manager, Irving Mansfield, either.

Watching this bit of bio-manipulation is often entertaining, thanks to screenwriter Paul Rudnick who gives Midler lots of funny one-liners to toss around. But he and director Andrew Bergman seem to be channeling "Auntie Mame." They even throw in Stockard Channing as Susann's hard-drinking, tough-talking sidekick. Midler fans will enjoy their idol; Susann fans won't.

"The End of the Affair" - Literate, intelligent and moody filmmaker Neil Jordan ("The Crying Game") crafts a literate, intelligent and moody retelling of Graham Greene's post-World War II novel about love, adultery and spirituality — this is not your usual chick-flick weepie. Add in the talented cast — Julianne Moore and Ralph Fiennes as the lovers, Stephen Rea as the cuckolded husband — and you're talking a compelling watch.

While Fiennes and Rea handle their respective roles well, it is Moore's incredibly controlled and believable performance that makes this movie work. Jordan's choice to present the pivotal point in the relationship from all three characters' perspectives adds tremendously to the intrigue.

Now on Video
Whew! A whole slew of so-so flicks hitting video stores shelves this week. Which is actually perfect timing since the past few weeks of snow and ice have emptied the shelves of the better movies.

"Stir of Echoes" - Kevin Bacon stars as a blue-collar Boston dad who agrees to let Ileana Douglas hypnotize him as a party trick. A confirmed skeptic, Bacon soon finds himself becoming a portal to the other side. Had this not come on the heels of the much better, much eerier "The Sixth Sense," it would have been much scarier.

"Blue Streak" — Martin Lawrence fans will enjoy this comic caper. Lawrence plays a diamond thief who discovers that while he was behind bars, the L.A.P.D. built a precinct atop his underground stash. To reclaim his jewels, he goes undercover as a cop.

"Love Stinks" - Starring French Stewart (TV's "Third Rock from the Sun"), this prolonged lingerie ad masquerading as a romantic comedy also stinks.

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