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Issue: "The Marriage Amendment," June 8, 2002

The Others (rated PG-13 for thematic elements and frightening moments) was a sleeper hit last year. It's a ghost story in the classic sense-no violence or gore, or much use for special effects. Most of the plot, about a mother and her two children shut up in a remote British mansion, depends on foreboding and suggestion.

Nicole Kidman carries the film with her strong-willed performance as a protective mother caring for two children with an extreme sensitivity to light-thus the servants keep every curtain closed and every door locked in the huge home. It's a great set-up, and the film delivers some genuinely frightening moments, along with a neatly conceived surprise at the end. The film, however, is diminished by a thinly veiled contempt for the lead character's devout faith, which is, in the end, shown to be weak and ineffectual.

Cable channel A&E recently aired a two-part film on Sir Ernest Shackleton's 1914 attempt to cross Antarctica. Shackleton (not rated) is now available on video and DVD. Kenneth Branagh stars as the title character, a flawed, egotistical man who is nonetheless capable of great bravery when called upon to lead his men to safety when the expedition goes disastrously awry.

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Shackleton's crew doesn't leave the ship to set off across the ice until about halfway through the film. However, it's the early stages of the expedition that are particularly interesting, as Shackleton attempts to gather together a suitable crew and the necessary funds to launch his mission.


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