The wrong hero
"Hero" is an examination of the American need for heroes, and it watches as TV makes a giant celeb out of a lean-jawed, tragic fellow who appears to have saved 54 people from a fiery death in an airline crash. He's everything the media craves: sensitive, handsome, caring. He's just not a hero. That's a ratty-looking Dustin Hoffman, a petty criminal touched momentarily by grace. Wonderful movie, with Geena Davis and Andy Garcia. PG-13. *** 1/2 .
"My Cousin Vinny" is pretty funny, if crude. Joe Pesci plays a somewhat shady lawyer called into action when his cousin is arrested on a murder charge in the South. The movie seems set to indulge in stereotypes -- stupid, hick Southerners, venal, fast-talking Northerners -- but it pulls back and discovers not the differences but the commonalities of the characters. And Marisa Tomei has a brilliant turn as Vinny's girlfriend. PG-13. ** 1/2 .
Scott McPherson's "Marvin's Room" is a wacky black comedy with a cast of characters that features a woman dying of leukemia, a teen-ager who burned down his house, and a stroke victim whose few remaining pleasures include sucking Yahtzee dice. Although the production, receiving its area premiere at Washington's Kennedy Center, doesn't always set the proper tone of absurdity, it does movingly convey the affirmation and love underlying this offbeat text. Performances are today and tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $28.50-$45. Call (800) 444-1324.
J. Wynn Rousuck
The 'fourth man'
Masterpiece Theatre kicks off its 22nd season tomorrow night with what has to be the 10,000th treatment of the Philby-Burgess-Maclean spy scandal. This one is about Sir Anthony Blunt, the so-called "fourth man" in the ring. Blunt, played by James Fox, was also an art expert well-connected in the highest levels of English society. That's part of what made the scandal traumatic to the Brits -- that they were betrayed by their best and brightest. Alan Bennett adapted the story from stage to TV. John Schlesinger directs. Tomorrow at 9 p.m. on MPT (channels 22 and 67).