Critical Moment

Our Opinionated Guide from One to Five Stars


Whitney Houston, 'The Greatest Hits' (Arista, 2 CDs) After all the tabloid stories, here's what counts: that voice. No one of her generation sings with more character and conviction. A.S. 4 Stars

Phish, 'Farmhouse' (Elektra) The consummate tour/jam band grounds meandering grooves with actual song structures and (gasp!) a sense of direction. L.A. 3 Stars

Pearl Jam, 'Binaural' (Epic) Their sixth CD reeks of rock expertise, but there's nothing here to fall in love with. D.M.G. 2 Stars

North Mississippi Allstars, 'Shake Hands With Shorty' (Tone-Cool) Hard-core blues scholarship (Fred McDowell note for note), hard-core rock attitude. D.G. 4 Stars

Steve Reich, 'New York Counterpoint/Eight Lines/Four Organs' (Nonesuch) Exhilaratingly maddening minimalist classics, meticulously re-recorded by New York's Bang on a Can Ensemble. D.G. 4 Stars


Matthew Kneale, 'English Passengers' (Doubleday) A wryly comic, beautifully told seafaring yarn about a 19th-century preacher's crackpot voyage to discover the Garden of Eden in, of all places, Tasmania? Yo. Ho ho. M.J. 3 Stars


Center Stage "Fame" meets "The Turning Point" meets "The Red Shoes." When American Ballet Theatre star Ethan Stiefel dances, you almost forgive the cliches. D.A. 2 Stars

Time Code The form of Mike Figgis's one-take, split-screen, digital video movie is fresher than the content, a familiar satire of Hollywood. Still, it's fascinating off-the-cuff cinema. D.A. 3 Stars


Dirty Pictures (Showtime, May 27) James Woods stars as the Cincinnati museum director charged in the 1990 Robert Mapplethorpe obscenity trial. Is it art? The photos are. The preachy movie isn't. M.P. 2 Stars