Freeze Frames. A weekly update of film releases

BACK TO THE FUTURE -- A teen-ager from 1985 lands in 1955, meets his own parents, and finds himself fiddling with family history in this likable fantasy. Michael J. Fox makes a credible hero, but the show is stolen by Christopher Lloyd as a bug-eyed scientist and a steely De Lorean sedan as a stylish time machine. Directed by Robert Zemeckis and ``presented by'' the unstoppable Steven Spielberg. Marred only by a slow beginning, a little tricky editing, and some offensive ethnic stereotyping. (Rated PG) COCOON -- An expedition from outer space visits Florida to retrieve cocoons left on Earth long ago. The pods are stored in an ordinary swimming pool, which turns into a ``fountain of youth'' for the happily bewildered oldsters who take a daily splash there. The likable story is so upbeat there's not a bad guy in it, although it touches on poignant issues as well as comic ones; and director Ron Howard keeps the action moving briskly, if not smoothly. The cast includes a roster of Hollywood veterans, all in wonderful form. (Rated PG-13)

D.A.R.Y.L. -- The hero is a Pinocchio for the '80s: an android who becomes a real boy, sort of. A very sweet, very good-natured, very silly film. Directed by Simon Wincer. (Rated PG)

DAY OF THE DEAD -- Grisly gore is the gimmick in Part 3 of George A. Romero's gothic ``zombie trilogy,'' which pits a handful of people against armies of monsters, alternating scenes of high adventure with graphic horrorfests. A life-affirming subplot suggests there may be potential goodness, however, in what seems to be a blind enemy of mankind. (Not rated)

THE HOME AND THE WORLD -- An elegantly filmed drama about India in transition just after the turn of the century. The story focuses on a conservative nobleman and a self-serving reformer who clash over the British policy of ``divide and rule,'' which offends them both but stirs different responses in each. Another key figure is the nobleman's wife, who reflects the restless spirit of her age by taking a few tentative steps toward ``liberation,'' with very mixed results. Based on a Rabindranath Tagore novel and directed by Satyajit Ray, still the greatest of all Indian filmmakers known in the West. (Not rated)

PALE RIDER -- The hero is both a preacher and fighter, and it takes both skills to help a threatened community hold its own against a crooked capitalist and his hired guns. A classic western in every sense, celebrating the most familiar conventions of the genre, yet giving them the sort of mystical twist that sparked ``High Plains Drifter,'' also directed by and starring Clint Eastwood. Proof that the western didn't die a dozen years ago, but was gathering its energy for a comeback that has now started. (Rated R) RATINGS: Films with ratings other than G may contain varying degrees of vulgar language, nudity, sex, and violence 30{et

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