FREEZE FRAMES

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CRITTERS -- A farm family gets blitzed by outlaws from outer space. Stephen Herek directed the science-fiction heroics, which are well-produced but violent and weakly acted. (Rated PG-13) ECHO PARK -- Bad taste runs neck-and-neck with cinematic ingenuity in this eccentric tale, which suggests that there's a touch of the artist in everyone and illustrates the point with a bodybuilder, a stripper who dreams of being an actress, and a young man who writes poetry when he isn't busy delivering pizza. Directed by Robert Dornhelm, whose offbeat talent keeps the proudly bizarre material just barely under control. (Rated R)

HOME OF THE BRAVE -- A lavish concert film by Laurie Anderson, who can't decide whether she wants to be an avant-garde ``performance artist'' or an old-fashioned rock star. Some numbers pack a solid audiovisual wallop, and a touch of social commentary is embedded in the movie's play of words and images. For someone who wants to humanize our high-tech society, though, Anderson is suspiciously fond of her own electronic playthings. There's more style than substance to her current work. (Not rated)

THE MAN WHO ENVIED WOMEN -- Although this densely constructed film just barely has a story, it seethes with provocative ideas on feminism, communication, housing problems, and the relationship of movies to real life, among other subjects. The minimal plot focuses on a widower who thinks his years of marriage have given him a special sensitivity to women. Using him as a narrative center, filmmaker Yvonne Rainer weaves a rich tapestry of intellectually and emotionally charged scenes, deftly combining personal and political concerns. The result is sometimes abrasive and perplexing, but rarely dull or self-satisfied. (Not rated)

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MR. LOVE -- Profoundly boring comedy about a middle-aged man hunting for affection outside his moribund marriage. Tediously directed by Roy Battersby for executive producer David Puttnam. (Rated PG-13)

3 MEN AND A CRADLE -- The heroes are swinging singles until a baby arrives on their doorstep, with a note saying one of them is the daddy. From then on it's diapers and early-morning bottles instead of parties and peccadilloes, but after the shock wears off, they get to like their three-way fatherhood. While the story has few surprises, parts of it are amusing and the performances are convincing. Written and directed by French filmmaker Coline Serreau. (Rated PG-13)

WISE GUYS -- Taking a vacation from his usual horrifics, Brian De Palma directed this boisterous farce about two small-time hoods who get in trouble with the big boss. This film is fast, furious, foul-mouthed, and funny in spots. (Rated R) RATINGS: Films with ratings other than G may contain varying degrees of vulgar language, nudity, sex, and violence.

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