AT CLOSE RANGE -- A young man gets mixed up with a burglary ring headed by his father, and is eventually repelled by what he experiences, including murder. The story takes on challenging and dramatic material, but screenwriter Nicholas Kazan and director James Foley try to play many things two ways at once: the hero is both a lout and a romantic, the villain is both a fiend and a charmer, crime is both horrific and lots of fun. The result is involving and strongly acted, but unfocused. (Rated R) BIG TROUBLE -- Who could afford to put triplets through college? Not the hero of this comedy, whose tuition woes tempt him into a goofy embezzling scheme. The story is a cross between ``The In-Laws'' and ``Double Indemnity,'' and director John Cassavetes plays every scene for laughs, proving that his offbeat talent can come up with a ``real movie'' as well as the cinematic experiments he's noted for. Alan Arkin and Beverly D'Angelo head the terrific cast. Warren Bogle wrote the screenplay, which is heavy on gallows humor. (Rated R)Skip to next paragraph
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ELENA AND HER MEN -- Revival of the 1956 musical comedy that critic and filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard called the ``most Mozartian'' of Jean Renoir's films. Ingrid Bergman and Jean Marais are among the participants in the bittersweet story, which holds an enormous number of courtships in delicate balance, some more amusing or poignant than others. Many moviegoers find the intimacy and theatricality of Renoir romances like this to be the epitome of French charm; others find the plots too trifling and the characters too self-absorbed. The last 10 minutes of this one are a dream, though: a minor-key celebration of life, love, and Paris after dark. Originally known as ``Elena et les hommes,'' and called ``Paris Does Strange Things'' in its first American release. (Not rated)
HOMAGE TO CINEMA 16 -- A program recalling the diverse programming that characterized the Cinema 16 film society, which flourished between 1947 and 1963 under the leadership of Amos and Marcia Vogel. This tribute includes ``Blood of the Beasts,'' a graphic study of French abattoirs by Georges Franju; ``In the Street,'' an urban documentary by Helen Levitt, Janice Loeb, and James Agee; ``The Wonder Ring,'' a Stan Brakhage tone poem; ``Fireworks,'' a Kenneth Anger psychodrama; ``The Room,'' a Carmen D'Avino animation; ``Recreation,'' a Robert Breer animation; ``Living in a Reversed World,'' an unwittingly hilarious science film attributed to a Dr. Pacher; ``A Divided World'' by nature specialist Arne Sucksdorff; and ``Geography of the Body,'' a photographic essay by Willard Maas. The selections were made by Scott MacDonald. (Not rated)
ON THE EDGE -- The hero is an aging runner who once took a stand against corruption in amateur sports and now wants to make a comeback after years on the blacklist. Most of the story is a middle-aged ``Rocky'' that contains nothing new or exciting. But there's a splendid and stirring finale, as several racers abruptly join forces and choose comradeship over competition. Directed by Rob Nilsson, whose interest in the problems of mature characters is also evident in another current offering, ``Signal 7.'' (Rated PG-13) RATINGS: Films with ratings other than G may contain varying degrees of vulgar language, nudity, sex, and violence.