FREEZE FRAMES

CARAVAGGIO -- Derek Jarman, possibly the world's most self-indulgent filmmaker, strikes again. His version of the great painter's life is so elegant it's stifling, so homoerotic it's ridiculous. There's lushly beautiful cinematography by Gabriel Beristain, though. (Not rated) DANCING IN THE DARK -- The diary of a mad and murderous housewife who has killed her husband in a desperate act of rebellion against her empty, obsessive way of life. The screenplay studies her from an angry feminist perspective, seeing her as a victim as well as a villain. Directed by new Canadian filmmaker Leon Marr, who does a skillful job of weaving the main character's past, present, exterior, and interior lives into a smooth narrative web. (Rated PG-13) EMPTY QUARTER -- While traveling in Africa, a man invites a young woman to share his hotel room and becomes obsessed with her. In an unusual move, French director Raymond Depardon never shows us the man who narrates the film and is one of its two main characters. This device makes for a bit of awkwardness at times, but it suits the mysterious tone of the long, moody shots that give the picture its starkly exotic atmosphere. A true original, although not for everyone. (Not rated) JUMPIN' JACK FLASH -- A bank employee falls in long-distance love with a spy who's tapping into her computer and sending urgent calls for help. Whoopie Goldberg brings a terrific, low-key intelligence to the main role. Still, the movie falls apart at the halfway mark, when stupid farce and chase scenes take over. Directed by actress Penny Marshall in her filmmaking debut. (Rated R) SID AND NANCY -- The squalid romance of Sid Vicious, masochistic star of the Sex Pistols rock group, and Nancy Spungen, his doped-up American girlfriend. It's almost two hours of sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll, with hardly a hint of social or cinematic worth despite some artsy touches by Alex Cox, the director. Repellent is the word for it, but the filmmakers might take that as a compliment, since hardcore sleaze is apparently what tickles them most. (Rated R) MENAGE -- A cocky criminal meets a married couple who feud constantly, and talks them into joining him on a burglary spree. In the middle of it, he falls in love with the husband. The technical skill of director Bertrand Blier is more finely honed than ever. His attitude toward women is as nasty as ever, too, and now he extends his baiting to homosexuals as well. Like most of his pictures, this would-be comedy is sour, distasteful, and ill-mannered. (Not rated) PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED -- A woman stuck in a mediocre marriage goes to her 25th high school reunion in the mid-'80s, finds herself mysteriously thrown back in time to 1960, and vows to do things differently this time, especially when it comes to choosing a husband. Rousing performances by Kathleen Turner and Nicolas Cage are the most pleasing spices in this gently nostalgic comedy, directed by Francis Coppola in a surprisingly mellow mood. (Rated PG-13) RATINGS: Films with ratings other than G may contain varying degrees of vulgar language, nudity, sex, and violence.

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