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FREEZE FRAMES

By David Sterritt / November 28, 1986



EVERY TIME WE SAY GOODBYE - During the 1940s, an American gentile in Israel falls in love with a young woman from a very traditional Jewish family. Their story, directed by Moshe Mizrahi, is sweet but sappy. (Rated PG-13) NUTCRACKER - Lively rendition of the classic Tchaikovsky ballet, with an unusually large amount of plot material from E.T.A. Hoffmann's original story to stitch the dances together. Carroll Ballard directed the movie, which was designed by Maurice Sendak and choreographed by Kent Stowell, whose Pacific Northwest Ballet is the collective star of the show. While the production sets no high new standards for the dance-film genre, it's always perky and sometimes very inventive. (Rated G) SOLARBABIES - Set on a bone-dry Earth in the distant future, this hokey science-fiction yarn centers on a band of teen-agers who escape from a prisonlike ``education center'' and save the world. The action recalls all kinds of earlier SF adventures, from ``Dune'' and ``The Road Warrior'' to the ``Captain Video'' TV shows of the '50s. The movie's most original features are the awfulness of the dialogue and the hamminess of Richard Jordan's performance as a Nazilike policeman. He seems to have given up on the project long before director Alan Johnson ran out of film. (Rated PG-13) TRICHEURS - ``Cheaters'' is the English-language title of this melodrama about a gambler so obsessive that he figures out how to rig a roulette wheel, then instantly loses his ill-gotten chips at the honest wheel right next to it. Directed by Barbet Schroeder, who tries but fails to explore the subject of gambling in depth. (Not rated) AN AMERICAN TAIL - ``Steven Spielberg presents'' this cartoon about a mouse family named Mouskewitz, which leaves ``old mother Russia'' for the United States because Papa says it's ``a land where there are no cats.'' The movie is made with great skill, like everything Spielberg puts his name on, and its humor is aimed at grown-ups as well as children. But the style, which we've seen in dozens of Disney films, is painfully familiar. And the ending is a yet another shameless cash-in on Statue of Liberty centennial sentiment. Directed by Don Bluth. (Rated G) THE BOY WHO COULD FLY - Or is he just the backward, awkward kid he appears to be? The teen-age girl next door learns the answer in this gentle fantasy, which has some lovely flights of imagination but goes on much, much too long and includes some needless vulgarity. Directed by Nick Castle. (Rated PG) THE DECLINE OF THE AMERICAN EMPIRE - This talky Canadian film raises the fascinating question of whether contemporary self-indulgence signals the impending demise of Western civilization and then fails to suggest a single interesting answer. You can tell it's an up-to-date movie, because the men cook dinner while the women work out at a health club. The rest of the time they simply gab, mostly about sex, and plunge into a few indulgences of their own. Directed by Denys Arcand. (Rated R) RATINGS: Films with ratings other than G may contain varying degrees of vulgar language, nudity, sex, and violence.

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