FREEZE FRAMES

THE BIG EASY - That's a nickname for New Orleans, where a policeman falls in love with an assistant DA who's sniffing out corruption in his department. Dennis Quaid is capable but not memorable as the cop. Ellen Barkin shows amazing strength and versatility, though, as the snoopy outsider. Directed by offbeat filmmaker Jim McBride, who gives the action a lot of energy but falls back too often on the usual sex-and-violence formulas. (Rated R) DIRTY DANCING - Jennifer Grey gives a sassy and captivating performance as a teen-age girl coming of age during a Catskills vacation with her parents. Details of the 1963 period are weakly handled, though, and the ending is as false as it is sentimental. Directed by Emile Ardolino. (Rated PG-13) INSIDE OUT - Effectively weird drama about an agoraphobic man who hasn't left his apartment in years, and whose life is shriveling up before his eyes. Not for every taste, but a hopeful finale eases the story's chill. Elliott Gould gives his best performance in years, and maybe ever. All told, a daring and imaginative, though murky film. Robert Taicher directed. (Rated R) LIVING ON TOKYO TIME - To help her get a ``green card'' and stay in the United States, a quiet young man marries a Japanese immigrant. Then he starts falling in love with her, but she finds him sort of dull and can't reciprocate. The acting is deliciously subtle in this gentle, surprisingly touching comedy. Directed by Japanese-American filmmaker Steven Okazaki. (Not rated) SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE - You can tell from the title that this is an Important Entry in the ``Superman'' sweepstakes. Sure enough, it has more on its mind than whether Clark and Lois will get married. Instead of solving spur-of-the-moment emergencies, as usual, the Man of Steel looks at the big picture for once and decides to rid the earth of nuclear weapons. He runs into trouble from archfiend Lex Luthor, though. The plot is far-fetched even by ``Superman'' standards, and Christopher Reeve overdoes the preachy world-peace scenes, perhaps because he had a hand in writing the movie. The result is well meaning but forgettable. Sidney J. Furie directed. (Rated PG) VAMPIRES IN HAVANA - It turns out there are Dracula types in Cuba, where Juan Padr'on wrote and directed this feature-length cartoon about vampires having a gangland-style war over Vampisol, a potion that lets them enjoy the sun and even go to the beach. The idea is funny, but the animation is mostly dull and the screenplay is sometimes crude. (Not rated) WHERE THE HEART ROAMS - Entertaining documentary about writers and fans of romance novels, filmed during a cross-country trip to a convention in New York. Like the people he observes and interviews, director George Paul Csicsery takes the subject of romances a lot more seriously than it deserves. But he serves up a screenful of colorful personality portraits and gives a vivid sense of what the romance genre is all about for its most dedicated followers. (Not rated) RATINGS: Films with ratings other than G may contain varying degrees of vulgar language, nudity, sex, and violence.

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