FREEZE FRAMES

FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC - Four children are confined in an attic by their self-serving mother, while she schemes her way into an inheritance that doesn't include them. The original novel, by the late V.C. Andrews, veers between the genres of romance and horror. This version plays up the latter. The clunky style of director Jeffrey Bloom is a fair approximation of Andrews's clunky prose. The screen is full of actors pretending to be characters, but nothing comes of it. Camp followers may enjoy Louise Fletcher, though, who dusts off her nasty Nurse Ratched routine from ``One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.'' (Rated PG-13) JEAN RENOIR, THE BOSS - An informative and entertaining interview with the towering French filmmaker, centering on the creative decisions he made while directing ``The Rules of the Game,'' one of his greatest masterpieces. (Not rated) NUTS - Barbra Streisand turns off most of her usual glamour to play a high-priced prostitute charged with killing one of her clients. Although the story takes place mostly in courtrooms, it deals not with her guilt or innocence, but with her effort to be judged competent for trial. Her father would rather see her committed straight off to a mental hospital so nasty secrets won't be aired in public. The action is neither compelling nor boring. It's often sleazy, however, despite the presence of a distinguished cast. Martin Ritt, a specialist in Hollywood-style social realism, directed. (Rated R) PLANES, TRAINS & AUTOMOBILES - Traveling from New York to Chicago for Thanksgiving, a button-down businessman and a good-natured slob suffer the torments of a flight that gets canceled, a train that breaks down, a car that burns up, and other indignities. The story, a sort of ``Odd Couple on the Road,'' isn't very original. All-out performances by Steve Martin and John Candy give it some comic flair, though. Written and directed by John Hughes, who's trying to graduate from teen-age movies but still thinks four-letter words are automatically hilarious. (Rated R) SHY PEOPLE - Partly to research an article, and partly to remove her teen-age daughter from the temptations of New York City, a journalist goes to Louisiana swamp country in search of an obscure branch of her family. The first half of the story has an honest sense of adventure, spiced with ironic digs at urban snobbery and professional pretensions. The second half sinks into a bayou of overcooked melodrama. Soviet filmmaker Andrei Konchalovsky directed this American production with a hand that gets heavier and heavier. But he coaxes a good performance from Jill Clayburgh and an excellent one from Barbara Hershey. (Not rated) SIGN O' THE TIMES - The rock star called Prince directed this Prince concert film, which revolves entirely around himself and a gaggle of photogenic singers, dancers, and musicians who bask in his presence. The result is MTV with a big screen, an enormous ego, and a good deal of sexist vulgarity. (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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