FREEZE FRAMES

IN A SHALLOW GRAVE - Beneath the exploitation-film title lurks a seriously intended drama about the relationship between two Southern men, a drifter and a physically scarred World War II veteran. Unfortunately, every event seems imposed by the script rather than integral to the inner lives of the characters; and the last scenes are weakly written. Directed by Kenneth Bowser from his own screenplay. (Rated R) MALA NOCHE - ``Bad Night'' is the alternate title of this cleverly filmed but unappealing tale about the homosexual exploits of a young Anglo who becomes obsessed with a Mexican teen-ager. Written and directed by Gus Van Sant. (Not rated) RIDERS OF THE STORM - Dennis Hopper and Michael J. Pollard cruise the skies in a B-29, beaming illicit TV signals into American television sets and ruining the chances of an extreme-right presidential candidate. The fantasy is foolish, the action is assinine. Directed by Maurice Phillips in a style of barely controlled chaos that reflects his music-video background. (Rated R) STORMY MONDAY - A greedy real estate developer plans to strike it rich with a waterfront project. But a seedy nightclub owner won't sell off some needed property, so the scene is set for a violent duel of wills. Sting and Tommy Lee Jones are well matched as the feuding men, and there's an amusing subplot about an experimental jazz group. The movie is too self-conscious about its down-and-dirty atmosphere, though. Its grittiness seems prepackaged. Mike Figgis directed from his own screenplay. (Rated R) SUNSET - Movie star Tom Mix and peace officer Wyatt Earp battle bad guys in Hollywood some 60 years ago. Blake Edwards wrote and directed this disappointing romp, which can't decide whether it wants to be fact or fiction, comedy or drama, lightly likable or jarringly nasty. (Rated R) 38: VIENNA BEFORE THE FALL - The story of two lovers, a Jewish playwright and an Aryan actress, whose lives are disrupted by the plague of Nazism in Austria during the 1930s. Written and directed by Austrian filmmaker Wolfgang Gl"uck, this is one of the most powerful dramas ever made on the Holocaust, emotionally wrenching and charged with vivid insights into patterns of behavior and personality that prevented some Nazi victims from realizing the enormity of their plight until it was too late. The screenplay is subtle and richly suspenseful; the performances are uniformly excellent. (Not rated) A TIME OF DESTINY - Folkways and mores of Basque immigrants are the background for this drama about a neurotic man who refuses to accept his sister's marriage, and dogs the trail of her new husband right through World War II. The film is well meaning, and it's kind of refreshing to see a sweeping romantic melodrama full of ripe, Hollywood-style emotions, complete with a ripe, Hollywood-style title. The plot relies too much on coincidence and contrived climaxes, though. Directed by Gregory Nava from a screenplay he wrote with producer Anna Thomas. (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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