FREEZE FRAMES

ALIEN NATION - A tale of race relations and drug problems in the United States, disguised as a science-fiction yarn about aliens called Newcomers living side by side with earthlings. The screenplay sinks into a careless racism of its own at times, and the slam-bang violence will turn many moviegoers off. The film apparently wants to be constructive in its criticisms of American society, though, and there's a superb performance by Mandy Patinkin as a Newcomer on the police force. Written by Rockne S. O'Bannon and directed by Graham Baker. (Rated R) ANOTHER WOMAN - Marion is a professor and author who has always placed career goals ahead of personal considerations. Now she's questioning the wisdom of her most important life decisions, spurred by the onset of middle age and by conversations she overhears between a psychiatrist and a badly depressed pregnant woman. The heroine of Woody Allen's drama is played by Gena Rowlands; the title may be a reference to one of her greatest films, ``A Woman Under the Influence,'' and to ``The Second Woman,'' a play-within-a-film in her underrated 1978 movie ``Opening Night.'' Rowlands makes a heroic effort to equal her past triumphs here, but the dead weight of Allen's screenplay defeats her and the rest of the potentially dazzling cast. The characters are all intellectual zombies, and it's neither entertaining nor stimulating to visit with them. (Rated PG) CLARA'S HEART - A complicated friendship blooms between a Jamaican servant and the boy she cares for in a wealthy American household. Whoopi Goldberg has a lot of heart; Neil Patrick Harris gives a sensitive performance as her young friend; and the supporting cast is solid. The screenplay is gushy, though, and director Robert Mulligan rarely tones it down. (Rated PG-13) MADAME SOUSATZKA - She's a piano teacher who gives her all to her pupils, including the young Indian prodigy who's her brightest new hope; and she demands their all in return. Although the film is manipulative and anything but subtle, Shirley MacLaine turns a new corner in her career with her all-stops-out performance, and the story has a momentum that never quits. Directed by John Schlesinger. (Rated PG-13) THE MAN WITH THREE COFFINS - An enigmatic South Korean drama about a man who gets involved with two women while bringing the remains of his dead wife to a burial place. Elliptical, allusive, and oddly insinuating. Directed by Lee Chang-Ho. (Not rated) THE KISS - Silly horror yarn about a teen-age girl, a mysterious relative, and a family curse. Directed by Pen Densham. (Rated R) RED SORGHUM - A young woman survives a forced marriage, the predations of a bandit, and other hardships in the Chinese countryside during the 1930s; her story reaches a brutal climax in a confrontation between her compatriots and Japanese invaders. Although the story is uneven, director Zhang Yimou punctuates it with vivid images and bittersweet metaphors for the earthy challenges of peasant life. Produced by the Xian Film Studio, a stronghold for the innovative ``fifth generation'' movement in Chinese cinema. (Not rated)

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