FREEZE FRAMES

A CRY IN THE DARK - Meryl Streep gives a tough-minded performance in this Australian drama, based on the real experiences of a woman who is charged with murder after her baby's accidental death. Sam Neill is less convincing as her deeply religious husband, but director Fred Schepisi keeps the story thoughtful and engaging. (Rated PG-13) CHILD'S PLAY - A murderous doll is the villain of this occasionally effective, predictably nasty supernatural thriller. Directed by Tom Holland. (Rated R) DISTANT THUNDER - A young man struggles to find a meaningful relationship with his father, a troubled veteran of the Vietnam war. Ralph Macchio is appealing as the son, but John Lithgow just mopes around the screen. Directed by Rick Rosenthal from Robert Stitzel's uninspired screenplay. (Rated R) THE GOOD MOTHER - A divorced woman defends herself and her new boyfriend against a charge of sexually abusing her young daughter. Diane Keaton gives a strong performance in the title role. The style of director Leonard Nimoy is more slick than insightful, though, and the screenplay dodges the messy realities of its subject by cushioning all the characters from the most frightening implications of their situation. (Rated R) THE LAND BEFORE TIME - A baby brontosaurus and his reptilian friends travel through a treacherous prehistoric landscape in this full-length animation. It's a beautiful movie to watch, and the cartoony characters are as endearing as they come. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were among the executive producers, and you can't miss Spielberg's touch in many of the details, from the boy-who's-lost-his-mom plot to the presence of a bratty-little-sister supporting character, who happens in this case to be a triceratops. Some scenes may be too intense for the youngest moviegoers, however. Don Bluth, who gave us ``The Secret of NIMH'' a few seasons ago, was the director. (Rated G) MAMA TURNS 100 - A turbulent family symbolizes contemporary Spain in this unmemorable drama. Carlos Saura directed, not in his best form. (Not rated) 1969 - Ernest Thompson, who wrote ``On Golden Pond,'' now turns his sentimentalizing pen to a tale of two young men coming of age in Maryland during a troubled period in American history. He also directed the picture. The movie treats its central theme, that the Vietnam war wasn't a good idea, as if it were a dazzling new discovery. Kiefer Sutherland and Robert Downey Jr. turn in good performances, though. (Rated R) RATINGS: Films with ratings other than G may contain varying degrees of vulgar language, nudity, sex, and violence.

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