FREEZE FRAMES

EAT A BOWL OF TEA - A romantic comedy-drama set in New York's Chinatown in 1949, when new immigration policies allowed Chinese-American men to bring wives into the United States for the first time. Directed by the talented Wayne Wang, who tells a diverting story but fails to explore its undertones of loneliness and need. (Rated PG-13) FOUR ADVENTURES OF REINETTE AND MIRABELLE - The great French director Eric Rohmer takes a vacation from his more ambitious projects with this comedy about two young women, one from the city and one from the country, who face life with different sets of moral and practical ideas. Charming, but surprisingly slight for a Rohmer film. (Not rated)

IMITATION OF LIFE - Reissue of the 1959 masterpiece by Douglas Sirk, which must be one of the most emotionally overwhelming Hollywood films ever made. The plot is pure soap opera: Lana Turner plays an aspiring actress; Juanita Moore plays her black housekeeper; Sandra Dee and Susan Kohner play their troubled daughters. Sirk stretches the melodramatic story conventions far past its normal limits, though, turning what first appears to be trite and contrived into an unsparing exploration of midcentury social and family strife. Add an eloquent camera style and a rich color scheme, and you have a supremely Sirkian experience - a three-handkerchief ``weepie'' that energetically subverts its own dubious genre. (Not rated)

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