FREEZE FRAMES

ALWAYS - After his accidental death, a fire fighter returns to Earth as a sort of guardian angel, watching over a younger man who's fallen for the woman he loved when he was alive. This remake of ``A Guy Named Joe'' was directed by Steven Spielberg, who's trying harder than ever to show some cinematic maturity. Unfortunately, this superficial romance is the dullest picture of his career. Richard Dreyfuss and Holly Hunter are adequate in the leading roles, and it's a pleasure to see Audrey Hepburn as an experienced angel. Brad Johnson is all wrong as the hero's young rival, though. (Rated PG) BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY - The true story of Ron Kovic, who went to the Vietnam war as a gung-ho patriot, suffered a wound that left him largely paralyzed, and eventually became a leader of the antiwar movement. Tom Cruise gives a passionate performance, and the politically alert filmmaker Oliver Stone has choreographed the action with an intensity that recalls his ``Salvador'' and ``Platoon'' at times. The epic narrative doesn't quite jell, however, and individual moments often seem more overblown than inspired. (Rated R)

MUSIC BOX - A lawyer defends her father against the accusation that he was a concentration-camp sadist during the Holocaust. The subject is compelling, and many of the performances are strong. Yet the film misses the coherence and urgency that mark the best work of director Costa-Gavras, one of the most socially and politically conscious filmmakers in the world. (Rated R)

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