FREEZE FRAMES

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A weekly update of film releases BYE BYE BLUES - Waiting for her husband to return from World War II, a young woman copes with loneliness, family problems, and the challenge of becoming a singer with a small-town jazz band. The story is often slow, stodgy, and sentimental. Still, it's refreshing to find a warm, human-scaled romance with characters you'd like to bring home for dinner. And the radiant cinematography is the next-best thing to a long Canadian vacation. Directed by Anne Wheeler. (Rated PG) DARKMAN - Wearing synthetic skin that disintegrates in daylight, a mad scientist seeks revenge on the criminals who mutilated him. Make no mistake, the story is absurdly violent and utterly pointless. It's filmed with more imagination than ``Batman'' and ``Dick Tracy'' combined, though, drawing on sources as varied as Alfred Hitchcock and Stan Brakhage for visual ideas. Get ready for at least a million sequels. Directed by Sam Raimi. (Rated R) THE WITCHES - Their nasty scheme is to turn every child in England into a mouse, and only a little boy and his grandmother can stop them. Based on a Roald Dahl novel and overloaded with Freudian symbols, this fantasy was directed by Nicolas Roeg, who's capable of risky and exciting work but seems determined to behave himself this time around. The scenes of magic and mayhem are peppered with sly surprises, and Anjelica Huston plays the wildest wicked witch since Dorothy got back from Oz. Look out for the special effects, though, which might be terrifying for very young moviegoers. (Rated PG)

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