FREEZE FRAMES

A weekly update of film releases HAVANA - Robert Redford plays a dashing American gambler who'd rather not commit himself to either side in the Cuban revolution, but falls in love with a woman whose husband is caught up in the intrigue. If this sounds familiar, it's because you remember ``Casablanca,'' which told a similar story with considerably more flair. Redford gives one of his most solid performances, though, and director Sydney Pollack keeps the action moving briskly. (Rated R)

MISERY - A romance novelist is held prisoner by a demented fan who's obsessed with his books. James Caan is excellent as the writer and Kathy Bates is brilliant as his captor. Unfortunately, what could have been a seamless psychological thriller is interrupted by violence that's as gratuitous as it is sadistic. Rob Reiner directed from William Goldman's screenplay, based on a Stephen King novel. (Rated R)

THE SHELTERING SKY - Two young New Yorkers travel into the desert voids of Northern Africa, leaving civilization behind yet failing to discover any meaningful inner resources, spiritual or even psychological, of their own. In literalizing Paul Bowles's evocative novel, including its sexual intensity, the filmmakers have diminished its sense of mystery without adding to its depth or insight. Debra Winger and John Malkovich head a mostly superb cast, though, and Vittorio Storaro's cinematography is breathtaking. Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, who wrote the screenplay with Mark Peploe, toning down some but not all of the novel's perverse sexuality. (Rated R).

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