FREEZE FRAMES

A weekly update of film releases

CITY OF HOPE -Several stories intermingle in this cross section of an unnamed city, with characters ranging from a corrupt mayor and a grasping contractor to a mother with a handicapped child and a teacher facing a false criminal charge. John Sayles has never attempted such an ambitious film before; its scope and intelligence are impressive even when its style seems mannered and its emotions oddly distanced. (Rated R) FRANKIE AND JOHNNY - She's a waitress, he's an ex-con who works in the same diner. Their story is standard-variety boy meets girl, with a melodramatic twist just before the love-can-save-us-all finale. The picture gets its entertainment value from clockwork one-liners and the chemistry between Michelle Pfeiffer and Al Pacino, of which there is plenty. Directed by Garry Marshall, an engineer of TV sitcoms like "Laverne & Shirley" and wind-up movie hits like "Pretty Woman." Terrence McNally wrote the sentimental screenplay. ( Rated R)

LITTLE MAN TATE - A working-class mother disagrees with an elite psychologist over the best way to raise her intellectually gifted child. Jodie Foster makes a promising directorial debut with this intermittently thoughtful comedy-drama, and plays the beleaguered mom with jaunty skill. Too bad the second half is disjointed, and the ending sacrifices logic for wish fulfillment. (Rated PG)

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