FREEZE FRAMES

A weekly update of film releases

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KAFKA A fictional story about the great author, who uncovers a bizarre scheme when he tries to find out who's been kidnaping people from the office where he works. The movie would be more effective if it worked less feverishly to seem Kafkaesque, and if fewer of its ideas were borrowed from "The Trial" by Orson Welles, the best Kafka-inspired film ever made. It does a mischievously good job of simulating a nightmare out of Kafka's own imagination, though, and Jeremy Irons makes the retiring author into an elegant and eloquent hero. Energetically directed by Steven Soderbergh. (Rated PG-13)

LET HIM HAVE IT Inspired by a real incident from the 1950s, the story focuses on a mentally handicapped English teenager who falls into bad company, becomes accessory to a crime, and goes on trial for his life. This richly photographed, brilliantly acted film blends gripping drama with a haunting look at the barbarity of capital punishment. Directed by Peter Medak in the darkly impressionistic style he developed for "The Krays," a more pungent but less thoughtful look at postwar British life. (Rated R)

YOUNG SOUL REBELS A murder, a mid-'70s rock concert, and a pirate radio station are key ingredients of this uneven but instructive story about London's black and gay subcultures, pictured in sociologically and sexually frank terms. Directed by Isaac Julien. (Not rated)

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