FREEZE FRAMES

A weekly update of film releases

THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE -

Evil nanny threatens yuppie household. This is the 10 zillionth film about a friendly-seeming villain invading a contented home, but exploitation of child abuse and baby-stealing make this one a particularly nasty business. Directed by Curtis Hanson from Amanda Silver's screenplay, which borrows liberally from Alfred Hitchcock and "The Stepfather" but lacks the wit of either. (Rated R) LIFE ON A STRING -

Chen Kaige, one of China's most gifted filmmakers, directed this superbly photographed fable about a blind musician who believes he will regain his sight if he devotes his life to art. The story is loosely told and overlong, but the images are often stunning. (Not rated) MY GIRL -

A little girl learns to cope with jealousies and fears while growing up in her father's place of business, which happens to be a funeral home. Since death is a main subject of this comedy-drama, parents should be extra careful about bringing young children. But the film is cautious to sound many reassuring notes, emphasizing resilience over gloom. Even "Sesame Street" has long recognized mortality as a legimitate subject for exploration in young people's terms. Howard Zieff directed. (Rated PG)

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