FREEZE FRAMES

A weekly update of film releases

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ARTICLE 99 - Doctors struggle to do their work amid the chaos of a Veterans' Administration hospital where funding cuts and a dull-witted bureaucracy are controlling factors. This is "M. A. S. H." gone modern, fueling a social-protest message with generous doses of humor, energy, and rage. It also falls back on Hollywood gimmicks and cliches, but not often enough to mute its commendably fierce tone. Directed by Howard Deutch from Ron Cutler's screenplay. (Rated R) SHAKES THE CLOWN

Yes, he's a professional clown. And yes, he's as shaky as his name, beset with alcoholism and other troubles that make it hard to be convincingly cheerful. Bobcat Goldthwait's comedy is disgustingly gross at times, but it has a deep-rooted sense of anger and melancholy that set it apart from ordinary farces. It's also very colorful, and more genuinely surrealistic than anything since "Eraserhead." Made to order for the midnight-movie circuit, it will probably play there forever. (Rated R) UNDER SUSPICION The main character runs a phony "adultery service" for people who need grounds for a divorce; when his wife is murdered, the finger points at him. Simon Moore's feature-film debut has a lot of energy, and a climax that's as suspenseful as it is preposterous. The acting and directing are very inconsistent, though, and the story doesn't quite hold together. (Rated R)

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