FREEZE FRAMES

A weekly update of film releases

THE EAR - Set in Czechoslovakia during the 1950s, this sardonic tale focuses on one night in the life of a married couple who fear their home is being bugged by the Stalinist authorities. As a drama, the picture is too schematized and claustrophobic to seem very compelling on an emotional level. As a political parable it's fairly potent, however, and the Czechoslovakian government duly banned it for 20 years after its completion in 1969. Karel Kachyna directed. (Not rated) MEDITERRANEO Italian soldiers invade a Greek island during World War II and quickly learn that sunshine and friendship are more alluring than combat and aggression. Gabriele Salvatores directed this minor but fetching Italian production, which is stronger on atmosphere than on story or surprise. (Not rated) THUNDERHEART

A young federal agent is assigned to an Indian reservation where violent political protest has erupted and slowly realizes that he can no longer deny his own native American heritage. It's fun to see Val Kilmer assume a sort of Young Republican look after his hippie shenanigans in "The Doors," and the story raises some important issues. But there's little else to praise in this pretentious and overlong drama. It was directed by Michael Apted, who should stick to documentaries like his recent and superb "3 5 Up." (Rated R)

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