FREEZE FRAMES

A weekly update of film releases

CROWS AND SPARROWS - Life in a crowded Shanghai apartment building, where the tenants and the landlord are at each other's throats, provides a lively and often comic metaphor for life in China during the last days of the pre-Communist government in 1949, when this recently rediscovered film was made. Although not a masterpiece, it captures the mingled excitement and anxiety that can characterize a period of imminent and radical social change. Directed by Zheng Junli. (Not rated) DEEP COVER - A narcotics cop goes so far under cover that he almost forgets he's a cop. Beneath its bitter violence, this drama has a remarkably strong political edge, portraying much of the "war on drugs" as a cynical power struggle marked by favoritism and corruption. Imaginatively directed by Bill Duke, and featuring yet another first-rate performance by Larry Fishburne. (Rated R) PEPI, LUCI, BOM - Madrid is the setting, sex is the main subject, and three women are the heroines. This early comedy by Pedro Almodovar is as forgettable as many of his later movies, excluding the wonderful "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown," which remains his strongest picture. It has a certain sociological value, though, as a record of Spanish exuberance in the wake of the repressive Franco regime; and the action has a home-movie spontaneity that's refreshing for the first few scenes. (Not rated )

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