FREEZE FRAMES

A weekly update of film releases

CABEZA DE VACA

The title character is a Spanish conquistador who sails for the Americas in 1528, becomes the prisoner of a native community there, and comes to accept its rich, mysterious culture as superior to his own. Mexican filmmaker Nicolas Echevarria directed this passionately filmed but rather overheated epic, which swings from the lyricism of a "Dances With Wolves" to excesses recalling the work of Alejandro Jodorowski. (Not rated) SATAN - This modern reworking of "Crime and Punishment," focusing on a deceptively ordinary man who inflicts murder and extortion on people close to him, suggests the inseparability of social and personal morality. Directed by Russian filmmaker Viktor Aristov with a sense of cool-headed distance that makes the dark allegory more chilling yet less compelling than it might have been if a more psychologically intimate approach had been used.

(Not rated) TOWARD JERUSALEM A documentary view of contemporary Israel, filmed by Austrian director Ruth Beckerman during a leisurely cross-country trip. What emerges is a seemingly random but carefully photographed and edited portrait of the nation, making its points through illustration and suggestion rather than the argument and assertion that a more partisan account would probably employ. The result is discursive, absorbing, and highly informative. (Not rated)

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