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FREEZE FRAMES

By David Sterritt / March 5, 1993



* MAD DOG AND GLORY - This offbeat comedy-drama includes some graphic sex and horrible violence, and the ending is weak. Most of the way, though, it's a quirky and absorbing tale that's hard to pigeonhole in any of the usual categories. Robert De Niro is close to his best as a policeman who'd love to be more tough and macho but doesn't know how to go about it, and Bill Murray is convincing as a bruising bad guy who does standup comedy and worries about following his therapist's advice. Uma Thurman is also solid as a scattered young woman who resents being treated like an exchangeable object by the men in her life. Directed by John Mc Naughton from Richard Price's screenplay. (Rated R)

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* IL LADRO DI BAMBINI - After the authorities arrest their abusive mother, two young children make a long journey to a new home under the care of a military officer who's anything but pleased with his assignment. All three find themselves learning unexpected lessons from the experience. This quiet and sensitive Italian drama was directed by Gianni Amelio, whose earlier "Open Doors" is among the finest European films of the '90s. "Stolen Children" is the movie's English-language title. (Not rated)

* MONTPARNASSE 19 - Jacques Becker's romantic bio-pic about the painter Amedeo Modigliani was first seen in 1958 and is still a spine-tingling experience with superb performances and an astonishingly strong ending that skewers today's materialistic approach to art as a marketable commodity. Gerard Philipe heads the magnificent cast, which also includes Anouk Aimee, Lili Palmer, and Lino Ventura. The distribution company Interama deserves three cheers for reissuing this excellent picture, which is also kn own as "Modigliani of Montparnasse." (Not rated)