FREEZE FRAMES

A weekly update of film releases

* BELLE EPOQUE - Not sure where he stands in the political upheavals of the early 1930s, a young Spanish soldier deserts his post, moves into the home of a crusty old artist, and becomes romantically involved with all four of his new friend's daughters. This sensual comedy has won a long list of Goyas, the Spanish equivalent of Academy Awards, but international audiences might wonder what all the fuss is about. While the movie is capably made, it rarely rises above the limitations of its fundamentally frivolous plot. Rafael Azcona's screenplay was directed by Fernando Trueba. (Not rated)

* MIDNIGHT COWBOY - Reissue of the celebrated 1969 melodrama about a young Southerner who migrates to New York with the dubious dream of becoming a successful gigolo. He develops a reluctant friendship with a pathetic street hustler and is eventually overwhelmed by the sordidness of his surroundings and the confusions of his own lonely heart. The story and characters are as sleazy as ever, but watching this picture in its 25th-anniversary year is like entering a cinematic time capsule and revisiting an era when many Hollywood movies were bursting with visual ideas, narrative innovations, and the social irreverence to try them out in the commercial marketplace. John Schlesinger directed; Waldo Salt wrote the screenplay. (Rated R)

* SILENT TONGUE - This dark, intelligent western focuses on a young white man who's mourning the death of his Indian wife; the ghost of his wife, who longs for freedom from earthly ties; and the widower's father, who wants to provide him with a new spouse from the same troubled family. Although it's less emotionally compelling than one might wish, the picture marks a major step forward in the filmmaking career of Sam Shepard, who directed his own multifaceted screenplay. (Rated PG-13)

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