FREEZE FRAMES

A weekly update of film releases

* THE PAPER - A speedy comedy-drama in the old ``Front Page'' mold, complete with hard-boiled editors and hard-working reporters willing to break any rule and make any sacrifice in pursuit of a scoop. Set in New York on a single day, the story centers on a young tabloid editor who's juggling more than his share of challenges: His pregnant wife is anxious about the future, he's undecided about a job offer from a more respectable publication, and he's worried that the upcoming lead story in his own paper could unfairly ruin two innocent people. Subplots involve his impending fatherhood, his longstanding feud with a powerful colleague, and a city official who's outraged over the paper's coverage. The story is blatantly contrived, milking every situation for maximum emotion and suspense; still, the picture has a lot of old-fashioned charm if you overlook its lapses into needless vulgarity, and its shameless insistence on giving male characters more dignity than their female counterparts. Michael Keaton is terrific as the hero. Ron Howard directed. (Rated R)

* THE WONDERFUL, HORRIBLE LIFE OF LENI RIEFENSTAHL - This long, engrossing documentary traces the career of Hitler's favorite filmmaker, with Riefenstahl herself as an on-screen tour guide. It begins with her years as an actress in German adventure movies, then explores her role as director of the classic propaganda films ``Triumph of the Will'' and ``Olympia,'' which she defends as nonpolitical works made for purely artistic purposes; it concludes with the African photography and underwater video work that have preoccupied her in recent years. The documentary strikes a good balance between history and biography. Unfortunately, it's too eager to accept Riefenstahl's rationalizations for the evil associations of her work in the Nazi era. Directed by Ray Muller. (Not rated)

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