Other US Pictures Scoring High Marks in France

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'Georgia'' and ''Unstrung Heroes'' are only two of the American films to make a solid impression in the first few days of the festival in Cannes. Among others are these:

* ''The Usual Suspects,'' directed by Bryan Singer. Five shady characters get arrested and find themselves in the same police-station lineup, so why not take advantage of their acquaintance and plan a crime together?

It soon turns out that their meeting was not as random as it seemed, however, and that their new enterprise may be linked to the machinations of a character more sinister than all of them put together.

Recommended: Default

The movie has touches of unpleasant nastiness, but it moves along at such a fast clip that the horrors are over almost as soon as they've begun, and the last few minutes offer a surprising number of unexpected twists. Kevin Spacey and Gabriel Byrne are the memorable stars.

* ''To Die For,'' directed by Gus Van Sant. Suzanne is the weather anchor at a cable TV station in New Hampshire, and she's convinced media stardom awaits her if she just keeps plugging away. When her stodgy new husband becomes a hindrance instead of a help, she entices a local high-school student into helping her with a violent solution to her problems.

Scripted by veteran screenwriter Buck Henry, this savage satire aims its barbs at many targets including ethnic prejudices, middle-class acquisitiveness, and TV talk shows that rush to exploit the latest tragedy. Nicole Kidman and Matt Dillon head the energetic cast.

* ''Angels & Insects,'' directed by Philip Haas. The setting is England in the Victorian era, and the main character is a young naturalist who's just returned from a scientific expedition that ended in shipwreck and poverty. Taking him under its wing, a wealthy family offers him emotional comfort, financial support, and even a lovely bride; but things are not as simple as they seem, and our hero belatedly realizes that his new wife has a past more checkered than he or her parents ever realized.

The story begins rather tamely, building to a climax that might seem shocking if it weren't so familiar from previous fictions of this type. Haas's filmmaking is eloquent and attractive, though, and there's fine acting by Mark Rylance as the scientist and Kristin Scott Thomas as a lonely spinster in his new household.

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