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Freeze Frames

The Monitor Movie Guide

(Page 3 of 5)



uu An actual case inspired this French drama about events surrounding the highly publicized exploits of a serial killer who attacks elderly women. Somewhat similar in theme to ''The Silence of the Lambs,'' the picture has been directed by Claire Denis with so much tact and circumspection that the story runs short of dramatic and emotional power. Its most impressive aspect is Denis's keen sensitivity to the ways in which urban architecture inflects contemporary life. V S N P

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THE INDIAN IN THE CUPBOARD (PG)

uu A nine-year-old New Yorker becomes the owner of a magical cupboard that brings his toys to life. This gives him two new friends - a miniature Indian and cowboy - and also the difficult job of keeping them a secret from uncomprehending adults. The story is sensitively told, reminding young moviegoers that history is made of real people, not the caricatures who inhabit Hollywood myths. The film contains caricatures of its own, though, and the rap artist called Litefoot makes a lead-footed acting debut in the title role. Directed by Frank Oz. V P

uuu Delightful, caring, imaginative.

JEFFREY (R)

uuu The film version of Paul Rudnick's hit Off Broadway comedy about a young gay man (Steven Weber of TV's ''Wings'') who decides against sex and emotional involvement in the era of AIDS. The play's impressionistic tableaux of homosexual life doesn't translate with complete success to the screen, but there are many hilarious lines. Patrick Stewart (of ''Star Trek'' fame) is a riot as a flamboyant interior designer. S N P By Frank Scheck

A KID IN KING ARTHUR'S COURT (PG)

O\ Where he defeats a bad knight and befriends a princess before zooming back to the modern USA in time to win a ballgame. Rarely do the well-financed wizards at Walt Disney Pictures cook up a movie this badly written, acted, and directed. Released with ''Runaway Brain,'' a mildly amusing Mickey Mouse cartoon with a G rating. The directors were Michael Gottlieb for the feature, Chris Bailey for the cartoon. V

KIDS (Not Rated)

uuu Hard-edged docudrama about a loose-knit group of Manhattan teenagers, focusing on a possibly AIDS-afflicted boy who takes pride in sexual conquests of young adolescent girls. Directed by respected photographer Larry Clark, the unusually explicit movie pulls no punches in capturing the raw, amoral energy of the subculture it depicts. While many observers feel it should be strictly off-limits for teenage audiences, it's hard to remember a film that conveys the destructive force of heartless sex and drug abuse with more cautionary power. V S N P

A LITTLE PRINCESS (G)

uuu When her father goes to fight in World War I, a creative young girl finds herself trapped in a nasty boarding school where she's reduced to the status of a mistreated servant. This comedy-drama for children and adults is made with more intelligence and imagination than many of the so-called art films that come our way, filling the screen with vivid images that ideally suit its fanciful plot. Directed by Alfonso Cuaron from a screenplay by Richard LaGravenese and Elizabeth Chandler, based on the well-known Frances Hodgson Burnett novel.

uuu Enchanting, improbable, captivating for all ages.

LIVING IN OBLIVION (R)

uuu This is a low-budget independent film about the making of a low-budget independent film; fortunately, the picture we're watching is a zillion times more entertaining than the movie-within-the-movie appears to be. Written and directed by Tom DiCillo, the comedy reaches out most strongly to movie buffs who enjoy peering behind the scenes. But even casual spectators should enjoy its frequently hilarious satire on cinematic pretensions. Steve Buscemi leads the smartly chosen cast. S N P

LORD OF ILLUSIONS (R)

uu A private eye pursues a magician whose illusions are supernatural tricks of the most sinister kind. Clive Barker's horror yarn starts with a really original wallop, then sinks into standard chiller-diller gore. Scott Bakula stars. V N P

NADJA (R)