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Freeze Frames

August 2, 1996



Freeze Frames: The Monitor Movie Guide

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Here are the week's reviews of both the latest releases and current films, rated according to the key below (''o'' for forget it). The capsule reviews are by Monitor film critic David Sterritt; the one liners from a panel of at lease three other Monitor reviewers. Movies containing violence (V), sexual situations (S), nudity (N), and profanity (P) are noted.

o Forget it

* Only if it's free

** Maybe a matinee

*** Worth full price

**** Wait in line

New Releases

THE ADVENTURES OF PINOCCHIO (G)

**** The classic tale of a lonely man who carves a piece of wood into a marionette that comes to life and has many adventures before turning into a real boy. Martin Landau is a sturdy Geppetto and the animated Pinocchio is fun to watch, although the 1940 cartoon version from Walt Disney remains the story's best movie adaptation. Parents should be warned that the picture contains some frightening scenes that may be much too intense for young children. Steve Barron directed.

**** Heartwarming, magical, well-acted.

CHAIN REACTION (PG-13)

** Bright young physicist Keanu Reeves plays a dangerous cat-and-mouse game with CIA agent Morgan Freeman, who believes the world isn't quite ready for the plentiful new energy source our hero is cooking up. Hollywood blockbusters don't get much more discombobulated than this confused thriller, but Freeman is still a fine actor, and the nighttime shots of Chicago are an eyeful. Directed by Andrew Davis. V P

CREMASTER 1/CREMASTER 4 (Not rated)

*** Quirky videos by Matthew Barney, a widely acclaimed artist. The first one is best, playing visual games with a dirigible, a football field, a pile of grapes, and a platoon of dancers who'd feel at home in a Busby Berkeley musical. The other, involving a race car and a satyr played by Barney himself, is less engaging but equally inventive. N

EMMA (PG)

*** Gwyneth Paltrow is enchanting as a self-confident young woman who decides to while away her time by playing matchmaker for a friend whose romantic life would fare much better without interference. Directed by Douglas McGrath from his own screenplay, based on the same richly ironic Jane Austen novel that inspired "Clueless," the gorgeously filmed comedy features good supporting performances by Greta Scacchi and Juliet Stevenson.

JOE'S APARTMENT (PG-13)

** A college grad moves to the big city and meets an artist who helps him find an apartment with low rent but 50,000 talking cockroaches for roommates. With many comic moments and insect show tunes, the first feature film produced by MTV is surprisingly entertaining despite an unoriginal love story, much vulgar language, and a lot of roach-infested garbage. Written and directed by John Payson. P V By Allison Baldasare

KINGPIN (PG-13)

** A washed-up hustler tempts a gifted bowler to leave his Amish community, which needs money to save its farmland from foreclosure, and get rich by literally gambling on his talent. Woody Harrelson, Randy Quaid, and Bill Murray give riotous performances, but be warned that the comedy is overloaded with gross-out humor from beginning to end. Directed by Peter Farrelly and Bobby Farrelly, of "Dumb and Dumber" fame. V S P

MANNY & LO (R)

* A pregnant teenager and her little sister flee from society, kidnap a nurse to help them when the baby's born, and develop a strangely close relationship with their hostage. The acting is convincing, especially by Mary Kay Place as the nurse, but the rather flimsy drama never picks up much emotional power. Written and directed by Lisa Krueger. S V P

MATILDA (PG)