Monthly Movie Guide

ANGELO MY LOVE - Robert Duvall wrote and directed this astonishingly vivid picture about a young gypsy boy and his family, with a cast of real New York gypsies playing themselves in the framework of a fictional plot about a feud over a stolen ring. After a few weak moments near the beginning, it's a colorful , deeply engaging, and relentlessly dramatic movie, with some of the most unpredictable performances ever captured on film. (Not rated; contains a little vulgar language and some dissolute behavior.)

BETRAYAL - An examination of a love triangle in reverse, starting after the affair is over and moving backward to discover its earlier phases. Directed by David Jones, the Harold Pinter screenplay is exquisitely sharp, and the performers match it stunningly, with Jeremy Irons at the top of his form, Patricia Hodge a devastating foil, and Ben Kingsley topping his brilliant work in ''Gandhi'' with the most riveting portrayal of the season. (Rated R; contains adult subject matter and a little vulgar language.)

BLACK STALLION RETURNS, THE - Unabashedly old-fasioned yarn about a young stowaway who travels to a strange and distant land in search of his purloined pet. It's picaresque, all right, but full of ethnic stereotypes, and filmed much too blandly (by director Robert Dalva) to compete with the superb ''Black Stallion'' of a few years ago. (Rated PG; contains a very little vulgar language.)

COUP DE TORCHON - ''Clean Slate'' is the English-language title of this savage French satire on colonial attitudes, which are embodied by a dull-witted French policeman who loses his mind while trying to impose law and order on a sleepy African town. Directed by Bertrand Tavernier, with much more energy than is found in most of his earlier films. (Not rated; contains vulgar language and nudity.)

DRAUGHTSMAN'S CONTRACT, THE - Period romance about an artist who mingles amorous intrigue with a professional project. Directed by Peter Greenaway with a sense of structure that's as important to the film's effect as the story and characters. (Rated R; contains some violence and scatological detail.)

DUEL - Cold, mechanical, but viscerally exciting anyway, Steven Spielberg's 1972 TV drama looks much better on the big theatrical screen, where it has finally landed in this belated reissue. Dennis Weaver plays the main character, a mild-mannered driver who's drawn into a strange automotive battle on the highways of California. (Rated PG; contains a little vulgar language.)

E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL - Lost on the planet Earth, a friendly spaceman becomes the secret pal of a little boy, who can't believe his own good fortune. A grade-school version of ''Close Encounters of the Third Kind,'' directed by Steven Spielberg with lots of wit in the first half, but too much artificial emotion in the long climax, which leads to a resolution right out of ''Peter Pan.'' (Rated PG; contains a little vulgar language and a sci-fi medical sequence.)

48 HRS - Violence is the raison d'etre of this technically sharp but thoroughly nasty thriller about a cop and a crook who join forces to catch a psychopath. Directed by Walter Hill with his usual slam-bang competence. (Rated R; contains vulgar language, sexual innuendo, and mayhem.)

GANDHI - Dignified but flat biography of the great Indian leader, giving more facts than insight. Directed by Richard Attenborough. (Rated PG; contains occasional scenes of violence in historical settings.)

KING OF COMEDY, THE - In a variation on their nasty masterpiece, ''Taxi Driver,'' director Martin Scorsese and star Robert De Niro depict a character so obsessed with TV stardom that he kidnaps a talk-show host (played by Jerry Lewis) and demands network air time as the ransom. Barely under control much of the way, the groggy plot veers between drama and comedy, often settling on embarassment as both its theme and its mood. (Rated PG; contains a little sexual innuendo.)

LA NUIT DE VARENNES - Colorful, often amusing, sometimes vulgar historical romp about the waning days of the French aristocracy, which is represented by the aging Casanova. Directed, in French, by Ettore Scola. (Rated R; contains some nudity and sex-related dialogue.)

LA TRAVIATA - Franco Zeffirelli's witty, energetic, aggressively beautiful adaptation of the timeless Verdi work, with a nonstop flow of images so dazzling that even opera newcomers should be charmed from first scene to last, though buffs may feel the pictures fight the music to a standoff. James Levine conducts the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and a cast that includes Teresa Stratas, Placido Domingo, and Cornell MacNeil. (Rated G.)

LOCAL HERO - Slightly daft, utterly charming comedy about a young American sent to a sleepy Scottish village under orders to buy the place up for the oil company he works for. Written and directed with marvelous wit and subtlety by Bill Forsyth. (Rated PG; contains some vulgar language.)

LORDS OF DISCIPLINE, THE - At a military academy, a white cadet is assigned to protect a black youth from harassment, and finds himself up against a vicious secret society. A vulgar, often brutal, and incipiently racist drama, technically well directed by Franc Roddam. (Rated R; contains violence and vulgar language.)

MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER, THE - Australian western with all the classic cliches and stale situations, wrapped into a pretty and energetic package by director George Miller. Kirk Douglas plays two roles: a self-made rancher who wants to shield his daughter from romance with a handsome hired hand, and the rancher's long-lost brother, a sort of Gabby Hayes among the kangaroos. (Rated PG; contains some violence.)

MAX DUGAN RETURNS - Comedy about a widow whose long-lost father pops up after years of absence, wanting to shower her and her teen-age son with goodies paid for from a satchel of ill-gotten money. Written by Neil Simon and directed by Herbert Ross, who seem to feel that family ties, baseball, and the accumulation of brand-name products are the greatest goods to which mankind can aspire. (Rated PG; contains a little vulgar language.)

MONTY PYTHON'S THE MEANING OF LIFE - Monty Python, the British comedy team, treats various philosophical questions with intermittent hilarity, some dull filler material, and occasional forays into the deliberately sickening. As loosely coordinated by director Terry Jones, it's weaker and less consistent than the best Python work in the past. (Rated R; contains vulgar language, sexual activity, and explicit scatological humor.)

NIGHT OF THE SHOOTING STARS, THE - Amid the sad confusion of World War II, a group of Italian peasants flee the Germans who control their town and head into the countryside, looking for American soldiers and liberation. Directed by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani with their patented blend of realism, fantasy, and myth. (Rated R; contains some earthy details of peasant life.)

NUDO DI DONNA - ''Photo of a Woman, Nude'' is the English-language title of this dark comedy about a man perplexed by the resemblance between his wife and a prostitute he meets. Directed by Italian star Nino Manfredi, who also plays the leading role. (Not rated; contains nudity.)

OUT OF THE BLUE - A gargoyle of a movie, with occasional insights hemmed in by a great deal of horror, about a teen-age girl struggling to grow up despite a pair of appalling parents. Directed by star Dennis Hopper with a mixture of visual brilliance and deplorable bad taste, but consistently well-photographed by Marc Champion. (Rated R; contains vulgar language, sexual activity, and violence.)

OUTSIDERS, THE - Francis Coppola directed this episodic adaptation of S. E. Hinton's popular young-adult novel about two youth gangs (rich kids vs. poor ones) in Tulsa, Okla. There's little flow to the story despite lots of striking images and a few strong scenes. (Rated PG; contains some vulgar language and a good deal of violence.)

PRIVILEGED - Modestly made British drama about love and intrigue among Oxford students. Competently directed by Michael Hoffman, but not consistent enough to reach its desired effects. (Not rated; contains some vulgar language and sexual innuendo.)

SAY AMEN, SOMEBODY - Tuneful and energetic documentary about gospel music and the personalities who sing it to the rooftops. Directed by George T. Nierenberg with customary flair. (Rated G.)

SEVEN SAMURAI, THE - Reissue, at its full 31/2-hour length, of Akira Kurosawa's classic Japanese adventure about a group of warriors saving a peaceful village from brigands. There's too much hysteria in some of the frantically stylized performances, but the adventure still packs a wallop. (Not rated; contains violence.)

SOPHIE'S CHOICE - Harrowing but humanistic drama, set in 1947, about a young writer who gets involved with a non-Semitic survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp and her brilliant but unstable Jewish boyfriend. Written and directed by Alan J. Pakula, who eliminates much of the sensationalism and sexual detail of the original novel by William Styron. (Rated R; contains vulgar language, sexual innuendo, and Nazi war crimes.)

SUCCESS - Boisterous comedy about a wealthy young man trying to whip his lackluster life into shape. Directed by William Richert, who wants the feeling of a modern fairy tale but doesn't know how to achieve it. (Not rated.)

TANGO - Short, relentlessly rhythmic animation about a room that becomes impossibly full of unlikely people. Ingeniously made by Zbigniew Rybczynaki. (Not rated; contains a bit of nudity and sexual activity.)

TENDER MERCIES - Exquisitely written and performed drama about a former country-music star recovering from a wrecked career and a drinking problem with the help of his new wife and stepson. Directed by Australian filmmaker Bruce Beresford in his Hollywood debut, with a gentle style that's all the more stirring because it avoids the usual melodramatic twists. (Rated PG; contains a little vulgar language.)

TOOTSIE - An out-of-work actor becomes a star by masquerading as a woman in this reasonably funny comedy featuring a complex performance by Dustin Hoffman. Directed by Sydney Pollack. (Rated PG; contains some vulgar language and sexual innuendo.)

VERDICT, THE - Paul Newman gives what may be the performance of his career as a down-and-out lawyer who risks what's left of his practice to take a courageous stand on a difficult case. Sensitively directed by Sidney Lumet from a screenplay by David Mamet that is flawed only by some bumpy spots near the beginning and end. (Rated R; contains some vulgar language and a few medical details.)

WAITING FOR GAVRILOV - Romantic comedy from the Soviet Union, about a woman passing a few rough hours while waiting for her missing fiance to show up. Directed with intermittent charm by Pyotr Todorovsky, who fails to make the package look fresh. (Not rated.)

YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY, THE - A young journalist takes on his first big assignment, covering the last days of the Sukarno regime in Indonesia, and meets a diverse array of characters, including an enigmatic little man named Billy, brilliantly played by the American actress Linda Hunt. Directed by Australian filmmaker Peter Weir, not at the peak of his powers as in ''Gallipoli'' and ''The Last Wave,'' but pretty close. (Rated PG; contains a little vulgar language and occasional scenes of social and physical misery.)

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