Freeze Frames, A weekly update of film releases

CHAOS -- Four tales of the Italian peasantry, plus a gorgeously shot epilogue about author Luigi Pirandello, from whose stories the film is drawn. Approaching their material with great sincerity, directors Paolo and Vittorio Taviani do an especially good job of linking the characters with their difficult environment, which plays a large part in shaping their lives. But the atmosphere is awfully bleak much of the time, and the Pirandellian plot twists are all too Pirandellian. (Not rate d) COLONEL REDL -- The rise and fall of a self-seeking army officer during the last period of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Directed by today's leading Hungarian filmmaker, Istv'an Szab'o, and surprisingly similar to his respected ``Mephisto'' in its concern with ambition and duplicity. A substantial work, although the long central portion has no virtues to match the fluid camera work of the opening or Klaus Maria Brandauer's bravura acting near the end. Though the subtheme of homosexuality is treated with comparative tact, there is some explicit heterosexual behavior. (Rated R)

DREAM CHILD -- Many years earlier, author Lewis Carroll told his ``Alice in Wonderland'' stories to a real-life little girl named Alice. Now, in the 1930s, she's an old woman making her first voyage to the United States as part of a Carroll celebration. The movie shifts between her experiences, her dreams, and her memories as she moves toward the end of her life in a confusing new environment, yet never quite loses her natural inner strength. Gavin Millar directed this unusual and sensitive drama. (Rated PG)

JAGGED EDGE -- Despite misgivings about the criminal-justice system, a former prosecutor takes over the defense of a wealthy man charged with savagely killing his wife. At a time when strong roles for actresses are all too scarce, Glenn Close lights up the screen as the canny lawyer, while Jeff Bridges leads an excellent male contingent. Except for a few moments of harrowing verbal and visual violence involving defenseless women, this is a direct descendant of such classic courtroom dramas

as ``Witness for the Prosecution'' and ``Anatomy of a Murder,'' which offered similar blends of suspense and irony. Richard Marquand directed. (Rated R)

MORONS FROM OUTER SPACE -- The title is irresistible, and so are parts of this Monty Python-style comedy, which features a quartet of aliens with low IQs. Some slow and vulgar moments aside, it's a minor treat for viewers who don't mind keeping their expectations low. Directed by Mike Hodges. (Rated PG-13) RATINGS: Films with ratings other than G may contain varying degrees of vulgar language, nudity, sex, and violence.

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