Freeze Frames. A weekly update of film releases
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)
THE JOURNEY OF NATTY GANN -- In the midst of the 1930s depression, a young girl starts a lonely search for her father, who has headed west to take a job. It's refreshing to see a strong female character at the center of the plot, and the movie plunks her into all kinds of situations, some of them fairly suspenseful. But the supporting characters are too familiar; the dialogue is often trite; and the ending, which tries very hard to be inspiring, drowns in its own corn. There's also a surpris ing amount of dubious taste for a Walt Disney picture, including vulgar language, bathroom humor, and even a dogfight scene. Directed by Jeremy Kagan. (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)
SWEET DREAMS -- Jessica Lange plays the late country singer Patsy Cline in this well-made but downbeat ``biopic,'' which focuses on her career and her turbulent relationship with her second husband. Directed with a sharp eye and a steady hand by Karel Reisz. (Rated R)
TARGET -- He's such a dull guy that even his family is bored silly. But when his wife is kidnapped, it turns out he's a former CIA man with a license to kill. Before his teen-age son has time to gasp, ``Gee, dad, I didn't know . . . ,'' he's scampering across Europe in search of his purloined spouse. This could have made for an involving thriller if it weren't for a clumsy script and uncertain performances from pro Gene Hackman and young heartthrob Matt Dillon, among others. Arthur Penn direc ted, way below his top form. (Rated R)
TWICE IN A LIFETIME -- A middle-aged husband falls in love with a new woman in town, and his family's complacent life is shaken from top to bottom. The characters are ordinary and the story is simple, and that's exactly why the events have such impact. The filmmaker, Bud Yorkin, also has the sense to avoid easy answers to timeless emotional questions. He does indulge himself in graphic depictions of some after-hours excesses, though. (Rated R) RATINGS: Films with ratings other than G may contain varying degrees of vulgar language, nudity, sex, and violence.