Freeze Frames. A weekly update of film releases.
CRY FREEDOM - The life of black South African martyr Stephen Biko, who died 10 years ago while in police custody, comprises a deeply important human-rights story. It deserves a better film than this one, which often seems wooden and schematic. Biko vanishes from the story at the halfway point, moreover, while the film continues with the escape from South Africa of his friend Donald Woods, a white editor who championed his cause. This belies the film's message that blacks must strive for their own progress, not rely on help from white liberals. Richard Attenborough directed. (Rated PG) HELLO AGAIN - Farce about a woman who returns to life a year after dying. The whole picture is pretty dim, but the slapstick scenes are so limp they must be seen to be believed. Frank Perry was the director. (Rated PG) HYPOTHESIS OF THE STOLEN PAINTING - A sardonic guided tour of a fictional art collection, in which paintings have obscure connections with one another. The filmmaker, Raul Ruiz, pokes fun at artists, critics, and pompous hosts of intellectual TV shows. Too bad the cerebral satire moves at a glacial pace and allows self-indulgent dead spots between its moments of offbeat humor. (Not rated) LESS THAN ZERO - A love triangle takes on tragic dimensions when a bright, articulate young man grows addicted to drugs. Directed by Marek Kanievska, who's never coy about disgusting details. The film's antidrug message is urgent, specific, and unmistakable. (Rated R) MADE IN HEAVEN - Gentle, amusing fantasy about a young couple who meet in Heaven, return to Earth as babies, and take 30 restless years to find each other again. Directed by Alan Rudolph, whose quirky style keeps the film's shameless romanticism from seeming too sappy or corny. Another antidote to sentimentality is a weird character called Emmett, who runs things in Heaven but has a streak of deep sadness in his personality. In all, this is one of the year's most engaging and unusual movies, if you meet it on its own peculiar terms. Too bad it doesn't have an ending; the story just stops when it runs out of ideas. (Rated PG) THE RUNNING MAN - Brutal science-fiction yarn set in a bleak future world. The hero is a policeman who's framed for a crime and forced to appear on a deadly TV game show. Arnold Schwarzenegger muscles his way through the flashily filmed story, which has as much explosive violence and as many satiric barbs as ``RoboCop'' and all its cousins. The result is action-packed to the point of sadism. Directed by Paul Michael Glaser. (Rated R) RUSSKIES - Washed onto Key West during a spy operation, a Soviet sailor meets three boys who've gotten their impression of Russians from comic books and military parents. The film borrows heavily from ``The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming,'' so expect no surprises except the sheer awfulness of the movie. Clumsy filmmaking and a hoked-up screenplay make this a strong contender for worst picture of the year. Rick Rosenthal directed. (Rated PG) RATINGS: Films with ratings other than G may contain varying degrees of vulgar language, nudity, sex, and violence.