ESTHER - Israeli filmmaker Amos Gitai retells the biblical story, ingeniously combining a sense of spectacle and intimacy and subtly connecting its message to contemporary events. (Not rated) THE RAINBOW - Ken Russell's follow-up to his 1970 hit ``Women in Love,'' dealing with the same family and again featuring Glenda Jackson in a key role. The film truncates and simplifies the D.H. Lawrence novel it's based on, and Russell dwells on the story's more sensual facets, including the heroine's explicitly portrayed love affair with another woman. In terms of style, however, this is his most classically controlled movie in years, and it does a convincing job of depicting England's passage into the exciting but stormy currents of the 20th century. (Rated R) SCANDAL - The sleaze factor is near 100 percent in this straighforward retelling of England's notorious Profumo affair, starring John Hurt as the society doctor who introduced a government official to a promiscuous young woman and caused misery for just about everyone concerned, including himself. Directed by Michael Caton-Jones. (Rated R) SURNAME VIET GIVEN NAME NAM - Sensitive documentary on the social, cultural, and political treatment of women in Vietnam, directed by Trinh T. Minh-ha, who was born in Vietnam and works in the United States today. (Not rated)

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