A weekly update of film releases

AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE - Based on the autobiography of New Zealand author Janet Frame, this thoughtful and moving film tells the story of a gifted young girl who finds comfort and inspiration in literary activities, but is misunderstood so profoundly by those around her that she is declared mentally unstable and placed in an institution. She faces formidable challenges before eventually rising to international recognition and acclaim. Directed by New Zealand filmmaker Jane Campion, who overcomes the insensitivities of her earlier ``Sweetie'' to etch a portrait that's deeply compassionate and insightful. Kerry Fox gives a courageous performance as the main character during her adult years, preceded by two impishly talented young actresses who play her earlier in life. In all, a triumphant achievement. (Rated R)

LA FEMME NIKITA - She's a nasty criminal and drug abuser. But the government takes her in tow, erases her past and changes her personality, and voila! she's an assassin who works for the country and not for herself. Luc Besson, a French filmmaker with a knack for churning out international hits like ``The Big Blue,'' directed the yarn. It's extremely violent, stylish, and skippable. (Rated R)

DROWNING BY NUMBERS - Visual games and morbid whimsies run through this dark, sometimes raunchy comedy about women murdering their husbands. Written and directed by British filmmaker Peter Greenaway with the sense of flamboyant aestheticism that characterizes just about all of his work, although this time the mood is lighter and less provocative. (Rated R)

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