A weekly update of film releases

BACKDRAFT - Firefighters. Or rather, firemen, since the women of the movie are kept firmly out of the heroic scenes. This is really an old-fashioned mystery story, complete with false leads and red herrings, and also an old-fashioned horror film, with fire as the monster. There are few surprises, and the stunts and special effects steal the picture from the performers, although Robert De Niro and Donald Sutherland are good in secondary roles. (Rated R)

SOAPDISH - The funniest Hollywood comedy in ages takes place behind the scenes of a soap opera called ``The Sun Also Sets,'' where the actors, producers, and writers are as crazy as the characters they invent for the TV screen. Robert Harling and Andrew Bergman wrote the manic screenplay, and Michael Hoffman has directed it with nonstop energy. Sally Field and Kevin Kline head a superb cast. (Rated PG-13)

THELMA & LOUISE - Louise kills a man who tried to rape Thelma, and then both women head for the hills, convinced that the law would never believe their story. This is an interesting attempt by Hollywood to make a mainstream adventure-comedy-melodrama that's also a statement on feminist issues. It's too bad director Ridley Scott injects the action with too many cheap thrills, vulgarizing the story beyond repair. Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon do their impressive best with the materia l, though. (Rated R)

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