A weekly update of film releases

TWENTY-ONE - This is a good age to be, but our heroine discovers that lots of problems go with it, especially when she chooses boyfriends who are married, addicted to drugs, or otherwise unsuitable in serious ways. Patsy Kensit gives a vigorous performance, but Don Boyd's dramatic comedy rarely gets below the surface of her character.(Rated R) WHORE - Theresa Russell plays a streetwalker in this harsh, disturbing look at a harsh, disturbing subject. Ken Russell has directed the stylized film with his usual over-the-top energy, recognizing the ugliness of prostitution that movies like "Pretty Woman" bury in Hollywood glamour. (Rated NC-17)

YEAR OF THE GUN - A young American journalist moves to Rome in 1978, takes a second-rate newspaper job to pay the bills, and quietly starts writing a novel based on actual terrorist intrigues that are erupting and colliding all around him during this turbulent period. Not surprisingly for this sort of movie, he soon finds out that fact is much stranger than fiction, and certainly more dangerous than anything his bookish imagination could have anticipated. The story has promise, and John Frankenheimer has directed the action in the hard-hitting realist style that characterized "The Manchurian Candidate" and his other most successful pictures. Andrew McCarthy is too lightweight as the hero, though, and the supporting cast is uneven, except for Valeria Golino as a girlfriend with a secret. The mixture of truth and invention is also uneasy at times; still, it's encouraging to see a Hollywood thriller take on such provocative real-life issues as terrorism, ideological extremism, and the splintered instability of Italian politics. (Rated R)

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