A weekly update of movie releases

* ANCHORESS - Set in England about 600 years ago, this provocative drama focuses on a young woman who leaves her family and takes up an ascetic life within a tiny room built onto her community's church. Here she acquires the status of a prophetess and clairvoyant, yet remains unable to escape vexing conflicts with religious and civil authority. Directed by Chris Newby, who uses the historical tale as a means of exploring issues related to both faith and feminism. (Not rated)

* THE SANTA CLAUSE - The extra ``e'' in the title refers to a portion of Santa Claus's contract, which specifies that there's no single Santa at all, just a red suit and sleigh that bestow the duties of Christmas Eve on whoever steps into them. Our hero is a newly divorced dad who happens to be present when the current Santa falls off a roof, and promptly finds himself delivering toys all over the world. The hard part comes after Christmas, when he has to explain his important new position to unbelieving friends and relatives. This new Walt Disney comedy is too slow and predictable to become the holiday classic it sets out to be, but the performances are funny and the shimmering camera work packs all the colors of Christmas into almost every scene. John Pasquin directed. (Rated PG)

* AN UNFORGETTABLE SUMMER - After his wife rejects the attentions of a senior officer, a Romanian military captain is reassigned to the wrong side of the Danube and saddled with the distasteful task of arresting and executing a group of Bulgarian hostages. Romanian filmmaker Lucian Pintilie is adept at balancing mid-1920s historical interest with domestic drama and psychological suspense. Unfortunately, the movie is less visually adventurous than his previous picture, ``The Oak,'' and its storytelling power is hampered by loose construction and cliched characterizations. (Not rated)

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