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FREEZE FRAMES

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GARDENS OF STONE - A new kind of Vietnam-war drama with an unusual hero: a young man stationed at the Arlington National Cemetery, where he participates in military funerals while yearning for a transfer to the front. Among his friends are a sergeant and a reporter with their own bitter views on the Southeast Asian conflict. Directed by Francis Coppola, who gives the story a sense of sincerity and conviction but fails to shape it into a commanding screen experience. The screenplay meanders, and the performances are uneven despite the big names in the cast. (Rated R) MY LIFE AS A DOG - When his mother becomes ill, a Swedish boy is carted off to live at a relative's home, where he has comic misadventures and learns the serious business of coping with loss and uncertainty. Splendidly acted, and directed with touches of visual poetry by Lasse Hallstr"om, but a little heavy on trite sexual-awakening scenes. (Not rated) PROJECT X - A young military pilot is assigned to a laboratory that carries out experiments with chimpanzees, and he suspects the research is more sinister than it appears. Matthew Broderick is likable but unexciting in this likable but unexciting movie. Directed by Jonathan Kaplan on his best behavior; one misses the freewheeling emotional charge of his ``White Line Fever'' and ``Heart Like a Wheel.'' (Rated PG) PERSONAL SERVICES - Ironic comedy about a working-class woman who bumbles her way into the brothel business. The filmmakers barge past a great many moral and practical questions with distressing glibness, but some of the acting is subtly amusing. Directed by Terry Jones, a member of the Monty Python comedy troupe. (Rated R) ROSA LUXEMBURG - A straightforward ``bio-pic'' about the fabled socialist leader. The action concentrates on her activities in German left-wing circles, her difficulties in finding a fulfulling personal life, and her imprisonments in German and Polish jails. Barbara Sukowa gives a forceful performance in the title role, but the film treats ``Bloody Rosa'' with the kind of unmodulated awe you find in old Paul Muni pictures. The polite, conservative style of director Margarethe von Trotta never evokes the sense of inspired radicalism we're supposed to feel in the heroine's presence. Only the ending, stark and gloomy, has real cinematic bite. (Not rated) LA VIE EST A NOUS - This fascinating 1936 propaganda film, made for the French Communist Party by Jean Renoir and others, is finally having its American theatrical debut. The early portions amount to a genuinely experimental movie, full of unexpected devices and effects. The rest consists of sensitively dramatized scenes and, coming into the homestretch, a good deal of heavy preaching. One needn't share the politics of the film to appreciate its reflection of a time when ideals were so deeply felt and proudly proclaimed. ``Life Is Ours'' is the English-language title. (Not rated)

RATINGS: Films with ratings other than G may contain varying degrees of vulgar language, nudity, sex, and violence.


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