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* POSSE - The saga of an African-American outlaw group that rides through the Wild West promoting vigilante justice with guns, knives, and fists. This revisionist western makes its most important point in the first five minutes, when it notes how many black Americans helped create frontier communities that usually have an all-white appearance in Hollywood movies. Once this has been established, however, the film proceeds to celebrate not the solid citizens who nourish civilization year in and year out, but the violent actions of rebels and renegades who appear nearly as dangerous as the villains they hunt down. Add a shamelessly self-infatuated performance by Mario Van Peebles, who directed the picture as a follow-up to his bone-crunching "New Jack City," and you have an energetically made but sadly superficial epic; it owes more to the influence of filmmakers Sergio Leone and Sam Peckinpah than to original thinking by Hollywood's younger generation. (Rated R) * TIME INDEFINITE

Around the time when he decided to get married, Ross McElwee also decided to make a diary film about his family, from an elderly grandmother to the newborn baby that he and his wife expected they would have before long. The result is a superb example of first-person cinema, deeply introspective and refreshingly outgoing at the same time. It is also quite disturbing at some moments, treating the most wrenching sorrows as well as the most exhilarating joys of family life, and including graphic medical foot age alongside casual camcorder shots and images from nostalgia-filled home movies. The fact that McElwee reaches few firm conclusions is a sign of his honesty and wit; the fact that every scene has something provocative to say or ask is proof of his sincerity as an artist. The promise of his earlier "Sherman's March" is engagingly confirmed, and one looks forward to future installments of his candid 16-mm chronicle. (Not rated)

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