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After her father's untimely death, a little girl stops speaking and withdraws entirely into herself, leaving her mother with the task of breaking through her shell and bringing her back into contact with the world around her. Kathleen Turner gives a solid performance as the parent who trusts more to motherly intuition than to medical or psychological theories, and Tommy Lee Jones is equally strong as a doctor who tries to help her. The drama never becomes fully alive or coherent, however, despite its goo d acting and some extraordinarily evocative images devised by Michael Lessac, who directed the picture from his own screenplay. Victor Hammer did the exquisite cinematography, and Walter Murch was the film editor. (Rated PG-13) * ROAD SCHOLAR

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Author, teacher, and National Public Radio commentator Andrei Codrescu decided to discover America by taking a cross-country road trip. So he bought a car, learned to drive, and left New York for San Francisco, accompanied by a film crew to record his adventures and impressions. Aiming for the blend of humor and sociological bite that distinguished Roger Moore's acerbic ``Roger & Me'' not long ago, Codrescu scurries through one culturally and politically revealing site after another; but his visits are s o brief and his comments so epigrammatic that he rarely manages to dig beneath the surface of the people and places he encounters. The cleverest aspect of his monologue is its agility at making 180-degree transitions between totally unconnected subjects, and this quickly wears thin. Add an undistinguished visual style and a surprisingly superficial view of American democratic ideals, and you have a sadly disappointing excursion. Roger Weisberg directed the documentary, with Jean de Segonzac as co-director a nd cinematographer. (Not rated)

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