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A weekly update of film releases

* CRONOS - A supernatural antique is the centerpiece of this Mexican horror movie about two men dueling over a device with vampire-type powers. Flamboyantly directed by Guillermo del Toro. (Not rated)

* FREEDOM ON MY MIND - Documentary about the 1964 drive to register black voters in Mississippi, and the formation of the Freedom Democratic Party as an alternative to established political organizations. The film vividly shows that not all leaders of the civil-rights movement were forceful personalities like Martin Luther King Jr. but were often quieter, less demonstrative people. It also raises instructive parallels to later struggles for equality, as when it recalls how basic rights for blacks were viciously denounced as ``special rights'' by some segregationists.

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The film has problems, however. For one, it shows how Northern whites came to the aid of Southern black freedom-fighters, but doesn't explore the conflicts of morale and ideology that grew from this integrated partnership. For another, it portrays President Lyndon Johnson as a cynical manipulator eager to placate his Dixiecrat cronies by squelching black voices, but it fails to balance this with an account of LBJ's important contributions to the civil-rights struggle, culminating in Congress's passage of landmark voting-rights legislation. Furthermore, while the film is correct in noting that even liberals failed to see poor, underprivileged blacks as full-fledged participants in the political system, it reproduces this failing by its own tendency to focus on movers and shakers rather than ordinary, everyday folks. Finally, the movie's last portion moves too abruptly from downbeat facts to a feel-good conclusion emphasizing the civil-rights movement's role in giving African-Americans a sense of hope and entitlement.

In all, a movie of uneven quality but well worth viewing. Directed by Connie Field and Marilyn Mulford. (Not rated)

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