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Freeze Frames: The Monitor Movie Guide

Here are the week's reviews of both the latest releases and current films, rated according to the key below (''o'' for forget it). The capsule reviews are by Monitor film critic David Sterritt; the one liners from a panel of at lease three other Monitor reviewers. Movies containing violence (V), sexual situations (S), nudity (N), and profanity (P) are noted.

o Forget it

* Only if it's free

** Maybe a matinee

*** Worth full price

**** Wait in line

New Releases

AMERICAN STRAYS (R)

* A homicidal vacuum-cleaner salesman, a killer for hire, and a destitute dad are among the seedy characters of Michael Covert's lurid comedy-drama. It fulfills the dire prediction that Quentin Tarantino's vicious "Reservoir Dogs" would spawn imitators with all of its offensiveness and none of its cinematic talent. John Savage, Jennifer Tilly, Carol Kane, and Eric Roberts are among the wasted performers. S V P

BOGUS (PG)

*** A young orphan makes friends with an imaginary Frenchman, who brightens his days and helps him come to terms with his new stepmom. The story is wholesome, but the movie has many more dull stretches than one would expect from veteran filmmaker Norman Jewison and a cast led by Whoopi Goldberg and Gerard Depardieu. V

BROTHER OF SLEEP (R)

* The mysterious tale of a young, prodigiously gifted musician whose artistic talents and passionate nature lead to complex, often stormy relationships with the people close to him. The story is imaginatively filmed but often teeters under the weight of its heavily romantic ambitions. Joseph Vilsmaier directed the German production. S N P V

FLY AWAY HOME (PG)

*** While coping with family problems, a teenage girl hatches a bunch of goose eggs for fun, then realizes her new pets won't know how to migrate south for the winter unless someone shows them the way - an ideal job for her and her father, an inventor who loves tinkering with lightweight aircraft. Nature specialist Carroll Ballard directed this eye-dazzling family film, which has superb airborne cinematography to compensate for some soggy spots in the story. Jeff Daniels and Anna Paquin star. V P

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