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Movies to Tape

November 10, 1996|Kevin Thomas

Miracle in Milan (Bravo Tuesday at 2 p.m.) The strangest and most delightful of the many collaborations of those joint exemplars of neo-realism, Vittorio De Sica and Cesare Zavattini: a Chaplinesque fable about a purely innocent and good young orphan who leads the inhabitants of a Roman shantytown in angelic revolt against their cruel evictors. The 1951 film mixes naturalistic detail and wild flights of fancy; the cast includes the sublimely good-natured Francesco Golissano, Brunella Bovo and Emma Gramatica (wonderful as their fairy grandmother).

The Burning Season (HBO early Friday at 4:30 a.m.) In this fact-based film about Brazilian activist Chico Mendes, heroism isn't defined by the larger-than-life terms usually favored by television. Instead, director John Frankenheimer and the posthumously Emmy-awarded Raul Julia present a decidedly ordinary man driven to extraordinary action through the sheer force of his moral conviction. His unionizing movement had more to do with defending the land and the work rights of his people than in protecting the ozone layer; he was surprised to discover that he had become an international symbol of the environmental movement.

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