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Movie Spotlight

January 04, 1998|Kevin Thomas

The Panama Deception (Bravo Sunday at 11:45 a.m. and Monday at 9:45 a.m.) is a 1992 production of the Santa Monica-based Empowerment Project, which previously released "Destination Nicaragu" and "Coverup: Behind the Iran Contra Affair." Together, these films constitute an ongoing indictment of alleged mainstream American media complicity in the foreign policy objectives of the Pentagon. Shot on video and transferred to film, there's nothing glossy or high-tech about "The Panama Deception," which was directed by Barbara Trent and written and edited by David Kasper. The straight-ahead, no-nonsense filmmaking lays out simply and forcefully the case against the "official" version of the 1989 U.S. invasion of Panama.

Bhaji on the Beach (Bravo Tuesday at 7 p.m. and Wednesday at 2 p.m.) covers considerable personal and political territory without overreaching or condescending. Moreover, it never forgets to have fun. It is the seriocomic story of a day trip to the seaside resort of Blackpool by several generations of Indian women living in Birmingham, England.

With Susan W. Dryfoos' Oscar-nominated 1996 The Line King: The Al Hirschfeld Story (Cinemax early Thursday at 12:20 a.m.) Hirschfeld--whose whimsical caricatures have enchanted readers, primarily of the New York Times' drama pages, for years--has received the warm, witty and comprehensive documentary he deserves. Dryfoos acquaints us with the vigorous, hearty, white-bearded Hirschfeld, whose career spans more than 70 years.

The Big Easy (KTLA Tuesday at 8 p.m.), a 1987 release, is more memorable for the sizzling chemistry between Dennis Quaid's New Orleands police lieutenant and Ellen Barkin's Eastern-born assistant D.A. than its police-corruption plot.

Mrs. Doubtfire (Fox Tuesday at 8 p.m.), a 1993 blockbuster, is safe and sane entertainment: All the characters are nice and all the situations unadventurous. Robin Williams takes on a role born in high-concept heaven. He's a divorced dad and unemployed voice-over actor who disguises himself as a grandmotherly British housekeeper to spend more time with the children he loves. Sally Field plays his ex-wife.

In The Hunt for Red October (KTLA Friday at 7:30 p.m.) a smart, amiable 1990 underwater suspense tale, Soviet captain Sean Connery seems to be parking his monster sub somewhere off Manhattan, but to what purpose? Dogged, low-level CIA analyst Alec Baldwin just may be able to second-guess him.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the late Don Siegel's 1956 McCarthy Era allegory, an original, terrifying science-fiction classic in which people seemingly are replaced by robot-like replicates.

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