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AIELLO GLITTERS IN LAME `RUBY'; `EXPOSURE' IS UNDEREXPOSED

"Ruby" is actually little more than just another gangster picture with an unusual hook.

The film spends 90 percent of its screen time showing Ruby as a low-life nightclub owner in Dallas who dallies with mobsters, corrupt cops, FBI agents and, unwittingly, with the CIA. He aspires to a prestigious position with organized crime, though he realizes that will never happen.Once in awhile, the Ruby depicted in this film turns the tables on his challengers, but most of the time he's just another pawn in a bigger game.

A subplot, one that takes up too much screen time, has him in a platonic mentor-style friendship with Candy Cane (Sherilyn Fenn), a young stripper he takes in and puts on the road to success.

But an explanation prior to the end credits tells us Cane is a completely fictitious character, which may well cause the audience to wonder just how much of the rest of the movie is fictitious.

And in the end, Ruby's action against Oswald, his trial and the end of his life is far too rapidly dispensed with.

A better film should have given us less of Ruby's life before the killing of Oswald and more of the trial and his subsequent prison term.

The one thing "Ruby" has going for it that manages to keep things afloat is an excellent, often surprisingly subtle performance from Aiello in the title role. He is far and away the only reason to see this film.

"Ruby" is rated R for violence, profanity, nudity and vulgarity.

- "EXPOSURE" is an artificial yarn, yet another gruesome, misogynistic thriller, this time about a cynical American photojournalist in Rio who becomes mixed up in murder and intrigue, deciding to take action for once, instead of merely observing and photographing. He is played with oily charm by Peter Coyote.

When a young hooker he's used as a photo subject is murdered (the killer carves the letter "P" on his victims' faces, a signature we're later told), Coyote begins investigating on his own. He's seen the police, he says, and he knows they aren't going to do anything.

Eventually, Coyote is being pursued by a tall, imposing man in a ponytail and a huge Indian who stabs him in the stomach (nobody uses guns in this movie). So, he seeks out a zen knife-killing expert and takes lessons, a sort of lethal "Karate Kid" segment.

All of this is pretty silly, including Coyote's relationship with unlikely archaeologist Amanda Pays, who cries in the next room during the knife-teaching sequence, and a lengthy chase that literally goes nowhere.

"Exposure" is rated R for violence, sex, nudity, profanity, vulgarity and drugs.