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PERSALL'S TOP 5

Recent releases recommended by Times film critic Steve Persall

1 Boogie Nights _ An ensemble cast recreates the porn movie scene circa 1980 in Paul Thomas Anderson's massively entertaining and provocative film.

2 L.A. Confidential _ Sprawling crime saga set in 1950s Hollywood, with fine performances and a seductive film noir attitude.

3 The Full Monty _ Six unemployed men decide to become strippers to make ends meet. Warm, giddy comedy that rates among the best of 1997.

4 U-Turn _ Oliver Stone leaves his political agenda at home to embark on a bloody, gonzo romp with lust and greed. Sean Penn leads a good cast having plenty of fun.

5 Soul Food _ Warm and moving drama that shows African-American family life in a different sort of projector light.

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