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PERSALL'S TOP 5

Recent releases recommended by Times film critic Steve Persall

1 The Blair Witch Project _ The scariest movie in years, a feat accomplished with minimal violence and maximum ingenuity. One of the year's very best films.

2 The Iron Giant _ One of the best animated features in years, a fable about a boy and his robot that carries more emotional weight than most flesh-and-blood movies. And, it isn't from Disney.

3 Eyes Wide Shut _ Stanley Kubrick's final film carries the mark of this cinema master. This film shouldn't be missed by serious filmgoers.

4 South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut _ Like it or not, this is the bravest, most topical film satire to emerge in years. The musical score is classic tastelessness.

5 The Sixth Sense _ Bruce Willis plays sullen ghostbuster for a possessed boy. A close call due to the slow pacing, but a terrific ending makes up for the dull parts.

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