FREEZE FRAMES

A weekly update of film releases

* SIRENS - A young minister and his wife visit the home of a respected artist whose works are preoccupied with sex. The couple hope he'll agree to tone down the paintings he's submitting to an influential exhibition. The characters engage in much debate over the ``natural'' and ``distasteful'' aspects of sexuality, but the movie seems most concerned with indulging its own proclivities for nudity and promiscuous behavior. Its only first-rate asset is Hugh Grant's winning performance as the minister. John Duigan directed. (Rated R) * SUTURE - Stricken with amnesia after a murder attempt by his brother, a man tries to piece his identity together using a bundle of highly misleading clues. Despite its surgical-sounding title, this modestly produced thriller is less violent than most, blending a murder-mystery plot with elements of race-related allegory, as well as imaginative allusions to the ``suture theory'' that film scholars use to explain how movies construct compelling characters out of multiple shots and scenes. Directed by newcomers Scott McGehee and David Siegel. (Not rated)

* THUMBELINA - The heroine is a sprightly girl no bigger than a thumb, and her adventures involve frolicsome fairies, talking toads, and a friendly field mouse, among other diverting characters. Clearly hoping to duplicate the huge success Walt Disney Pictures found with ``The Little Mermaid,'' this Don Bluth animation takes its story from another classic tale by Hans Christian Andersen and enlists ``Mermaid'' star Jodi Bensen to provide the title character's voice. The result is ambitiously conceived and handsomely produced, but the music is ordinary and the cartooning isn't vivid enough to sustain interest when the plot enters one of its slow stretches. Among the performers, only Carol Channing and Gilbert Gottfried make much impression. Directed by Bluth and Gary Goldman. (Rated G)

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