Freeze Frames, a weekly update of film releases

AMERICAN FLYERS -- Two brothers, one of them terminally ill, take on the challenge of a grueling bike race. The picture wants to be uplifting and fun, but the trite screenplay and clunky camera work sink it like a cement Schwinn. The racing scenes build a primitive excitement, though. Written by Steve Tesich and directed by John Badham. (Rated PG-13) DETECTIVE -- In a wily and whimsical mood, Jean-Luc Godard has made his most entertaining film in years, scrambling Hollywood's detective-movie clich'es into a sardonic new shape. The result is a comedy, a melodrama, and a tribute to the low-budget programmers that inspired the director in his early years. It's also a study of romanticism and its failure to meet contemporary emotional needs. Not as resonant or substantial as Godard's best work, and flawed by sexism and lapses of taste,

but a considerable achievement. (Not rated)

INSIGNIFICANCE -- Characters modeled after Albert Einstein and Marilyn Monroe pass a talky night in a hotel room. The situation has built-in humor, but the action strains so hard to be outrageous that everyone gets worn out, including the audience. Based on a stage play and directed with surprising staginess by the usually ingenious Nicolas Roeg. (Rated R)

YEAR OF THE DRAGON -- It's typical of unthinking Hollywood racism that only a Caucasian cop can save Chinatown from its own mobsters in this flashy but shallow thriller, which also treats women shabbily and views native Asians as positively savage. Directed with much technical pizazz by Michael Cimino, and photographed almost as richly as his previous picture, the otherwise awful ``Heaven's Gate.'' (Rated R) RATINGS: Films with ratings other than G may contain varying degrees of vulgar language, nudity, sex, and violence.

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