A weekly update of film releases

* GUILTY AS SIN - An attorney becomes infatuated with an accused murderer she has agreed to defend, only to find that he's manipulative as well as handsome, and that his motives for calling on her professional skills are very different from what she'd expected. This pedestrian thriller was directed by Sidney Lumet, one of the hardest-working filmmakers in Hollywood, and one of the most unpredictable when it comes to turning out high-quality pictures. This must be counted among his misfires, since the actio n is sensationalistic and the screenplay, by the ever-adventurous Larry Cohen, is riddled with holes. Rebecca DeMornay and Don Johnson turn in reasonably solid performances, though, and there's some darkly attractive cinematography by Andrzej Bartkowiak, a regular Lumet collaborator. A good supporting cast also lends an intermittent touch of class to the often violent proceedings. (Rated R)


BANQUET - At the suggestion of his longtime companion, a gay Taiwanese-American man agrees to marry a Chinese woman for two unrelated reasons: to help the woman get a "green card" and remain in the United States, and to make his parents stop their long-distance campaign to find him a suitable wife. When the parents unexpectedly fly to New York for the wedding, the well-meaning conspirators put on a complicated charade to convince the highly traditional old folks that they live a conventional middle-class l ife. Directed by Taiwanese-born filmmaker Ang Lee, the movie treats homosexuality with a candor that will probably limit its audience. Its portrait of the protagonist's relationship with his parents is drawn with impressive warmth and humor, though, and the film's unexpected conclusion leaves sexuality behind to focus on the sustenance and renewal of family ties in a gentle and compassionate way. (Not rated)

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