A weekly update of film releases

* A GOOD MAN IN AFRICA - Bruce Beresford has directed a number of films centering on black people, including such amiable items as ``Driving Miss Daisy'' and ``Mister Johnson.'' Now he evidently thinks he's entitled to make a screwball comedy that strips away the dignity of its white characters while failing to give the black characters any dignity to begin with. Set in a newly independent African country, the story deals with two white British professionals - a bureaucrat and a physician - and a black African intellectual with a shady scheme up his sleeve. Sean Connery retains some self-respect as the doctor, but the rest of the movie pulls up very short. Written by William Boyd. (Rated R)

* THE NEW AGE - Beset by personal and professional travails, a trend-conscious couple decides to revitalize their relationship by starting an ultrahip business venture and exploring ``new-age lifestyles'' suggested by friends, colleagues, and a self-important guru they happen to know. This dark, sometimes perverse comedy is less adventurous than Michael Tolkin's earlier movies, ``The Rapture'' and ``The Player,'' and some of the filmmaking is less than graceful. Tolkin is very good at using particularized characters to represent social and cultural attitudes much larger than themselves, however, and he rarely hesitates to follow his ideas to their logical or illogical conclusions, no matter how strange or disturbing the territory this opens up. (Rated R)

TIMECOP - A time-traveling hero zooms through past centuries trying to prevent a personal tragedy and a political disaster from taking place in his own future era. The plot is quick, crafty, and confusing, with so many twists that it's hard to say how many make sense. Jean-Claude Van Damme gets plenty of chances to show his bone-crunching fighting skills, though, and that'll be enough for most of the movie's target audience. Directed and photographed by Peter Hyams. (Rated R)

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