video reviews

The Crossing Guard

(15) 114 mins ****

Two new Jack Nicholson films in the

cinema this issue, and here

on video in Sean Penn's second directorial effort. The actor gives his best performance in years as the distraught father of a hit-and-run victim who vows to shoot the driver when he’s released from prison. Masculinity in crisis is Penn's theme, and although he tends to over- emphasise, this is a film with a lot of truth and compassion. (Buena Vista)

Phenomenon (PG) 123 mins t t

Sentimental and indulgent in its 'spiritual‘ message, this allegorical drama is lifted by another heartening performance by the ever-likeable John Travolta. He plays ordinary guy George, whose mental abilities rise to genius level when he’s hit one night by a mysterious white light. Shunned by his neighbours and hounded by the FBI, George only wants to use his new powers for the good of humanity.

(Buena Vista)

Joe's Apartment (12) 77 mins ** i

What Babe was for kids' matinees, Joe’s Apartment is for the slightly twisted late night crowd. Forget cute

pigs, though, because here

singin’, dancin’, synchronised

swimmin’ cockroaches, the

friends of an Idaho boy who has come to New York City to find employment and romance. We‘re clearly in Tim Burton/lightened-up David Lynch

territory here, and the joke

sustain itself over the movie’s short

duration without straining for bizarre appeal. Good soundtrack etc that fits the film's MTV pedigree.


Nina Takes A Lover

(18) 94 mins *‘k‘k

Made more than three years ago but only now slipping out on video, this

.QZ' 'n' I: N as.“ ,

a). “wig...

26 THEUST 7—20 Mar 1997

Holidays in the sun: Jason Flemyng and liv Tyler soak up the Italian air in Bertolucci's Stealing Beauty (1 5, Fox Guild. rental, a: t 1:)

low key romantic drama stars Laura San Giacomo the woman with the world's sexiest voice. Steadfast despite her husband’s infidelity, Nina finds herself falling for an English photographer when her spouse is out of town. The ending is a bit too clever for its own good, but until then, writer-director Alan Jacobs keeps the passion on the boil. (Columbia Tristar)

RETAIL Barb Wire

(18) 110 mins * 1H:

Ten minutes more of Pamela Anderson Lee is promised for this video release, but it’s only an extended version of the bump 'n' grind shower routine she does in the opening credits. Yep, this futuristic action-thriller is aimed squarely at the Pa(l)m fanatics and the story is a shambles, but it becomes strangely watchable once the plot has been set up. Bounty hunters, resistance fighters, motorbikes, leather outfits: an exaggerated comic book world does indeed emerge. Barb Wire is certainly better than this fortnight's other up- for-sale offer to the dirty mac wannabes, Showgirls (Fox, £9.99, *), which deserves a slap for its total saturation of bad acting. (PolyGram, £13.99)

he is again

Emma (PG) 111 mins *‘kir

Jane Austen fans will probably agree that Douglas McGrath's version of the novel lacks the author’s ironic wit and will bemoan the loss of some sub-plot details due to inevitable cuts for length. The film looks as bright and attractive as any costume drama, and Gwyneth Paltrow makes a fine Emma a meddling matchmaker who can't get her own love life together. But Ewan McGregor probably wishes he'd let the literature bandwagon roll on without him. (Buena Vista, £14.99)

we have

new best

manages to

Green Day. The Hamster Factor

(15) 90 mins H: 'k

Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe's documentary on the entire script-to- screen journey of Terry Gilliam's Twelve Monkeys goes way beyond those behind-the-scenes promos that roll out the same cliches for any old film. This

Going nowhere fast: Phil and his pals in Boston Kickout

RENTAL Boston Kickout (18)101 mins *tz

Blink, and you'd have missed Boston Kickout as it slipped in and out of the multiplexes. That's sad because this tough little first feature from English director Paul Hills has a lot going for it - unlike the protagonists, Phil (John Simm) and his pals, who follow the 'sit on your arse and do nothing’ method of wasted youth in the New Town of Stevenage.

Touted as an English Trainspotting, Boston Kickout certainly has the same guts in its portrayal of youth passing into adulthood through mania, drug use and violence. but it's more Small Faces in its grit and reality. What it lacks, occasionally to the point of boredom during the first 50 minutes, is Trainspotting‘s music score, dialogue and use of location.

Pace and plot pick up once Phil's cousin Shona (Emer McCourt) appears. She provides him with a glimpse of a better, more fulfilled life than his own, although on closer inspection hers is even more grim.

Despite its faults, this is a strong and thought-provoking film. There are some very well observed performances, Hills's semi-autobiographical story rings true and, when it reaches beyond the banal, the direction is tight. Worth 101 minutes of your time. (Thom Dibdin)

I Boston Kickout is available to rent from Mon 10 Mar.

is a verite-style portrait about how a particular director tried to push the Hollywood envelope from inside the system. Unlike other docs of this type, it really conveys the tense balance of imagination and frustration that exists on a film set. It’s also commendable for picking up on the irritating side of Gilliam's genius and not just kissing his backside. Released as part of a box set with Twelve Monkeys. See Rough Cuts. (PolyGram, £19.99)

Casino (18) 178 mins *‘k‘k

Martin Scorsese’s depiction of Mob rule under the neon lights of Las Vegas inhabits a territory too close to Goodfe/las to stamp out its own ground. Robert De Niro is impressive as the casino manager corrupted by absolute power, but Joe Pesci’s contribution is little more than a hysterical clone of previous roles. The plaudits go, however, to Sharon Stone, who reveals hidden dramatic talents as De Niro's substance-abusing wife. (CIC, fullscreen £14.99/widescreen £15.99)

Fair Game (1 S) 86 mins ** Cindy Crawford proves that she

shouldn't give up the catwalks and calendars yet, as she makes her acting

debut as a lawyer on the run from a team of ex-KGB assassins. The hi-tech gadgetry is ridiculously excessive and the plot rollercoasters along before establishing characters or background, but action and stunts are very well handled. However, there's no chemistry between Crawford and cop co-star William Baldwin, and Stephen Berkoff is just collecting pocket money as the panto bad guy. (Warner, £10.99)

Dawn Of The Dead: Director's Cut

(18) 137 mins tint *

George Romero's zombie films are never simply ’shoot them in the head’ gorefests. Okay, on one level they are, but each instalment also takes a satiric swipe at American society. The middle point of the trilogy has the survivors holed up in a shopping mall and, as the living dead stumble around the shops, it‘s clear that consumerism is the director’s target. This 'Director's Cut’ features several minutes of material never seen before in the UK. (BMG, £12.99)

STAR RATINGS *1:th Outstanding **** Recommended *iri' Worth a try ** So-so * Poor