video reviews

RENTAL Brassed Off

(15) 103 mins *****

In the unlikely event of Ken Loach ever directing an Ealing-style comedy, it might come out like this. The members of a Yorkshire colliery band including Trainspotting’s Ewan lvchregor are facing life on the dole, but carry on regardless in their guest to Win a national brass band championship. Sentiment, romance, comedy and hard-hitting politics combine in the most uplifting British film of last year. (Film Four)

Le Bonheur Est Dans Le


(15) 101 mins * ir Mr

Eric Cantona isn’t the main reason to catch this French comedy 9 although his cameo turn isn’t half bad. Michel Serrault IS brilliant, however, as a businessman harrassed at work and unhappy at home, who begins an idyllic double life posing as Carmen Maura’s long-lost husband on a rural farm. Emotionally complex streams run beneath the film’s sunny surface, bringing weight to what could easily have descended into cheap farce. (Guild World Cinema, also retail £15.99)

The Wind In The


(U) 84 mins 1t 4t

Terry Jones turns the Kenneth Grahame novel into something of an extended Python slot for kids, and the result is often self-indulgent, with terrible songs, but featuring enough simply characterised animal friends to appeal to the young 'uns. The director himself plays pompous Toad, who's trying to keep his ancestoral home Out of the hands of the sleazy Weasels, but it's Steve Coogan as shy, loyal Mole who Wins most sympathy (Fox Gtiildl

Surviving Picasso (15) 120 mins ***

Not so much a traditional biopic as a portrait Of the artist as a lover,

Merchant-Ivory’s film concentrates on the relationships between Picasso and his Wives and mistresses. It suggests chauvinism and selfishness were necessary to his vision of himself as an artist, but even With Anthony Hopkins’s astonishingly convinCing performance, we don’t get close to the source of Picasso's creativity. (Warner)

The Big Doll House

(18) 90 mins *** r

The film that kicked off the dodgy ’women’s prison’ sub-genre of the eprOitation market has a knowmg mix of nudity, Violence, torture and drugs references, but balances it with a story of multi-ethnic. female bonding and feminist survival. A group of women in a South American prison some there for political reasons rebel against the corrupt authorities to a funky soundtrack. Sheer entertainment, and a B-mowe classic of the badass style. (Superfly £12.99)

Hospital! (PG) 60 mins 1): it

Channel 5's first foray into the \"|(J(.‘O market is a curious Airplane meets Casualty affair that sets up an unceaSing flow of daft visual Jokes and nonsensical gags Instead of Leslie Neilsen, we’ve got hunky Greg Wise in a rush to save the life of a patient and, consequently, secure the surVival of his hospital. Some of the cameos are too smug for their own good and most of the funnies make the toes tiirl wrth (ringing embarrassment Needs ECT to really shake up as a spoof ‘PNE £12 99)

The Third Man

(PG) 100 mins * iv *1» it

j What more is there to say? Joseph " Cotten tWIsts through Vienna's shadowy streets in seart h of Orson Welles's half-lit Harry Liine, dropping down into the sewers and up ahove the city in a ferns vflzeel Driet tor Carol Reed's unusual camera angles give the film an unsettled feel, whit l‘: malt hes the political and social uncertainty of post-war Europe, where nothing is as it seems friends like Lime can't be trusted, but former enemies, like the Russians, are useful allies Meirner Elite £9 99)

Naked ambition: Demi Moore loses her clothes and any remaining credibility in the dire Striptease (15, 20:20 Vision. rental, *)

so THE LIST 2—is May I997


Lone Star/The Secret Of Roan lnish (15) 130 mins *iir **I(PG) 103 mins ***

A hit at last year’s Edinburgh Film Festival, Lone Star secured a much deserved mainstream audience for director John Sayles. Not that the auteur has begun making mainstream films per se, for the decidedly non-commercial Irish folk tale The Secret Of Roan lnish also released on video this month consolidates

Sayles's indie filmmaking street cred.

In true renaissance fashion, Sayles is also a script doctor (troubleshooting Apollo 73 among others), a novelist, a scriptwriter of B-monster movies (Piranha, Alligator 'it's always good to get the bugs out,’ he has said) and a character actor. His astounding versatility feeds into his directing efforts, which are wildly varied in subject matter, though of consistently high quality. Sayles's movies can be bold, courageous, politicised ventures, or small, sensitive, personal films.

Lone Star is a complex Tex-Mex murder mystery, which perfectly balances its thriller elements with mature social drama, while The Secret Of Roan lnish is a dreamy, offbeat, Irish fairy story that is just as satisfying for adults as it is for kids. What unites Sayles's films is his liberal championing of the disenfranchised: ethnic groups, the working class, homosexuals, women, and the disabled. (Miles Fielder) l Lone Star and The Secret Of Roan lnish are available to rent now. The Secret Of Roan /nish is also on sale, priced £ 15.99.

Magic realms: The Secret Of Roan lnish

Les Miserables (12) 163 mins first *

Jean-Paul Belmondo, whose cool looks lauiit lied the French New Wave With A

Bout De Souffle, has a face lined With

: all the cares of the world in this

5 wenderful updating of the Victor Hugo _ novel Epic events in histOry .- from the ' turn of the century through world wars

give the story back the potency lost in inusital form, as Claude Lelouch brings a grand touch to a literate script aboot personal injustice and global

cruelty. (Warner {IO 99)

Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead

(18) 111 mins *thHr

The fataIISm that often shrouds the

film nOir genre is given an intelligent twist as small-time hood Andy GarCia resigns himself to fate and helps out

3 his mates rather than fleeing town

E after a botched JOb Bizarre

' characterisations spin around Garcia's

calm central performance, the anchor in a film about personal redemption and reaching peace With the notion of mortality. (Buena Vista £I3 99)

Broken Arrow (15) 104 mins in» it

When bad boy pilot John Travolta hljaCkS his stealth bomber and the nuclear mlSSlJeS on board, it's up to former friend Christian Slater to save the world. The script sets up an unlikely series of Speed-ster set-pieces and never-ending obstacles for Our

hero to overcome, but John Woo’s slick direction keeps the pace moVing along. Travolta obviously relishes the chance to play a Villain, and Woo plays up his almost comically mythic status (Fox £14 99 fullscreen, £15.99 WideSt teeth

The Servant (15) 112 mins *‘ki’

When playboy James Fox takes on new rnanservant Dirk Bogarde, class power struggles come to the fore, and we're left wondering JUSI who is the protector and who is the prey. Harold Pinter's trademark unease rests between the lines of dialogue, and his critique of upper-class decadence is sharp in a blackly comic tale of sexual and psychological manipulation However, Joseph Losev’s film now seems more representative of British theatre of the 60s rather than the periods cinema renaissance Bogarde also stars in John Schlesinger’s Darling (15, it *‘H, the film that won Julie Christie an Oscar despite her rather affected performance She plays a confident 60s social climber whose romance With Bogarde (Just check out the number of trains) is as much tied to its time as Brief Encounter was twenty years before. (Warner Elite £9.99 each)

STAR RATINGS ***** Outstanding t * t 1* Recommended t t it Worth a try it: it 50-50 at Poor