video reviews

Welcome To The

Dollhouse (15) 87 mins ****

Eleven-year-old Dawn is the gawkiest girl in the school, and openly despised by classmates, teachers and parents alike - although the toughest kid in town has a secret crush on her. The comic touches in Todd Solondz's Sundance prizewinner are powered by a vein of nastiness that's completely true to life. Young actress Heather Matarazzo wins us over because, although we know puberty will be an uphill struggle for Dawn, and that she deserves to wreak revenge on all around her, she never loses her dignity. (Artificial Eye; also retail £15.99)


(15) 100 mins *htr

Both Alan Rickman and Ian McKellen won Golden Globes for this American cable TV melodrama, and there are many other positive points in the production - beautiful photography and sets; the use of archive footage to show how the Rasputin story was the lynchpin to the fall of the Romanoffs; the ambiguity surrounding the ’saint or sinner’ reputation of the monk himself. Rickman indulges in the hammier aspects of Rasputin's hypnotic, hedonistic presence and his comings- and-goings from the royal palace become rather repetitive. But by filtering it all through the words of Tzarovich Alexei, the film does highlight the more intriguingly enigmatic elements of the story. (Mosaic)

Carla's Song (15) 127 mins *i* it

In a film of two halves, Robert Carlyle's Glaswegian bus driver falls in love with Nicaraguan refugee Carla (Oyanka Cabeza), then agrees to accompany her to her war-torn homeland. The Scottish section has a warmth not often found in the work of Ken Loach, while in the later stages he is on more familiar ground, concentrating on the human rather than political misery caused by the American-sanctioned destruction of the Sandinista government. Throughout it all, Carlyle draws the audience into the story. (PolyGram)

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The Ghost And The

Darkness (1 5) mins *ir

Young colonial Val Kilmer arrives in Africa geared up to build bridges, but finds himself hunting two man-eating lions alongside Michael Douglas. Seemingly only white men can succeed where hundreds of natives fail - a concept so implicitly racist it may make the blood boil if this supposed thriller wasn’t so ineffectual and boring. (CIC)


(18) 114 mins 1r *

Eddie Murphy can't muster the on- screen electricity of his early action- comedy hits as he stars as a hostage negotiator who sets out to avenge the death of a colleague. Cliche stumbles over cliche and, despite a couple of exciting moments, it's surely a step backwards for an actor who looked like he was back in the running. (Buena Vista)

Fly Away Home

(U) 103 mins *‘kir'k

When her mum dies in a car crash, young Amy (The Piano's Anna Paquin) joins her eccentric dad (Jeff Daniels) in Canada. Father and daughter overcome initial awkwardness by building a glider and guiding a flock of orphaned geese south before the proposed migration ground is destroyed by heartless developers. By refusing to wallow in the cuteness of kids and animals, this uplifting family movie has an emotional credibility that will hook adults while the story delights the youngsters. (Columbia Tristar)

The Starmaker (18) 102 mins *wk * Guiseppe Tornatore, director of Cinema Paradiso, again examines the allure of the film world in the stay of an entrepreneur who convinces gullible, fame-hungry Sicilian peasants that his screen tests will turn them into big stars. Dreams, memories and confessions pour out in front of his camera and, when he falls in love with one beautiful girl, he begins to feel guilt at his deception. Cinema and its attendant glamour are both seen as illusory in a film that lets itself down at the end by bringing too much sentiment into the tragedy. (Twentieth Century Fox; also retail £15.99)



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Doctor who‘l: llugh Grant is a young medic caught up in hospital conspiracy and- corruption in Extreme Measures (15, 113 mins, *ir). Rental from Wed 30 Jul.

40 TIIEUST 25 Jul—7 Aug 1997

RENTAL Walking And Talking

(15) 82 mins ****

Friends for life: Catherine Keener and Anne Heche in Walking And Talking

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Just like the Billy Bragg songs that pop up on the soundtrack, Walking And Talking is filled with sharp and true observations on love and life. If current cinema release Swingers is one for the boys, then Nicole Holofcener's debut feature is the American independent movie the girls should look out for. Lifelong friends Amelia (Catherine Keener) and Laura (Anne Heche) are approaching the big three-oh in different ways. Laura is very much in love with Frank - until they get engaged, and she starts vying with the idea of sex with other men. Amelia, on the other hand. isn't in a relationship, so the prospect of her best friend's wedding only adds to an obsession with her

own shortcomings.

Holofcener brilliantly captures all the mood swings that colour real friendships and relationships, when a single misplaced sentence can turn the situation on its head. The cast. filled with stars of tomorrow. breathe life into their distinctive. recognisable characters. And what a delight it is to see a film that finishes at exactly the right moment. (Alan Morrison)

l Walking And Talking is available to rent from Mon 11 Aug.


(18)115 mins *****

When circumstances cause him to kill the son of a powerful businessman, accountant William Blake (Johnny Depp) finds himself on the run in unfamiliar frontier territory with a bullet in his heart and bounty hunters on his tale. Jim Jarmusch’s existentialist Western has a loose, hypnotic quality reinforced by the gorgeous black-and- white photography, but punctured by Neil Young's jagged guitar and moments of extreme violence and surreal humour. Truly poetic and evocative. (Electric £15.99)

Angel Baby (15) 100 mins * * t *

Irishman Harry (John Lynch) falls for Australian Kate (Jacqueline McKenzie), but their blossoming love is hindered by the fact that he's a schizophrenic and she believes that messages eminate from her TV set. The story of a difficult love affair is told with tenderness, feeling and a little humour, resulting in an unsensationalised approach that doesn't indulge in sentiment or the drum-beating of social realism. (Electric £15.99)

October (PG) 104 mins *****

Eisenstein's dramatisation of the Russian Revolution is one of the true

classics of world cinema. From a technical point of view, it's a masterpiece, with fast cuts and visual metaphors arising from inventive montage. The sequence re-enacting the storming of the Winter Palace still captures the excitement of revolutionary zeal. lf Eisenstein was the pure filmmaker, Pukovkin was the storyteller. Mother (PG, 85 mins,

a * t at t) melodramatically recounts one woman’s awakening to the good of Communism after her son's role in an illegal strike. There is nothing that America was making at the same time that ranks alongside these works. (Tartan £15.99 each)

The Truth About Cats And Dogs

(15) 93 mins at the Is beauty only skin deep? That’s the

question at the centre of this charming romantic comedy, in which radio presenter Janeane Garafalo persuades her gorgeous neighbour Uma Thurman to pretend she’s her in order to win the heart of photographer Ben Chaplin, who's already besotted by her voice. Complications get knotty rather than naughty, but unravel themselves to the contentment of all, viewers included. (Fox £9.99)

STAR RATINGS * t * t * Outstanding * t * a Recommended * t 1' Worth a try 1: t So-so * Poor