video reviews

—Efl_ Shine

(15) 102 mins Hr *vr

Geoffrey Rush won an Oscar for his portrayal of Australian pianist David Helfgott, who made a remarkable comeback to the concert arena after a crushing mental breakdown. However, the acting laurels deserve to be spread more Widely, for Noah Taylor's subtle performance as the young David paves the way for Rush’s more flamboyant approach, while Armin Mueller-Stahl is just magnificent as the father whose personal anguish is tragically tWisted into overbearing pressme on his son. (Buena Vista)

Blood & Wine

(15) 100 mins * it he

Jack Nicholson teams up again wrth director Bob Rafelson for a Quality dark comedy-thriller that's tightly and realistically plotted. Animosity comes to a head and blood is spilt when domestic strife adds complications to the robbery of an expenSive necklace Every single one of the cast Nicholson, Stephen Dorff, Michael Caine, Jennifer Lopez, Judy Davrs is at their best, and their scenes together crackle. A truly classy production. (Fox Guild)

Flirting With Disaster (15) 89 mins *1: *

Less emphatic and more contrived than his debut Spanking The Monkey, David O. Russell’s pacy comedy nurtures its eccentric characters as Mel (Ben Stiller) travels across America in search of his biological parents. With him c0me his Wife (Patricia Arquette) and psychiatrist (Tea Leoni), and all sorts of sexual entanglements ensue. The action borders on farce, but the performances remain engaging. (Buena Vista)

The Crucible

(12) 118 mins H *t*

Possibly the greatest American play ever written, Arthur Miller’s retelling of the Salem Witch trials still packs a punch long after its veiled digs at the McCarthy hearings have passed into history hypocrisy lives in every age.

Daniel Day-Lewis is the noble but flawed John Proctor, Winona Ryder the spurned adolescent whose sexual jealousy allows gossip to grow into hysteria. The sheer snowballing power of the script, coupled with a sense of moral helplessness and a cast the likes of which has never been assembled on stage, make this the definitive, resolutely cinematic version of a theatre masterpiece. (Fox Guild)

Box Of Moonlight (15) 107 mins *irt

Tightass workaholic John Turturro is on the verge of a mid-life crisis, so he breaks from the order of his life and spends a few days enioying a life closer to nature with an irresponsible guy known as 'The Kid’. Tom DiCillo follows Living In Oblivion wrth a fable about the work-obsessed 90s, which drags a little once the scenario is set up. Turturro, however, is terrific at slowly letting his character unwrnd. (First Independent)

Cadillac Ranch

(15) 99 mins * *

Three sisters, abandoned by their father when children, meet up again to solve the mystery of his disappearance, but a VlClOUS ex—Texas Ranger has his own reasons for stopping them. Cadillac Ranch doesn't work as a comedy or a women’s drama or a thriller, although at times it tries to be all three. The sisters' personalities are so emphatically different that they become annoyingly like caricatures, and scenes are too repetitive. The film has been compared to The/ma & Louise, but if two was company before, here three is definitely a crowd (BMG)

Trees Lounge

(15) 92 mins at fir Mr

Steve Buscemi, the actor prince of the American independent scene, makes a strong debut as director With a him that owes much to John Cassavetes Buscemi himself plays Tommy, an alcoholic loser, whose favourite pub hang-out also houses a sad and lost community. Driven by character rather than plot, Trees Lounge bases its humour on a bed of day-to-day tragedy, those small disappomtinents that grow and destroy lives (BMG)

Generation gap: Jonathan Frakes and Patrick Stewart boldly go across the universe in Star Trek: First Contact (12, 108 mins, * tit). Rental from Fri 19 Sep.

video reviews FILM

Mortal sin: Oliver Reed and Georgina Hale in The Devils

The Devils

(18) 107 mins *****

Ken Russell's surreal, often perverse imagery is at its strongest in this reworking of The Devils 0f Loudun. His vision of 17th century France under the grip of plague equates moral and physical decay; here religious and political hypocrisy are a by-product of a decadent royal court.

In many ways, the story resembles The Crucible: a charismatic but flawed man is wrongly accused of a crime (consorting with the Devil) on account of one woman's frustrated desires, and growing hysteria and political opportunism lead to death. Russell's stroke of genius is to take this dramatic material and treat it like an upmarket exploitation movie - masturbating nuns in a sexually frustrated convent, ‘blasphemous’ images, a horror film ending.

As the accused priest, Oliver Reed has the power and presence to convey animal attraction with a touch of vanity, earthiness as well as essential goodness; as an actor, he was never this great again. Derek Jarman's astonishing sets are predominantly white in a world without purity, while Peter Maxwell Davies's strident, avant-garde score captures the mood of


This widescreen video release marks the first of Warner Home Video’s ‘Maverick Directors’ series. Other highlights of the launch include the video premiere of Abel Ferrara's Angel Of Vengeance and widescreen versions of Peter Yates's Bullitt, Nicolas Roeg and Donald Cammell’s Performance and Terrence Malick's Badlands. (Alan Morrison)

l The Devils and other Maverick Directors’ titles are on sale now, priced f I 2. 99


Mamma Roma (15)102 mins *1» it *lr

Anna lviagnaiii is the (lli.’lll(_] force in Pasolini's second film, a.“ earthy figure whose life-arid-s0ul-of-the-party attitude hides sadness and despair over her inability to prav'de a secure home for her teenage son No matter how far she moves up in society, she’s still surrounded by '.\hores arzd pelt; i nooks These are rear, not always attrac twe- looking people caught iii broken, pust- war landscapes ~ i:ot the Rome of La Dolce ‘i/ifa but Pasolini finds poetry ii; their lives (Ccnnoisseur f. l 5 9‘3) Joe's Apartment

(12) 77 mins 1% vs vs

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Yan 8r Ying

(E) 80 mins 1r 1: a:

This latest instalment in the BFI/ Channel 4 Century Of Cinema series is subtitled ’Ciender In Chinese Cinema', and Stanley Kwan (director of Actress and Rouge) does take a narrower, more subiective approach to the nation's film history. He finds homo- erotic links between martial arts movies and Hong Kong gangster flicks, and concentrates on sexual rather than party politics. All of China's major directors from John Woo to Ang Lee to Chen Kaige are intervrewed in this personalised essay. (Academy £15.99)

Two Days In The Valley (18) mins 1r it *

Pitching this cult-item-in-the-making as Pulp Fiction meets Short Cuts isn’t far wrong, in that it's a blackly comic (nine story that draws in a wrde set of chaiac tc-is The essential story follows hitinan Danny Aieilo as he’s double- irossed after a iob. A not-always- coinfortable mix of sight-gags and slick Violence, the film has a fairly relaxed pate for a thriller Aiello emerges wrth top honours, a bald, liewigged has—been who nevertheless has a wealth of personal dignity (Entei'tainrnent LiA199

full’sc teen/f l 5 99 mdescreen)

l) Sep ."i Sep lQ‘l7 THE “ST 27