new releases

Notting Hill

(15) 110 mins

If romantic comedies are by their nature fantasies, then screenwriter Richard Curtis’s eagerly awaited follow~up to Four Weddings And A Funeral couldn’t be more upfront about its status. The film’s premise is a daydream most people will have shared, if only as teenagers: what would it be like to date a movie star? Or rather, in the film’s more grown-up milieu, how would your friends react if you turned up at a dinner party with an unbelievably famous celebrity on your arm?

Playing Curtis's fantasy alter-ego is, of course, Hugh Grant, with floppy fringe, endearing stammer and eye blink all in place. This time he’s William Thacker, the divorced owner of a travel bookshop in Notting Hill's Portobello Road. Into the shop one day walks Hollywood megastar Julia Roberts, or Anna Scott, as the film would have it. After the sort of contrivance - spilt orange juice, etc one allows in this kind of film, they kiss. Then Hugh’s, or rather William’s, scruffy Welsh housemate Spike returns and the spell is broken.

But Curtis, director Roger Michell and the stars soon get the ball rolling again. William goes to meet Anna at

The lnheritors

up by Jealousy and tarnished lust

Foot of the bed: Hugh Grant in Notting Hill

the Ritz and finds himself in the middle of a ghastly press junket and forced to impersonate a journalist from Horse And Hound. (’You‘re Horse And Hound‘s favourite actress,’ he tells Anna under the watchful gaze of a film publicist. ‘You and Black Beauty.') Then Anna accompanies William to his flaky sister's birthday party, prompting responses from his friends (a sitcom-like crew, it has to be said) that range from gushing chumminess to blithe misrecognition.

Notting Hill plays on the public images and tabloid notoriety of its stars, which gives an extra frisson to the scenes of paparazzi doorstopping William's house or the pair turning up at a gala premiere. Curtis’s wry view of celebrity, and our fascination with it, is a minor strain, however; the film's dominant tone is unashamedly romantic.

If you can't stand the leads, stay away. But Grant and Roberts really can‘t be bettered in films like this. With flawless timing they milk laugh after laugh from Curtis’s sometimes patchy script. And if they don’t make you swoon, then there's always Rhys Ifans, who steals almost every scene he’s in as the lodger from hell. (Jason Best)

General release from Fri 28 Ma y

their given right -- as natural as the seasons The Sudden shift in power, throvving everything off-kitter, needs to be redressed ingenious methods are created to regain the land, but the peasants are haying none of it There's a livelihood to be extracted from this soil, and the film's at its most interesting when contrasting the sooal expectations of the landowners With the practical needs of the peasants

Not that the film is a subtle examination of class conflict The money men are generally presented as corpulent, the peasants lean and thrifty In one shot, the director's respect fer the poor is manifest through a homage to John Ford As the farmers play outside in the light,

(15) 95 mins


[he lnheritors, set in the 19305, opens on the death of a local farmer, h-s Will demanding the land be oiwded amongst his seven servants 0: course, local dignitaries are put out The film details conseqLient tensions as this mini class war is fought to the death

What d:rector Stefan Rtizovvitzky explores isii‘t Just the landowning class's desire for more than they already have, he's also interested in the way the wealthy see land ownership as

Ruzown7ky shoots from the dark llliE‘llOl'S, Wltl‘i the peasants idyllically, almost religiously, shown throogh the door frame Ruzcwtzky‘s Mining of the wealthy, on the other hand, is more likely to int/0K0. Fellini or Kusturica

Still, it's good to see a rhowe tackling issues of land rights and social class, even thoiigh it’s a little broad and a bit too rumbustious (Tony lvchibbin) Edinburgh Fi/mhouse from Fri 4 jun Glasgow Fi/ni [hear/e from Fri 7 l jun

The King And I

(U) 87 mins * 4: var

East vs West. Tradition against radicalism. The head coming into conflict With the heart as love attempts to transcend the barriers of class and history. Just three of the major themes tackled in the animated version of the 1956 filmic funhouse that starred Yul Bryner and Deborah Kerr. And really, how can anyone go wrong with such a heartwarming stOry, cracking songs by Rodgers and Hammerstein and, being animated, the facility for more active roles to be taken by talking elephants, sentimental chimps and proud panthers,

Based on the true story of Anna Leonowens and her experiences as a teacher for the royal family in 19th century Siam, The King And / follows her spiritual and phySical voyage in bringing western ideas to bear on the children of the imperial palace. The King, simultaneously Wise and rash, has a mortal enemy in the scheming Kralahome, whose deSigns on the throne lead him to conceive plot after plot to undermine the King. As is the way, he has a bumbling and, literally, toothless sidekick and their attempts to destroy the King's reputation in the eyes of the British fails miserably.

In the background is a forbidden romance between the Crown Prince and a servant girl, This relationship soon becomes the key to whether the King sees his future as an enlightened and modernist ruler or if he is too deep-seated in his Views as a ritualistic and infleXible autocratic leader. Will he banish them to oblivion or embrace their love as a true and pure force?

VOiced by stars such as the Richardsons, Ian and Miranda, y0u will have to decide for yourself whether the animated version adds anything to Our understanding of a region's history and its relationship to the west. Or far more importantly, whether Martin Vidnowc is a match for Yul Bryner. Whatever, it's a cracking ride.

(Brian Donaldson) 51%; General release from Fri 28 May. Old school Thai: Anna and the King of Siam in The King Andl



. ~.s sir u v unmissable s v. ~s Very good ,. a Worth a shot

Below average You've been warned