Chamber piece: David Thewlis and Thandie Newton in Besieged

Besieged (PG) 92 mins ,.._,

After the ponderous spirituality of Little Buddha and the lazy superfiCiality of Stealing Beauty, Bernardo Bertolucci's Besieged is a revelation. It has a youthful vigour that recalls his best early work, and a beauty that albeit on a more modest scale matches that of the epic The Last Emperor. As if liberated by the spatial constrictions of shooting a two-handed drama inside a modestly-sized Rome apartment, the Italian directOr employs a dazzling mixture of cinematic Styles to capture the actors' movements through the richly coloured, beautifully lit interiors. The only doubt is whether the simple story about the strained, oddly romantic relationship between a reclusive mUSIC teacher, Mr Kinski (DaVid Thewlis), and his exiled, live-in

African housekeeper, Shandurai (Thandie Newton) is too slight to bear the weight of all this visual elaboration. Yet one of the film's strengths is its narrative simplicrty: words are used sparingly, so the simmering emotions are communicated mostly through looks, Silences and music.

Thewlis is at first a little mannered, but improves as his IWitchy, repressed character starts to loosen up. Newton, who often relies upon technical skill at the expense of intuitive emotion, is extraordinary here -- inhabiting rather than impersonating her character. If this is what we can expect from the 59-year-old Bertolucci’s mature years, then there is much to look forward to. (Nigel Floyd)

a Glasgow Film Theatre and Edinburgh Fi'lmhouse from Fri 77 Jun. See prevrew.

Chucking up: Jennifer Tilly in Bride Of Chucky

Bride Of Chucky

(18) 89 mins w

The dismembered corpse of the pint- Sized homiCIdal maniac is exhumed for this knowrng horror sequel to the Child’s Play series. Wisely eschewmg the original title in the wake of the James Bulger murder case which probably also explains the eight-year gap between films three and four - the new edition offers diversion in the form of Jennifer Tilly as the once- human Chucky’s vengeful ex-girlfriend Tiffany.

Stealing his parts from the police's evidence store, she stitches the doll back together and re-animates him in order to torment him, only to find herself transferred in a freak accident into the body of a girl puppet she had bought as a ioke companion After a few cosmetic changes, the two of them are reconciled (Brad Dourif again taking responsibility for Chucky’s

sneering tones) and are soon terrorising a couple of eloping teenagers while trying to magic their way back into human form

Hong Kong director Ronnie Yu (Warriors Of Virtue) handles the set- piece murders proficiently, although the puppets' lack of mobility makes the film reliant on fast editing and camerawork, while leavrng the actors (including John Ritter and Alexis Arquette in cameos) to their own devices. Don Mancini's script has a healthy dollop of black humour, particularly in the sex scene, but the novelty of Tiffany's presence only briefly holds back the customary slaying. In fact, the array of violent death on display here leaves no room for the far scarier horror that a cute children's toy could be a killer inherent in the original script. (Simon Wardell)

a General release from Fri 18 Jun.

new releases FILM

Venus Beauty

(15) 105 mins re *rkx

Angele, Samantha and Marie work at Venus Beauty, the local beauty salon run by Nadine. Angele (Nathalie Baye) is older, and despite her easy, chatterbox way, she is really very lonely, so much so that she frequently has one night stands with total strangers. At the train station, Antoine (Samuel Ie Bihan) falls for her on the spot. He follows her and later announces his feelings to her. Meanwhile, at the salon, Angele's colleagues reveal an array of vulnerabilities beneath their surface exteriors and yet they all dispense advrce, as well as creams, to a coterie of unrequited women.

Tonie Marshall’s warm and perceptive drama dispenses advice too - but in the form of truthful and worldly insights about the nature of /'amour.

Looks of love: Nathalie Baye in Venus Beauty

As Angele’s scarred ex-husband demonstrates, those who strive for an unattainable aesthetic are confusing love with lust every time the parlour door goes, a tacky little harp-bell sounds to remind us of this.

The film's outcome veers unexpectedly towards tragedy, though if there is a Single loose end, it is merely this - why do even the ordinary French seem so much more articulate and philosophical than we do? (John MacKenzie)

I Edinburgh Filmhouse from Fri 78 Jun. Glasgow Film Theatre from Fri 2 Jul.

Get Carter

(18) 112 mins 1c seam» e

When it comes to classic Michael Caine quotes, 'You're a big man, but you’re out of shape I do this for a livrng’ has everything else knocked into a cocked cockney hat. Dramatically too, Get Carter stands out as a highlight in the artist formerly known as Micklewhite's career. His superbly controlled performance as the relentless avenger on a score-settling trip to the North East of England only makes you wish Caine had played more villains.

The driven anti-hero isn't the only thing the film has gorng for it. There's Mike Hodges grimly effective direction, capturing the bleak landscapes and lifestyles of the decaying industrial heartland and its residents proof that you don't need to be as worthy as Ken Loach to make a document of social history. There's a rogues gallery of supporting villainy, from the effete John Osborne to the obese Bryan Mosely (Alf Roberts out of Corrie). And there’s the first and best phone sex scene in film history, when Caine and a saucily clad Britt Ekland swap dirty talk, sweet nothings and heavy breathing long distance. Modern cinephiles needing a further recommendation should know that it's Quentin Tarantino's favourite British movie

of all time. (Rob Fraser)

' Edinburgh Filmhouse from Fri 7 7 jun. Glasgow Film Theatre from M 25 Jun.

Heart (18) 85 mins w iii iv

Heart is a lusty slice of contemporary grand guigno/ spilled from the pen of Cracker writer Jimmy McGovern. Set in Liverpool and Manchester, it has a plot of operatic proportions, beginning with jealous husband Gary (Christopher Ecclestone) keeling over in cardiac arrest because his TV producer wife Tess (Kate Hardie) is sleeping with writer Alex (Rhys lfans). After a heart transplant, Gary finds Tess returning to him and ditching Alex. However, Gary's obsessive suspicions and the prompting of the heart donor’s unhinged mother (Saskia Reeves) push them all towards a decidedly Jacobean denouement. There's a scene in Heart where lfans's bad boy scribbler alludes to an extremely anti-costume drama style of TV, one wrth unbridled blood and guts

Deadly affair: Rhys lfans and Kate Hardie in Heart

and sex. Presumably this is the key idea and, along wrth his ebony humour, McGovern also presents a very funny, self-effacing depiction of 'The Writer' as an arse. Director Charles McDougall manages to cram all its ambitions into a tight 85 minutes of fitful scenes, underscored by jokey music and sound effects and, to their credit, the cast just about pull it off. But the overall impression is one of the small screen struggling to imitate the big one. (John MacKenzie)

I Selected release from Fri 77 Jun.

10—24 Jun 1999 THE U3723