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Skullduggery: Kevin Kline and Will Smith go head-to-head in Wild Wild West

Wild Wild West (12) 106 mins kink

Given the enormous (and surprise) success of Men In Black, it was inevitable that director Barry Sonnenfeld and star Will Smith should team up again. Like Men In Black, Wild Wild West combines comic banter between its leads with an oddball plot and imaginative special effects. But the result is nowhere near as inspired.

Wild Wild West lacks what made Men In Black such a winner comic spark. Where the interplay between Smith's funny guy and Tommy Lee Jones's straight man was priceless, the same between Smith and his Wild Wild West partner, Kevin Kline constantly misfires. Smith and Kline are both natural comedians and the script has some good gags. but, this time round everyone tries too hard. Without the humour, Wild Wild West is just another special effects blockbuster.

On paper, it must have looked great. Based on a cult 605 American television series, this is, in essence. James Bond transferred to 19th century America. Secret agents James West (Smith) and Artemus Gordon (Kline playing the eccentric gadgeteer and master of disguise with ' gusto), go-to-work for President Ulysses S. Grant to save America from Dr Arliss Loveless (Kenneth Branagh), a

Southern States villain who’s never forgiven the North for the loss of his legs and his beloved ante bellum South in the Civil War. Unfortunately, like so many of the summer Hollywood blockbusters, Wild Wild West's plot is driven by its special effects, with the former merely serving to string together the latter.

There are some gold nuggets to recommend. It goes without saying that the sfx impress. Although contemporary film audiences are used to on-screen digital overload, Wild Wild West's retro-futuristic technology - a motorised penny farthing, Leonardo Da Vinci's flying machine. Loveless's quite awesome gigantic mechanised tarantula - are imaginative enough to hold the attention. Set design and costumes also impress, with the latter almost solely devoted to exposing the cleaveges and behinds of Loveless's hareem of lovely ladies. Salma Hayek's saloon gal gets in on this act, in a rather wasted role. All this is no more PC than your average James Bond film and, in fact, it’s Sonnenfeld's playful attack on political correctness - Smith and Branagh’s ridiculing of each other's skin colour and physical disability, respectively - that garner Wild Wild West its few laughs. (Miles Fielder)

. General release from Fri 13 Aug.

Soap opera: Angelina Jolie, Sean Connery and Gena Rowlands in Playing By Heart

days, and trying to make some sense and truth out of their lives, is his mother, Mildred (Ellen Burstyn). Madelaine Stowe and Anthony Edwards play a couple having a fling in a high-rise hotel, while youngsters Angelina Jolie and Ryan Phillipe make up the complement as two single clubbers whose paths collide in LA’s swinging night scene.

Unfortunately, none of the relationships really holds water, and, in trying to dispel the notion that ‘talking about love is like dancing about architecture’, Willard Carroll's film

Playing By Heart (15) 119 mins ~*

This is a kind of self-contained soap set > in LA over eight days and nights, which features a number of famous faces, and which attempts to say something about love and relationships through a seemingly unconnected group of people.

Gillian Anderson plays earnest, single theatre director Meredith, who is determined to undermine the advances of would-be suitor Trent (Jon Stewart), because she has been hurt before. Sean Connery and Gena Rowlands are

129 must 12—19 Aug 1999

long-married couple Paul and Hannah, whose financial success they owe to a cookery show, taped in their home, which he produces and she stars in. Their marital situation is less savoury though, owing to tensions arising from an affair of sorts in his past, and also from something more urgent and threatening. Dennis Quaid's sob-story merchant, Hugh, trawls the city‘s bars looking for a suitable shoulder to cry on invariably one attached to a beautiful woman. Meanwhile, terminally ill in hospital, Mark (Jay Mohr) really does have to face up to the worst. With him during his last

actually demonstrates how inarticulate dialogue can be on the subject. The problem is not that the characters are so samey (they’re almost all white and successful, but then so were they in Short Cuts), it's the lack of any passion, hate or plain believability that makes them not worth caring about. Compared to, for example, Michael Winterbottom’s forthcoming Wonderland, Playing 8y Heart seems dilettante, self-absorbed and basically misguided. Perhaps for the mawkish, but definitely not for the cerebral. (John MacKenzie)

I General release from Fri 13 Aug.

FILM PREVIEW Indian Cinema

The Indian film industry is the largest in the world. In terms of numbers of films made (around 800 annually) and burns on cinema seats, India’s industry is bigger than America’s. Last year, it was given a further boost when the Indian government granted Bollywood (the commercial filmmaking hub in Bombay) industry status. New incentives mean that Bollywood film production will now be aimed at Indian ex-patriate communities throughout the world. That not a lot of people, outside India's own 950 million plus population, know of the breadth and depth of Indian cinema isn‘t really the case anymore. For some time, Scottish cinemas have been screening Indian films regularly for Hindi, Urdu and Bengali, as well as English-language speaking audiences. This month Edinburgh's Lumiere and Cameo cinemas are hosting concurrent, but independent Indian film mini- seasons.

The Lumiere’s ten-film mini-season combines classic and contemporary films spanning the 52 years of lndian independence. The season, which aims to interrogate notions of nationhood and culture, opens with director Kumar Shahani’s latest film, Char Adhyay (Four Chapters), which contrasts the freedom struggle in the 19305 with life in present day India. Other films enagage with India’s troubled history, such as Deepa Mehta's Earth (to receive a wider Scottish release later in the year), which focuses on partitioning of India and Pakistan in 1947. Elswhere in the season, smaller, more personal stories are played out. The great Satyajit Ray's Devi (The Godess) is a psychological drama about a young woman and her landlord, while Muzaffar Ali's Umrao Jaan is based on a controversial text about a mid-19th courtesan.

The Cameo season draws on its monthly screenings for a confection of more recent, commercial Indian cinema featuring star turns (on-screen only) from 'The Three Khans', Shah Rukh, Salman and Aamir. Popular titles making a return engagement include: Dil To Pagal Hai, Huch Kuch Hota Hai and Hum Apke Hain Koun. (Miles Fielder)

I Indian Cinema at The Lumiere, 75-22 Aug (all films in English with Hindi,

Urdu, Bengali or Mala ya/am subtitles); Indian Film Festival at The Cameo, until 15 Aug (all films in Hindi without

English subtitles).

A world apart: Deepa Mehta's Earth


** i ** Unmissable

*1: * Very ood

*‘k‘k Wort a shot

** Below average

st You've been warned