FILM new releases

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Police, camera, inaction: James Stewart focuses on the Rear Window

Rear Window

(PG) 112 mins e k at: t

Alfrerl Hrtr hr ()(l was never one to pass up an opportunity to twist the knife

Both (lllfflf‘l‘r((‘ and, you have to wonder, stars are royally put through the grinder rrr this story of voyeurism, fashion, drsrnernhermerit and dog- poisoning

Based on the Cornell Woolrrch tale, Rear Window sees fashion snapper L.B Jeffrres (James Stewart) immobilised in hrs apartment, w'nrlrng away the days spying on neighbours and being waited on hand and foot by fashion model lrsa rGrare Kelly) Underneath Jeffrres' cast are a pair of cold feet pointing in rontr‘ast to Lisa's smouldering adoration, and so he seeks refuge iii the problems vrewed across hrs bat kyarrl Of which there are many.

For a director who vrewed hrs cast as

mere furniture, Hitch gets some good efforts here: James Stewart is at hrs smoothest with a performance even srlkrer than hrs pyjamas, while Grace Kelly's luxuriant beauty was never more promrnent or fetishrstrc under Hitchcock’s gaze, Thelma Ritter provrdes the comic turn as Jeffries’ world-weary nurse and Raymond Burr’s bulky menace as posSrble murderer Lars Thorwald is wonderfully ironic considering that he made a further name for himself later, as lronside, the wheelcharr-bound lawyer.

Time may have shown Rear Window to be one of Hitchcock’s more rocular murder stories, and the endrng’s production values will have audiences rolling among the popcorn. But the underlying perversity is there if you want rt. (Brian Donaldson)

I Edinburgh: Fi/mhouse from Fri 4 Feb,‘ Glasgow: GFT from Fri 78 Feb.

Teenage kicks: Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening in American Beauty

American Beauty

(18) 121 mins * it it 1k 1k

They don't make them |rke they used to, do they? Actually, they do, occasionally American Beauty rs that rare Hollywood cornmodrty: a mature, intelligent, wholly orrgrnal film. Appropriately, rt’s being trpped for multiple Oscar vrctorres.

Lester Burnham (Kevrn Spacey) lrves in an rdyllrc American suburb, but all rs not well in Burnharnvrlle: Lester hates hrs jOb, suffers a loveless marriage (to Annette Benrng) and hrs teenage daughter (Thor'a Birch) has no respect for him, But a close encounter wrth hrs daughter’s gorgeous school friend (Mena Suvarr) rs the catalyst for brg trme self-improvement: Lester quits his rob, begins speaking hrs mrnd and starts working out. He even digs out

20 THE “81' 3—17 Feb 2000

his old rock albums and scores marijuana from the kid next door. And these teenage krcks return to Lester what’s been missrng from his life for years: pleasure and happiness.

Spacey gives the performance of his career, recalling Jack Lemmon at his peak. But this is no one man show; the supporting storylines and characters are fully developed wrth appropriately spot-on performances. Alan Ball’s superb script rs caustic, touching and hilarious in all the rrght places. And making his film debut, Brrtish theatre director Sam Mendes pulls the film’s many layers together with extraordinary precrsion. Think of your very favourite classrc American films and then bracket American Beauty with them. (Miles Fielder)

I Selected release from Fri 4 Feb.

, A Room For Romeo 4

The End Of The Affair (18) 101 mins ****

'This rs a diary of hate,’ explains the narrator Bendrix (Ralph Fiennes), as he attempts to piece together the memories of his war-time affair wrth Sarah (Julianne Moore), the wife of high-ranking crvrl servant Henry (Stephen Rea). Bendrix and Sarah met at a party and embarked on a series of passionate liaisons, only for her to Enduring love: Julianne Moore and terminate their relationshlp m Ralph FiennesinThe End OfTheAffair mysterious Circumstances after a bombing raid durrng the Blitz

Writer-director Neil Jordan captures the rancorous tone and bitter rntensrty of Graham Greene's source novel rn this potent adaptation. Confrdently shifting between the various time-frames, Jordan provrdes a dual perspectrve on events, by presenting excerpts from Sarah’s diary, which go some way to explaining the mysterious epiphany at the film’s core. It’s a work filled With red-raw emotions of sexual desire, morbid jealousy and rage against destiny and the existence of God And yet there's a dreamlike quality to be found in the way that rts characters are so haunted by past events.

Shot and designed with great austerity, the film’s impact rs compounded by a trio of commanding performances from Frennes, Moore and Rea, whilst Michael Nyman's glorious score heightens its already considerable emotional Impact (Tom Dawson)

I General release from Fri 7 7 Feb. See preview

Cinema Paradiso

(PG) 120 mins *‘k‘k

With the film’s tenth anniversary re- release, it’s time for some re- evaluation. In 1989, audiences and critics alike went dewy-eyed, loose- limbed and generally melty all over at Guiseppe Tornatore's homage to the humble folk who bring you your cinematic entertainment. But although the film tries to be concerned with the workings of censorship, religion, smalltown attitudes and the film world, it is little more than a story of friendship between a cute kid and a gruff wrseacre who bridge the generation gap. And we’ve wrtnessed it all before in the likes of Paper Moon and, in more recent times, The Sixth Sense.

On hearing of the death of his old buddy, Alfredo (Phillipe Norret), a grown up Salvatore (Jacques Perrin) makes a return to his home town in sprrrt, as he recalls the events of his childhood and, later, in body for the funeral. He recalls therr burgeoning comradeship in the wake of the town priest's censorship of film and an accident which results in their beloved crnema’s destruction. If you have been swept along on this sugary wave, the closing montage sequence wrll probably have you weeping buckets. If not, you’ll be more likely to be frllrng them With another substance. (Brian Donaldson)

I Edinburgh: Fi/mhouse from Fri 28 Jan.

Sick sense: Cinema Paradiso

Brass (15) 90 mins * ‘k t t a: I a f r

Shane Meadows's first feature, 1996's Small Time, heralded the Nottinghamshire lad as one of Britain's brightest filmmakers. His follow-up, 1998’s TwentyFour Seven, was a critical success. Both films combined colourful regional characters with impish humour and kitchen sink drama to great effect. Romeo Brass consolidates Meadows's filmmaking style, but adds to the mix a deeply personal autobiographical element, drawn from his and co-writer Paul Fraser's childhood friendship.

Young Nottingham lads Romeo (Andrew Shim) and Gavrn (Ben Marshall) are best mates, until the arrival of oddball Morell (Paddy Consrdrne). lnrtrally, Romeo and Gavin befriend the older man, but he subsequently reveals a darker side which comes between their friendship.

Meadows has assembled a cast of newcomers, from whom he elrcrts impressively naturalistic performances. Meadows's TwentyFour Seven star Bob Hoskins provides a cameo, Frank Harper (the Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels ‘moufy' gangster) gives a surprisingly tender turn as Romeo's dad, and Meadows slips in another cheeky Hitchcock-style uncredited appearance. But rt's Considine who almost steals the show and that’s no easy task here With an astonishingly dynamic performance. Other Meadows elements are in place too: an upbeat, eclectic pop soundtrack and a dance routine in which Considine puts Fred Astaire to shame. (Miles Fielder)

I Glasgow: GFT,‘ Edinburgh: Fi/mhouse from Fri 4 Feb. See preview.

Childhood's end: Ben Marshall, Padd Considine and Andrew Shim in A Room For Romeo Brass