new releases

Nurse Betty (15) 110 mins but

Betty (Renée Zellweger) is a waitress in smalltown Fair Oaks, Kansas. She's mostly content with her simple life, despite being married to hideous white-trash car salesman, Del (Aaron Eckhart). But it‘s the daytime hospital soap A Reason To Love that gives her a reason to live. Like all the women in Fair Oaks, Betty adores the show's star, Dr David Ravell played by actor George McCord (Greg Kinnear). It's him Betty's watching on television when Del is murdered in their home by two hitmen, Charlie (Morgan Freeman) and Wesley (Chris Rock), sent to recover a car boot full of stolen drugs. Betty is so traumatised by what she witnesses, she simultaneously suffers an attack of amnesia and a reality shift that leaves her believing the cheesy melodramatic world of A Reason To Love is the real world. And so ‘Nurse Betty' sets off to find her former fiancee, Dr Ravell, with a string of people on her trail: the

Nurse Betty has a couple of telling reference points in Doris Day and George Clooney

town’s Sheriff Ballard (Pruitt Taylor Vince), local reporter Roy Ostrey (Crispin Glover) and Charlie and Wesley who are intent on tying up loose ends . . .

Nurse Betty has a couple of telling reference points: Doris Day and George Clooney, whom Betty and Dr Ravell are partly modelled on. Much of the film's humour is derived from the disparity between melodrama and real life; the occasions when they intersect - Betty and George’s meeting, for example - are simultaneously hilarious, painful and poignant. There's also a clever sub-plot involving Betty and Charlie, her angel of death, who comes to idolise her in the same way Betty does Dr Ravell.

The performances are all spot-on, from Zellweger’s

Enjoyable and amusing 'East meets Western'




cute kookiness and Kinnear’s hammy over-acting, to Freeman's icy chill and Rock’s vicious comic timing. Director Neil LaBute has been criticised for turning soft with his third film, not written by him as was the case with his previous comedies of cruelty, In The Company Of Men and Your Friends And Neighbours, but by stand- up comedian John C. Richards and music producer James Flamberg. It's not as misanthropic as his two self- penned films, but Nurse Betty is far more vital than other Hollywood comedies. LaBute has put his stamp on Nurse Betty. You want proof? Watch the scene in which Del is beaten and then scalped it’s brutal, horrifying and dead, dead funny. (Miles Fielder)

ii G/asgow: GFT,‘ Edinburgh Cameo, from Fri 7 Sep.

and Chon, however, prove to be fairly inept cowboys, struggling to control their horses, or hold their IIQUOl', Or even shoot straight

Scriptwriters Alfred GOugh and Miles Millar pepper the various exchanges with cross-cultural misunderstandings. The Indians whom Chon befriends are puzzled at why he wears a dress, the Nevada pioneers mistake the 'Shanghai Kid' for a Jev. And when he tries to communicate with the Sioux, the response is, ’now he's talking slower, like that will help '

The ever-smiling Chair may be

up With an middle-aged, but hrs martial arts stunts

(12) 110 mins w a e

Asian super-star Jackie Chan continues to make serious inroads into the American market wrth this enjoyable and amusmg 'East meets Western’, directed by newcomer Tom Dey. The flimsy plot is merely an eXCUse for gags and set-pieces, wrth Chan cast as Chon Wang, a 19th century Imperial Guard in the Forbidden City. After the abduction of princess Pei Pei (Lucy Liu), Our hero travels to the States to help pay the ransom to the vrllain0us Lo Fong (Roger Yuan), Things don't go smoothly, however, and Chong finds

incompetent yet affable criminal, Roy O’Bannon in a bid to resCUe the kidnapped Pei Pei.

Filmed in wrdescreen, Shanghai Noon affectionater sends up the characters and conventions of numerous Westerns, With its knowrng references to the likes of Butch Cassr'dy And The Sundance Kid. Chan’s name sounds SUSplCIOUSly like that earlier screen legend John Wayne, the baddie is called Van Cleef (a spaghetti western regular), while there are the famzliar bar-room brawls, Jail-breaks and shoot- outs in dusty one-horse towns Roy

are still a Joy to behold he simply grabs what's to hand, whether it be antlers, a sheriff’s badge, or a horseshoe, and incorporates them into the fight And there's real chemistry between him and the laid-back, insouciant Wilson (Owen Wilson, also (o-writer of Rushmore), who regards being an outlav. primarily as a means to impress the ladies The latter don't get much of a look-in, especially Chan's Indian wife (Brandon Merrill), but then like all oaters, this one's all about male bonding

(Tom Dawson)

til General release from Fri 25 Aug

Snatch (18) 102 mins * a:

Guy Ritchie insrsts that Snatch is not a sequel to Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels. And he is right; the new film is practically a remake. Stylistrcally, it is Virtually a photofit of Lock Stock. Then there is the same swaggering facetiousness, the same JUVenlle ObSeSSIOrl wrth underworld Villains, and the same cod-Cockney accents. Many of the faces are familiar from Lock Stock, too, although this time Ritchie has been wrse enough to cash in on the trans-Atlantic popularity of his debut feature (at least among industry inSiders) by seeding his sOphomore effort with the likes of Brad Pitt (hilarious as a gypsy boxer with an indefinable accent), Benrcio Del Torro and Dennis Farina.

Ritchie's penchant for baroque plotting is also in evrdence, althOugh Lock Stock's mildly confusing denociement was crystal clear compared to the opening of Snatch The director sets up his story of stolen diamonds, rigged bare-knuckle bOxrng matches and dog-fighting with such a smug disregard for clarity that y0u have to wonder whether he is not playing up to his critics by being deliberately confusing. Whatever the reason, his cack-handed storytelling makes the movre impenetrable, and left this reViewer struggling to keep up wrth who was who and what was what from the start

Of cOurse, Snatch does have some good pomts: the acting is a notch up from the first film (Vinnie Jones proves that he might actually have a future in Cinema), while some of the gags and Situations are genuinely funny. However, Ritchie's fOCus on sty!e cannot hide the paucity of substance, nor the lack of freshness. He loots the first film and several others for ideas, and tries to sell them off as new goods. With Snatch he has become the car boot salesman. of the British film industry -— only Ritchie is selling his old rope at inflated prices It is perhaps too early to decide whether he is a charlatan. But if I were a betting man, I know where I'd be placing my money right now (Steve Applebaumi If Genera/ re/ease from Fri I Sep

Same swaggering facetiousness, same

juvenile obsession with underworld villains, same cod-Cockney accents

2.1 Aug-J See 2000 THE “ST 15