(U) 81 mins t t ht

Forget The Great Escape, this is essential Christmas viewing

The Great Escape is to Christmas what a hangover is to Hogmanay. It wouldn't be the festive season without them. But surely it's only a matter of time before Steve McQueen, James Garner, Dickie Attenborough et al are usurped in the essential Christmas viewing stakes by Ginger, Rocky and Mrs


Fowl play? Absolutely. It's not just that Chicken Run borrows shamelessly and sometimes hilariously from the 1963 POW adventure movie, it's that it pushes all the right buttons when it comes to family entertainment. I watched this DVD release with my three-year—old son and we enjoyed it equally. If the BBC buys the rights, it’ll stick it on right after the Queen.


Coming from the same Aardman stable that released Wallace And Gromit and Creature Comforts into the wild, Nick Park and Peter Lord's movie- length animation is as slick as it is witty, produced with such painstaking attention to detail that it seems reasonable to talk about the performances in terms of their high quality. It's all Plasticine, of course, though the cast of voice-over actors, from Lynn Ferguson to Mel Gibson, is impressive in itself. And the story about the efforts of a band of battery hens to fly the coup and escape the chicken pie factory (all very veggie) - is in the classic narrative Hollywood mould. I never thought I'd say it about a pair of clay chickens, but the romantic ending is really rather touching.

DVD owners get a few good bonuses to ruffle their feathers, notably retrospective highlights from the Aardman archive, 3 directors’ commentary and a couple of behind-the-scenes insights. (Mark Fisher)

I Available to buy on video (f 7699) and DVD (I 7999) through Pathe from Mon

4 Dec.

RENTAL Eye Of The Beholder (18) 100 mins * *

Ewan McGregor pops up as a secret agent, known as The Eye, who, in the course of his investigations, starts watching lithesome murderer Ashley Judd. Even at the beginning of the film he is a bit of a fruitcake and his time spent spying on Judd certainly doesn't help matters as he becomes completely obsessed with her. An interesting premise becomes boring pretty quickly; there is no motivation for half of the characters’ actions and it borders on pretension throughout. (Metrodome; £19.99 on DVD) (Henry Northmore)

Frequency (15) 112 mins * t *

John Sullivan (Jim Caviezel) is mucking about on his ham radio when somehow he contacts his dead dad (Dennis Quaid) on the airwaves. They set about trying to make up for lost

126 THE LIST 30 Nov—14 Dec 2000

time and prevent his untimely death 30 years previously. Now this sounds like sentimental tosh and to a degree it is, but chuck a serial killer into the mix and you have something a bit more interesting. Apart from the soppy ending these are entertaining time travel shenanigans. (Entertainment) (Henry Northmore)

Gangster No. 1

(18) 98 mins * ‘k at it

Perhaps it was the Brit-crime backlash. Maybe it was the protracted torture and murder scene shot from the victim's point of view. Or then again it could have been the inordinate amount of times the word 'cunt’ was yelled at you. Whatever the reason, Paul McGuigan’s follow-up to The Acid House sank with very little trace. Which is a grand shame as the tale of London gangland in-fighting rose way

above its contemporary chancers.

Malcolm McDowell, Paul Bettany,

Saffron Burrows and David Thewlis all

Brought to you by

proVIde startling turns (FilmFour, £19 99 on DVD) (Brian Donaldson)

Mission: Impossible 2 (15) 142 mins * 1r it it

Tom Cruise reprises the role of agent Ethan Hunt in this sequel directed by the master of high octane fight fests John Woo. And that is all you need to know in terms of plot except Dougray Scott plays the Villain and Thandie Newton the love interest as from the start it’s full on in your face action. Okay, so some of the fight sequences are physically impossible, but get your mates round, have a few beers and you really won't give a damn. (Paramount, £19.99 on DVD) (Henry Northmore)

The Next Best Thing (12) 103 mins t 1*

Abby (Madonna) is best mates With gay Robert (Rupert Everett). After a drunken night, when one thing led tc) another, surprise surprise Abby is pregnant, They all live together in blissful harmony until the inewtable happens and Abby meets (hetero) love of her life Ben and things start to get predictably bitter. Emotion is the pulling power of this film because the storyline is as incredibly bland as Madonna’s acting, but there’s nothing like a few tugs on the old heart strings to keep folk interested. (Buena Vista; [1999 on DVD) (Jane Hamilton)

The Ninth Gate (15) 127 mins * t

Roman Polanski directed one of the most spine-chilling supernatural thrillers ever, Rosemary’s Baby. Now he's directed one of the most spine- numbineg awful. Johnny Depp (he makes some crap films) is a rare books detective tracking down a demonic tome across Europe for wealthy collector Frank Langella. Lena Olin might be a deVIl worshipper, Emmanuelle Seigner might be an angel, but you won’t care because this is rambling, portentous horror hokurn, adapted from a best-selling Spanish novel, apparently. Polanski is the fallen angel here. (Universal) (Miles Fielder)

Sweet And Lowdown (PG) 92 mins * at t *

Emmet Ray may not have actually lived but Sean Penn's portrayal of the ’second greatest Jazz giiitarist of all time’ is a memorably VIVId one. Woody Allen’s vision of a flamboyantly self- obsessed 1930s superstar was a return

to form after the very ordinary

Celebrity, and wonderful performances are elicited from Samantha Morton as the mute Hattie and Uma Thurman as the elegant sOCiety dame who allows Ray to see the awful truth of his ways. And I defy you to watch the ’moon entrance’ scene Without donng some damage to your gigglebox. (Columbia Tristar; £19.99 on DVD)

(Brian Donaldson)

The Perfect Storm

Stuart Little l" ." .i l""" ."' l.‘\.l\i ‘f~l('.lf.'

i---‘.4: .‘ ...-il‘:'2.'."l.l'l-'.ll ridge On The River Kwai in. ~ ,r. is, .v -

. i": 'i-ll',l):. ll-'i-'

x i,"\l'

Chicken Run

/\.l' imam/v " i' 'i mini-Ni .li" rav:r:\i.,l'.l-- 'rrwcmu,

'.".‘ l"l l' 'i‘.!'/\i'yl" 2’ alw i' ll'l'

Fast Show - Last Ever

llliFl)\./l)'-‘l'.’i"‘7!?“l)i:‘~il' " l"":-- " i'iu'v T’a-i l'lr'” .‘U‘i‘, '

".lw" 'i")' ll” flail."

Toy Story - Ultimate Toy Box fili-"..’lli'\lii')':.' l TlH‘” 1.5)" l l " fL'uiy '. .*‘ .l"'l .l l H ) mt- ‘1

’t;-,Tl.7..!ri 'itr l...’ 11.51 . ""

i'L. ...\{,, ~ “'1- t / L l i a I. i l]! J _ :Y, .‘V

‘Z‘l'l‘DY'LViVZr‘. iifilliltlblflgl‘w'Hg‘lpic'i':'ii.J T..ll:|,«‘i(-'*

iiziéiilll Ti;

f.'ll:L"3(c‘i'.'.' ,‘VikZQV/ll; I}? 'j‘clsfi.

iflfillclp.) iril7‘:(;)i)[;3:'liv :i‘ “ii/Q

i'lj'.;(_)li"(i'ilcll: (‘:J"—li’“lvll!-VZ.,‘V:Z').|I ,' glcylrilul;

The Virgin Suicides (15) 93 mins t ‘k if *

Sofia Coppola throws off the labels ’daughter of Francis Ford’ and ’Wife of Spike Jonze' with her mesmerismg directing debut, an adaptation of Jeffrey Eugenides' novel about Childhood’s end. A bunch of grown men lament theirs, remembering a time when as neighbourhood boys they were spellbound by the five beautiful Lisbon sisters who, for no apparent reason, committed sUicide one after another Kirsten Dunst is the dreamy eldest sister Lux, James Woods and Kathleen Turner are her disciplinarian parents, but the real star is Coppola. (Fox Pathe, {19.99 on DVD) (Miles Fielder)


t t t t * Unmissable

l t r t it Very good

t t t Worth a shot

l s * Below average

iL t You’ve been warned