ROMANTIC COMEDY High Fidelity (15) 109 mins i —.

It ain't London calling, but it's damned good

You could hear the gasps of astonishment when it was announced John Cusack was going to play lead in the film adaptation of Nick Hornby's most hallowed pop culture tome. But even more, you could hear the clatter of collected jaws dropping when it was also declared that the action was not happening in London as with the original novel, but was displaced to Chicago. Never mind the novel's focus on soul music which has been broadened to include new and old tunes in a variety of genres. Yet, for all the cries of treachery from litero-muso snobs, director Stephen Frears and producer-star Cusack haven't done badly at all.

Cusack's Rob Gordon now owns a record shop in the back streets of Chicago. When long-term girlfriend Laura (Iben Hjele) ups and leaves him, Gordon slips into a period of introspective, self-reflection which leads him to analyse his previous relationships. In the process, he digs up numerous old flames in an attempt to uncover just why he continually fails at being a boyfriend. Jack Black and Todd Louiso excel as Cusack's nerdy record shop flunkeys, Barry and Dick. The banter flying around the store like unwanted copies of Cher’s Greatest Hits is so good it provides almost complete

distraction from the central narrative.

The lists of top five records generated by Gordon that form the backbone of the book are reprised here, and they even indulge in a degree of cult obscurity, name checking Stiff Little Fingers, The Beta Band and Belle & Sebastian as musical reference points. This is a sweet, but not sickly movie that relies on sharp performances and one liners rather than schmaltz to keep the viewer on its side. (Mark Robertson)

I Available to rent on Buena Vista from Mon 22 Jan.


Love & Basketball

(15) 119 mins .1 it

Set over four quarters, Love 81 Basketball charts the relationship between two young people who grow up together sharing a passion for the sport and each other. Quincy receives support from his family and adulation from fans in his quest for a professional career, whilst Monica struggles to be accepted in a man’s world. The uninspired title masks a deceptively watchable film, which also tackles the thinly-veiled issues of femininity and relationships in general. A mushy love story given backbone by the masculinity of sport. (Entertainment) (Maureen Ellis)

Return To Me

(PG) 111 mins « it

David Duchovny's first film since he quit playing Agent Mulder for a living is a turkey. On paper this rom-com must have looked promising, pairing as it does popular Duchovny with charismatic Minnie Driver, whose sassy persona has seen her spar successfully

102 THE “ST 18 Jan—1 Feb 2001

with the likes of John Cusack and Matt Damon. Here she’s floored by Duchovny’s extremely wooden performance as a love-lorn, erm, lover who finds love in, ah, lovely Minnie. Dave shouldn't have given up the day job at X-File HQ. (Fox Pathe)

(Miles Fielder)

The Serpent's Kiss (15) 110 mins it it

Once you’ve come to terms with Ewan McGregor's Dutch accent, Greta Scacchi's heaving bosom, Richard E. Grant's customary causticity and Carmen Chaplin’s irritating ’madness’, you'll find there’s little to enjoy in this period drama. Pete Postlethwaite delivers the goods as ever, but despite an all-star cast, Serpent’s Kiss feels more like a worm's peck. Set in 17th century England, a wealthy businessman commissions a landscape gardener to create something as beautiful as his wife. Scheming cousins and crazy daughters foil his plans, but frankly we couldn’t care less. (The Associates; £19.99 on DVD)

(Kelly Apter)

U-571 (12) 109 mins »

The cast, including Matthew McConaughey, Harvey Keitel and Jon Bon low, make up a crack submarine crew sent to capture the NaZi’s Enigma coding machine. However, through a catalogue of disasters they end up trapped on the German sub they were sent to destroy. Historical accuracy goes out the Window and is replaced With gung-ho Americans, cornball dialogue and effects-laden action sequences. But saying that most WWII films deal in fiction. What matters is that the tenSion is kept high and the SFX are top quality. (Entertainment) (Henry Northmore)

RETAIL The Hurricane (18) 140 mins

Denzel Washington gives a Virtual reprisal of his Malcolm X role playing Ruben ’Hurricane’ Carter, the 603 prize-fighter wrongly imprisoned for murder. Not until a teenager and his three friends take it upon themselves to expose the corrupt nature of his arrest is Justice seen to be done. Adapted from a true story (hollered about by Bob Dylan in his eponymous protest song), director Norman JeWison pulls the heartstrings big style and builds tension, augmenting the familiar courtroom drama with human touches. (Buena Vista £14.99; £19.99 on DVD) (Mark Robertson)

The InSIder

(15) 158 mins

Michael Mann has been responSible for some tacky stuff in his time; remember Miami Vice? Yet, here he is doing the subtle and sophisticated with sublime effect. Russell Crowe is the fired tobacco exec who blows the whistle on the industry's public stance

i on the addictive nature of Cigarettes. Al Pacino steals the film as the

investigative TV journo whose word of honour is threatened by his

channel bosses’ bottle crashing. A

stunning tale told in a pacy thriller style which takes few prisoners and holds many delights. (Buena Vista £14.99; £19.99 on DVD)

(Brian Donaldson)

La Nouvelle Eve (The

Q New Eve) (18) 94mins A -

Camille (Karin Viard) is a promiscuous Parisian thirtysomething who is looking to make some sense of her hedonistic lifestyle. She finds it in Alexis, a serious-minded Marxist who also

happens to be married. Chaos,

depreSSion and very French sexual cliches ensue. This is more intimate nonsense from France. A little like

Bridgit Jones’ Diary meets Madam Bovary. It does, however, boast a powerhouse performance from Viard

as the crazy, confused and ultimately tamed protagonist. (Metro Tartan £19.99 on DVD) (Paul Dale)

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Those Who Love Me Can Take The Train (15) 120 mins w t it

The family, friends and acquaintances

who loved painter lean-Baptiste are

following his dying wish and taking the train from Paris to Limoges for his funeral. En route emerges everything you can imagine from fall outs,

jealousies and drugs to pregnanCies,

transsexuals and boys snogging in the toilet. This continues through the funeral and into the wake until finally old wounds seem to be healing and problems resolved, albeit With plenty of arguments, laughter, fights and love. (Artificial Eye £15.99) (Jane Hamilton)

STAR RATINGS t * t t * Unmissable t a r t Very ood '1 t * Won a shot r 1: Below average v You’ve been warned