WAR DRAMA HART’S WAR (15) 125min on

Courtroom drama given an interesting twist

Hart’s War gives the courtroom drama an interesting twist by relocating it to a POW wintry internment camp in Germany towards the end of World War II. The trial in question is, in fact, the court martial of an American Airforce Lieutenant who is accused of the murder of an Army Staff Sgt. The judicial process organised by the POWs, however, is complicated by a number of factors: the accused, Lincoln Scott (Terrence Dashon


This Czech/English language film from Oscar-winning filmmaker Jan Sverak (Ko/ya) has two stories within in it. Unfortunately. Sverak fOCuses on the least interesting of the two. This is the story of the Czech pilots who left their home country after the Germans occupied it during World War II. and flew to Britain to fight alongside the RAF. The Czechs' experience in blighty is told via Frantisek (Ondrej Vetchy) and Karel (Krystof Hadek). best friends who end up falling out over a lonely woman. Susan (Tara Fitzgerald). whose husband is missing in action. Sverak throws in a few dogfights to liven things up. but that combined with the unmemorable romance smacks of the commercial rankness of Pearl Harbor.

Far more interesting is what happened to the Czech pilots when they went home after the war. Rather


Mock-Hollywood spectacle

than being hailed as heroes. they were imprisoned by their government which regarded them as an embarrassment. Apart from a few grim flash forwards to the pilots in prison. Dark Blue World doesn‘t have an awful lot to say about this horrendous injustice. which leaves us with mere mock-Hollywood spectacle and romance. (Miles Fielder) I Selected release from Fri 24 May

Howard), being an African-American; the victim, Vic Bedford (Cole Hauser), being a racist who engineered the execution of another black American; the presiding officer, Colonel William McNamara (Bruce Willis), refusing to follow the letter of the law; and Scott’s defending officer, Lieutenant Thomas Hart (Colin Farrell), being inexperienced in both the ways of law and war. Worse, the whole court martial is compromised by it being run at the discretion of the internment camp’s commandant, Colonel Werner Visser (Marcel lures). How, for example, can Lieutenant Hart presume to cross examine Colonel Visser or any of

his soldiers?

Based on the novel by John Katzenbach, screenwriter Billy Ray and director Gregory Hoblit’s film is a solid piece of drama. The numerous problems of staging a court martial are made more difficult by complications of character motivation. A battle of wills between Visser and McNamara, for example, leads the German commandant to give Hart unwanted assistance. Indeed, the German swine/American hero stereotyping convention of war films is blurred here.

All of which makes for a satisfying, if not riveting, piece of drama, enlivened somewhat by fine performances, particularly from lures, who brings great gravitas to his war-weary veteran. (Miles Fielder)

I General release from Fri 24 May

AROM-COM 40 DAYS AND 40 NIGHTS (15) 95min 0..

That abstinence makes the heart grow fonder would appear to be a good precept for creators of romantic comedies. But in these liberated times. how do yOU keep your hero and heroine from jumping into the sack at the first opportunity? Making yOur hero forswear sex is the answer arrived at by first—time screenwriter Rob Perez and Heathers director Michael Lehmann in 40 Days Arid/10 Nights.

San Francisco web deSigner Matt (Josh Hartnett) is the horny stud who vows to give up sex for Lent in a bid

to get over his blues after breaking up

from his long-term girlfriend (Vinessa Shaw). Can he keep it up or rather down for 40 days and nights? Naturally. Matt has a hard time. His creepy roommate (Paulo Costan/o) spills the beans and his work mates hold a pool on when he will crack. Then he bumps into the raVishing Erica (Shannyn Sossamon. the princess from A Knight's il’i/e) at the local launderette. He's smitten and

22 THE LIST 71') Ma, "i \JKHI Wit)?


Cut above other US sex comedies

she's keen. but can the pair of thorn wait?

Although there are some misjudged moments towards the end. 4040 is a cut above other recent US sex comedies. Hartnett and Sossamon are likeable leads. and Perez's dialogue is snappy and sharp As for Matt's Lenten vow. somehow I don't see it catching on. (Jason Best)

I General roles so from Fri 3] May.

READ MY KIPS (SUR MES LEVRES) (15) 115min on

There are small moments of transition that shape a person's life and which the observant can learn to exploit for their own gain. Jacques Audiard's quietly discerning gangster thriller. Read My Lips. basks in such instances.

Partially deaf Carla (Emmanuelle Devos) is a secretary at a large property firm. Her requests for an assistant brings about the unexpected arrival of Paul (Vincent Cassel). an unsophisticated ex-con. Their relationship develops and the pair embark on an elaborate crime spree. firstly to extort revenge on her cruel work colleagues. and then to cheat a sadistic club owner to whom Paul owes money. a scam whose absolute success depends on Carla‘s ability to read lips.

The use of handheld camera alongside a largely unsentimental seript ensures we're in constant. intimate collusion with the characters. Devos and Cassel's on— screen chemistry slowly and uncomfortably intensifies. while Audiard's Subtle use of image and affected sound reveals much of the film's subtext.

Those expecting something as marvellously unstable or scathineg ironic as Audiard's A Self Made Hero will be disappointed. But Read My Lips is still several notches above Hollywood's recent gangster movie fare. (Anna Millar)

I Selected release from Fri 24 May

Discerning gangster thriller



Words are few and far between in 93- year-old Manoel Oliveira's story. I’m Going Home. But that's what makes it work.

A respected and Successful Parsian actor. Gilbert Valence (Michel Piccoli). completes a theatre performance only to learn his wife. daughter and son-in-law have died in an auto accident. We don't see Valence receive the devastating news. Instead we rejoin him days later. his life seemingly returned to quaSI-normality. Pans bustles in the backgrOund: the spectre Of a constantly spinning world. ignorant of Valence's loss. The aging actor embraces his life of 'solitudine' and resumes his daily routines. all captured silently on film. Such interludes force Viewers to contemplate what thoughts must be filling Valence's head.

Verbal exchanges do appear. but with the camera focused on the characters' shoes or an empty stairwell. not those delivering the lines. Efforts by his agent (Antione Chappey) land Valence a small role in an adaptation of Ulysses by an American director (John Malkovich). Only then does Valence's recent past catch up.

I'm Geing Home eprOits Piccoli's and Malkovich's impresswe abilities to act. not Wllll words. but faCial expressions. While some of the lingering camera shots might prove taxing for viewers and the ending is somewhat abrupt. l'in Going Home revolves Within a wonderfully illustrated world. (Katharine Allen)

It’s all in the looks