A big budget blockbuster based on a best-selling superhero comic book:

you might expect spectacular effects and bland storytelling in a flashy but ultimately dull film. However, you’ll need to go and see

Attack of the Clones for that kind of exercise in bringing in the box office bucks. Spider-Man, by contrast, is a

delightfully unexpected mix of, yes, spectacle, but also engrossing human drama.

The film is faithful to the original

Marvel comic it’s based upon. Back

in 1962 writer Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko revolutionised the superhero genre. Their hero, Peter Parker, was a nerdy high school

swot who got the grades rather than

the girls and lived with his over- protective aunt and uncle. While on a science field trip, Parker is bitten by a radioactive spider which gives him various superpowers - heightened strength and agility, the ability to climb walls and a sixth ‘spider sense’ - and he shortly thereafter dons a red and blue costume to fight crime. Although Spidey battled with an array of


The Spider’s strategem

wacky supervillains - Dr Octopus, Electro and the Green Goblin his troubles were always both fantastic and domestic. This gave the comic strip a new, realistic edge.

Spider-Man, the movie, has been a long time coming, with various directors attached. That Sam Raimi ended up in the director’s chair is a blessing: he’s been a fan of the comic since he was 12 years old and it shows. In a good way. Working from David Koepp’s script, which neatly condenses Parker’s home and school life, superhero origin, romance with Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) and battle with the robot- bat riding villain the Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), Raimi has fashioned a lean blockbuster (if that’s not a contradiction in terms). The relations between Parker and the people in his life are more than sketched in, while even the minor supporting characters, such as the loudmouth newspaper publisher J Jonah Jameson from whom Parker secures a job as a photographer, are rendered with clarity.

It’s surprising that Raimi - who made his name with the highly stylised genre pastiche of The Evil Dead films - should focus so much on character, even more so that he had so much moollah to play with. But Raimi was left free to tackle character once visual effects director John Dykstra solved the problem of making a man in spandex look cool scaling the skyscrapers of New York City, swinging from webs and fighting like an arachnid on speed with some new computer animation innovations.

The cast acquit themselves well, although Dafoe hams up the villainy. But Raimi’s lead, Tobey Maguire, brings just the right amount of knowing humour to Parker/Spidey, which is emblematic of Raimi’s whole, winning approach to the film of the comic. (Miles Fielder)

I General release from Fri 74 Jun.


Futility and bigotry

Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra first lamented the state of Georgia. in their brilliant 608 rockabilly duet Jackson. as a dirty hole full of J-plan PortaKabins and bronchial losers. Things don't seem to have changed much in the iiitemeniiig 30 years if this sad. slow little drama is to be

believed. Jackson. and Georgia as a whole. seems to be a place untouched by the Civil rights movement. where black criminals are routinely fried and interraCial relations are an unforgivable anathema.

Hank Grotowski (Billy Bob Thornton) comes from a long line of correctional officers who work on death row. His bucolic father Buck (Peter Beylei wheels his oxygen machine arOund the house while spitting Out racist barbs at the local children. When Lawrence Musgrove (Sean Combsl is executed under the watch of Hank and his son Sonny (Heath Ledger) a series of horrific events are set in place that result in an initially brutal, yet ultimately tender friendship between Hank and Musgrove's widow Leticia (Halle Berry).

Swiss born director Marc Forster made his name with documentaries about teenage SUIcides and child burns Victims.

so there's no sparing the horses. This is Jerry Springer writ large. then taken from behind Just for good meaSure. Futility and bigotry haunt every frame and it's only towards the end of the film that Forster and screenwriter Will Rokos let off their stranglehold. This grim, splintered tale has many faults. not least of which is its over earnest desire to present mixed race coupling in all its big screen glow. The trouble here. as with Warren Beatty's appalling Bil/worth (also starring Berry), is that this mowe taboo can only be broken by placing an experienced older man in the position of male lover. Berry is excellent. though. and Thornton judges his role l,)(-3autiful|y: he is full of tender pain and ancient reserve. It is Peter Boyle. however. who steals the film as the thin lipped paterfamilias handing out Southern disdain. (Paul Dalei I Selected release from Fri 7 Jun.



Fifteen years after Fatal Attraction. director Adrian Lyne has made another slick and glossy thriller about the perils of adultery. This time. however. it is a straying wife. not a husband. whose affair brings calamity on a marital home.

On the surface. Diane Lane's Connie Sumner doesn't appear a likely candidate for infidelity. She and her husband. Edward. played by Richard Gere. live in well-heeled comfort in suburban Westchester COunty. New York. With their nine-year-old son iPer Erik Sullivani. Their marriage seems happy enOLJgh. Edward's higth Symbolic jOb as head of an armoured car company. however. prowdes a hint that their union may not be entirely secure against an assault from the outSide.

e perils of adultery

Slick thrills and th

On a mnd—swept shopping trip in New York's SoHo. Connie is literally blown into impossibly good-looking. 27-year-old French book dealer Paul ‘OllVlBl Martinez. the dashing hussar from The Horseman on the Roofi. Invmng COnnie to his spaCious. borrowed loft after she scrapes her knee in the colliSion. Paul turns on the Gallic charm. Connie reSists. But she can't suppress the urge to return and is soon in the throes of a passionate affair.

Connie and Paul proceed to have aCrobatic. anatomically implausible sex in a variety of locations. including the corridor etiISide his apartment and a restaurant restroom. Par for the c0urse for the director of 9 lr’i/eeks. yOu would think. The athletic rumpy pumpy apart. Unfaithful isn't a typical Lyne film. It's actually a remake of Claude Chabrol's masterly 1969 thriller La Femme Infide/e. and while Lyne is far more febrile than the chilly Chabrol. by his own standards he shows remarkable maturity and restraint.

Chabrol directed with cool detachment. Lyne. although his film shares the originals structural irony. wants the audience to be far more involved With his characters. He does. however. occasionally get the mood wrong. leading once or tviice to unintenr‘led laughs: he also leaves the othenvise solid Gere floundering in one or two key scenes.

But Diane Lane is terrific. She brilliantly conveys Connie's conflicting feelings of desire. fear. embarrassment and guilt: as each emotion flickers across her face we are totally COHVIHCGG by the truth of her performance. iJason Best?

I General release from Fri 7 Jun.

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