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Truly compelling viewing

The beauty of Mike Leigh’s latest film is that it illustrates both a continuity with his older work, and a new departure. There are strong resonances with High Hopes and Life is Sweet in the dialogue and emotional interactions, while some of the more excessive emoting from Secrets and Lies is restrained, or rather, allowed to emerge from the film’s organic context.

Phil Basset (Timothy Spall) is a down—at-heel mini cab driver living on a south London estate, with wife Penny (Lesley Manville) and children Rory (James Cordan) and Rachel (Alison Garland). Money is a constant issue, as is the disrespect the perilously overweight Rory shows Penny. She attempts trivial forms of escape by the odd, uncomfortable night at the pub with two female mates, while Phil remains taciturn, but emotionally very alive. As alcoholism, depression and various forms of social and sexual dysfuntionality run rife on the estate, each of the film’s multiplicity of characters reaches for the few unhealthy escapes available. Meanwhile, a health crisis threatens Phil’s family.

There’s less humour in this film than most of Leigh’s previous work, and most of all, the piece slowly assumes the power of a Eugene O’Neill tragedy, but with unpatronised working class characters. At times the tone makes the film a ghastly watch, but there’s an unquestionable strength in Leigh’s use of close-up, while the performances from the central ensemble are superb. There’s less of a redemptive shape to this film than Leigh’s earlier, similar efforts, but it’s truly compelling viewing. (Steve Cra er)

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In 1961 Cold War enemies Russo and America had enough nuclear weaponry to destroy the world a doxen times over. In a climate of growing mutual fear and distrust. the Soviet governi'nent saw fit to send the Whitehouse a message: they sent their flagship submarine. K It). to America's coast to test launch a nuclear warhead. All went as planned. until the K793; nuclear reactor leaked and all of a sudden the world was on the brink of obliVion. Something of an embarrassment to the Kremlin. what happened aboard the K I5) was hushed up for 30 years. Producer director Kathryn Bigelow. who spent five years researching the stery. says the film pays tribute to the unsung heroes of the K19. the crew who stayed aboard the radiation--flooded Submarine to fix the reactor. many of whom subsequently died from pOisoning. Prov'd ng the film with Hollywood‘s necessary human element. Harrison Fort and Liam Neeson play the twin captains o the K l9 who clash over dealing with tne disaster: Neeson's

Sunk by its worthiness

paternal Mikhail Polenin puts his crew first. while Ford's political animal Alexei Vostnkov expends them for the good of the motherland.

All of which makes for rather dull drama. The impending war With Iraq might give K79. With its warning about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. contemporary relevance. but as a piece of cinema K79 is sunk by its leaden sense of worthiness.

(Miles Fielderl I General release from Fri 25 Oct.



(15) 146mm 0...

Is fandon‘. something that seals or conceals. that makes friendships and leads to (Z()lltIllUlllCEillOll, or reSuIIs in atoinisation as the fan protects his bond with the star to the detriment of all else? Often this involves a collisi0n- course of fan and star (The King of Comedy ilfliser}./. The Fan). but Shunji Iwai's film :s more interested in working with the ‘ether'. the ethereal way Lily Chou Chou's music permeates these Japanese teenage characters' thoughts and feelings so that any tension is generated among themselves. with Lily's actual presence irrelevant to the film's interests.

Wnat Iwai combines nicer is the idea of popular music and the internet offering both points of contact but at the same time reasons to avoid direct (Z()ll‘.llltllll(l£ill()ll. Leading characters Yuichi (Hayato Ichihara) and Shusuke (Shugo Oshinarii may share an interest in the music. they may even be able to communicate that passion on the net. but real life remains something ironically shadowing any Virtual intent music and computer technology generate. l-"iliitmakers have been telling us for years there's a yawning gap between the celebrity and fan. Iwai does a fine job of suggesting. in certain circumstances. the gap between fan and iEil‘ is equally wide. (Tony lvchibbinl I GIT. Glasgow from Fri 78 Oct: Fi/mhouse. Edinburgh from Fri 7 Nov.

Interesting look at fan culture


l‘i()ll‘()(2()llllllg gueen Starla Grady lll(}\.'./(Z()lll()l' Jane McGregor) thinks she's got it made. The 11 girl' of Splendona High. head cheerleader and girlfriend of the quarterback may have met her match. however. when a l3 rench foreign exchange student arrives to threaten the balance of power and Jeopardise Starla's dream of becoming first a TV weather girl and then a national icon as anchorwoman on a big league news network.

The threat finds its form in Genevieve LePlouff (Piper Perabo). a bespectacled wall ~flo\.vei seemineg in awe of Starla's star quality. Ingratiating herself on her American host family. Genevreve soon proves herself to be a worthy adversary to the conniving bitch she's intent on de-throning and. as a battle of wills ensues. Starla learns humility rust as she learns her 'French' adversary's true identity.

In all this. efforts are clearly made to emulate in style and substance teen movies like Clueless and She's All That and seeial satires such as Heathers and To Die lei. but despite its deliciously Francophobic title. Slap Her. She's French is a very American piece of teen trash. (Catl'ierine Bromleyl I General release from Fri 78 Oct.

American teen trash