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The Independent Culture
THE REST of the week's releases revolve around children. The hero of A Feast at Midnight (PG) is a boy who staves off the miseries of an English preparatory school by proving himself as a chef. Imagine Zero de Conduite directed by Keith Floyd and you'll get the idea. The sardonic understatement of the masters, led by Robert Hardy (in his element) and Christopher Lee (strangely muted), is nicely observed. The movie is erratically lit (perhaps in homage to Lee, it's best at night), but often smartly directed (by British debutant Justin Hardy) and always superbly scored (David A Hughes and John Murphy). More a pleasant hors d'oeuvre than a feast.

Richie Rich (PG) has the advantage of a far bigger budget, fittingly for a film about the world's richest kid. But it also has the crippling handicap of Macaulay Cul-kin, who grows increasingly repulsive with encroaching adolescence. The plot, split between assassination attempts on the parents and the isolated Mac's bids for friendship with other children, is quite promising. But it gets bogged down in special effects, with even Mike McShane's enjoyable turn as a mad inventor unable to rescue it. You get the feeling producer Joel Silver was so convinced he was on to a money-spinner he forgot to look at the script.

Angels (U) is probably the best of these films, but may turn out to be the least appreciated. For one thing it flirts with the spiritual and wallows in sentimentality. Worse, it's about baseball, reprising the 1951 American classic, Angels in the Outfield, in which a child enlists angels to give success to a struggling baseball team. The scene when the team's fans all mimic fluttering wings with their hands will have you burying your head in yours. But Danny Glover, as the coach, completes the tricky trip from hardened jock to spiritual softy surprisingly unscathed.

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