City of Industry John Irvin (18)
Rumble in the Bronx Stanley Tong (15)
Pink Flamingoes John Waters (18)
Jour de Fete Jacques Tati (U)
Preaching to the Perverted Stuart Urban (18)
The Quest Jean-Claude Van Damme (18)
If you're a parent, you can't go to the cinema these days without having your conscience scrutinised. Feeling rotten about missing that recorder recital? Still not recovered from the sleepless nights leading up to that last, Buzz Lightyear-less Christmas? Then you'd be better off seeking your fix of light entertainment working as a Samaritan than going to the movies. In the past six months, Jingle All the Way, Jerry Maguire and Liar, Liar have been on hand to feed the parental guilt complex. This week, your emotional bettering comes in the shape of One Fine Day, a love story about two single parents (Michelle Pfeiffer and George Clooney) who meet and nurture a romance in between minding a pair of precocious children and holding down the most demanding jobs in the world.
Pfeiffer is an architect; Clooney is a crusading journalist. She is an uptight control freak; he is a chilled-out rascal. Such is the way in the unsophisticated world of romantic comedy, where men are men, and women worry too much.
When Pfeiffer's son and Clooney's daughter both miss their school trip, our intrepid couple realise that only by sharing the day's babysitting demands can they meet their respective business commitments. Aside from a brief mix-up with mobile phones, and a momentarily missing child, the plan works splendidly. That's escapism enough for any working parent who has tried to negotiate the minefield of childcare. But not for this film. To fully qualify as a Super Dad, Clooney must save his career, bring down a corrupt mayor and get both kids to their soccer game on time. Nothing he faced as Batman could have prepared him for such a challenge.
But you don't come to One Fine Day for social realism. This is a wistful fantasy whose success depends on you finding its stars irresistible. Clooney is effortlessly appealing, but Pfeiffer is more impressive for pulling off the trick of projecting warmth through sustained hysteria. The picture saves its only visit to planet earth until last. Having spent the day doing everything short of curing cancer, the couple earn themselves a romantic night in - asleep. It's the one time that the film gives them, and any parents in the audience, a break. Now you don't have to feel bad about crashing on the sofa while the kids watch TV. Hollywood says so.
Take Harvey Keitel, put him in a jewellery store with a gun, and what do you get? A complimentary severed ear awaits any reader who replied "a heist that goes disastrously wrong". Perhaps the only unpredictable thing about City of Industry is that the "disastrously wrong" part doesn't kick in until after the robbery, when Roy (Keitel), his brother Lee (Timothy Hutton), the getaway driver Skip (Stephen Dorff) and ex-con Jorge (Wade Dominguez) have made it back to their hide-out with a sackful of diamonds. But it's not long before one of them double-crosses the others, and Roy steps into the breach as avenging angel.
The picture's details are subtle and precise, from Skip's bad bleach job to Roy's cumbersome way with a tender gesture, but there's an energy shortage in both the screenplay and direction. Sympathetic viewers might call the pace slow-burning, but aside from the miracle of Stephen Dorff's first ever sparky performance, City of Industry never even catches light.
Rumble in the Bronx is the Hong Kong action hero Jackie Chan's most blatant attempt to attract mainstream audiences, if you don't count The Cannonball Run, and I wouldn't. In this gently self-parodic adventure he arrives in New York for his uncle's wedding, and finds himself called upon to defend the family store against local bikers. There is plenty here to amuse cynical viewers, notably a wheelchair-bound orphan boy who inadvertently provides all the biggest laughs. But you can't fail to be captivated by the immaculate choreography of the fight scenes, as Chan battles evil with whatever comes to hand: crutches, skis, a fridge-freezer - you name it, he can knock somebody out with it. A special mention is also due for the photography, for no other reason than that the cameraman goes by the delightful name of Jingle Ma.
Time has not been kind to this week's two very different revivals. In Pink Flamingoes, John Waters' most contrived excursion into excess, a contest is being held to find the most disgusting person alive, with trailer- park transvestite Divine doing more than his fair share to win the title by lunching on the sort of snack that's too bizarre for even Pret-a-Manger to stock. This 25th anniversary re-release arrives with additional footage and retains its ragged, amateurish appeal but pales beside Waters' best works, the more subtly subversive Female Trouble and Hairspray.
When Jacques Tati shot his sweet comedy Jour de Fete in 1948, he did so in colour, yet standard processing techniques forced the film to be printed in black and white. This week, the colour version receives its first theatrical release. And while the breezy tale of a postman (Tati) whose working methods are revolutionised is diverting enough, the film's levity doesn't allow it to linger long in the heart.
Preaching to the Perverted is a comedy about an ambitious young puritan drawn into the world of sadomasochism, but it never reaches the level of penetrating satire offered by your average seaside postcard. The newcomer Christian Anholt is charming as the naive hero, and an attempt to compare the rituals of the House of Commons with those conducted inside the House Of Thwax S&M club are briefly promising. But as a study of sexual liberty, it's the cinematic equivalent of a cold shower.
In The Quest, Jean-Claude Van Damme directs himself and does no better or worse than anyone else who has tried not to make him look too ridiculous on screen. He plays a clown and would-be Fagin who stows away on a ship and ends up in a martial arts tournament conducted in the Lost City at the Top of the World, which sounds like it might be north of Harlesden but turns out to be in Tibet. The usual blend of brutality and ropey dialogue ensues and, just when you think it can't get any worse, Roger Moore pops up proclaiming himself to be the last of the buccaneers. Somehow that makes perfect sense.
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