Arts: The Week in Review

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The Independent Culture
THE FILM

PLUNKETT & MACLEANE

OVERVIEW: This debut feature from Jake Scott, son of Ridley, sends up the 18th-century swashbuckler. It follows the fortunes of two bad boys, played by Robert Carlyle and Johnny Lee Miller, as they relieve the CRITICAL VIEW: aristocracy of their riches.

"Jake Scott is something of a highwayman himself in the way he steals from other movies," revealed Anthony Quinn, adding: "This thing stands, just about, but it doesn't deliver." "Scott directs in an incoherent style with flashes of visual flair but no idea how to tell a story," carped the Daily Mail. "It sounds better than it plays," decided the Financial Times, while The Guardian deemed it "the most unpalatable highwayman romance since Adam and the Ants' `Stand And Deliver'." "Anachronisms rip huge holes in an already flimsy plot," grumbled The Times. Time Out declared it OUR VIEW: "An enticing set-up with little inspiration in the follow- through."

Scott apes a host of superior movies OUR VIEW: in Plunkett & Macleane, though nothing much underpins this reckless borrowing.

Plunkett & Macleane is on nationwide release, certificate 15. 101 minutes

THE PLAY

PRISONER OF 2ND AVENUE

OVERVIEW: Twenty-two years on from The Goodbye Girl, Richard Dreyfuss and Marsha Mason are reunited to play Mel and Edna

in Neil Simon's 1971 comedy about a couple's CRITICAL VIEW: dissatisfaction with life

in New York.

"The characters are not the Prisoners of Second Avenue or New York or the human condition, they are the captives of Neil Simon's complacently limited talent," decided Paul Taylor. "Simon touches on psychological and social truths, but you feel he would be a better writer if he bowed to dramatic logic a little more and the expectations of his audience rather less," noted The Guardian. "Dreyfuss and Mason go in for forms of cuteness that would surely not be allowed even in Hollywood," bleated the OUR VIEW: Financial Times. "Hilarious moments but also many lamentable OUR VIEW: longueurs," opined The Daily Telegraph. Dreyfuss and Mason perform with ruthless efficiency, but Simon's play fails to attain any psychological depth.

The Prisoner of Second Avenue is at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, London. For bookings and enquiries call 0171-930 8800.

THE ALBUM

ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN

OVERVIEW: Eighties indie-rock legends Echo and the Bunnymen, headed by the inimitable Ian McCulloch, follow up their 1997 comeback album Evergreen with a seventh LP, What Are You CRITICAL VIEW: Going to Do With Your Life?

"Without the bolstering Britpop effect that helped give some context to Evergreen, they just sound rather pallid and ineffectual here," reflected Andy Gill, continuing, "Song after song gnaws away at weary conclusions and hopeful new beginnings." "This album is far better than its predecessor... McCulloch's voice has never sounded so heartfelt," disagreed the Daily Mail. "There's no spark, edge or tension, complained Time Out, while The Times wrote "It reveals a reflective side to McCulloch's personality that is at odds OUR VIEW: with the cocksure star of popular legend." The NME insisted that "it glides with OUR VIEW: a beautiful... momentum."

This ominously titled album reveals an appealingly meditative side to McCulloch, though it falls short of the sheen of Evergreen.

Evergreen is out on Monday on London records

KEY

EXCELLENT

GOOD

OK

POOR

DEADLY

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