ARTS / Video

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
Unforgiven (15; Warner). A man beside a grave, silhouetted by sunset: such is the image that opens and closes Unforgiven. It looks too corny by half, but then westerns have always taught us that really high-grade corn can ripen into poignancy. Clint Eastwood's most acrid and unrepentant western yet returns us to the hard-bitten pleasures of the genre, then makes us wonder why we should admire them so. Anthony Phillips

Leap of Faith (15; CIC) was billed as Steve Martin's first serious role, which missed what fun it is. Always the smartest of comedians, here he is brilliantly devious as the con man working for Jesus Christ, sowing the crooked theodicy of the Middle Ages in the parched heartland of middle America: 'The more you give, the more you live.' Nobody's faked fake sincerity better, and the one-liners sparkle. Quentin Curtis

Hoffa (15; Guild). Script by David Mamet. Directed by Danny De Vito. Starring Jack Nicholson. This bio-pic on the life of Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa should be a corker. Instead it's earnest, heavy-handed and, frankly, difficult to follow. Some worried it would turn the by-no-means-lily- white Hoffa into a hero. It didn't. It made him dull. Anne Dalgleish

Simple Men (15; Tartan). The third film from the young, independent director, Hal Hartley, tells of two brothers (Robert Burke and William Sage) who go looking for their father on Long Island. Some people love Hartley's bright and unpopulated world for its controlled eccentricity; this time, it's almost too hip for its own good. AD