WEEK IN REVIEW - Books - Arts and Entertainment - The Independent

WEEK IN REVIEW

THE EXHIBITION

Mondrian

THE PLAYS

The Leenane Trilogy

THE FILM

Men in Black

Bridget Riley has co-curated an exhibition of 60 paintings from the Gemeentemuseum in the Hague by the Dutch artist Piet Mondrian (1872- 1944). The show charts his early concentration on landscapes which led to an examination of line and colour which culminated, via Fauvism and Cubism, in the shift into abstraction which produced his trademark works.

Tom Lubbock was impressed but worried. "A great distance is covered, but the evolution is so gradual as to appear almost inevitable." "They transform the Tate's claustrophobic basement galleries into an oasis of luminosity ... each room seems to be electrified by a precisely judged yet impassioned way of seeing," glowed The Times. "The ultimate tightrope walker of art. But even these few late works render the grandiose exhibition of Ellsworth Kelly's contemporary abstractions in the main galleries quite redundant," approved the Sunday Telegraph. "Too perfect, too exquisite, too seemingly mathematical, too obviously theoretical and too unquestioningly revered; they are, moreover, too easily done," sneered the Standard.

At the Tate Gallery, London SW1 (0171-887 8000) to 30 Nov, sponsored by AT&T.

Not as exhaustive as the recent show at MOMA New York but this elegantly conceived display is a revelation for those who only know Mondrian's greatest hits.

London-born Martin McDonagh completes his blackly comic rural Irish trilogy which began with his award-winning The Beauty Queen of Leenane. A gravedigger confronts his mysterious past in A Skull in Connemara, and two murdersome brothers come up against a feckless priest in The Lonesome West. Garry Hynes directs the Druid Theatre Company in a Royal Court co-production.

Paul Taylor deplored "the decline into high-energy, repetitive cartoon ... One isn't asking for the Oresteia, just some position where the alternative to cynicism wasn't sentimentality." "Melodramatic farces with their back- to-adolescence humour and attempts to shock and amuse with bad-boy bad taste," growled the Standard. "Cute, melodramatic and manipulative ... the reality of his talent - he has craft, nerve, humour, suspense, charm, he is actor-friendly and he can play the audience like a fiddle - is offset by the meanness of his mind," judged the FT. "Hilarious and stomach-churning ... dazzlingly written, finely staged," gushed The Times. "A talent for excess, for taking a situation and pushing it to extremes," praised The Guardian.

At the Royal Court Downstairs, Duke of York's, London WC2 (0171-565 5000) to 13 Sept.

Persuasive, strongly acted productions cannot disguise the slick work of a talented writer without the courage of his lack of convictions.

Misanthropic and "Eiresatz.''

Smith (Will) and Jones (Tommy Lee) don shades to star as J and K, leading lights in the unofficial government body devoted to policing alien activity on Earth (New York division) in the latest American sci-fi, special-effects blockbuster. Barry Get Shorty Sonnenfeld directs a script by Ed Solomon and the executive producer is some industry bloke called Steven Spielberg.

Adam Mars-Jones was amused. "Unashamedly a comedy, but full of crispness and surprises." "A post-modern summer blockbuster ... underneath all the clever-clever pop-culture references, the film is not without warmth," smiled The Spectator. "Like a day out at the Virtual Reality zoo," beamed the FT. "If our movies must be childish, at least let them have the style, glee and wit of this one," declared the Telegraph. "Ghostbusters for a slightly smarter set," okayed The Guardian. "A lot of fun," grinned Time Out. "It's rare today to find a film that refreshes the formulaic dumbness of apocalyptic blockbusters," approved the Standard. "Needs slapping into shape, excess removed, hollows filled out," sighed The Times.

Cert PG, 98 mins, at every cinema the distributors could lay their hands on.

Cosmic immensities and B-movie dialogue: lacks the sourness and kick of Mars Attacks but blessed with the wit that the crass Independence Day forgot.

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