choice: the critics

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The Independent Culture
FILM Ryan Gilbey

The Usual Suspects Wily thriller from Bryan Singer, director of Public Access. Five hoods decide to stage the heist to end all heists. Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Byrne and Stephen Baldwin star in the film, about which people are already saying "Phew! I didn't expect that twist".

Spanking the Monkey Middle America is dealt another below-the-waist blow in this prickly tale of a mother and son who spend too much time together over the course of one steamy summer. Funnier, and far more tasteful, than the subject matter might suggest.

While You Were Sleeping Dreamy romantic comedy of misunderstandings, about a subway ticket vendor (Sandra Bullock, left), who ends up posing as the girlfriend of a coma victim and then falls in love with his brother (Bill Pullman). Designed to make you laugh and sob in rapid succession. And it works.

EXHIBITIONS Iain Gale

Boxer Abdu'allahs Photographs of boxer Naseem Hamed leave little to the imagination, while Bruce Weber's portrait photographs of the boys of Mount Street Boxing Club, speak volumes of the hopes and fears which this emotive sport engenders. Walsall Museum and Art Gallery

From London Was there ever a "School of London", or was it the invention of RB Kitaj, one of its supposed members? This exhibition does not further our under- standing or get any closer to answering the question. It is, though, a rare chance to see some fine works by six of the country's greatest painters: Bacon, Freud, Kitaj, Andrews, Kossoff and Auerbach. Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh

Rites of Passage (left) For anyone in search of the elusive holy grail of "cutting edge" art, this show gives a few clues. It's not the whole story of course, but where it works, in pieces by Louise Bourgeois, Bill Viola and Mona Hatoum, for example, it is certainly persuasive. Tate, London

THEATRE David Benedict

Old Times Sit back and surrender yourself to the finest ensemble acting in town in a bewitching production of Harold Pinter's masterpiece. It closes in three weeks. Promise me you won't miss it. Wyndham's Theatre, London

Wild Oats Workaholic Jeremy Sams makes his National Theatre directorial debut with this rumbustious comedy from 1791 about a strolling player causing a rumpus in a Hampshire village. Lyttelton Theatre, London

The Hothouse (left) Everyone is acting surprised that Pinter can be funny. Haven't they read him recently? David Jones's cracking production of this little-known early work has a splendid cast, including Harold himself. Chichester Festival Theatre

CLUBS Alister Morgan

The Hanover Grand currently plays host to some of the hippest promotions in London... the pick of them is undoubtedly The Next Big Thing on Thursday nights. Less pretentious than Malibu Stacey on Saturdays, TNBT offers a stylish blend of handbag house in the main room and soul/ R&B downstairs. The clientele is chic, and ready to party. Hanover St (0171-499 7977)

On the Jungle tip AWOL, at the Ministry of Sound, is gearing up for its return on Thursday 14 September, but will be taking up weekly residence at SW1 from 7 October. Remember, you read it here first. You've bought the CD, now experience the real thing.

Ministry of Sound, 103 Gaunt St, London W1 (0171-613 4770)

Desire takes residency at Club United Nations in Tottenham. In collaboration with SUS (Sophisticated Underground Sound), they offer drum and bass, with hard house in room two.

The line-up for 30 September includes Hype and Swan-e, so book now to avoid disappointment.

Information: 0181-887 0951

COMEDY Mark Wareham

Sir Bernard Chumley is Dead... and Friends

The greatest purveyor of comic hairpieces since Frankie Howerd serves up a manic thesp-athon, with a nudge and a wink from David Walliams's That's Life! porn king.

Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh (0131-226 2428) 12m'nt to Sat; then BAC, London (0171-223 2223) 19-30 Sept

Cluub Zarathustra

Simon Munnery's latest reincarnation as the League Against Tedium is a perfect lesson in anti-comedy: a sort of Dada cabaret with knob gags. Pleasance, Edinburgh (0131-556 6550) 11.59pm to Sat

Rich Hall

Assured, gruff American with some of the most inspired stand-up at the Festival. Fringe Club, Edinburgh (0131-226 5138) 9pm to Sat

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