Choice: The critics

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The Independent Culture

Heat Michael Mann brings out the big guns of method for a downbeat thriller that chases Al Pacino's cop and Robert De Niro's criminal through the stylised streets of Los Angeles. Strong direction sustains three hours of beautifully shot yet unglamorous violence, as the obsessive pair play out a mirror relationship.

Leaving Las Vegas After a patchy few years, Mike Figgis returns with a gritty, hallucinatory and hopelessly romantic tale of love and doom in Las Vegas. Nicolas Cage is the suicidal alcoholic, who hooks up with Elisabeth Shue, a prostitute determined to take control of her own life. A love story that's not afraid to wallow in pain.

Seven Just as the serial-killer genre seemed to be growing blunt, in sweeps David Fincher to sharpen it up. Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt (left) are the cops investigating a Seven Deadly Sins-inspired killer. A film that you won't be able to shake from your memory.



An Ideal Husband Tremendous wit and effortless elegance (especially Anna Carteret) in this uncannily topical play about private lives and public figures. Peter Hall's finest production in ages and the best Oscar Wilde revival in years. With Martin Shaw (right). Haymarket Theatre Royal, London SW1

Private Lives Sex, violence and appalling behaviour made it quite scandalous back in 1930. Now we know that it is simply Coward's greatest comedy. Mike Alfreds directs this scintillating tale of honeymoon hi-jinks. Everyman, Cheltenham

Flesh Fly Ewan Marshall has had the inspired idea of taking Volpone and adapting it for Graeae, the disabled actors' company. Like plugging this savage satire on sickness and health into the mains. An evening you won't forget in a hurry. Closes Sunday then tours. Oval House, London SE11



Emil Nolde German Expressionist, Nolde, has been an extraordinary influence on the development of 20th-century western painting. This not- to-be-missed exhibition follows his varied career from early religious works through the sublime landscapes and seascapes to later work done in hiding from the Nazis. Whitechapel Art Gallery, London E1

The British Art Show IV (right) Five years ago, the last British Art Show aroused critical comment with the work of Julian Opie and Rachel Whiteread. This year, we have Hirst and Wallinger and the bric-bats have turned into plaudits. Strange that. Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester

Home and Away Just how international a force has British art been over the past century? A few answers are provided by a show of work from the Tate's own collections. Good examples of Sickert, Epstein, Hockney, Hirst and others. Tate, Liverpool



Jenny Eclair The Perrier Award-winning, self-styled "scarlet-taloned, peroxide She-Devil" (below right) carries out her avowed aim of being "as rude as possible" on stage. Never again will you believe that girls are made of sugar and spice and all things nice. Taunton Brewhouse Theatre (01823 283 244) tomorrow; Worcester Swan Theatre (01905 27322) Sun; Birmingham MAC (0121 440 3838) Mon & Tue; Stafford Gatehouse Theatre (01785 254 653) Thur

Donna McPhail Live The spiky co-host of BBC2's Sunday Show achieves the feat of being in-your-face and funny at the same time. Hemel Hempstead Old Town Hall (01442 242827) tomorrow

Sean Hughes The likeable Irishman's carefully-crafted stage persona is of someone at two with the world. "When all the other kids were smoking behind the bikesheds," he whimpers, "me, I was cycling behind the tobacconist's". Woking New Victoria Theatre (01483 761 144) Mon; Oldham Royton Assembly Hall (0161-911 4072) Thur



What has film ever done for literature other than turn perfectly happy classics into Colin Firth promotion packs? Well, quite a lot apparently. Starting a celebratory season entitled, Writing in Light, critics Christopher Frayling, Joan Smith and Kevin Jackson talk about horror, noir and sci- fi (all day tomorrow) and Hanif "Beautiful Launderette" Kureishi reveals all about adaptation (7.30pm, Wed). And the best is yet to come. No popcorn. RFH, South Bank, London, SE1 (0171-960 4242) to 22 Feb. pounds 4/pounds 2.50

Continuing symbiotically, four crime fiction writers discuss the genre and its relation to racism/noir in contemporary Berlin and London. John Williams, Mike Phillips, Jakob Arjouni and Graeme Gordon. BAC, London, SW11 (0171-223 2223) Tue 9pm

Fresh from singing antics in London, the legendary thespian Nicol Williamson takes to the road with his first novel Ming's Kingdom. Waterstone's, Deansgate, Manchester (0161-832 1992) Thur 7pm. pounds 2



Want to know what pounds 560,000 looks like? Check out the Royal Ballet's Sleeping Beauty next week. Maria Bjornson's beautiful but distracting sets and its hideously fussy costumes have not found critical favour but the ballet still provides a showcase for new and established talents. Sylvie Guillem gives us her assured Aurora on Monday, Darcey Bussell is all sweetness on Wednesday and Viviana Durante dances on Thursday. Royal Opera House, London WC2

Corazon Flamenco stamps its weary way through its five-week season. Arrival at the interval will spare you the ludicrous Noche de Santiago. Manuela Carrasco saves the evening in the second half. Sadler's Wells, EC1

Spring Collection (above) 48-hour dance marathon highlighting the best of British-based independent choreography. 2-4 Feb, RFH, London SE1 & Place Theatre, WC1