choice: the critics

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The Independent Culture
FILM Ryan Gilbey

Clueless (right) We haven't seen a portrait of American youth that's quite as sharp, funny or inventive as this since Heathers. It's the tale of Cher (Alicia Silverstone), a rich daddy's girl who searches for love whenever she's not busy shopping.

Land and Freedom Ken Loach's tough but compassionate drama doesn't pretend that the Spanish Civil War could have been won simply through Communist unity, but it does insist that this is the foundation on which every cause must be based. Loach's grainy, naturalistic eye serves him well on the battlefield.

Il Postino Michael Radford's return to cinema after eight years is a delight. It's a portrait of the friendship which blossoms between a postman (Massimo Troisi) and the exiled poet Pablo Neruda (Philippe Noiret), and though it veers close to sentimentality, a sound heart and buoyant humour pull it through in the end.

THEATRE David Benedict

B-Road Movie Cancel all other engagements for the glorious Lip Service (right) who, having buffed up the Brontes in the delicious Withering Looks, now find themselves in buried- treasure and black-and-white movies. Quite ridiculously funny. Tonight and tomorrow only. Hackney Empire

Dealer's Choice One week left for Patrick Marber's fast, funny and absurdly accomplished first play, a hard-bitten poker comedy shot through with tremendous running gags and littered with one-liners. The strong cast is headed by the immensely impressive Nicholas Day. Vaudeville Theatre

Miss Julie Strindberg's powerful, groundbreaking study of claustrophobia and class - ie, sex with the servants. Braham Murray directs and the excellent Simon Higlett designs. Stars Amanda Donahoe. Royal Exchange, Manchester

EXHIBITIONS Iain Gale

Dynasties In an enlightened move, the Tate dusts off its earliest masterpieces and presents us with some of the finest examples of portraiture the Tudor and Jacobean ages had to offer. Look out for Milliard, Oliver, Holbein (Anne of Cleves, right) and the lesser-known John Bettes. Tate Gallery, London SW1, to 7 Jan 1996

Bridget Riley Over 30 years, the impact of Riley's dazzling op-art paintings has never dimmed. Now stronger than ever, she is the subject both of a forthcoming book, and of this revealing and timely retrospective exhibition of drawings and paintings. Spacex, Exeter, to 18 Nov

Knights The myth and reality of the age of chivalry is examined in this enterprising exhibition. Particularly fine are paintings by the Arthur- fixated Pre-Raphaelites and tapestries by Burne-Jones, on loan from the Lloyd Webber foundation. Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle, to 18 Feb 1996

COMEDY James Rampton

Alexei Sayle He may not have appeared live for five years, but the man can still cut it - particularly with the more-than-able assistance of John Otway and the superbly crass Bobby Chariot, the stand-up with the patter and the dress sense stuck in a 1970s time-warp. York Barbican tonight, Wolverhampton Civic Hall tomorrow, Southampton Mayflower Sun, Glasgow Pavilion Tue, Sheffield City Hall Wed

Rhona Cameron (right) Her profile has been considerably raised by fronting Gaytime TV and appearing as guest on such programmes as Jonathan Ross's Mondo Rosso. Live, she remains a formidable, spiky force. Leicester Phoenix tomorrow, Leeds Feast and Firkin Wed

Nick Revell He has branched out into scriptwriting, contributing several episodes to the last series of Drop the Dead Donkey, but he is not to be discounted as a stand-up/ monologuist of the cynical school. Hampstead Theatre, Tue

LITERATURE Dominic Cavendish

One could present the American poet Robert Creeley in heritage giftwrap: say how in the Fifties he met Robert Graves in Majorca, went hard-drinking and jazz-clubbing with Jack Kerouac and founded the groundbreaking Black Mountain Review with Charles Olson. Creeley, 69, is certainly revered in the States, but his eight-date UK tour is not for relic-gazers. His new collection (Echoes) shows an undiminished intellectual intensity; give the man a quiet room and he will undoubtedly work wonders. 8pm Sat, Barracks Studios, Newcastle-under-Lyme pounds 4.50/pounds 3 (01782 711964); 7.30pm Tue, Voice Box, South Bank, London, SE1 pounds 4/pounds 2.50 (0171-960 4242); Wed, Leeds University (0113 233 4739); Thur, Durham University (0191-374 3044)

The UK Year of Literature and Writing continues apace with a mini-fest, Star-Crossed Lovers, a critique of simplistic thinking that manages to weave a session by economist Will Hutton with a reading paying tribute to two Bosnian lovers. Today-Sun, Ty Llen, Somerset Place, Swansea (01792 652211)

Don't even think of missing Brian Catling's "unorthodox" guided tour of Oxford. The performer/sculptor/poet, fresh from weirdnesses at the Albert Hall on Monday, starts outside the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, where he teaches. 5pm today, High Street (01865 276944) pounds 5/pounds 2

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