FILM / Cinema

Childhood ain't what it used to be, particularly with parents like Kit Culkin about. This monster forced film-makers to give his tiny daughter a role in son Macaulay's (as yet unreleased) movie The Good Son. The poor scrap of a thing had an assist ant onhand to cheer her up in the morning, which is something nobody should need until they hit their twenties.

Roles for scamps are getting tougher too. You fear for Anna Paquin (right), who nabbed an Oscar for The Piano although she's too young to see the film; Jodhi May, who was bombarded with acclaim for A World Apart, has only just returned to the fray (with the BBC's Signs and Wonders). Volker Schlondorff's 1979 The Tin Drum is re-released today, with the then 12-year-old David Bennent frighteningly good as a 3-year-old boy who refuses to grow up; and next month, young chatterbox Natalie Portman steals Luc Besson's Leon from under Gary Oldman's nose.

Kirsten Dunst is the latest imp to dry herself behind the ears and plunge into that secluded netherworld where happiness means getting the job done inside of 10 takes. She's the best thing about the forthcoming Winona Ryder starrer Little Women, and you can catch her in the otherwise pallid Interview with the Vampire. You'll be chilled by her doll-like demeanour: her face is frozen in a cadaverous smirk, the eyes a forbidding grey-blue. And that's before she becomes a vampire. She shames Tom Cruise, though that's a doddle; her real talent lies in her control, her ghos tly calm. All of which reminds you: when adults are good, they're very, very good but when children are good, they're disturbing.

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