FILM / Time: the acid test: . . . plus, if you can remember it, you missed it first time out. Peter Guttridge on the re-released Woodstock and the week's other new films

Twenty-four years on, Woodstock, Mike Wadleigh's Oscar-winning account of those three emblematic days of Peace, Love and Music is a triumph of form over content. Thelma Schoonmaker's editing (aided by her future boss, Wadleigh's New York Film School chum Martin Scorsese), in which she used split screen magnificently, still brings high excitement to what were on the whole pretty standard performances by second-rank bands.

In 1970, Wadleigh, given complete freedom to make the film he wanted, reduced three days of music and footage of the half a million members of the audience to 184 minutes. The director's cut - remixed, remastered and restored - is an hour longer and there are inevitable longueurs, especially for new audiences coming mainly to see Jimi Hendrix (there's now more of him) and Janis Joplin (in the film for the first time).

They're a long time coming - over three hours into the film. Joplin's section is an extraordinarily poignant piece of filming. And Hendrix's valedictory performance appropriately enough ends the film. He has a far-off look about him, but then far off is where he longed to be. Like almost everybody else who performed at Woodstock, he went on stage unwillingly. (The exceptions were those, like John Sebastian, so out of it they didn't even know they were on stage). Hendrix was reportedly so embarrassed by the playing of his backing band that the minute his set had finished he was in a helicopter and out of there with a severe case of bad vibes.

The bad vibes the name Barry Manilow may bring when you see it on the opening credits of Thumbelina should be quickly soothed. His scoring and song compositions for Don Bluth and Gary Goldman's animated version of the Hans Christian Andersen classic, about the vertically challenged girl born in the centre of a flower, is no more banal than the music for any of the recent animated successes. Unfortunately, Thumbelina is rather, well, unanimated.

It starts brilliantly, with a swallow's dizzy flight through the streets of Paris, and there are some magical moments, particularly the fairy court's progress through a wood, dusting the leaves with gold at the onset of autumn. But the story itself is flat, with conventionally cute animals and baddies who aren't bad enough.

It may be that we are seeing the dread hand of Manilow when this Old World story gets a bit of New World razzmatazz. A trio of singing Spanish toads want Thumbelina to perform with them, Copacabana-style. And she later appears at the Beetle Ball dressed as a disco diva in a haute couture beetle costume. There's little here for adults - the script would need to be a lot sharper - but there's probably enough for children to enjoy.

Lucy (Leslie Hope), wears an outfit similar to Thumbelina's disco gear in one of many flashbacks to her passionate past in the Canadian Gerard Ciccoritti's Paris, France. However, Thumbelina hasn't been known to wear the uniform of a dominatrix, at least not in the children's version. Lucy does, when she starts to shave her lover's pubic hair in order to conquer writer's block.

Yup, it's that kind of film. 'Do you think sex can make you a better writer?' someone asks facetiously. The problem is, Lucy really does think that, recalling her sexual explorations with cliched stud Minter (Raoul Trujillo) in Paris and embarking on a new affair with boxer-poet (no, really) Sloan (Peter Outerbridge) to rekindle her lost creativity.

Sloan is also having sex with William (Dan Lett), the business partner of Lucy's publisher husband, Michael (Victor Ertmanis). Michael, a couple of chapters short of a manuscript, believes that John Lennon has left a message on his answering machine warning him he has only three days to live.

The dialogue is frequently witty, the acting knowing, but the film founders on its pretentiously solemn approach to sex. There are many unintentionally funny moments. It might be Lucy's story but Sloan's naked body is the camera's real object of desire, and he is frequently shown full-frontal during the supposedly passionate sex scenes. This frankness deflates such scenes since Sloan is always looks pretty deflated himself.

A bunch of winning performances by its child actors makes The Sandlot Kids slight but passable summer viewing. Set in Salt Lake City in 1962, it meanders through a summer in which a group of 11-year-old children play baseball every day in the sandlot (a fenced-in playing- field) and have minor - very minor - adventures.

There's not much more to it, except for a terrible, jaunty voice-over by one of the gang, now grown-up, who tries to whip up enthusiasm by telling you what is about to happen: ' . . . and after that we got into the biggest pickle of all time'. There are sly references to adult baseball movies (especially a shot-by-shot mimicking of a scene in The Natural in which Robert Redford knocks the stuffing out of a ball), and James Earl Jones has a Field of Dreams- like cameo, but there are no weighty intentions. The grown-up but clearly not mature narrator's conclusion about it all is: 'Baseball is life.' And he's the egghead of the gang.

'You gotta learn to swing the bat if you want to hit the ball,' is the equally deep message that the cult Japanese director Takeshi Kitano wants us to take from his 1990 film Boiling Point, about an amateur baseball player and petrol pump attendant who gets mixed up with the yakuza when he hits back at a customer who is picking on him.

Kitano, a stand-up who has become a media celebrity in Japan for his weekly appearances on eight TV shows, plays an off-the-wall misogynist thug. This quirky but entertaining film is a must for anyone who wants to learn a fool-proof way of getting a rucksack full of machine-guns through airport security.

Necronomicon, inspired by H P Lovecraft's bizarre works, is, with its buckets of blood, slimy latex, whipping tentacles and melting bodies, definitely for horror fans only. The three stories in the portmanteau are briskly told, the characters two- dimensional. But then nothing must get in the way of the effects. Living people have their limbs lopped off and their bone marrow sucked out, others ooze worms and slippery sea creatures.

The film does, however, have a campy sense of humour. In one segment, David Warner, playing a mad scientist, is confronted by his young lover, whose stepfather, Sam, he has been obliged to chop into small pieces. 'I don't care what you did to Sam,' she complains, 'but you lied to me]'

(Photograph omitted)

Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Prince and 3RDEYEGIRL are releasing Plectrum Electrum next month

music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Carell in the poster for new film 'Foxcatcher'
filmExclusive: First look at comic actor in first major serious role
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Led Zeppelin

music
Arts and Entertainment
Radio presenter Scott Mills will be hitting the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce performs in front of a Feminist sign at the MTV VMAs 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has taken home the prize for Video of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Paige and Scott Lowell in Queer as Folk (Season 5)
tvA batch of shows that 'wouldn't get past a US network' could give tofu sales an unexpected lift
Arts and Entertainment
books... but seller will be hoping for more
Arts and Entertainment
John Kearns winner of the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award with last years winners: Bridget Christie and Frank Skinner
comedyJohn Kearns becomes the first Free Fringe act to win the top prize
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Sue Vice
booksAcademic says we should not disregard books because they unexpectedly change genre
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Muscato performs as Michael Crawford in Stars in Their Eyes

TV
Arts and Entertainment
‘Game of Thrones’

TV
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
    Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

    What is the appeal of Twitch?

    Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
    Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

    How bosses are making us work harder

    As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
    Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

    Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

    As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
    Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

    A tale of two writers

    Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
    Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

    Should pupils get a lie in?

    Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
    Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

    Prepare for Jewish jokes...

    ... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
    SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

    A dream come true for SJ Watson

    Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
    10 best cycling bags for commuters

    10 best cycling bags for commuters

    Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
    Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

    Paul Scholes column

    Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
    Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

    Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

    A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
    Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

    The science of herding is cracked

    Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
    Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

    This tyrant doesn’t rule

    It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?