Film: Also Showing

Year of the Horse Jim Jarmusch (15) n On Connait la Chanson Alain resnais (pg) Babe: Pig in the City george miller (U) n Rush Hour brett ratner (15) n It's a Wonderful Life frank capra (U)

CERTAIN FRIENDS of mine swear by the greatness of Neil Young, though I've never been able to hear it myself. Indie hipster Jim Jarmusch, having used Young's plangent guitarwork on his last film, Dead Man, now gives him the full rockumentary treatment in Year of the Horse. Shot mainly on Super 8 and 16mm for that grainy, on-the-hoof look, the film focuses on the Neil Young and Crazy Horse world tour of 1996, spliced together with interviews (Young's dad among them) and archive footage.

As with most concert films, it doesn't mean much unless you were actually there. Young and his three fellow band members praise one another and talk about their music as if it were some mystical, even sacred thing, but the reality up on stage is four middle-aged blokes cranking out a pretty monotonous rock'n'roll bluster. The grand finale of "Like A Hurricane", all guitar squalls and feedback, seemed to last about 20 minutes - music to the ears of Crazy Horse fanatics, I suppose, but purgatory to the unconverted. While the sincerity of Jarmusch's tribute is beyond question, you can't see his film appealing to anyone beyond the fan club.

Alain Resnais, who can claim for himself one of the most exquisitely puzzling art-house movies of all time in Last Year in Marienbad, has drawn on the inspiration of Dennis Potter for his latest. On Connait la Chanson (Same Old Song) is a flyweight romantic comedy whose characters lip-synch to popular songs in the way Potter pioneered so adroitly in Pennies From Heaven. It's an ensemble piece, set in Paris and revolving around two sisters (Sabine Azema and Agnes Jaoui) who become variously entangled with a radio playwright, an estate agent and an old flame of the elder sister. Very little happens, though one suspects this inconsequential air is very deliberate, and Paris has always been a good place to do nothing stylishly.

The film relies for its personality on the songs and, while the old French airs of yesteryear twitter away quite pleasantly, there's a preponderance of dreadful French pop music that threatens to topple the whole thing into farce. By the end all one can manage in response is an expressive Parisian shrug: et alors?

It's disappointing, though not surprising, that Babe: Pig in the City fails to duplicate the original's eccentric charm. Babe was a one-off, or should have been - the story of a loveable porker that saved its own bacon by expertly assuming the job of sheepdog. Second time round, the director George Miller locates the story in a Disneyish urban dreamland that feels both flimsy yet overdesigned. When Babe's owner, Farmer Hoggett (James Cromwell), is laid up after an accident and the bank threatens the farm with foreclosure, Mrs Hoggett takes the pig to a town fair in order to collect a large appearance fee. They take up residence in a local menagerie named the Flealands Hotel,whereupon the plot takes one unlikely swerve after another. Certain sequences, such as the impounding of the animals, invoke real pathos, but it doesn't take long to realise that the film-makers have sacrificed the idea of a good yarn for a muscle- flexing demonstration of the latest CGI (computer-generated imagery).

In Rush Hour, east meets west as a Hong Kong cop (Jackie Chan) arrives in Los Angeles to help an old diplomat friend recover his kidnapped daughter. Following the time-honoured formula of mismatching partners, the LAPD assign their most unpopular and irresponsible detective (Chris Tucker) to babysit Chan around the city. They make quite a pair: Chan can't speak English, Tucker can but you wish he didn't - his screeching, mile-a-minute jive talk is currently the most irksome sound in cinema.

Two fine actors, Philip Baker Hall and our own Tom Wilkinson, lend a patina of much-needed class to the caper, which comprises three parts scenery-trashing to two parts chop-socky action sequences. The film's single diversion from boredom is Chan's amazingly balletic stuntwork, which combines elements of Bruce Lee and Fred Astaire: the way he can backflip, climb up walls and disarm an opponent - quite often in a single movement - is a thing of wonder.

It's A Wonderful Life gets another outing after its 50th anniversary re-release last year, and looks set to become an annual fixture.

Frank Capra's hymn to small-town selflessness has the reputation of a cosy yuletide heartwarmer, though in actual fact it's an overpoweringly bleak tale of a man tormented by malign destiny. James Stewart plays George Bailey, an all-round good guy driven to suicidal despair by a capitalist predator (Lionel Barrymore), and then granted a vision of how life in his small town would have turned out - vicious, vulgar, miserable - had he never been born. Despite a lyrically happy ending, the insistent message behind Stewart's suffering is that it's not a wonderful life at all. But it is a wonderful movie.

AQ

All films are on release from tomorrow

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face

books
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from How To Train Your Dragon 2

Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigour

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland and Jena Malone in Mockinjay: Part 1

film
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
A waxwork of Jane Austen has been unveiled at The Jane Austen Centre in Bath

books
Arts and Entertainment
Britney Spears has been caught singing without Auto-Tune

music
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips

music
Arts and Entertainment
Gay icons: Sesame Street's Bert (right) and Ernie

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Robin Thicke and actress Paula Patton

music
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be shot in the same studios as the Harry Potter films

books
Arts and Entertainment
Duncan Bannatyne left school at 15 and was still penniless at 29

Bannatyne leaves Dragon's Den

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The French economist Thomas Piketty wrote that global inequality has worsened

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck plays a despondent Nick Dunne in David Fincher's 'Gone Girl'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty (L) and Carl Barât look at the scene as people begin to be crushed

music
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Caral Barat of The Libertines performs on stage at British Summer Time Festival at Hyde Park

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea perform on stage at the Billboard Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Zina Saro-Wiwa

art
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.

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice