Film: Also Showing

The Land Girls (12) David Leland n He Got Game (15) Spike Lee n Hands (pg) Artur Aristakisyan n Species II (18) Peter Medak

FEISTY WOMEN clutching one-way tickets to self-discovery are David Leland's speciality. This writer and occasional director creates strong female characters who are not defined by the men around them - his best screenplays include Wish You Were Here and Mona Lisa. Although his new film, The Land Girls, does not rank with those works, it is a creditable attempt at rejuvenating well-tilled turf.

"Land girls" were the volunteers who took on the farm work left by men dispatched to fight in the Second World War. Leland's picture focuses on three of them - the highly sexed Prue (Anna Friel), the prim Ag (Rachel Weisz) and Stella, who is pining for her officer fiance. As played by Catherine McCormack, an actress with the icy poise of a young Charlotte Rampling, Stella is the most ambiguous and intriguing of the group. Good as Friel and Weisz are, the script is less interested in exploring them and you get the measure of their characters in the first few scenes. Which is not to say that they are not delightful: I liked Prue's seduction technique, which involves jumping into bed with a man and chirping, "Get 'em off, then"; while Weisz waltzes away with the film's fizziest scene when Ag decides to unburden herself of her cumbersome virginity. But it is McCormack's rootless, slightly haunted performance which makes the film more than just a wartime shaggy dog story.

Leland has also had the good sense to cast the excellent Steven Mackintosh in the pivotal role of Joe, the bewildered young farmer who becomes the focus of the trio's desires. Mackintosh has virtually monopolised the British acting industry - in the past year alone, he has given amorphous and versatile performances in House of America, Different for Girls and Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels. There is not much for him to do in The Land Girls but look variously furtive and wounded, but, like everyone involved, he brings a dash of wit to an enterprise which might otherwise have had no reason to exist.

PICTURE THE scene. You are serving a prison sentence for murder. A deal is put to you. Your spell inside will be significantly curtailed if you get your son - who happens to be America's brightest young star on the basketball court - to sign with the governor's Alma Mater. You have just seven days of freedom in which to find your boy and persuade him. One problem: he has vowed never to forgive you for killing his mother.

As you will have gathered, Spike Lee's new drama He Got Game does not take place in this solar system, let alone on this planet. It is a muddled, ungainly collision of social commentary, shameless melodrama and sportswear commercial, garnished with Lee's customary woozy camerawork, garish filters and ambitious crane shots, and a painfully inappropriate Aaron Copland score.

Most infuriating are the sparks of brilliance which prove that Lee is not experiencing premature senility, whatever the evidence to the contrary. He coaxes a richly tragic performance from Denzel Washington as the desperate father whose eyes are almost as sad as his Afro, and the view of the sports industry as a bacchanalian pleasure dome of waterbeds and comely young women is splendidly appalling, echoing the crack den sequence from Jungle Fever. Even so, this is a real hotch-potch of a movie, in which it is not unusual to find 30 seconds of inspiration flanked by 20 minutes of whimsical self-indulgence.

HANDS IS a deadening semi-documentary that is simple and unsparing in its methods. As images of downtrodden and forgotten citizens - amputees, beggars, the young, the elderly - are played out before us in a grainy collage, a man narrates a message to his unborn child, who may be in the process of being aborted even as he speaks. The thrust of it seems to be that such a fate is preferable to living in modern times. The film is moderately persuasive in this argument, though that should not necessarily be taken as a recommendation.

The science fiction horror movie, Species II, rests on a perfect synthesis of sex and violence - the alien breed which travels from Mars to Earth in the bodies of astronauts announces its presence during copulation.

So there you are; everything is going swimmingly when suddenly your partner sprouts tentacles which bore into your flesh, and the next thing you know, you are giving birth to his mutant offspring. Imagine the mess. Like its predecessor, Species II offers cornball dialogue, grisly effects and gratuitous nudity, and can be enjoyed with or without copious amounts of drugs and alcohol.

All films on release from tomorrow

Ryan Gilbey

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
TVDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

Arts and Entertainment
Laugh a minute: Steph Parker with Nigel Farage

Arts and Entertainment
Comic Ivor Dembina has staged his ‘Traditional Jewish Xmas Eve Show’ for the past 20 years; the JNF UK charity is linked to the Jewish National Fund, set up to fund Jewish people buying land in Palestinian territories

Arts and Entertainment
Transformers: Age of Extinction was the most searched for movie in the UK in 2014

Arts and Entertainment
Mark Ronson has had two UK number two singles but never a number one...yet

Arts and Entertainment
Clara Amfo will take over from Jameela Jamil on 25 January

Arts and Entertainment
This is New England: Ken Cheeseman, Ann Dowd, Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins in Olive Kitteridge

The most magnificently miserable show on television in a long timeTV
Arts and Entertainment
Andrea Faustini looks triumphant after hearing he has not made it through to Sunday's live final

Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
    Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

    Scarred by the bell

    The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
    Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

    Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

    Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
    The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

    The Locked Room Mysteries

    As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
    Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

    How I made myself Keane

    Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
    Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

    Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

    Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
    A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

    Wear in review

    A look back at fashion in 2014
    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

    Might just one of them happen?
    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?