FILM / Critical Round-up

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'His (Chen Kaige's) most spectacular film to date . . . A formidable success. It's a kind of opera in itself, conducted by a director whose visual power is matched by an emotional force that few others in world cinema could match.' Derek Malcolm, Guardian

'As shallow and relatively impersonal as the film is, Chen Kaige's first venture into big-budget commercial cinema packs in enough visual delights, enough stirring scenes of love and betrayal, to deserve at least two rousing cheers.' Geoff Brown, Times

'The movie's large-breathed hyperboles create their own oddly compelling rhythm and vision.' Nigel Andrews, Financial Times

'Chen Kaige's is a stunning achievement, particularly in the face of the current political situation in his native China . . . An epic that combines spectacle with humanity and particularly heart-rending scenes of betrayal in the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s. Fascinating.' Angie Evigo, Premiere

'The film constitutes a large advance, politically, on Bertolucci's The Last Emperor . . . This is marvellous movie-making, enthralling, intelligent and headily rhapsodic.' Geoff Andrew, Time Out

'Kaige's opulent panorama could hardly be bettered.' Minty Clinch, Daily Mirror


'Gangster movies come more original and audacious than this, and the ideal ones certainly come shorter. But Carlito's Way suffices pretty well as a superior modern example.' Derek Malcolm, Guardian

'Pacino's performance and the script's depiction of an old-style criminal versus new thugs on the block stop you wanting to peer at your watch. Two more rousing cheers.' Geoff Brown, Times

'The climax . . . seems like a director's despairing attempt to use old glories to add lustre to a stubbornly dingy project.' Nigel Andrews, Financial Times

'It's a very dragged-out haul before some dizzying climactic touches make for a fabulous last half hour.' Angie Evigo, Premiere

'Too long and ultimately no more than a showpiece, but Pacino looks every inch a movie star, and De Palma provides a timely reminder of just how impoverished the Hollywood lexicon has become.' Tom Charity, Time Out

''He (Al Pacino) and De Palma worked together before on Scarface, but Carlito's Way is more restrained and therefore much more compelling . . . The film's revelation is Sean Penn.' Minty Clinch, Daily Mirror


'A grave disappointment . . . (Nicole) Kidman isn't really up to this sort of part.' Derek Malcolm, Guardian

'It is hard to summon much enthusiasm for a Hollywood thriller that piles on so many creaky twists and red herrings that you stagger out into the night feeling stupefied and stupid.' Geoff Brown, Times

'The script by Aaron Sorkin stumbles about between coincidence and contrivance . . . The finale takes place in a storm-besieged cliff-edge mansion which would seem over the top in an Edgar Allan Poe film.' Nigel Andrews, Financial Times

'Slick, sly, fun suspenser that twists satisfactorily all the way to the very end.' Angie Evigo, Premiere

'Even a moment's retrospection and the plot's idiocies become apparent. It's so implausible you can barely take your eyes off the screen . . . This bypasses sense and sensibility to plunge into a nefarious sexual danger zone.' Tom Charity, Time Out

'This is not a credible plot . . . Nor is it driven by logic or even by any great sense of excitement. On the plus side, the protagonists are decorative.' Minty Clinch, Daily Mirror