Film: New Films

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The Independent Culture

Director: Mark Herman

Starring: Jane Horrocks, Michael Caine

Holed up in her bedroom, timid North Country sparrow LV (Jane Horrocks) cannibalises her dead dad's record collection, perfects strident Shirley Bassey/Judy Garland impersonations, then falls in with Michael Caine's impresario; a low-rent, Bermuda-shirted huckster with one rheumy eye on the big time. Brenda Blethyn trundles around in a hip-hugging mini-skirt as LV's mum, Ewan McGregor pops up as a simple pigeon-breeder, and seedy seaside cartoonery runs as a garish visual backdrop. Where Mark Herman's last film, Brassed Off, was a whole and solid effort, Little Voice proves altogether more bitty and piecemeal. For, while the director does a decent spot of carpentry in remoulding Jim Cartwright's stage-play for the screen, the result still trades in gestures and caricature and is further hindered by tentative pacing. Bracing black comedy, Horrocks's vocal pyrotechnics, plus a marvellously weighted turn from the rejuvenated Caine push it through to the final curtain. West End: ABC Tottenham Court Road, Barbican Screen, Chelsea Cinema, Clapham Picture House, Curzon Mayfair, Hammersmith Virgin, Odeon Camden Town, Odeon Kensington, Odeon Marble Arch, Odeon Swiss Cottage, Odeon West End, Phoenix Cinema, Renoir, Ritzy Cinema, Screen on Baker Street, UCI Whiteleys, Virgin Fulham Road


Director: Darren Aronofsky

Starring: Sean Gullette, Mark Margolis

Aronofsky's pungent debut idles in a kind of ante-room between maths lesson and art class, as Sean Gullette's New York number-cruncher ponders a numerical code behind the holy Hebrew texts, and designer flourishes overrun the screen. The rhythm runs on a staccato beat - the tone is self-consciously lugubrious. What sustains is the pure-blood ingenuity of its central conceit, its ongoing "mathematics is the language of nature" mantra, and the louche, too-cool-for-school demeanour. It all adds up. West End: Curzon Soho, Gate Notting Hill, Ritzy Cinema, Screen on the Green, Screen on the Hill


Director: Gus Van Sant

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Anne Heche

Homage or sacrilege? Photocopy or experiment? Whichever camp you fall into, Gus Vant Sant's shot-by-shot Psycho reconstruction is a bizarre undertaking. Here, the original's high-contrast black-and-white is dumped in favour of Edward Hopperish colour. Hefty Vince Vaughn stands in for twitchy Anthony Perkins, Anne Heche for Janet Leigh, and Julianne Moore for Vera Miles. In the meantime, Van Sant simply runs through a karaoke cover-version of the Hitchcock classic; a pitch-perfect bit of movie mimicry which has a definite curiosity value without ever quite adding up to much more besides. File this one under "White Elephants". West End: Empire Leicester Square, Hammersmith Virgin, Odeon Camden Town, Odeon Kensington, Odeon Marble Arch,Odeon Swiss Cottage, UCI Whiteleys, Virgin Fulham Road, Virgin Haymarket


Director: Edward Zwick

Starring: Denzel Washington, Bruce Willis

A rare Hollywood attempt to get to grips with contemporary geopolitics, The Siege winds up a hopelessly fingers-and-thumbs affair. The nominal hook (Muslim terrorist bombing in New York) gets draped with all manner of garbled goings-on as Denzel Washington's FBI man rubs shoulders with Bruce Willis's gung-ho army renegade. Zwick desperately attempts to touch all the bases, but even the speedy, kinetic editing can't gloss over his film's messy marriage of perfunctory liberalism and noisy chest- beating. West End: Elephant & Castle Coronet, Odeon Camden Town, Odeon Kensington, Odeon Leicester Square, Odeon Marble Arch, Odeon Swiss Cottage, UCI Whiteleys, Virgin Chelsea


Director: Howard Hawks

Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall

That immortal "You know how to whistle, don't you?" line aside, To Have and Have Not has come to be more highly regarded for its behind-the-scenes history than its narrative content. Conceived as a Casablanca cash-in, and irreverently adapted from what Hawks reckoned to be Hemingway's worst novel, this wartime drama is credited with getting Bogart (then an unhappily married megastar) together with 19-year-old Bacall. The taut, proficient plot has Bogart's Martinique- based skipper sandwiched between the Vichy government and the Free French resistance. Hawks directs with a pointed, easy grace. West End: Curzon Soho