FILM: NEW FILMS

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The Independent Culture
EYES WIDE SHUT (18)

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Starring: Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman

Eyes wide open for the two-and-a-half hour death throes of a mighty talent. Because despite the attendant slagging, Kubrick's intriguing psycho- drama contains faint strains of brilliance as it trips alongside Cruise's doctor through a long, dark night of the soul which leads him from a naff Ferrero Rocher-type party to a decadent costume shop to a shady sex orgy in the suburbs. At its best Eyes Wide Shut is a brave and unsettling study of public faces and private sins. At its worst, it's garbled and out of touch, awash with undigested sex philosophies, heart-of-gold hookers and crashing piano keys (signifying drama!). Or to put it another way: daytime soap with a big nipple count.

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A KIND OF HUSH (15)

Director: Brian Sterner

Starring: Harley Smith, Roy Hudd

Played out around the cafes and khazis of shabby King's Cross, A Kind of Hush presents a glumly efficient portrait of the capital's young criminal flotsam. The actors are edgy and untried; the direction gropes for a documentary realism. Some clanking dialogue, plus an abrupt tone-shift towards the end jars the mood a little. Until then, this works just fine.

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VARSITY BLUES (15)

Director: Brian Robbins

Starring: James Van Der Beek, Jon Voight

Taking time out from the Dawson's Creek day job, Van Der Beek squares that heroic chin to play a nonconformist quarterback at a tinpot Texas high-school. Bad move. Varsity Blues is pure frat-house doggerel; its feeble gestures at rebellion soon give way to the usual "be-all-you-can- be" cliche as our heroes gear up for the big game. Even the cheering sounds canned.

HH

RAVENOUS (18)

Director: Antonia Bird

Starring: Robert Carlyle, Guy Pearce

Ravenous views like one of those schlocky horror-comics that Marvel or DC used to put out in the 1970s: all blood and exclamation marks and Day-Glo ink that doesn't quite fit the outlines. Carlyle is the cannibal frontiersman who leaps about terrorising a raggle-taggle troupe of US marshals (Neighbours grad Pearce among them). File under horror-comedy-western with philosophical leanings.

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MOUCHETTE (NC)

Director: Robert Bresson

Starring: Nadine Nortier, Paul Hebert

Bresson's spartan style of film-making gives a kind of false ceiling to his pictures. On the first level, Mouchette offers a stark, meat-and- potatoes tale of a lonesome adolescent (Nortier) in rural France. Push further and it opens up into a soaring, spiritual fable, with its sulky heroine repositioned as a sacrificial saint abandoned by a rigid and mean-spirited community. This is a tough, still, transcendent piece of work. It shakes you to the core.

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STOP MAKING SENSE (PG)

Director: Jonathan Demme

Starring: Talking Heads

Demme's Talking Heads showcase welds three concerts into one hermetically sealed unit. Viewed from a 15-year lapse, what once looked state-of-the- art now appears endearingly retro. David Byrne prances on stage like some jerk(y) marionette; the music is all kinetic, thumping funk; the design, your basic primary-coloured power- dressing. Manhattan ad execs on a caffeine rush. Suddenly it all makes sense.

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THE ITALIAN JOB (PG)

Director: Peter Collinson

Starring: Michael Caine, Noel Coward

Take away the Mini Cooper and Collinson's beloved British thriller doesn't seem half so fun. Revolving around a Turin bullion heist, this 1969 timepiece idles in third gear for way too long; gives too much rope to the often self-indulgent performances Neat car chase, though.

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