Film: New films

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The Independent Culture
THE APPLE (PG)

Director: Samirah Makhmalbaf

Starring: Massoumeh Naderi, Zahra Naderi

Seventeen-year-old Makhmalbaf's precocious debut stages a true-life

re-creation of the fortunes of Iran's Naderi sisters, raised in iron-clad seclusion by their parents before being set loose in the world by a visiting social worker.

From first to last, The Apple is tinged with a sense of wonder, steering a quiet, objective course from one startling visual motif to the next. Part docudrama, part rites- of-passage fable, this is a luminous and extraordinary missive from a burdgeoning Iranian film scene.

HHHH

ENEMY OF THE STATE (15)

Director: Tony Scott

Starring: Will Smith, Gene Hackman

Will Smith's fall-guy DA teams up with Gene Hackman's pensioned-off Pentagon warhorse, probes a political cover-up and gets embroiled in all manner of Big Brother-type trouble. Directed with his trademark gloss by Top Gun's Tony Scott, The Enemy of the State (left) comes on as The Conversation on steroids.

This is a big, noisy and effectively claustrophobic conspiracy thriller. A top-drawer cast (including Jon Voight, Ian Hart and Gabriel Byrne) weaves in and out of the hi-tech surveillance imagery and adrenalised chase scenes.

HHH

THE MIGHTY (PG)

Director: Peter Chelsom

Starring: Sharon Stone, Gillian Anderson

Peter Chelsom's The Mighty (left) treads through familiar coming-of-age country with its tale of two outcast kids (one fat, one sickly) in a storybook Cincinnati.

Stolid and a tad predictable, though there's a glimmer of soul showing through. Sharon Stone and The X-Files' Gillian Anderson cope well in what basically amount to supporting roles.

HH

WHAT DREAMS MAY COME (15)

Director: Vincent Ward

Starring: Robin Williams, Annabella Sciorra

Along comes Christmas, and out comes What Dreams May Come (below), the corn-fed love-child of It's a Wonderful Life and Ghost; this is an over- glazed turkey with all the trimmings. Robin Williams perfects a lopsided simper as the dead chappie who lights out to a cod-Impressionist heaven, before jetting southward to rescue his suicide-bride (Annabella Sciorra) from a Gothic hell.

Elephantine art-design runs rampant over the wispy plotline. The metaphysical conceits arrive with a heavy dusting of sugar.

HH

Xan Brooks

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