FILM / On Video

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The Independent Culture

BHAJI ON THE BEACH (First Independent 15 97mins) Don't expect abrasiveness from the usually prickly writer Meera Syal. She crams soapy themes into her tale of Asian women on a liberating day-trip to Blackpool and affords them all an equally cursory roasting. The spirited cast struggle against cliched longueurs, while a vapid sitcom sensibility culminates in a 'hilarious' encounter with some male strippers and the 'saucy' unveiling of a cake shaped like breasts.

MAC (Entertainment in Video 18 113mins) John Turturro stars in his directorial debut as one of three brothers launching a New York building firm. In Turturro's yearnings for a time 'when jobs were life' lie echoes of Odets, but only the briefest of moments plague the memory - Mac's first sale, for example, as he gently tells the buyers of the house he has built, 'Take care of it.' A generous cast and an earthy, Steinbeck-like physicality are the movie's assets, lachrymose leanings and a rambling structure its follies.

MALICE (Polygram 15 103mins) Despite lines worthy of the Zuckers - 'I just beat the shit out of a seriously disturbed serial rapist' - this chugs along neatly, propelled by a McGuffin binding blissfully wedded Nicole Kidman and Bill Pullman with a vaguely sinister surgeon (Alec Baldwin). A flurry of twists, however, sends matters cuckoo, dispensing with all semblance of reality and winding toward a joky denouement. Casting Nicole Kidman as a femme fatale was foolhardy: she's not Barbara Stanwyck, and this isn't Double Indemnity, not by a long chalk.


THE GETAWAY (Warner 18 117mins) Sam Peckinpah's 1972 thriller is ostensibly the tale of Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw on the hoof with cash from a bank-job. There are vitriolic affronts on male sexuality, though. McQueen is troubled by the infidelity MacGraw indulged in to secure his parole; meanwhile, a sub-plot has a man forced to watch his wife willingly bed their boorish captor. Despite passing thrills, a mortuary chill lingers: Jim Thompson's characters (adapted by Walter Hill) are figures of stone stirred by lust and money alone. pounds 10.99

SOUTH CENTRAL L A (Warner 15 94mins) This 'hoods in the 'hood' yarn takes as its crux ex-gang member Bobby's efforts to steer his young son straight. Early passages see the bug-eyed toddler batted between a drug binge, a police cell, and the arms of a detective badgering his father. But eliciting sympathy with shots of young, forlorn faces is a disingenuous trick. At least Boyz N the Hood and Strapped came armoured in granite visuals. No attempt is made to disguise the buffed issue-of-the-week heart pounding inside South Central L A's tin shell. pounds 10.99