FILM / On Video

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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.

RETAIL

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

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