FILM / Rushes

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The Independent Culture
It was all quiet at the American box offices over Christmas, with returns down a massive dollars 31m ( pounds 21m) from last year's Christmas weekend. Some blame the lack of family pictures - 1992 saw the debuts of Aladdin and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York - others point to that old stand-by, bad weather, and a few single out the fact that Christmas fell on a Saturday.

Whatever, the latest, and probably last, Lemmon-Matthau vehicle, Grumpy Old Men, failed to excite much interest. Ditto the Kurt Russell western Tombstone (the first of three scheduled epics about Wyatt Earp), which logged a disappointing dollars 6.4m, leaving the charts to be dominated by the big hold-over pictures: Julia Roberts' No 1 comeback thriller, The Pelican Brief, and the Robin Williams drag comedy Mrs Doubtfire, showing 'legs' with dollars 9.4m in its fifth week. The industry, casting its eyes over the almost unprecedented raves for Schindler's List, is awaiting major money when the film ends its current word-of-mouth run - a mere 74 cinemas nationwide - and 'opens wide' over the next few weeks.

How touchy is Germany about the newly revitalised neo-Nazi movement? Very. Winfried Bonengel's Profession: Neo Nazi, a documentary about the Far Right's far-out Ewald Althans, had to go to court in Berlin to win its right to be shown after a print of the film was seized at the Hessian Film Show (the Hessian Film Commission is also demanding that Bonengel returns its original subsidy).

This comes after Frankfurt peremptorily banned the film, accusing it of 'inciting anti-Semitism', further charging that the director takes 'no clear stance' on Althans's political activities. Bonengel, operating on the time-honoured 'give them enough rope' principle, rejected legal demands that new, explicit commentary be added, denouncing Althans, leaving Profession: Neo Nazi in legal limbo, sight unseen.

Berlin, however, agrees with Cultural Senator Ulrich Roloff-Momin that the documentary does paint 'a critically realistic portrait' and has allowed screenings, so the public can finally judge for itself. An angry Althans has already reached his own conclusions, and they don't tally with either Frankfurt or the Hessian Film Comission's view: 'Bonengel left out all the good parts. I was shown only in a bad light.'

Everyone knew Sharon Stone could flash, but is she a flash in the pan? After Basic Instinct, Sliver and a year of intense media hype, the backlash appears to have begun. Preview audiences have booed her every appearance in the romantic melodrama Intersection, though the picture (ironically) was meant to re-fashion her psycho-bitch image into that of sympathetic leading woman (she plays the adoring wife of unfaithful Richard Gere). Intersection has had its release date pulled back so extensive re-editing can take place; the rumour mills insist that Stone will not be left unturned and can expect her role to be 'trimmed'. Now comes the news that the star's other pet project, Manhattan Ghost Story, may be postponed, accompanied by studio grumblings that her asking price is too high given her obvious lack of marquee value.

(Photograph omitted)