FILM / Rushes

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The Independent Culture
Despite the slings and arrows of Alexander Walker and the film critic's open letter in the Evening Standard suggesting that Sir Anthony Hopkins return his Oscar for Silence of the Lambs if he really feels so strongly about screen violence, the actor is maintaining a lamb-like silence on the controversy stirred by his reported comments last week. Comments that sound so unlike the voice of previous interviews that one inevitably wonders about what may or may not have been deleted, edited and taken out of context.

Bob Palmer, Hopkins's Los Angeles publicist, was unaware of Walker's broadside, but hastened to defend Hopkins's original decision to play Hannibal Lecter. 'He always saw it as fable, about a young woman come to fight a dragon. Tony played the dragon. He viewed it as a story about female courage. You aren't asked to enjoy the violence.' Silence certainly isn't anywhere as graphic as the still-muted Dracula, in which Hopkins's Van Helsing steals the show. As for the remarks that sparked the flames of argument, Palmer explains: 'Unlike many stars, Tony is amenable and down to earth. Sometimes that's taken advantage of.'

Trends One: When you meet another thirtysomething soul and find yourself humming the theme tune from The Twilight Zone and / or doing the Thunderbirds walk, this TV-dictated bonding ritual is what psychologists call 'accelerated nostalgic intimacy'. Now it's a demographic movie movement, driven by the success of The Addams Family. Coming up and cashing in: the long-shelved Boris and Natasha starring Sally Kellerman as the slinky Soviet spy; The Flintstones with John Goodman as Fred and Sharon Stone playing a character called Sharon Stone (gee, cute); Bewitched touts Meryl Streep (Samantha), Robin Williams (Uncle Arthur) and Barry Humphries as Endora. There's talk of reviving The Avengers, first attached to Mel Gibson (yes, as Steed). Meanwhile, expect Addams Family Values by summer.

The second annual edition of Faber and Faber's invaluable Projections, edited by John Boorman and Walter Donohue, hits bookshops on 22 March. Film-makers writing about the intricacies of their art this time include Robert Altman, Bertrand Tavernier, Tim Robbins and Sydney Gilliat, plus Gus Van Sant and Derek Jarman on gay images, Aids and the National Enquirer.

Trends Two: perhaps in the hope of diluting those renewed accusations of too much sex and violence - peruse Michael Medved's addled Hollywood vs Civilisation tome - studio heads have taken to pairing adult male action stars with children. Proving his new-man credentials and still getting to blow baddies away is Mel Gibson, already paired with Elijah Wood in Forever Young. Gibson's next, Man Without a Face, partners him with a 14-year-old. Likewise Schwarzenegger blockbuster-to-be The Last Action Hero. Prisoner-on- the-lam Kevin Costner takes an orphan hostage only to find fraternal feelings welling (A Perfect World). In former jailbird Jeff Bridges's chest beats an American Heart. He learns to love his teenage progeny. Meanwhile detective Burt Reynolds revamps Witness when an eight-year-old stumbles upon a crime. Bloodshed, tears and cuddly kids - will customers buy the blend?

The Terrible Price of Fame - first of an occasional series (readers' contributions welcome). Richard Gere, drained, simply drained, by steamy encounters with Jodie Foster on the set of Sommersby, the American remake of The Return of Martin Guerre, explains why he couldn't contemplate the idea of going home to party with pouting spouse Cindy Crawford: 'If the day is filled with explicit sex scenes I seldom feel like even more sex at night.'

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