FILM / Video

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THE HIT LIST (18, 93 mins, Entertainment in Video) Jeff Fahey plays Charlie Pike, a hit- man hired to protect Jordan Henning (Yancy Butler) from her dead husband's partner, and finding murder and deception along the way. The actors move as though in syrup and, worse, the film epitomises a maddening trend toward the rejection of narrative in favour of endless red herrings. Fast cars, fast women, fast forward.

IN THE SOUP (15, 95mins, Tartan) Steve Buscemi plays Adolpho, a budding auteur who sells his screenplay to the shady Joe (Seymour Cassel), only to find that making a film is the last thing on Joe's mind. This anecdotal mish-mash hits some unexpectedly poignant heights (aided by Phil Darmet's tangy photography) and Cassel straddles the picture like a wildebeest. Unashamedly ramshackle, it's a real American dream.

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (PG, 104 mins, Entertainment in Video) Kenneth Branagh's second attempt at hauling Shakespeare into popular cinema is, against the odds, a hoot. Branagh and Emma Thompson whoop it up as Benedick and Beatrice, the warring wits secretly smitten with each other, while Keanu Reeves wrecks everyone's love life. The Tuscany locations are sumptuous and this is a far sweeter primer for Shakespeare than those drudging BBC productions of the Seventies.

SLAUGHTER OF THE INNOCENTS (18, 99 mins, Entertainment in Video) There are numerous Manhunter connections in James Glickenhaus's redundant thriller but, despite a loopy premise, it never delivers the goods. Scott Glenn plays FBI agent Broderick, who enlists his computer-buff son Jesse to help catch a vicious killer. Fleeting glimpses of the sadistic bent which made Glickenhaus's The Exterminator so unpleasant fail to stop this being eminently forgettable.

RETAIL

THE BABY OF MACON (18, 118 mins, Electric) In the 17th century, a monstrous peasant spawns a cherubic baby boy. The child becomes a symbol of power and hope, but when his sister (Julia Ormond) claims him, she finds herself at the mercy of the church. Mauled on release, this is Peter Greenaway's most savage work: it tastes of bile. There are magnificent Brechtian conceits here but it's hard to imagine anyone sitting through it more than once, which defeats the point of a sell-through release.

LA FILLE DE L'AIR (15, 103 mins, Tartan) Based on a true story, Maroun Bagdadi's film boasts a furious, fluid opening, wherein Brigitte (Beatrice Dalle) is imprisoned for aiding her criminal lover (Thierry Fortineau). Thereafter, as Brigitte is released and plots to spring Daniel, the film drags its heels, despite some stomach-spinning aerial photography. Finally, Bagdadi summons a degree of ill-deserved tension before a conclusion which, like the escape, seems rather rushed.

THE BLOOD OF A POET (PG, 49 mins, Tartan) Perhaps more telling as pre-emptive of Cocteau's later work, The Blood of a Poet is nevertheless bloated with seductive, dreamy logic. If individual moments linger more than the film as a whole, just consider the offspring of those moments: it's hard to imagine Lynch, Jarman or Svankmajer without its narcotic influence.

L'HOMME DE MA VIE (15, 104 mins, Tartan) The worst part of this ingratiating comedy is its facade of outrageousness. Aimee has a list of rich men to sift through for the perfect husband. Maurice is top of that list but Aimee finds her hands full with this groansome nihilist. There's the spark of something nastier and funnier in the scenes with Aimee's karate-kicking mother, but this is cripplingly unwatchable.

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