FILM / Video

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HARD-BOILED (Tartan, 18, 123mins) John Woo's blazing, bullet-riddled cop thriller set in 1997 Hong Kong has been celebrated as though its triple-figure body count were somehow indicative of a deep profundity. It isn't. Yes, Woo lends violence the balletic grace of Peckinpah, but then so did Peckinpah, and at least he knew how to hang a film together: forget this derivative baloney and check out The Wild Bunch instead.

THIS BOY'S LIFE (Warner, 15, 110mins) Ellen Barkin and Leonardo DiCaprio are the mother and son terrorised by Robert De Niro, a violent misfit who plays suitor to Barkin and a father figure to DiCaprio. Michael Caton-Jones's drama bombed on release and it's easy to see why: there's little salvation here for anyone. But this is a fine, serious work, with a touchingly fragile performance by DiCaprio. He holds his own admirably against De Niro, who is monstrous, his eyes blank, emptied, embittered.

RETAIL

FIVE EASY PIECES (ITC, 15, 95mins) Made in 1970, Bob Rafelson's celluloid time-bomb still has boundless gusto. As the disillusioned wanderer Bobby Dupea, Jack Nicholson crackles at the film's centre, bouncing between an illustrious family and a working- class girlfriend (Karen Black) with the numb inevitability of a pinball. Far more troubling than Falling Down, the movie it foreshadows, there is real humanity and anger here. Easily the must-buy of the month.

THE TUNE (Tartan, PG, 80mins) Best known for his barbaric short When Push Comes to Shove, Bill Plympton's first full- length animation is fine on detail: his characters inhabit an existentialist hell where the forestry resembles haemorrhoids. But there's no escaping the sensation that this is a patchwork of shorts tacked together. This is wearing stuff that dulls the senses.

THE VOYAGE (Tartan, 15, 133mins) Fernando Solanos's sweeping movie is often weighted by esoteric symbolism, yet its assaults on Argentinian politics are accessible and spitefully funny. Solanos daubs his satire over the story of 17-year-old Martin (Walter Quiroz) who roams Latin America searching for his father. While the photography is deeply poetic, the lunacy calls to mind Bunuel, O Lucky Man] or Monty Python. A film to be intrigued and bothered by.

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