FILM / Video

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The Independent Culture

DENNIS (Warner U 92mins) John Hughes scripted this live-action version of the chirpy cartoon that it was always tough to hate. This, however, is awfully easy to despise. Walter Matthau gives his glorious all as the gnarly Mr Wilson, but how much longer can Hughes go on pummelling everything into his Home Alone template? On release.

SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE (20:20 PG 103mins) Nora Ephron's ultra-conservative comedy is one for the Back-to-Basics set. Tom Hanks is the widower who hooks up with Meg Ryan after his son plays matchmaker on a radio talk-show. Flattering itself by comparisons with An Affair to Remember, this wretched film just slogs on and on, its success the most telling pointer to a nation's psyche since Julia Roberts endorsed love via prostitution in Pretty Woman. On release.


LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE (Electric 15 109mins) There's something lusty and precocious beneath the surface of Alfonso Arau's saga of sex and cooking in the Mexican revolution, but it's stifled by its own kookiness. The first half is quirky: Tita, unable to wed her lover, wreaks havoc with her culinary delights which transfer the emotions of the cook to the consumer. But Arau loses direction, leaving this indigestible. Needs rennet.

SIMPLE MEN (Tartan 15 104mins) A man assaults his motorbike, a nun and a cop grapple like wrestlers - Hal Hartley's third feature comes on like a Gary Larson cartoon made flesh. Yet this tale of two brothers (William Sage and Robert Burke) searching for their jailbreak father is his most touching film. It also boasts some delicious lines: 'The Virgin Mary - not only is she beautiful, she's the mother of God.' Available 21 March.

THE STORY OF QIU JU (Electric 15 97mins) Gong Li plays the heavily pregnant, doggedly moralistic Qiu Ju who challenges authority in search of an apology from the Chief who injured her husband. There's a precision about Qiu Ju's task which the film shares - director Zhang Yimou has fashioned a modest, methodical fable. Available now.

THEOREM (Connoisseur 18 92mins) Pasolini's cocktail of the rational, sexual and political reached its peak in 1968 with this tale of a mysterious visitor (Terence Stamp) who befriends and seduces each member of a respectable Italian household before vanishing, leaving them disillusioned. There's as much here to infuriate as delight. Available now.

THREE COLOURS: BLUE (Artificial Eye 15 94mins) The first part of Krzysztof Kieslowski's trilogy (White opens later this year) is an unbearably truthful study of Julie (Juliette Binoche) who isolates herself following the death of her daughter and composer husband (whose work she may have ghost-written). Kieslowski is the most honest of directors - Blue embraces grief, even its selfishness and cruelty. Available now.