FILM / Videos

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The Independent Culture

MAN WITHOUT A FACE (Entertainment 15 106mins) Mel Gibson's directorial debut. Who knows what Freudian angst he's working through by casting himself as a disfigured teacher who reluctantly takes a local boy (Nick Stahl) under his wing, only to be suspected of (whisper it if you dare) homosexuality. As this obviously cannot be so, we're actually talking Film Without a Plot. It isn't about anything much, except Gibson's bizarre belief that young lads everywhere are just gagging to go to military school. Available now.

SO I MARRIED AN AXE MURDERER (20.20 Vision 15 90mins) Unacknowledged comedy of bad manners sees Mike Myers, of Wayne's World fame, attracted to butcher girl Nancy Travis, who may or may not be a serial killer with a desire for attractive young males. No wonder Myers is afraid to commit. The picture's cinema release bombed; it shouldn't have - male sexual fear has seldom been so accurately skewered. Available now.

RAINING STONES (First Independent 15 86mins) It occasionally plays like a throwback to the Seventies and British drama-doc at it's most socially aware - which only makes you wonder how much grit and commitment has been scared out of bland contemporary fare. Ken Loach's return-to-form couldn't be simpler - an unemployed father wants to buy his daughter a communion dress and finds his family threatened by a loan shark - yet it manages a wealth of meaning. The political and personal are seamlessly fused - and it's funny. Available 25th April.

CB4 (CIC Video 18 85mins) A wannabe rap Spinal Tap, with middle-class black boys masquerading as mean muthers from the 'hood, a sharp idea stifled by dull satire. There are a couple of nifty parody songs ('Black' and the immortal 'Sweat of my Balls') but director Tamra Davis tends to miss even the most obvious targets: record company greed, rap singers, sexism . . . Even the music video send-ups lack bite and Davis's career began in music video. Available now.


MAN OF FLOWERS (Arthouse 18 88mins) Lonely, repressed, mother-fixated older man (Norman Kaye) becomes involved in the life of the young woman (Alyson Best) he pays to strip for him once a week. Will she escape her abusive boyfriend and fall into a lesbian affair? Will he be destroyed by this immersion in 'real life' or liberated? How long can director Paul Cox spin out his sensitive insights into isolation? Too long. Retail price: pounds 15.99

For some inexplicable reason, Spencer Tracy, probably the Hollywood actor most respected by other Hollywood actors, hasn't developed a cult following, despite a lengthy career and a quite staggering range of classic roles. Warners are releasing Adam's Rib, Bad Day at Black Rock and Northwest Passage ( pounds 9.99) as a tribute to a talent long overdue for reassessment. Tracy skips from high comedy, Hepburn style, to John Sturges melodrama to MGM outdoors action with an easy simplicity sadly absent from today's screen. As the man modestly said, 'I learn the words and try not to bump into the furniture.'