<preform>Connie and Carla<br/>I'm Not Scared</br>Edward Said: The Last Interview</preform>

Some like it hot, some prefer it reheated...
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My Big Fat Greek Wedding was a fairytale triumph for its writer-star, Nia Vardalos. It had no famous names, not much of a budget, and even less of a story - and yet it was the fifth highest grossing film of 2002. But now, with Vardalos's follow-up, Connie and Carla (12A), it looks like the big fat Greek honeymoon might be over.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding was a fairytale triumph for its writer-star, Nia Vardalos. It had no famous names, not much of a budget, and even less of a story - and yet it was the fifth highest grossing film of 2002. But now, with Vardalos's follow-up, Connie and Carla (12A), it looks like the big fat Greek honeymoon might be over.

The film reheats the plot of Some Like It Hot. Vardalos and Toni Collette play the two women of the title, aspiring cabaret divas who belt out Broadway medleys to snoozing audiences until, like Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon before them, they witness a gangland execution. Hightailing it to West Hollywood, they disguise themselves as drag queens and set themselves up as a nightclub act. Before you know it, the women-dressed-as-men-dressed-as-women are the toast of the town, apparently because, in the world of the movie, drag queens who can actually sing are a fantastic novelty.

It's a workable premise for a pacey farce, but a decidedly unworkable premise for a poignant, issue-based drama. The trouble is, Vardalos thinks she's written both. Connie and Carla is enjoyable when it's poking fun at two Liza Minnelli-wannabes, but the quality plummets every time it tries to be serious. And, believe it or not, it's trying to be serious when it has David Duchovny falling in love with Vardalos, even while he's under the impression that she's a he. Only Woody Allen's screenplays are so prone to over-estimating their writer's allure.

About half of the film is played straight - to use an inappropriate term - so Collette's dippy Carla is sidelined to make room for some supposedly heart-rending subplots about how we should all accept each other for who we are. It's a drag. With a climax that's cheesier than the cheesiest of sequin-spangled show tunes, Connie and Carla confirms how much worse Some Like It Hot would have been if Lemmon and Curtis's characters had been cheered to the rafters as inspirational role models.

I'm Not Scared (15) is set amid the golden cornfields of the southern Italian countryside, where a 10-year-old boy, Michele, plays with his friends. In his daydreams, he's a comic-book adventurer, so he isn't particularly shocked when he prises open a makeshift trapdoor next to a tumble-down farmhouse and discovers a boy chained up in the fetid pit below. If some of Michele's neighbours turn out to be responsible, that won't shock him much either.

Directed by Gabriele Salvatores, I'm Not Scared is both a disturbing thriller and a nostalgic evocation of pastoral childhood summers. Its main achievement is that there's no lurching gear-shift between the two genres. It filters events, completely convincingly, through the logic and priorities of its hero - and he sees nothing strange about taking bread and water to a half-mad prisoner, but making sure he's home in time for dinner.

The title of Edward Said: The Last Interview (nc) pretty much says it all. The film comprises nearly two hours of the intellectual Al Pacino lookalike expounding on Palestine, his preference for Rossini over Verdi, the origins of his best-known books, Orientalism and Culture and Imperialism, and the leukaemia that would kill him a year after the interview was taped. In contrast with The Fog of War, there's no music, illustrative footage or camera movement to embellish Said's words, so there won't be many films this year that are less cinematic or more educational.

n.barber@independent.co.uk

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