Shattered Glass (12A); <br/>Against the Ropes (12A); <br/>Radio (PG); <br/>The Football Factory (18); <br/>Bon Voyage (12A); <br/>Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter... and Spring (15)

Naughty journalists. You couldn't make 'em up...
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The makers of Shattered Glass (12A) had to be extra careful about getting their facts right. The film recounts the story of Stephen Glass (hence the duff, punning title), a 24-year-old journalist on a highly respected, Washington-based current affairs magazine. His features were as riveting and riotous as if he'd made them up. But then, in 1998, the editor had to face the possibility that that's exactly what he'd done.

The makers of Shattered Glass (12A) had to be extra careful about getting their facts right. The film recounts the story of Stephen Glass (hence the duff, punning title), a 24-year-old journalist on a highly respected, Washington-based current affairs magazine. His features were as riveting and riotous as if he'd made them up. But then, in 1998, the editor had to face the possibility that that's exactly what he'd done.

It's an enthralling parable of deceit and detection, related economically by writer-director Billy Ray. Hayden Christensen, too, is excellent as the toadying reporter: the actor's geeky immaturity, so misplaced in the last Star Wars prequel, is far more appropriate here. But the character is still too much of an enigma for us to care very much what happens to him.

Understandably wary of venturing too far from the verifiable specifics of the affair, Ray includes almost no scenes of Glass in private. His possible motivations aren't examined, and there's no discussion of whether the political and media climate may have been culpable. You can't blame Ray for being fastidious, but his caution reduces Shattered Glass from a must-see film to a must-read magazine article.

Against the Ropes (12A) is a biopic of Jackie Kallen, one of the only female managers in the boys' club of professional boxing, but it's far less concerned with the facts than Shattered Glass is: Kallen's husband, children and previous high-flying careers in journalism and PR are all airbrushed out of the picture. What we get instead is a clichéd beating-the-odds yarn (starring Meg Ryan, accessorised by a smoker's rasp and a streetwalker's wardrobe), but even that goes wrong when, after an hour, the writers decide to make Kallen too big for her stiletto-heeled boots. The pantomime villains from the first half of the film are more sympathetic than Kallen is in the second, so when the ridiculous, redemptive finale rolls around, we're no longer feel she deserves it.

Still in the sports arena, and still drawn from real life, Radio (PG) is set in the milieu of high school American football, as if anyone in Britain was interested in that. Cuba Gooding Jr plays James "Radio" Kennedy, a mentally disabled misfit who is encouraged by the stern-but-kindly coach, Ed Harris, to be his team's mascot. A few parents are averse to having an adult - disabled or not - wandering around their school, but the film has far too corny and nostalgic a view of smalltown America's apple-pie goodness to provide the coach with any forceful opposition.

A rather different sports-related film, The Football Factory (18) is adapted from John King's novel about a mob of Chelsea fans who live for sex, drugs and bloody punch-ups with enemy "firms". Think of Trainspotting except with hooliganism instead of heroin, because that's just what the writer-director must have done. Nick Love copies Danny Boyle's use of freeze frames, captions, and Primal Scream songs, and there's no mistaking the anti-hero's Rentonish voice-over or Frank Harper's Begbie-like headcase. Predictably, The Football Factory falls well below Trainspotting's benchmark of wit and style - although it still has twice the energy and aplomb of most British films.

Bon Voyage (12A) is set in 1940, when Bordeaux was filling up with Parisian refugees, among them a movie goddess (Isabelle Adjani), a cabinet minister (Gerard Depardieu), an atomic scientist, an escaped convict and a German spy. These characters chase each other up and down corridors and staircases non-stop for the whole of Jean-Paul Rappeneau's hyperventilating period farce, but no one seems completely sure why.

Kim Ki-Duk's Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter... and Spring (15) tells five graceful fables from the life of a boy raised by a Buddhist monk in the Korean mountains. It's worth seeing principally for the haunting beauty of its unique, crystal clear images of the natural world. Certainly it's the only film I've seen in which a monk uses his pet cat's tail as a paintbrush.

n.barber@independent.co.uk

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