Uncovered - The War on Iraq (PG)<br/>The Corporation (PG)<br/>Exorcist: The Beginning (15)<br/>Saved! (12A)<br/>Little Black Book (12A)<br/>Triple Agent (U)

Beware the 'Great Satan' (but laugh at the demons)
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The Independent Culture

Any Americans who are about to fly home to cast their votes might want to catch Uncovered - The War on Iraq (PG) before they go. A compulsive indictment of government spin and media collusion, it makes many of the same points that Fahrenheit 9/11 did, but it's determined not to be susceptible to any of the same criticisms. There's no room for pranks, tricks or woolly accusations. Instead, Uncovered does what so few public figures have done in relation to the Iraq invasion: it sticks to the facts.

Any Americans who are about to fly home to cast their votes might want to catch Uncovered - The War on Iraq (PG) before they go. A compulsive indictment of government spin and media collusion, it makes many of the same points that Fahrenheit 9/11 did, but it's determined not to be susceptible to any of the same criticisms. There's no room for pranks, tricks or woolly accusations. Instead, Uncovered does what so few public figures have done in relation to the Iraq invasion: it sticks to the facts.

Robert Greenwald has assembled a squad of weapons inspectors, CIA veterans and former presidential aides to sift through the "evidence" of Saddam Hussein's threat to the US, so a segment of television news footage will show us what Bush, Rumsfeld, Rice and Powell had to say, and then the experts will show how misleading or unfounded their claims were. The talking heads format might stop it reaching the broader audience of Moore's films, but thanks to its fast, dynamic editing, Uncovered doesn't feel like a lecture, either. It's as thrilling as it is depressing.

This week's second political documentary, The Corporation (PG), reveals the extent to which big business can ignore the law, the environment, and anything else that doesn't raise share prices. It's a vital, angry film that could be as important as Naomi Klein's No Logo in motivating a generation of activists. (Klein, along with Moore and Noam Chomsky, is one of its interviewees.) But it ranges over too much ground to examine any of it in the detail that would really make it essential. We meet a corporate spy, we hear about the privatising of rainwater and the patenting of species, we're told how Fox News suppressed a report censuring the biotechnology company Monsanto, and we learn how IBM provided the admin technology used in Nazi concentration camps. In two and a half hours The Corporation packs in enough for six separate documentaries - but six separate documentaries would have been more potent.

Exorcist: The Beginning (15) isn't as bad as Alien vs Predator, but it's not much better, either. It's a prequel to the horror classic, back when the aged priest (played by Max von Sydow in The Exorcist) was an unshaven, macho, Indiana Jones-type (Stellan Skarsgard). As he pokes about in a 1,500-year-old church that's been unearthed in a Kenyan desert, Exorcist devotees may enjoy ticking off all the references to the first film. But they won't approve of how a slow-burning early-1970s chiller has mutated into a typical Hollywood blockbuster, complete with cheap twists, a laughably beautiful love interest, a pack of computer-generated hyenas, and an action-movie finale.

Saved! (12A) is a high school comedy with the twist that it's set in a fundamentalist Christian high school. Produced by REM's Michael Stipe, the film contains some delicious satire, especially when Mandy Moore, a B-list Britney clone, is parodying her own image as a cheerleader for God. ("Prayer works," she bawls. "It's been medically proven!") Too soon, though, Saved! falls into the teen movie rut of bitchy girls and rebellious outcasts, and it stays there all the way to the climactic senior prom.

In the excruciating Little Black Book (12A), Brittany Murphy finds the names and numbers of her boyfriend's exes on his electronic organiser, and uses her job as a talk-show researcher as a pretext to contact them. Someone must have realised that there's not much to the story, because the film works desperately hard to keep our interest. For the first hour or so it tries and tries to be ingratiating, and when that doesn't work it tries to be scathing and moralistic. At bottom, it's just trying.

Eric Rohmer's Triple Agent (U) introduces us to an exiled White Russian general who's been reduced to a clerical post in 1930s Paris - or so it seems. As fascism and communism spread across Europe, the general's wife suspects that he might be spying for one side or the other. It's a tantalising premise, but the script is verbose, the staging is inert, and the actors seem to be reading their lines off cue cards.

n.barber@independent.co.uk

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