Folm: Also Showing

i am cuba mikhail kalatozov (pg) n a simple plan sam raimi (15) n the impostors Stanley tucci (15) n apt pupil bryan singer (15) n she's all that Robert Iscove (12) n the corruptor james foley (18)

MIKHAIL KALATOZOV'S I Am Cuba is an extraordinary Soviet-Cuban collaboration from 1964, a study in revolutionary fervour comparable with Pontecorvo's masterly The Battle of Algiers. A quartet of unrelated stories recount the final days of the corrupt Batista regime and the popular revolt which eventually toppled it. Using voiceover and a minimum of dialogue, Kalatozov offers a kind of epic poem on the concerted efforts of peasants, students and guerrillas to wrest Cuba from the hands of the capitalist oppressors. It sounds tedious but is actually stirring, hypnotic and beautiful.

The film's visual poetry takes off from the cameraman Sergei Urusevsky's deployment of dreamy, high-contrast black and white, oddly tilted angles and long, fluid takes, such as the puckish Fellini-esque shot of a woman at a drunken poolside party (this is decadent Havana) plunging beneath the water, closely followed by the camera. There's a nod to Potemkin's Odessa Steps, too, in the student riot sequence, a chaos of smoke, blood and water cannons. Most impressive of all is a tracking shot which goes up the side of a building, takes a right turn into a room of cigar-makers, and then flies out over the street below, thronged with the progress of a funeral cortege.

The last section, about the rural worker's call to arms, is the most obvious agitprop in the film and underlines its basic Marxist tenet: history is on the side of the masses. Kalatozov invests his images with such passionate verve that you can see how persuasive that might once have sounded. Yet if its optimism feels a little dated now, the audacious pictorial beauty of I Am Cuba remains absolutely timeless. It's part of a celebration of Cuban culture at London's Barbican Centre, and really shouldn't be missed.

The cult horrormeister Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead) makes a surprising entry into the mainstream with A Simple Plan, a chilling and complicated morality tale about the consequences of a single dishonest act. Hank Mitchell (Bill Paxton) is a regular guy who finds $4.4m inside a wrecked plane in snowbound Minnesota woodland. Along with his slow-witted brother Jacob (Billy Bob Thornton) and his layabout pal Lou (Brent Briscoe) he decides to keep the money and wait to see if anybody claims it. This simple plan sets in train an inexorable sequence of calamities, abetted by the interference of Hank's wife Sarah (Bridget Fonda) who reveals the unexpected cunning and ruthlessness of Lady Macbeth.

Adapted from his own novel by Scott B Smith, the film has the agonising pull of a vortex, wherein every attempt to correct the original mistake leads only deeper into the abyss. Raimi is keen on predatory images of foxes and birds - just count all of those crows - but mostly exercises restraint in letting the script and the actors tell the story. Paxton is solid as the decent everyman who's horrified to discover exactly what he's capable of, while Thornton as the goofy simpleton brother is a beguiling mixture of gentleness and danger. The wintry landscape, hauntingly photographed by Alar Kivilo, will freeze you to the marrow if the plot's cleverly wrought thrills haven't done the job already.

With more discipline Stanley Tucci's The Impostors might have wowed audiences as comprehensively as his previous film, Big Night. Tucci and Oliver Platt play a pair of needy, unemployed actors in Thirties New York who seem destined for the small time. Somehow they end up as stowaways on a cruise liner, pursued by a pompous Shakespearean ham (Alfred Molina) whom they've publicly humiliated. Cue a wildly uneven farce that boasts an overpopulous cast - including Steve Buscemi, Isabella Rossellini and Lili Taylor - and an underwritten script. There's far too much mugging and falling about, though I wouldn't like to have missed Campbell Scott's turn as a chief steward of icily Teutonic creepiness.

Talking of which, Sir Ian McKellen perfects much the same in Bryan Singer's Apt Pupil. He plays the former commandant of a Nazi death camp who is discovered living pseudonymously 40 years later in a mid-American backwater by a curious schoolboy (Brad Renfro). The boy threatens to expose McKellen, but holds back on condition that the old man tells him the X-rated particulars of his part in the Holocaust. Based on a Stephen King novella, it develops into a nasty and fairly implausible folie a deux as master and pupil try to outsmart each other. The question it poses - is evil contagious? - is undermined by the absurdity of the set-up, a silly subplot involving an alcoholic vagrant, and the faint campness of McKellen's old monster. Considering that Singer's previous film was The Usual Suspects, it goes down as a disappointment.

There are some smart one-liners in the high-school comedy She's All That, though I'm not sure they justify an hour-and-a-half out of your life. Freddie Prinze Jr plays the school heart-throb who is challenged to turn a weirdo art chick (Rachael Leigh Cook) into prom queen and gets a life lesson for his trouble. He becomes less of a self-satisfied jerk, she loses the twitchy neurosis and - inexplicably - her spectacles. The repulsive Matthew Lillard aside, the young cast do fine, and writer R Lee Fleming spikes the Cinderella stuff with sufficient tartness to make the thing just about digestible.

Not so The Corruptor, a John Woo-style shoot-'em-up in which cops Chow Yun-Fat and Mark Wahlberg enter a violent Chinatown gang war between the Tongs and the Fukinese Dragons. Its director, James Foley, wrings maximum pomposity out of the hackneyed buddy formulas. Fukinawful.

AQ

All films on general release from tomorrow

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian

film
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Carell in the poster for new film 'Foxcatcher'
filmExclusive: First look at comic actor in first major serious role
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Led Zeppelin

music
Arts and Entertainment
Radio presenter Scott Mills will be hitting the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce performs in front of a Feminist sign at the MTV VMAs 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has taken home the prize for Video of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Paige and Scott Lowell in Queer as Folk (Season 5)
tvA batch of shows that 'wouldn't get past a US network' could give tofu sales an unexpected lift
Arts and Entertainment
books... but seller will be hoping for more
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone