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.


All films on general release from tomorrow

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
    How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

    How to make your own Easter egg

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

    Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

    Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

    Cricket World Cup 2015

    Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing