General Release

AMERICAN HISTORY X (18, 117 mins)

A liberal essay on right-wing fanaticism, this nonetheless indulges in some dubious Nazi chic as it charts the moral slide of a blue-collar racist (Edward Norton). But it does boast a stunning performance from Oscar-nominated Norton.

APRILE (12, 78 mins)

More meta-documentary shenanigans from Nanni Moretti. Aprile freewheels through three years in Italian politics. Impossible to pigeonhole, with its realist/absurdist rhythms, it bows out with a finale that's both ridiculous and charming.

ARLINGTON ROAD (15, 117 mins)

Mark Pellington's intriguingly staged paranoia thriller sees Jeff Bridges' college prof becoming suspicious about the antics of his outwardly respectable neighbour (Tim Robbins).

AN AUTUMN TALE (U, 111 mins)

The final part of Eric Rohmer's Tales of the Four Seasons is at once airily elegiac and as warm as sunshine. Magali (Beatrice Romand) - middle-aged and single - gets ushered through all manner of hoops as her friends try to set her up with eligible men.

BEDROOMS AND HALLWAYS (15, 96 mins)

The latest offering from the This Life school of British film-making sees Kevin McKidd's giddy Londoner running the romantic gauntlet in the run-up to his 30th birthday.

BLAST FROM THE PAST (12, 111 mins)

Hugh Wilson's Cold War satire has Brendan Fraser's last American man (called Adam, natch) emerging from the nuclear bunker that his parents holed up in during the Cuban Missile Crisis, as a decent plot set-up nosedives into brash predictability. With Alicia Silverstone and Sissy Spacek.

CENTRAL STATION (15, 110 mins)

A road-movie of sorts, Central Station trails Fernanda Montenegro's retired schoolteacher and her abandoned nine-year- old charge on a hunt for the boy's missing father.

A CIVIL ACTION (15, 115 mins)

John Travolta's ambulance-chasing lawyer takes a shot at redemption in this complex and frequently absorbing courtroom saga.

THE FACULTY (15, 104 mins)

See The Independent Recommends, above.

FESTEN (THE CELEBRATION) (15, 106 mins)

Filmed using natural light, natural sound and a hand-held camera, Festen begins in a rush of pure, unfettered drama. Its rawness is largely contrived, but by the end you're too hooked to care.

GODS AND MONSTERS (15, 105 mins)

See The Independent Recommends, above.

HIGH ART (18, 102 mins)

See The Independent Recommends, above.

LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL

(LA VITA E BELLA) (PG, 114mins)

In Roberto Benigni's Oscar-winning comedy, the writer-director takes centre stage as a clowning Jewish bookseller in fascist Italy. Sent to a death-camp, he strives to convince his son that it's all no more than an eccentric game.

MADELINE (U, 89 mins)

This overclogged rendering of Ludwig Bemelman's kids' stories looks a shade one-dimensional; all artistry and no art.

MIGHTY JOE (PG, 114 mins)

Mighty Joe is a mutant gorilla, who hangs out in the jungles of Africa with his Tarzan-type protector. The whole thing is disposable Disney fluff, yet it boasts a ready charm that's hard to dislike.

N (15, 85 mins)

Robert Lepage's third feature obliquely spotlights Quebec's push for independence in 1970 with an absurdist parallel that crosscuts between the trials of a troubled actress (Anne Marie Cadieux) and her activist boyfriend Alexis Martin. But its fascinating elements fail to gel.

PATCH ADAMS (12, 116 mins)

This medical drama is like the ultimate distillation of the ultimate Robin Williams movie: the life sucked out and replaced by syrup.

PAYBACK (18, 110 mins)

Rumbling revenge thriller which sends its double-crossed-and-left-for- dead anti-hero (Mel Gibson) on a mission to retrieve the money that he's owned and to get even into the bargain.

PLEASANTVILLE (12, 123 mins)

Gary Ross's feature rustles up a lovely satire on reactionary family values.

PLUNKETT AND MACLEANE (15, 100 mins)

Plunkett and Macleane are rakish Dick Turpins cutting a dash through 18th-century society. Plunkett (Robert Carlyle) packs a pistol while Macleane (Jonny Lee Miller) romances a debutante (Liv Tyler). Yet instead of a decent plot, director Jake Scott offers noise and pop-promo visuals.

THE RED VIOLIN (15, 132 mins)

Francois Girard's daisy-chain of historical vignettes follows the course of a cursed violin down the centuries. Unfortunately, a thrift-shop budget leaves many of the period backdrops looking like cast-offs from a BBC schools programme. More crucially, Girard's broken- up and bitty narrative leaves the film labouring in third gear throughout.

THE RUGRATS MOVIE (U, 80 mins)

Given the small-screen success of the Rugrats (cartoon toddlers up to no good), a feature-length foray was always in the offing. Kids no doubt will eat this up; adults must simply grin and bear it.

SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE (15, 125 mins)

See The Independent Recommends, above.

SLAM (15, 99 mins)

Even if slam-poetry's clanking rhymes make you want to "slam" the perpetrator's head in a car door, Marc Levin's drama still carries an emotional force.

TEA WITH MUSSOLINI (PG, 117 mins)

Franco Zeffirelli's film is a typically loquacious tale of three dotty Brits adrift in Mussolini-era Tuscany. With Maggie Smith and Judi Dench.

THE THIN RED LINE (15, 170 mins)

Terrence Malick's long-awaited return to the director's chair is a fabulous, fever-struck war film. A cast of familiar faces all play second fiddle to The Thin Red Line's creeping narcotic mood.

THIS YEAR'S LOVE (18, 118 mins)

A cast of Britain's finest (Kathy Burke, Ian Hart, Douglas Henshall et al) weave to and fro through David Kane's Camden-set essay on urban romance.

URBAN LEGEND (18, 99 mins)

A bland and inconsequential bloodbath: fresh-faced teens meeting their grisly end in a drama as cold and schematic as a daytime talk show.

WAKING NED (PG, 91 mins)

Good news: Ned, a salt-of-the-earth resident of rural Ireland, has won the lottery. Bad news: Ned is dead. Cue a rattle- bag of comedic misadventures as two local scallywags scheme to get their paws on the loot.

YOU'VE GOT MAIL (PG, 119 mins)

Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan star in this romantic comedy that's zapped out of its old-fashioned rut by a shrewd Internet plot hook.

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