New Films

BULWORTH (18)

Director: Warren Beatty

Starring: Warren Beatty, Halle Berry

Dog-tired and disillusioned at the end of an election campaign, woolly liberal senator Jay Bulworth (Beatty) turns suicidal loose-cannon; lifting the lid on US politics, hanging out in the 'hood and delivering his speeches in abrasive rap stylings. Beatty's Bulworth is a blast: crude and condescending on occasion, yet genuinely audacious and committed; savaging a corroded democratic system in a way that few mainstream Hollywood films (and Bulworth is bankrolled by Murdoch's Fox Studios) would dare to do. At an age when he might be forgiven for resting on his laurels, Beatty's freewheeling, heart-on-sleeve romp puts him abruptly back in film's front rank.

West End: Clapham Picture House, Curzon Soho, Notting Hill Coronet, Odeon Kensington, Ritzy Cinema, Screen on Baker Street, Screen on the Green, UCI Whiteleys, Virgin Chelsea, Virgin Haymarket, Warner Village West End

CLASS TRIP (LA CLASSE DE NEIGE) (15)

Director: Claude Miller

Starring: Clement Van Den Bergh, Francois Roy

Pity poor Nicolas (Van Den Bergh); bed-wetting schoolboy fantasist with few friends and a domineering dad in Francois Roy's prosthetic-limb salesman. Spirited off on a school skiing trip, the nipper starts letting his own dark imaginings run away with him, as Miller's pungent child's- eye psycho-drama switches nervously between stark naturalism and florid dream sequences. Actually, there's a lot to admire in the tense, smouldering Class Trip. The trouble is, Miller gets over-fussy; he keeps messing with the mood, keeps letting air into the pressure-cooker. And you can spot the ending a mile off.

West End: ABC Shaftesbury Avenue Repertory: Cine Lumiere

54 (15)

Director: Mark Christopher

Starring: Mike Myers, Ryan Phillippe

Christopher's retro-trip through the heyday of New York's Studio 54 boasts a glitterball turn from Myers (as club boss Steve Rubell), but not a whole lot else. What we have here is the huckstering hanger-on to Boogie Nights and The Last Days of Disco's leading lights: a garbled, under-developed run-through of dance-floor chic as Ryan Phillippe's colourless busboy falls in with the beautiful folk (Salma Hayek and Neve Campbell) and learns the downside of life in the fast lane. Tatty stuff, all told.

West End: Odeon Camden Town, UCI Whiteleys, Virgin Chelsea, Virgin Haymarket, Warner Village West End Local: Acton Park Royal Warner Village, Dagenham Warner Village, Edmonton Lee Valley UCI 12, Harrow Warner Village, Holloway Odeon, Newham Showcase

HILARY AND JACKIE (15)

Director: Amand Tucker

Starring: Emily Watson, Rachel Griffiths

Full-throttle playing from Rachel Griffiths and Emily Watson sustains Tucker's warts-and-all biopic of the Du Pre sisters, Hilary (shy, married flautist) and Jacqueline (world-famous cellist). Sibling rivalries, a menage a trois and terminal illness are all carefully navigated by Tucker's finely-wrought direction, though it's as an acting showcase that Hilary and Jackie really hits home.

West End: Barbican Screen, Chelsea Cinema, Clapham Picture House, Curzon Mayfair, Curzon Soho, Gate Notting Hill, Odeon Kensington, Odeon Swiss Cottage, Renoir, Ritzy Cinema, Screen on the Hill Local: Greenwich Cinema, Richmond Odeon

PRACTICAL MAGIC (12)

Director: Griffin Dunne

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Sandra Bullock

Essentially a sibling soap-opera with a dash of mumbo-jumbo, Practical Magic sees Bullock and Kidman cast as two mismatched sisters raised from a line of witches and hexing any unlucky man who swings into their orbit. The canny star-pairing is soon spoilt by an over-egged eye-of-newt broth that mixes Bewitched with Beetlejuice and The Witches of Eastwick. Its spick-and-span surface masks the turmoil of undigested influences.

West End: ABC Tottenham Court Road, Odeon Camden Town, Odeon Kensington, Odeon Marble Arch, Odeon Swiss Cottage, UCI Whiteleys, Virgin Fulham Road, Virgin Trocadero, Warner Village West End and local cinemas

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