New Films

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The Independent Culture
LOVED (15)

Director: Erin Dignam

Starring: Robin Wright Penn, William Hurt

Erin Dignam's Loved has been collecting dust on distributors' shelves for nearly two years now. Not because it's bad, one imagines, but because it's so subtly unclassifiable, so removed from the stock methods of tackling its volatile subject matter. Robin Wright Penn stars as an abused ex-girlfriend called upon by William Hurt's lawyer to testify against her brutal former boyfriend. Yet Loved deliberately evades the hectoring quality that fuels so many TV movies. Instead, it paints charged and troubled relationships for what they are: complex, personal and inextricably entwined.

West End: ABC Shaftesbury Avenue

PAINTED ANGELS (15)

Director: Jon Sanders

Starring: Kelly McGillis, Brenda Fricker

The angels are whores; the paint from the gloomier end of the palette. Jon Sanders' revisionist western revolves around a frontier brothel presided over by Brenda Fricker's no-nonsense madam. Earthy, naturalistic acting goes hand in hand with Gerald Packer's evocative visuals, though the downbeat handling makes it slow going at times.

West End: ABC Piccadilly, Renoir

PERDITA DURANGO (18)

Director: Alex De La Iglesia

Starring: Rosie Perez, Javier Bardem

Alex De La Iglesia's quasi sequel to David Lynch's Wild at Heart is a strutting Tex-Mex caper, tequila-ed to the gills and running on a kind of posturing wackiness. Rosie Perez acquits herself well as the vixenish heroine who abducts a pair of all-American virgins, while Live Flesh's Javier Bardem simply glowers from beneath a comedy wig. It's camp, garish and annoyingly entertaining.

West End: Clapham Picture House, Metro, Odeon Camden Town, Virgin Haymarket

THE THIN RED LINE (15)

Director: Terrence Malick

Starring: Sean Penn, Nick Nolte

See The Independent Recommends, right.

West End: Odeon Leicester Square

TITANIC TOWN (15)

Director: Roger Michell

Starring: Julie Walters, Nuala O'Neill

All aboard for Troubles-hit Belfast, circa 1972. The IRA and British forces are taking potshots at each other. Civilians are dying in the crossfire. Julie Walters's local mum lobbies for a ceasefire and is caught between the opposing factions. Michell's fact-based fable is well-intentioned, but it's faintly lightweight, too. For a film implicitly about rage, waste and human passions, it's low on dramatic oomph.

West End: ABC Swiss Centre. Local: Kilburn Tricycle Cinema

URBAN LEGEND (18)

Director: Jamie Blanks

Starring: Jared Leto, Alicia Witt

As 1978's Halloween spawned a crop of shabby wannabes, so Wes Craven's Scream is siring its own breed of movie runts. Enter Urban Legend, Blanks's stalk-and-slash romp, which clones Scream's tics, twists and in-jokes in much the same way that its campus killer mimics the crimes of popular myth. The result is strangely bland and inconsequential.

West End: UCI Whiteleys, Virgin Fulham Road, Virgin Trocadero, Warner Village West End. And local cinemas

YOU'VE GOT MAIL (PG)

Director: Nora Ephron

Starring: Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan

Riffing off her earlier, more assured Sleepless in Seattle, Ephron ushers seasoned pros Hanks and Ryan through a contrived romantic comedy that's zapped out of its old-fashioned rut by a shrewd Internet plot hook. Hanks and Ryan squabble in daily life and get all gooey on-line, resulting in a brew that is soft, sludgy and just slightly on the turn.

West End: ABC Tottenham Court Road, Barbican Screen, Clapham Picture House, Odeon Camden Town, Odeon Kensington, Odeon Marble Arch, Odeon Swiss Cottage, Screen on Baker Street, UCI Whiteleys, Virgin Chelsea, Virgin Fulham Road, Virgin Haymarket, Virgin Trocadero, Warner Village West End. And local cinemas

Xan Brooks

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