New Films

AMERICAN HISTORY X (18)

Director: Tony Kaye

Starring: Edward Norton, Edward Furlong

Disowned by its director, re-edited by its star, American History X was always going to look messy; a film in bits and pieces. A liberal essay on right-wing fanaticism, this nonetheless indulges in some dubious Nazi chic as it charts the moral slide and spasmodic conversion of a blue-collar racist (Edward Norton), watched by his adoring younger brother. The flashbacks sometimes jar, and the plot turns are clankingly handled. What binds it together is a genuine tour de force from Oscar-nominated Norton, whose full-throttle muscularity clearly scared wavering Academy members over to the more sunny charms of Roberto Benigni.

West End: Clapham Picture House, Odeon Camden Town, Odeon Kensington, Odeon Swiss Cottage, Ritzy Cinema, UCI Whiteleys, Virgin Chelsea, Virgin Haymarket, Warner Village West End. And local cinemas

AN AUTUMN TALE (CONTE D'AUTOMNE) (U)

Director: Eric Rohmer

Starring: Beatrice Romand, Alain Libolt

The final part of 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, nudging her first towards suave college professor (Didier Sandre), then towards a lonely-hearts respondent (the brilliant Alain Libolt) as the web of intrigue turns progressively more tangled. Don't be put off by the Mills and Boon plot-line. Rohmer's latest is a veritable masterpiece of dabbed-on colours, fluid squiggles and luminous washes. Its little gestures speak volumes; its easy soul takes the breath away.

West End: Barbican Screen, Chelsea Cinema, Curzon Soho, Renoir. Repertory: Phoenix Cinema, The Pullman Everyman

GODS AND MONSTERS (15)

See The Independent Recommends, right.

West End: ABC Tottenham Court Road, Clapham Picture House, Curzon Soho, Gate Notting Hill, Screen on the Hill, Virgin Fulham Road. Local: New Stratford Picture House

MIGHTY JOE (PG)

Director: Ron Underwood

Starring: Bill Paxton, Charlize Theron

Mighty Joe is a mutant gorilla - King Kong with a smile - who hangs out in the jungles of Africa with his Tarzan-type protector (Charlize Theron). Enter zoologist Bill Paxton, who decides to spirit Joe to California, at which point Ron Underwood's holiday jaunt diverts down standard chase-genre avenues. Disposable Disney fluff, which boasts a ready charm that's hard to dislike.

West End: Odeon Kensington, Odeon Marble Arch, Odeon Swiss Cottage, Odeon West End, UCI Whiteleys. And local cinemas

PAYBACK (18)

Director: Brian Helgeland

Starring: Mel Gibson

This rumbling revenge thriller sends its double-crossed-and-left-for- dead anti-hero (Mel Gibson) on a mission to retrieve the money he's owed, and get even into the bargain. The ensuing shenanigans are played out in a kind of retro-chic Seventies and underpinned by a busy jazz-funk soundtrack. Ambling through the saga, Gibson rubs lots of designer grime into his clean-cut screen image.

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

THE RUGRATS MOVIE (U)

Director: Igor Kovalyov

Voices: E G Daily, Christine Cavanaugh

Given the small-screen success of the 'rats, a feature-length foray was always in the offing. Neatly timed to hit the Easter hols, The Rugrats Movie shifts its horizons beyond the usual suburban homes and gardens. Here, the bairns find themselves adrift in a deep, dark forest, bonding with monkeys and tangling with a slavering wolf. Kids, no doubt, will eat this up. Adults should simply grin and bear it.

West End: Odeon Marble Arch, Plaza, UCI Whiteleys, Virgin Chelsea, Virgin Trocadero, Warner Village West End. And local cinemas

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