New Films

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The Independent Culture
BESIEGED (PG, 92 mins)

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci

Starring: Thandie Newton, David Thewlis

In a startling volte-face from the epics of recent years, Bertolucci's new film, Besieged, confines itself principally to a cavernous Roman townhouse. It charts the festering master-servant relationship between Thewlis's highly strung concert pianist and Newton's refugee housemaid, all torrid glances and stuttering moments of communication. At once small-scale and ripely melodramatic, this is a mixed bag, but with a beautifully understated finale. West End: Clapham Picture House, Curzon Mayfair. Repertory: The Pullman Everyman

THE BRYLCREEM BOYS (15, 106 mins)

Director: Terence Ryan

Starring: Gabriel Byrne, Bill Campbell

Neutral Ireland during WWII. Captured German and Allied soldiers are shoehorned into the same cells. Tensions erupt; stereotypes are paraded; uneasy allegiances forged. Ryan's film may have worked well on stage. Here, it looks flat and horribly schematic. West End: ABC Panton Street

DANCE WITH ME (PG, 126 mins)

Director: Randa Haines

Starring: Chayanne, Vanessa L Williams

Building to a predictable finale at the World Dance Championships, the clanking Dance With Me has its Cuban emigre hero (Chayanne) alighting in the US of A to hunt for his long-lost pop (Kris Kristofferson), while still finding time to romance Vanessa L Williams's ballroom beauty. West End: Virgin Trocadero. And local cinemas

8MM (18, 123 mins)

Director: Joel Shumacher

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Joaquin Phoenix

The dead hand of Hollywood politics is evident all over this would-be provocative trip through LA's porn hinterland. Nicolas Cage copes well as the private eye hired to validate what looks to be snuff-movie footage, but such scuzz requires careful handling, and Schumacher lets it take over. Frustratingly, 8mm winds up contaminated by that which it is nominally investigating. West End: Clapham Picture House, Odeon Camden Town, Odeon Kensington, Odeon Leicester Square, Odeon Marble Arch, Odeon Swiss Cottage, Odeon West End, UCI Whiteleys, Virgin Chelsea. And local cinemas

MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE (12, 132 mins)

Director: Luis Mandoki

Starring: Kevin Costner, Robin Wright Penn

Kevin Costner's South Carolina boat-builder writes a love letter to his dead missus. Letter goes into bottle; bottle into sea. Lonesome lady (Robin Wright Penn) finds bottle. Complete the plot in less than 50 words. We all know where this one's headed, don't we? True lurve, pain of the past, a dash of redemption, and that's it, you're done. West End: ABC Tottenham Court Road, Notting Hill Coronet, Odeon Haymarket, Odeon Kensington, Odeon Marble Arch, Odeon Swiss Cottage, UCI Whiteleys, Virgin Fulham Road, Virgin Trocadero, Warner Village West End. And local cinemas


MARGARET (15, 100 mins)

Director: Brian Skeet

Starring: Parker Posey, Jeremy Northam

Parker Posey is Margaret, a kind of Penelope Pitstop of romantic fiction. She touches down in Paris, weds Jeremy Northam's dippy Englishman, and writes an effervescent book or two in New York. Brian Skeet's film follows a screwball rhythm, over-egging the farce, tossing in bodice- ripping dramatisations and, crucially, leaving the characters under-drawn. The normally luminous Posey displays a series of self-conscious tics and twitches. West End: ABC Shaftesbury Avenue

SIDE STREETS (15, 131 mins)

Director: Tony Gerber

Starring: Shashi Kapoor, Valeria Golino

A kind of Short Cuts without the cut, Side Streets rustles up a quintet of stories from New York. Cue lively vignettes and proficient playing from a multi-national cast. The whole tapestry of New York life is dry-cleaned, lightly embroidered and unrolled for your pleasure. West End: Plaza. Local: Edmonton Lee Valley UCI 12