Director: Agnes Merlet
Starring: Valentina Cervi, Michel Serrault
Based on the story of renegade female painter Artemisia Gentileschi, Agnes Merlet's film is played out in a lushly designed version of 17th- century Italy. It is always a treat to look at, and makes a few attempts at generating genuine dramatic tension during the climatic courtroom scenes. But in its bid to be both a feminist biopic and a leg-trembling bodice-ripper, Merlet's labour of love is finally left stranded between two camps.
BLACK CAT, WHITE CAT (15, 120 mins)
Director: Emir Kusturica
Starring: Bajram Severdzan, Srjan Todorovic
Beating a hasty retreat from the explicit political agenda of Underground, Sarajevo-born Emir Kusturica's new film, Black Cat, White Cat, comes across as a skewed Eastern European folktale. The plot (which has Bajram Severdzan's low- rent criminal double-crossed by his gypsy gang-boss partner) is but a peg on which to drape all manner of surrealist farce and knockabout comedy. The film is like some mad scientist's invention: a magical steam-engine of noisy pistons and coloured smoke. It runs throughout on a kind of ongoing junkyard aesthetic.
FORCES OF NATURE (12, 104 mins)
Director: Bronwen Hughes
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Ben Affleck
Director Bronwen Hughes marshalls all manner of freakish acts of God during the course of her Planes, Trains and Automobiles-type romantic comedy, as Ben Affleck ventures cross-country with kooky travelling companion Sandra Bullock in tow. Affleck's on his way to get married, and, of course, free-living Bullock throws his plans out of whack. And so it goes, in a film by turns rollickingly simplistic and fussily stylised. Forces of Nature clearly aims for the lightness of touch of vintage Thirties screwball, but its stolid schematics soon send it clattering off the rails. Meanwhile, the miscast Affleck and Bullock exhibit the sexual chemistry of water and wood. They look like they filmed their scenes in isolation and were then cut together by a diligent editor.
I STILL KNOW WHAT YOU DID
LAST SUMMER (18, 95 mins)
Director: Danny Cannon
Starring: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Matthew Settle
Lest we forget, some high-school grads ran over a man last summer, dumped him off the marina and left him for dead. Then they were chased around by a killer in a sou'wester (see: I Know What You Did Last Summer). And now, hey presto, it all seems to be starting again. This dismally titled film whips original scream queen Jennifer Love Hewitt (now at college, bless her) off on a fraught holiday to a storm-tossed Bahamian resort with her photogenic band of buddies (Mekhi Phifer, Brandy, Matthew Settle). One- time British wonderkid Danny Cannon directs the ensuing stalk-and-slash shenanigans like a dirty job best done at speed.
ORPHANS (18, 95 mins)
Director: Peter Mullan
Starring: Douglas Henshall, Gary Lewis
See The Independent Recommends, right. Limited release
SWING (15, 97 mins)
Director: Nick Mead
Starring: Hugo Speer, Lisa Stansfield, Alexei Sayle
Hugo Speer's ex-con cobbles together a ragbag of misfits (football hopeful, NF activist, brass- playing Orangemen) into a scratch swing band. Kitchen-sink comedy dances cheek-to-cheek with spry musical interludes, and it all ends happily. Swing is so small-scale, so eager to please, that you're tempted to gloss over its essential triteness; its bankruptcy of intensity or new ideas. File under The Full Monty/The Commitments school of homegrown film-making.
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