Director: Paul Chart
Starring: Fairuza Balk, Amanda Plummer
Starting out as an addictive cat-and-mouse noir, American Perfekt ends up chasing its tail in ever-decreasing circles. Robert "Jackie Brown" Forster is the doctor on the road in the American Midwest, falling in with Amanda Plummer's jumpy traveller, then her sassier sibling (Fairuza Balk). Con-artists and killers lurk in the wings. But writer-director Paul Chart has trouble steering his plot into harbour, swinging this way and that with an air of desperation.
AMONG GIANTS (15, 94 mins)
Director: Sam Miller
Starring: Rachel Griffiths, Pete Postlethwaite
The giants in this coarse-grained human drama are a row of electrical pylons stretching across the Yorkshire moors; towering monoliths that dwarf the gang of workers (headed by Pete Postlethwaite) hired to paint them. Simon "The Full Monty" Beaufoy's script mixes kitchen-sink grit with sentiment; Sam Miller's direction goes big on swirling crane shots. Earthy, likeable stuff.
AUGUST 32ND ON EARTH (NC, 112 mins)
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Starring: Pascale Bussieres, Alexis Martin
Denis Villeneuve's enigmatic odyssey casts two lost souls (Pascale Bussieres, Alex Martin) adrift in the flat-lands beyond Salt Lake City. Wide open spaces on screen hint at wide open spaces inside without ever quite opening them up for scrutiny. The startling imagery and elegant atmosphere make up for the drama's lack of rigour.
FINDING NORTH (15, 95 mins)
Director: Tanya Wexler
Starring: Wendy Makkena, John Benjamin Hickey
A gay-themed, on-the-road, odd-couple comedy, Finding North winds up less engaging than it sounds. Wendy Makkena's New York bank- teller chases John Benjamin Hickey's suicidal beefcake to Texas, setting in motion a carousel of quirky characters, kooky misunderstandings and cute philosophising.
GET CARTER (18, 112 mins)
Director: Mike Hodges
Starring: Michael Caine, John Osborne
See The Independent Recommends, right.
HEART (18, 85 mins)
Director: Jimmy McGovern
Starring: Christopher Eccleston, Kate Hardie
Coronary case Christopher Eccleston gets a new heart. His wife (Kate Hardie) responds by having an affair with a writer (Rhys Ifans); his donor's widowed mum (Saskia Reeves) reacts by embroiling him in an Oedipal affair. Played as absurdist black comedy, or as a Cronenberg- type horror flick, Heart might have worked. But Jimmy McGovern turns it into a melodrama whose screenplay bears the scars of a botched operation.
MANON DES SOURCES (PG, 120 mins)
Director: Claude Berri
Starring: Yves Montand, Emmanuelle Beart
Claude Berri's sequel to Jean de Florette sees Jean's daughter, Manon (Emmanuelle Beart), exacting revenge on the farmer who caused her father's death. Beautiful-looking, for all its plot contrivances. Limited release
THE MATRIX (15, 139 mins)
Director: Wachowski Brothers
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne
If you can accept that Keanu Reeves is the Messiah sent to save our souls from outer-space robots, then there's much to relish in this virtuoso slice of sci-fi nonsense. The Matrix begins dark and apocalyptic, then turns comic-book gaudy at the midway mark. Seemingly oblivious to this, Reeves bobs through both halves with an air of bemusement. Laurence Fishburne's brooding disciple runs rings around him.
OTHER VOICES, OTHER ROOMS
(12, 98 mins)
Director: David Rocksavage
Starring: David Speck, Lothaire Bluteau
Writer-director David Rocksavage conjures Truman Capote's debut novel into a Deep South Great Expectations, coated in milky cinematography and ambled through by cheery black maids, crumbling belles and dungareed chill'un. There's even an old man in the attic to pluck out when events turn sluggish. And they do.
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