New Films

AMERICAN PERFEKT (15, 96 mins)

Director: Paul Chart

Starring: Fairuza Balk, Amanda Plummer

Starting out as an addictive cat-and-mouse noir, American Perfekt ends up chasing its tail through 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.

West End: Virgin Fulham Road, Virgin Haymarket

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.

West End: ABC Shaftesbury Avenue, Metro, Odeon Kensington. And local cinemas

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.

Repertory: ICA Cinema

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.

West End: Curzon Soho

GET CARTER (18, 112 mins)

Director: Mike Hodges

Starring: Michael Caine, John Osborne

See The Independent Recommends, right.

West End: Odeon Swiss Cottage, Plaza, UCI Whiteleys. Repertory: National Film Theatre

HEART (18, 85 mins)

Director: Charles McDougall

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 black comedy, or as a Cronenberg-type horror flick, Heart might have worked. But Charles McDougall turns it into a melodrama whose screenplay bears the scars of a botched operation.

West End: Odeon Camden Town, Odeon Kensington, Odeon Swiss Cottage, Odeon West End

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. West End: Curzon Mayfair

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.

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

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. West End: ABC Piccadilly, ABC Swiss Centre

Xan Brooks

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