New Films

THE AVENGERS (12)

Director: Jeremiah Chechik

Ralph Fiennes dons the bowler hat and wields the cane as Steed, Uma Thurman pours herself into a catsuit as Emma Peel, while Sean Connery sashays around in a kilt as August de Winter, who plans to take over the world by controlling the weather.

CW: ABC Baker Street, ABC Tottenham Court Road, Barbican Screen, Clapham Picture House, Hammersmith Virgin, Odeon Camden Town, Odeon Kensington, Odeon Marble Arch, Odeon Swiss Cottage, Phoenix Cinema, UCI Whiteleys, Virgin Fulham Road, Virgin Trocadero, Warner Village West End

EVE'S BAYOU (15)

Director: Kasi Lemmons

Starring: Samuel L Jackson, Lynn Whitfield

Things we have seen too many times, part one: films that begin with a sage female voice intoning the words "I was 10 years old when I killed my father/became a woman/ poisoned my guinea pig, etc" and then use flashback to trace the fall from innocence of the character concerned. It isn't the fault of the director, Kasi Lemmons, that her Louisiana locations have been overfamiliarised and devalued by Southern Comfort ads, but her screenplay doesn't add anything new to the gumbo. Despite some intuitive observations and fine performances, particularly from Samuel L Jackson as a philandering doctor, this feels for the most part like reheated Fried Green Tomatoes.

CW: Gate Notting Hill, Odeon Mezzanine, Plaza, Ritzy Cinema, UCI Whiteleys, Virgin Trocadero

FIRELIGHT (15)

Director: William Nicholson

Starring: Sophie Marceau, Stephen Dillane, Lia Williams

Things we have seen too many times, part two: miserable 19th-century women being sold off to cold, heartless landowners. Sophie Marceau is the Swiss governess who bears a child for the wealthy aristocrat Stephen Dillane, then devotes the rest of her life to finding the girl. Nicholson (who wrote Shadowlands) makes a disheartening debut as director with a starchy melodrama in which the only pleasures come from the hysterically overstated use of symbolism.

CW: Clapham Picture House, Curzon Minema, Screen on the Hill, Virgin Fulham Road, Virgin Haymarket

GANG RELATED (15)

Director: Jim Kouf

Starring: James Belushi, Tupac Shakur, James Earl Jones

Drive-by shootings, drug deals gone wrong, jive-talkin' homeboys whose idea of being articulate is to not let their four-letter word count exceed double figures in one sentence... It's a pleasant surprise that Gang Related should not only give this tired formula a few welcome twists, but should also have its tongue in its cheek - a tone not generally encountered in this genre. James Belushi is spectacularly sleazy as a corrupt cop moonlighting as a dealer. When he accidentally kills an undercover cop, he and his partner (Tupac Shakur) pin the murder on a vagrant.

CW: Ritzy Cinema, Virgin Trocadero

MAJORETTES IN SPACE: FIVE GAY TALES FROM FRANCE (18) subtitles

Director: Various

The French directors showcased in the "Majorettes in Space" programme of shorts experiment with form, narrative and visual language. The best reason for seeing this is Francois Ozon, the director of the forthcoming Sitcom, represented here by two incisive, lyrical works, Summer Dress and A Little Death. You may also be delighted by the film from which the collection takes its title, a playful manipulation of image and narration; enchanted by Something Different, the story of a butcher with a secret life; and unsettled by One Moment, a slice of subjectively-filmed unsafe sex from director Pierre Salvadori, best known here for his comedies Wild Target and Les Apprentis.

CW: ICA Cinema

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