New Films

BUFFALO 66 (15)

Director: Vincent Gallo

Starring: Gallo, Christina Ricci, Ben Gazzara, Anjelica Huston, Mickey Rourke

Early on in Buffalo 66, the director, Vincent Gallo, draws your attention to a licence plate which includes the letters "OZU" - at which point I scribbled "he should be so lucky" in my notebook. Who could have guessed that the self-absorbed Gallo would turn out to know a thing or two about fixing a camera on a group of characters and simply watching? Yet promising though it is, Gallo's film about an ex-con (played by himself) who kidnaps a dancer (Christina Ricci) in order to convince his parents that he is married, doesn't measure up to Ozu - or Cassavetes, or any of the other dozen influences here. But it has enough inspired moments to convince you that Gallo is no bluffer.

West End: Clapham Picture House, Gate Notting Hill, Metro, Odeon Camden Town, Richmond Filmhouse, Ritzy Cinema, Screen on the Green, Virgin Haymarket

DIVORCING JACK (15)

Director: David Caffrey

Starring: David Thewlis, Rachel Griffiths, Robert Lindsay, Jason Isaacs

A moment of casual infidelity for a drunken Northern Irish journalist, Dan Starkey (David Thewlis), sets in motion an espionage plot that implicates politicians, the IRA and a gun-toting nun-o-gram. The balance between black comedy and tension is largely successful, but the convoluted plot squeezes the life from the film. West End: UCI Whiteleys, Virgin Chelsea, Virgin Haymarket, Warner Village West End

ELIZABETH (15)

Director: Shekhar Kapur

Starring: Cate Blanchett, Christopher Eccleston, Geoffrey Rush, Joseph Fiennes, Kathy Burke

Shekhar Kapur's follow-up to his controversial 1994 thriller Bandit Queen is the story of a female figurehead struggling to gain purchase in a male world. Upon the death of Queen Mary I (Kathy Burke), her half-sister, Elizabeth (Cate Blanchett), is crowned queen, but finds her personal affairs held to ransom over the future of the country - while it is imperative that she marry, her plans to wed her sweetheart (Joseph Fiennes) carry no weight, and she comes under pressure to consent to a strategic marriage. Kapur largely neglects opportunities for fun in a story of independence triumphing over cruelty.

West End: ABC Baker Street, Barbican Screen, Clapham Picture House, Odeon Camden Town, Odeon Kensington, Odeon Marble Arch, Odeon Swiss Cottage, Odeon West End, Renoir, Screen on the Hill, UCI Whiteleys, Virgin Fulham Road

MERCURY RISING (15)

Director: Harold Becker

Starring: Bruce Willis, Alec Baldwin, Miko Hughes

In this diverting thriller, evocative of Gloria or Witness, a top-secret government security code is buried in a grid in a puzzle magazine to test its impenetrability. But when it is casually cracked by a nine-year-old autistic boy (Miko Hughes), the child's life is placed in extreme danger, and he comes under the protection of an FBI agent (Bruce Willis).

West End: Elephant & Castle Coronet, Plaza, UCI Whiteleys, Virgin Fulham Road, Virgin Trocadero, Warner Village West End

A MOMENT OF INNOCENCE (NUN VA GOLDOON) (NC) Director: Mohsen Makhmalbaf

Starring: Mirhadi Tayebi, Ali Bakhshi (subtitles)

A sly and occasionally haunting study of the relationship between life and art. Writer and director Mohsen Makhmalbaf follows a director's attempts to make a film based on a pivotal event in his early life. Weariness with yet another Iranian film about film-making (coming so soon after Close- Up) is largely tempered by the picture's wit and charm.

West End: ICA Cinema

SIXTH HAPPINESS (NC)

Director: Waris Hussein

Starring: Firdaus Kanga, Khodus Wadia

A functional adaptation of Firdaus Kanga's autobiographical novel about growing up in Bombay with brittle-bone disease. Showing at the NFT for one week only.

West End: NFT

Ryan Gilbey

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