New Films

APRIL STORY/FRIED

DRAGON FISH (NC)

Director: Shunji Iwai

Starring: Takako Matsu, Kaori Fujii (April Story); Miyoki Yoshimoto (Fried Dragon Fish)

April Story is a wistful drama about love and friendship centred around a teenager beginning university: Fried Dragon Fish is a tongue-in-cheek cop thriller. Both demonstrate a lack of imagination and a tendency to fall back on the mannerisms of their respective genres. West End: ICA Cinema

THE HORSE WHISPERER (PG)

Director: Robert Redford

Starring: Robert Redford, Kristin Scott Thomas

Robert Redford has never directed himself before, and we should be grateful - the love-affair on screen between Robert Redford and Robert Redford is one of the most intensely unsettling ever seen. He plays Tom Booker, a Montana farmer who specialises in equine psychology. A New York magazine editor (Kristin Scott Thomas) whose daughter has been traumatised in a riding accident brings her daughter and the girl's horse to Booker, hoping for them to be cured. The picture is efficiently acted, but it's despicably shallow. West End: ABC Tottenham Court Road, Barbican Screen, Chelsea Cinema, Clapham Picture House, Hammersmith Virgin, Notting Hill Coronet, Odeon Camden Town, Odeon Kensington, Odeon Leicester Square, Odeon Marble Arch, Odeon Swiss Cottage, Screen on Baker Street, Screen on the Hill, UCI Whiteleys, Virgin Fulham Road

LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING

BARRELS (18)

Director: Guy Ritchie

Starring: Dexter Fletcher, Vinnie Jones

While Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels mixes deadpan humour with cold brutality a la Tarantino, the film's defining characteristic is its resilient morality.

Ritchie's direction is showy to the point of distraction, but, beneath the cruel violence and coarse humour, this is a nostalgic piece, as hinted at by the closing nod to The Italian Job. West End: ABC Tottenham Court Road, Elephant & Castle Coronet, Hammersmith Virgin, Odeon Camden Town, Odeon Kensington, Odeon Marble Arch, Odeon Swiss Cottage, Plaza, Ritzy Cinema, Screen on Baker St, UCI Whiteleys, Virgin Chelsea, Virgin Trocadero, Warner Village West End

MR NICE GUY (15)

Director: Samo Hung

Starring: Jackie Chan, Richard Norton, Miki Lee

This largely disappointing addition to Jackie Chan's oeuvre does have its moments. But the combination of comedy and adventure doesn't gel.

West End: Virgin Trocadero

THE PROPOSITION (15)

Director: Lesli Linka Glatter

Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Madeleine Stowe

Historical drama unavailable for preview at time of going to press. West End: ABC Panton Street

THE REAL HOWARD SPITZ (PG)

Director: Vadim Jean

Starring: Kelsey Grammer, Amanda Donohoe

From the director of Leon the Pig Farmer comes this sunny little comedy starring Kelsey "Frasier" Grammer as a grouchy kids' writer who hates children. Makes up in verve and wit what it lacks in originality. West End: UCI Whiteleys, Virgin Trocadero

THE SPANISH PRISONER (PG)

Director: David Mamet

Starring: Campbell Scott, Steve Martin

David Mamet's intricate little thriller is a playful exercise in twisting a plot until it locks. There is a scientific detachment about the way he explores every permutation of his Kafkaesque scenario, though the movie is also slyly funny.

West End: Gate Notting Hill, Odeon Camden Town, Odeon Swiss Cottage, Phoenix Cinema, Ritzy Cinema, Screen on the Green, Virgin Fulham Road, Virgin Haymarket, Warner Village West End

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