NEW FILMS

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WHEN THE CAT'S AWAY

Director: Cedric Klapisch. Starring: Garance Clavel, Renee Le Calm, Zinedine Soualem, Olivier Py (15)

Cats have had short shrift from film-makers. There is a veritable glaring of cats prowling through our literature, but not many have made it in the movies. Unless you admit the argument that an awful lot of French cinema is a paean to pussy. When The Cat's Away, however, gives a literal, sleek moggy a central role.

The cat in question is a gorgeous black individual wilfully named Gris- Gris, who belongs to willowy young make-up assistant Chloe. Klapisch directs this meandering fable with breezy style, and the naturalistic performances, especially from the blooming Clavel, are a delight. The film is a fond dissection of Parisian street life, where shabby old buildings are pulled down and residents evicted to make way for gentrification. Chloe is forced by her unplanned catectomy to engage in local society, meeting all the neighbours she'd never previously noticed, and eventually falling in love. So the moral turns out to be an adaptation of this newspaper's erstwhile slogan. Independent. Cats are; you can't be.

CHAIN REACTION

Director: Andrew Davis. Starring: Keanu Reeves, Morgan Freeman, Rachel Weitz, Brian Cox (12)

Chain Reaction is confusing. A team of scientists finds a way to make energy from a fishtank of water, however, if they don't get the frequencies right, they raze eight city blocks in a monstrous fireball. Chain Reaction would be a totally cold exercise in efficient action-movie direction, were it not for its stars. Weisz, the latest ex-Cambridge actress to storm Hollywood, stuffs a little too much acting into her lines. Keanu, meanwhile, is puffier and more solid these days, which lends interesting rough edges to his mesmerising iconicism. Perfectly watchable if you're drunk or hung over.

TROMEO AND JULIET

Director: Lloyd Kaufman. Starring: Jane Jensen, Will Keenan, Valentine Miele, Lemmy (18)

Twisted B-movie meisters Troma Studios present a clever-dumb Shakespeare take with Lemmy from Motorhead and a stream of funny rubbery violence. But the movie doesn't keep its energy up, and nearly keels over when the lovers recite chunks of actual Shakespeare. Half boring, half marvellous, and probably fine for GCSE students (although they'll have to lie about their age).

NICO-ICON

Director: Susanne Ofteringer (NC)

Affectionate documentary on the life of Nico, "der Hippie und Rock Star", model, Velvet Undergound chanteuse and heroin addict, mixing archive footage from the Warhol era with reminiscences from friends.

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