New Films: Reviews

BLADE (18)

Director: Stephen Norrington

Starring: Wesley Snipes, Stephen Dorff

A techno soundtrack bumps and grinds behind this monotonous arcade-game thriller about a New York vampire-killer tackling a power-crazed new bloodsucker. Noise and martial-arts action mask its tinny pedigree. West End: Elephant & Castle Coronet, Hammersmith Virgin, Odeon Camden Town, Odeon Kensington, Odeon Marble Arch, Odeon Swiss Cottage, UCI Whiteleys, Virgin Chelsea, Virgin Trocadero, Warner Village West End

DESTINY (AL MASSIR - LE DESTIN) (NC)

Director: Youssef Chahine

Starring: Nour El Cherif

Chahine's flamboyant period fancy spins the yarn of a liberal sage and his battles with the rigid social order at large in medieval Spain. An implicit critique of Islamic oppression, Destiny takes wing with a burst of traditional dance and deep-colour visuals. West End: ICA Cinema

FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS (18)

Director: Terry Gilliam

Starring: Johnny Depp, Benicio Del Toro

Gilliam's adaptation tilts at Ralph Steadman cartoonery for its tale of a drug-fuelled journalistic assignment. Incident, caricature and lurid Seventies fashions are substituted for plot and character, and the film soon descends into narcotic lunacy. The one stand-out is Johnny Depp, who brings Hunter S Thompson to bald-headed, pigeon-toed life. West End: ABC Baker Street, Clapham Picture House, Empire Leicester Square, Rio Cinema, UCI Whiteleys, Virgin Fulham Road, Virgin Haymarket

FIRE (15)

Director: Deepa Mehta

Starring: Shabana Azmi, Jaaved Jaaferi, Nandita Das

Mehta's Indian-Canadian co-production mounts a vibrant, and at times potent, attack on the Indian family set-up, with its tale of a fractious New Delhi brood. Strong ensemble playing riffs nicely off Mehta's taboo- bucking script. West End: Curzon Soho

HENRY FOOL (18)

Director: Hal Hartley

Starring: James Urbaniak, Parker Posey

See The Independent Recommends, right. West End: Chelsea Cinema, Clapham Picture House, Curzon Soho, Renoir, Richmond Filmhouse, Ritzy Cinema

HOPE FLOATS (PG)

Director: Forest Whitaker

Starring: Sandra Bullock

Spoonfuls of sugar all round in Whitaker's romantic drama: a winsome piece that turns a loving eye on Sandra Bullock as a down-in-the-dumps ex-beauty queen. Cue Gena Rowlands as a feisty mum, Harry Connick Jr as a bashful handyman, and acre upon acre of bumper-sticker wisdom. West End: ABC Shaftesbury Avenue, Odeon Kensington, Odeon Swiss Cottage, Virgin Fulham Road, Virgin Trocadero, Warner Village West End

INSOMNIA (18)

Director: Erik Skjoldbjaerg

Starring: Stellan Skarsgard

Dubbed a "film blanc" by its creator, Insomnia transplants noir stylistics to the landscape of summertime Norway. Its cop hero (Skarsgard) drifts into mental meltdown as he probes a teenager's murder; it's his controlled performance that galvanises this otherwise underpowered thriller. West End: Metro

THE KNOWLEDGE OF HEALING (NC)

Director: Franz Reichle

Starring: Tenzin Choedrak

Reichle's documentary serves up a crash course in Tibetan medicine. The Dalai Lama and his personal doctor make for reliable sources, but the whole thing proves too info-heavy and indigestible. West End: Renoir

LEFT LUGGAGE (PG)

Director: Jeroen Krabbe

Starring: Isabella Rossellini, Maximilian Schell

Krabbe's first stab as a director results in an uncertain soap opera, focusing on the ebbs and flows within a Hasidic family in 1970s Holland. Fitful as drama, the film comes to life as a showcase for its high-profile performers (Topol, Schell, Rossellini, Krabbe) plus rising star Laura Fraser. West End: ABC Panton Street, Curzon Mayfair, Screen on the Hill

THE ODD COUPLE II (15)

Director: Howard Deutch

Starring: Walter Matthau, Jack Lemmon

The follow-up to Neil Simon's Sixties flat-share favourite dispatches its mismatched couple off to a wedding and then strands them in the desert. From this set-up come all manner of comedy set pieces. The two stars work hard to keep it upright. West End: Plaza

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