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Seven (18). The serial-killer movie seemed to have been done to death until David Fincher arrived with his shovel and jump-leads for this spectacular exhumation: Seven is American cinema at its darkest and most unsparing. And, paradoxically, its most moral. For while others in the genre sadistically milk the killer's perspective, Seven employs the pure, if world-weary, figure of Detective Somerset (Morgan Freeman) as its lynchpin. Along with his impetuous sidekick (Brad Pitt), Somerset must nail a serial killer who is using the Seven Deadly Sins as a sort of handbook (so an obese victim is forced to gorge himself to death, a greedy lawyer must hack off a pound of his own flesh, etc). The film doesn't so much ask whodunnit as what-the-hell-have-we-come-to? There's no pleasure or redemption through violence and the final showdown between hunter and prey delivers a moral catch-22 that has you wriggling in your seat. Two high-points deserve special mention: Morgan Freeman, bringing a surfeit of humanity to the picture's nameless, soulless city; and a credit sequence that would make Saul Bass proud.

French Kiss (12). Like Billy Crystal with Forget Paris, Meg Ryan tried to recapture the wit and sparkle of When Harry Met Sally with this bantomweight comedy (blandly directed by Lawrence Kasdan). But it simply didn't work, thanks to a threadbare script and zero chemistry between the romantic leads. Ryan, who also produced, plays a woman on her way to Paris to confront her two-timing husband-to-be (Timothy Hutton). En route, she is sidetracked by Gallic charmer Kevin Kline (in full 'Allo 'Allo accent) who turns out to be a hapless smuggler. It looks like a showreel for Ryan, promoting her as a comic heroine for the 1990s. Even on that level it fails - as tics and mannerisms and love-me grins go, she's as bad as Hugh Grant.

Parallel Lives (15). A made-for-TV movie which is better than its Big Chill-style premise: graduates stage a weekend reunion and grapple with old grudges and passions. Most interesting is the star-packed cast: James Belushi as an unscrupulous journalist; Lindsay Crouse as a dancer who's started talking to an imaginary friend (Dudley Moore); plus Treat Williams, Liza Minnelli, Gena Rowlands, Mira (and Paul) Sorvino and Ben Gazzara. A surprising absence of egos makes this a resonant, subtly played portrait of lives gone awry.

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