Reviews: New Films

AFFLICTION (15)

Director: Paul Schrader

Starring: Nick Nolte, James Coburn, Sissy Spacek, Willem Dafoe

See The Independent Recommends, right. West End: ABC Shaftesbury Avenue, Chelsea Cinema, Renoir

HOLY MAN (PG)

Director: Stephen Herek

Starring: Eddie Murphy, Jeff Goldblum

Redemption time! Jeff Goldblum plays Ricky, a scuzzball executive on a home-shopping channel. Eddie Murphy is G, a spiritual wanderer with open-toed sandals and an idiot-savant simper. G and Ricky hook up. Fearful for his job, Ricky uses G as a frontman on the shopping show and sales go through the roof. G, in turn, teaches Ricky a few soulful lessons; you know, about life and stuff. Holy Man is a film of bits and pieces. Parts of it (the satirical swipes at trash TV, for instance) are very funny, while Murphy and the wired, neurotic Goldblum in particular, both do well in fleshing out what are essentially one-dimensional, archetypal roles. The trouble is, the film never quite hangs together. It skips around trying to find the right tone; starts out as an attack on media-land, then pulls its punches. It runs worryingly out of steam. West End: Odeon Marble Arch, Virgin Trocadero, Warner Village West End. And local cinemas

THIS YEAR'S LOVE (18)

Director: David Kane

Starring: Douglas Henshall, Kathy Burke,

Jennifer Ehle, Ian Hart, Emily Woof,

Catherine McCormack

A cast of Britain's finest (Kathy Burke, Ian Hart, Douglas Henshall et al) weave to and fro through David Kane's Camden-set essay on urban romance. The plot is airy and simple: six disparate middle-youth types criss-cross each other over a period of three years; their bungled bed-hopping and snatched moments of human contact scored to a voguish pop soundtrack (Garbage, Morcheeba, Mercury Rev). Hart excels as a nerdish outcast, Burke as a nurturing, rough-diamond pub singer. All are well-served by Kane's generally witty and well-observed screenplay. It's just that This Year's Love doesn't quite know when to quit, cranking what might have been a sublime one-hour teleplay into double its natural length. Still, that's modern romance for you. You can't fit it into tidy little boxes. West End: Barbican Screen, Clapham Picture House, Odeon Camden Town, Odeon Kensington, Odeon Marble Arch, Odeon Swiss Cottage, Odeon West End, Ritzy Cinema, UCI Whiteleys, Virgin Chelsea. And local cinemas

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