The Independent Recommends

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The Independent Culture
Film Ryan Gilbey

STEVEN SPIELBERG'S Second World War drama Saving Private Ryan is not a masterpiece by any means, but it earns its place in our Recommends section by virtue of its devastating battle sequences, and a fine performance by Tom Hanks. He plays Captain John Miller, dispatched with his squad to rescue a Private Ryan, the youngest of four brothers, the rest of whom have all been killed in action. It isn't the explicit violence which is shocking, but rather the relentless motion of the camera. The ensemble playing is also excellent, despite a poor screenplay.

On general release

If you want to play compare and contrast, make sure you're in Oxford today for Full Metal Jacket (above) - Vietnam, this time. Like most of Kubrick's work, this is cold and methodical, but technically awe-inspiring. It's also the last glimpse we have had of Kubrick at work (heaven knows when Eyes Wide Shut will see the light of day).

Phoenix Picture House, Oxford (01865 554909) today, 6.15pm

Theatre Dominic Cavendish

SHARED EXPERIENCE'S revival of their acclaimed production of Anna Karenina opens tonight. If it's anything like as good as it was back in 1993, it should be a sight for sore eyes. Helen Edmundson's adaptation weaves together the two strands of Tolstoy's novel - the love-affairs between Anna and Count Vronsky, and between the idealist Levin and the beautiful Kitty. Teresa Banham and Richard Hope reprise their roles as Anna and Levin.

Lyric Hammersmith, London W6 (0181-741 8701) 7.30pm

Just opened in Chichester is the promising-looking Katherine Howard by William Nicholson (the man who penned the weepy CS Lewis bio-drama Shadowlands). It stars Richard Griffiths (left) as Henry VIII and Emilia Fox as wife No 5, hoping to buck the trend.

Festival Theatre, Chichester (01243 781312) 7.30pm

Classical Duncan Hadfield

INITIAL REVIEWS have ranged from the ecstatic to the lukewarm, but there still seems a great deal to recommend ENO's first new production of the season - Verdi's penultimate opera, Otello, with Susan Bullock (right). Directed by the iconoclastic David Freeman, and with sets designed by Tom Phillips, this Otello definitely has a contemporary feel. And whatever the merits of the production, David Rendall, in the title role, is in magnificent voice.

London Coliseum, London WC2 (0171-632 8300) 7.30pm

The Marais Ensemble provides an interesting selection of wind works tonight. Ligeti's Six Bagatelles and Ten Pieces for Wind Quintet are set alongside Mozart's Quintet for Piano and Winds and Poulenc's quirky Sextet for Piano and Winds.

Purcell Room, London SE1 (0171-960 4242) 7.30pm

Comedy James Rampton

AUDIENCES warm to the inventive incompetence of Lee Evans (below). They can identify with his scatter-brained portrayal of a person constantly at two with the world - the man who disastrously misuses a French hole- in-the-ground lavatory or who is baffled by hotels: "I opened the wardrobe and there was a pillow and a blanket. That was the worst night's sleep I've ever had."

Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London W1 (0171-494 5580) 8pm

As their very name suggests, Hitchcock's Half Hour like nothing better than a bit of ironic juxtaposition: the horror of Hitchcock rubbing up against the humour of Hancock's Half Hour. The duo of Neil Cole and Tom Hillenbrand do a neat line in absurd musical comedy. "Kula Shakin' Stevens" and "Neo-Hispanic Welsh psychedelia", anyone?

Kal's East Sheen Comedy Club, London SW14 (0181-871 3396) 9pm