The Information: New Films

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The Independent Culture
BRIDE OF CHUCKY (18, 89 mins)

Director: Ronny Yu

Starring: Jennifer Tilly, Brad Dourif, John Ritter

The latest graduate from the Scream school of self-referentiality, this strings together a series of humorous asides and knee-jerk shock tactics. Jennifer Tilly copes well as a leather-clad dominatrix, but when she's electrocuted in her bathtub, all that's left is an assemblage of stalkings, stabbings and cheesy gags.

West End: Plaza, Ritzy Cinema, UCI Whiteleys, Virgin Trocadero, Warner Village West End. And local cinemas

CELEBRITY (18, 113 mins)

Director: Woody Allen

Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Melanie Griffith

Good satire doesn't pull its punches. Unfortunately, in Celebrity, Woody Allen's line of attack is compromised by his being at least half in love with the very glitterati he sets out to savage. Here, America's nerd auteur falls into the same trap that Altman tumbled into when making The Player - roping in a bunch of beautiful people (Winona Ryder, Leonardo DiCaprio) to show what good sports they are by pouring scorn on beautiful people. But it is Kenneth Branagh, in the central role, who inflicts the most damage on this fitfully funny yarn. Playing the film's social-climbing hack, Branagh reads his lines in an irksome, ongoing Woody Allen whine. His ham-fisted bit of mimicry makes you pine for the real McCoy.

West End: Barbican Screen, Chelsea Cinema, Clapham Picture House, Odeon Camden Town, Odeon Haymarket, Odeon Kensington, Odeon Swiss Cottage, Renoir, Ritzy Cinema, Screen on the Green, Screen on the Hill, UCI Whiteleys, Virgin Fulham Road, Warner Village West End. And local cinemas

CROUPIER (15, 89 mins)

Director: Mike Hodges

Starring: Clive Owen, Alex Kingston, Gina McKee

Mike Hodges' latest thriller is a far cry from the taut, tough trajectory he brought to the recently re-issued Get Carter. A standard gambling caper, Croupier sees Clive Owen's casino worker (and aspiring novelist) playing with a deck of three queens: girlfriend Gina McKee, colleague Kate Hardie, and South African card-sharp Alex Kingston. Owen's portentous voice-over stands in for his stiff non-acting. Script and direction play safe throughout.

West End: ABC Panton Street. Repertory: National Film Theatre

CRUEL INTENTIONS (15, 97 mins)

Director: Roger Kumble

Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe

See The Independent Recommends, right.

West End: 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

JUST THE TICKET (15, 115 mins)

Director: Richard Wenk

Starring: Andy Garcia, Andie MacDowell

Clearly infatuated with Seventies American cinema, Richard Wenk's low- budget debut spins a freewheeling account of a hustling tout at large in New York City. Just the Ticket's ongoing Andy and Andie show finds Garcia coping well as the yarn's smart-talking opportunist, while MacDowell struggles to flesh out an underwritten turn as his harassed ex-girlfriend. It possesses a certain unfocused energy, but finally has too little to say, and spends too long saying it.

West End: Warner Village West End

TOUCH OF EVIL (12, 108 mins)

Director: Orson Welles

Starring: Orson Welles, Charlton Heston

This re-edit of Welles's 1958 noir tightens up some of the film's sloppier moments without hampering its delirious forward rush. A giddy, wilfully over-the-top tale of police corruption south of the border, this conspires to cast all-American Charlton Heston as a high-minded Hispanic and Marlene Dietrich as a Mexican spitfire. Amazingly, Welles gets away with it. Citizen Kane may be the more weighty, rounded work, but this is a heap more fun.

West End: Curzon Soho, Renoir

VENUS BEAUTY (15, 105 mins)

Director: Tonie Marshall

Starring: Nathalie Baye, Bulle Ogier, Samuel Le Bihan

Revolving around the lives and loves of a trio of French beauticians, Venus Beauty moves from soap-operatics to farce to tragedy, and alights at last on a lover's kiss beneath a shower of sparks. Nathalie Baye grabs viewers' attention as the damaged, lovelorn lead, while director Tonie Marshall maps out the drama with soul and delicacy.

West End: ABC Swiss Centre. Repertory: Cine Lumiere