The Week in Review

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The Independent Culture


Director David Cronenberg delves deep into the grotesque in eXistenZ, a futuristic tale of a computer games designer (Jennifer Jason Leigh) on the run from a fatwa.

"As an exercise in disorientation it will take some beating," revealed Anthony Quinn, adding: "While one may fall to admiring a certain droll intelligence at work, there is hardly anything you could honestly call funny." "A pretentious techno-geek's answer to Jumanji and The Game," thundered the Daily Mail, while the Financial Times declared: "Cronenberg should be the director voted Most In Need To Get Out More." "Two big thumbs up to the first half-hour... What I eventually tired of was the nerd-cool infatuation with games," confessed The Guardian, though Time Out deemed it: "One of Cronenberg's most accessible, enjoyable movies to date... dark, delirious fun."

The seductive paranoia of Cronenberg's earlier work is absent in his latest film.

eXistenZ is on nationwide release, certificate 15. 92 minutes



Cate Blanchett makes her British stage debut in Jonathan Kent's revival of David Hare's 1978 play, an emotional exploration of Britain's decline after the Second World War.

"The part of Susan badly defeats Blanchett. Indeed, if Kent had gone into the project with the express intention of exposing the weaknesses of [this] severely overrated play, I don't see what more he could have done," bemoaned Paul Taylor. "What I find puzzling is Blanchett's performance, which is so frenziedly neurotic as almost to forfeit one's sympathies," grumbled The Guardian. "Blanchett's performance reinforced my regard both for the play and the character," revealed The Times. "Blanchett is sensational; I just wish the play was too," opined The Daily Telegraph. The Financial Times declared: "Blanchett is riveting to watch."

Blanchett's hysterical rendering of the heroine reinforces the many flaws in Hare's play.

Plenty is at the Albery Theatre, London until 10 July. For bookings and enquiries, call 0171-369 1740



Suede's new album Head Music features the single "Electricity", produced by Steve Osborne, and sees the inimitable Brett Anderson moving into the realms of electro-pop.

"Osborne brings a more groove-oriented approach to the band's sound, which is slicker than before, and better reflects the band's `chemical generation' outlook," decided Andy Gill. "A richly textured electro-rock album which is directly in tune with its time. `She's In Fashion', `Asbestos' and the title track are back-to-back brilliance," gushed The Mirror. "Suede have valiantly survived to fight another day," applauded Time Out. "Ziggy- era Bowie stalks these grooves, but Suede's tunes are far better. Buy!" trumpeted The Guardian. "Head Music lacks the restless sense of drive and destiny which was the hallmark of its predecessors," grumbled The Times.

Their most humane album to date, Head Music's mixture of electro-pop and rock is pure pleasure.

Suede's Head Music (Nude) will be available in record shops on Monday