The week in review

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The Independent Culture
THE FILM

LOST IN SPACE

THE TV PROGRAMME

SECRET HISTORY

THE DANCE

THARP

OVERVIEW

Stephen Hopkins' costly spin-off from the cult Sixties television series, itself an adaptation of Johann David Wyss's children's novel Swiss Family Robinson. Starring William Hurt, Matt Le Blanc, Gary Oldman and a mass of deadly spiders. "The film looks terrific" exclaimed Ryan Gilbey, delighting in "costumes that you ache to reach out and squeeze... [The film] makes no claims to sophistication and so does not risk the burden of our disappointment". Less impressed, Time Out observed, "though the film doesn't take itself too seriously (it's at its best when it does) it impresses only in patches," lamenting that "story and characterisation come a lame second and third". The Guardian applauded "a piece of space junk that doesn't entirely insult the audience's intelligence" while the Daily Mail branded it "deficient in flair and originality, low on human interest and devoid of a coherent plot". They begrudgingly concluded "For all its defects, Lost In Space will be a hit since it contains something for every member of the family."

Lost In Space was released nationwide yesterday, cert PG. 130 minutes.

In a summer swamped with blockbusters, Hopkins' sci-fi flick is a cosmetic success. It is as enjoyably trashy as its TV ascendant and boasts classy action sequences and some wonderfully palpable sets. But no amount of digital painting can make up for the dearth of interesting characters - for that you'd be better off referring to Wyss's charming book.

Channel 4's documentary recounts the story of the rehearsals for the Normandy invasion, staged on the beaches of South Devon in 1944. It resulted in the accidental deaths of an unknown number of American soldiers.

A perplexed Thomas Sutcliffe stated: "The programme itself was well made... but it was also afflicted by the oddity of considering this disaster as if it had been a peacetime exercise rather than a hazardous operation in wartime." The Times admonished: "Secret History may be criticised for making great play of the errors without making much of the fact that a rehearsal using live ammunition was bound to produce casualties". "Gripping is not the right word but I can't think of a better one" mumbled The Daily Telegraph, while The Guardian felt it "could more accurately be called Averting A D-Day Disaster," noting that the programme "told a sad story well, but it told it as though military incompetence should be a surprise." "Makes you think" murmured the Daily Mail.

There are no more planned showings of this edition. Next week's Secret Lives programme documents The Battle Of Goose Green.

Channel 4's exploration of the war-time exercise revealed a breathtaking calamity and a terrible, though not altogether surprising example of military incompetence. But the programme's suggestion of a cover-up was unwise in the light of the newapaper coverage of the time, and was done perhaps to validate the programme's clandestine title.

One hundred volunteers perform a variety of 11-second movement phrases on the subject of nature, devised by American dance legend Twyla Tharp. This marks her first London visit in four years.

"Rather depressingly, it was the oldest work that was the most successful. Roys Joys from 1997... lacked some of the sharpness that makes her early work so bracing," complained Louise Levene, continuing, "the applause had a disconcertingly village cricket quality." "When the stage erupted in a mass explosion of Tharp's dextrously crafted steps, it was also a riot of Sonny and Cher lookalikes and Jimmy [sic] Hendrix clones," observed The Guardian. The Daily Telegraph raptured "It was more than just a feat of dance memory: here were anthemised the ingredients of life," while the Evening Standard praised the "inimitable signature of music compilations, kinetic intelligence and deceptive simplicity stemming from a deep fascination with the art - and science - of movement".

Tharp! is at the Barbican, London EC2, till 8 August. For box office and enquiries call 0171 638 8891.

With the abundance of kaftans and afros on show at the Barbican, Twyla Tharp's dance is as much a Sixties fashion-fest as an experimental work about nature. It is worth a look for nostalgia alone, but in her endeavour to do something different, Tharp comes unstuck with over-complicated plotlines and sombre dance steps. Best enjoyed if you are taking part.

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