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OVERVIEW The Royal Academy's exhibition of art from a thousand cultures drawn from all over one of the largest land-masses on the surface of the globe. CRITICAL VIEW "A revelation," wrote Andrew Graham-Dixon, "one of the most compelling and extraordinary exhibitions likely to be staged in our lifetimes." "Every object has been chosen solely for its beauty or expressive power," commented the Daily Telegraph. "Essential viewing," said the Guardian. "What a crazy undertaking! Overwhelming, exhausting and confusing," moaned Time Out. ON VIEW Royal Academy of Arts, London W1 until 21 Jan 1996 (0171-439 7438). See also the Serpentine and Whitechapel Galleries. OUR VIEW Prepare to have your preconceptions overturned.

THE FILM NINE MONTHS OVERVIEW The latest film from writer-director Chris (Home Alone) Columbus, a "comedy" about Hugh Grant's mixed reactions to his girlfriend's pregnancy. CRITICAL VIEW Adam Mars-Jones observed that "it manages to be patronising to both parents and non-parents." Others were less polite. "It is truly dreadful," said the Guardian. "Unfunny, painful, disjointed," blasted the Times. "An extraordinarily naff concoction," added Time Out. "The film now seems like desperate post-publicity for the blow-job," declared the Spectator. ON VIEW At cinemas across London. Or you could try to track down the French original, Neuf Mois. OUR VIEW For die-hard Grant groupies only. Even Julianne Moore is wasted.

THE PLAY A PATRIOT FOR ME OVERVIEW The RSC revival of John Osborne's once censored play about a homosexual officer and spy in the Austro-Hungarian empire. CRITICAL VIEW Paul Taylor admired details in Peter Gill's production but "subtlety is not always the play's strongest suit". The Times found it overlong but "oddly moving" in parts. "Though the production lacks dramatic ferocity, its vision of a secret society of outcasts still impresses," commented the London Evening Standard. "A drag in precisely the wrong sense of the word," sniffed the Daily Telegraph. ON VIEW In repertoire at the Barbican Theatre, London, EC2 (0171-638 8891) to 22 Nov. OUR VIEW Of historical interest, but full of self-loathing. It reminds you why positive images were invented. It also lasts four hours.

THE OPERA GOTTERDAMMERUNG OVERVIEW The final part of Covent Garden's new Ring cycle in the controversial Richard Jones production, designed by Nigel Lowery and conducted by Bernard Haitink. CRITICAL VIEW Edward Seckerson hailed a glorious achievement. "It's breathtaking... makes you think and think again." "I have never heard Bernard Haitink conduct anything better: in its combination of fluency and subtlety with blazing grandeur it was consummate," said the Spectator. "Intensely serious, definitely a Ring for our time," remarked the Times. ON VIEW Further performances on 23, 28, 31 Oct at the Royal Opera House, London WC2 (0171-304 4000). OUR VIEW Die-hard traditionalists should stay away, but even sceptics could be persuaded to cheer rather than jeer.