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The Independent Culture

BORN YESTERDAY (Hollywood PG 96mins) Pleasant, unremarkable remake of the Judy Holliday comedy affords Melanie Griffith an opportunity to show her comedic sparkle as the daffy blonde who's educated in political realities by journalist Don Johnson, at the behest of proto-business fascist John Goodman. The script's liberal pieties can be painful (isn't Washington-baiting a little stale in 1994?), but as an early example of Clinton- era celluloid, it's covertly instructive. On release.

PASSENGER 57 (Warner 15 80mins) Wesley Snipes action vehicle, constructed from bits of Die Hard and the Steven Segal canon, crash lands at the box office with the star and hijacking psycho-terrorist foe, Bruce Payne, on board. Not even tourist class. On release.

BODY SNATCHERS (Warner 18 90mins) The central idea of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, transferred to an army base by erratic director Abel Ferrara (Bad Lieutenant, China Girl). The authoritarian location makes a certain sense - how dehumanised by alien spores can the already dehumanised become? - and the action scenes have snap, yet the movie, re-cut by the producers, fails to generate the overwhelming paranoia the plot demands. Perhaps because most of the cast, including the heroine Gabrielle Anwar, don't seem to have much individuality to lose. On release.

VOYAGE (EV 15 86mins) Sex and violence on the high seas as Dead Calm sails out of dry dock again, crewed this time by Rutger Hauer (playing nice) and Karen Allen. Sure enough, there's a sociopath on board, in the grinning shape of Eric Roberts, accompained by demonic sidekick Connie Nielsen, all pout and heaving passion. Terribly tacky, which helps, as do The Knife in the Water mind games; still, you can tell where the movie's going from the very first frame. Which is straight to Davy Jones's locker. On release.


LET'S GET LOST (Mainline 15 104mins b/w) Homoerotic fashion photographer Bruce Weber's love poem to pretty, punkish, self- destructive jazz horn-player Chet Baker, an exercise in style and something very like spite. Weber's camera lingers more lovingly on the ruins of Baker's drug-ravaged face than on his earlier, angelic incarnation. Fascinating, though: Weber makes ghoulish voyeurism seem central to understanding the legend. Retail Price: dollars 15.99.

LE SAMOURAI (Artifical Eye PG 91mins b/w) Jean-Pierre Melville's extraordinary mutation of the American gangster opus voyages far beyond hard-boiled into a terse dream of cool. Melville's conception seems inseparable from Alain Delon's vacuum- packed performance robotic hitman humanised by love for a witness who could signal his doom. The concept is hokey, the execution is not. Retail Price: pounds 15.99

Arthouse, the latest outfit to enter the thriving specialist video market, offers a tantalising opening menu. First and foremost is the outrageous and seldom seen La Grande Bouffe (18 130mins), Marco Ferreri's spiky study of four dispirited men eating and fornicating themselves to death. Satirical and sympathetic, this rare treat helps rescue a neglected talent and puts Peter Greenaway's somewhat laboured The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover into perspective.

Almost as outlandish is Ferreri's Bye Bye Monkey (18 110mins) with Gerard Depardieu lost in New York, fending off rape by feminists and playing Papa to a chimp, possibly the spawn of a certain royal ape. Also of interest are Vincent Ward's Vigil (15 86mins), a disturbing New Zealand rites of passage that seems both mythic and nightmarish as tomboy/ farm girl Fiona Kay awakens to sex and life's grinding injustices, and Sam Pillsbury's The Scarecrow (15 84mins), a moody, Fifties- set take on the murderous-stranger-in-town trope. Retail: pounds 15.99. JL