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The Independent Culture
UNTAMED HEART (Warner 15 110mins) One of a clutch of small, odd romances (Benny and Joon, The Night We Never Met, Mr Wonderful) aimed at younger audiences, which makes a change from the Eighties deluge of cheesy teen sex comedies. Unremarkable as dating movies for weirdos go - it's basically a junior league version of Frankie and Johnnie - but passable enough, due mostly to the chemistry between waitress Marisa Tomei (My Cousin Vinny) and dishwasher Christian Slater, who suffers an idee fixe about being the recipient of a baboon's heart: yes, really.

BENNY AND JOON (Warner PG 95mins) More of the same cuddly misfit-lovers scenario: Mary Stuart Masterson playing (with some skill) a mentally unbalanced girl who beats silent comedy-worshipping Johnny Depp in a poker game; a dud addition to Depp's growing collection of sweetly warped and much misunderstood characters. The word insufferable suggests itself strongly.

DEATH TRAIN (Entertainment in Video 15 94mins) Weak action flick, credited to the leaky nib of Alistair MacLean, wasting the time, if not the talents, of Pierce Brosnan (former action man) and Christopher Lee (loony Russian general with an atomic bomb and a grudge). Filmed in Croatia and Slovenia as genuine war raged - which makes the addition of the invented United Nations Anti-Crime Organisation a little obscene.

USED PEOPLE (FoxVideo 15 100mins) Todd Graff's script is supposed to be about loving and living again in the face of loss - and making allowances for the tortured souls who make up your family. It's also desperate. You just know widow Shirley MacLaine will have a big speech about her wasted years as a wife, and that daughter Kathy Bates will rant about her being a bad Mom, and that Italian smoothie Marcello Mastroianni will bring romance to blighted lives. For the 'touchy- feely' Fried Green Tomatoes crowd, which may explain the wasted presence of Jessica Tandy. Beeban Kidron directs, sort of.

THE SNAPPER (Electric 15 91mins) Already shown on BBC 2, Roddy Doyle's tale of teenage pregnancy, Irish-style, has a rare buoyancy and bite. And Stephen Frears knows how to direct it loosely, allowing the members of the Curley household room to snap, crackle and pop - Celtic warmth fairly lights up the screen. What's strange about the film is its utter truth and complete sentimentality. Yes, Da Curley (Colm Meaney) would and does crash into the bar believing a group of laughing men to be discussing his daughter, but what's missing from the writing is the terrible, almost commonplace fear these drunk child-men can represent on home territory.


The smaller video outfits continue to rescue off-the-wall and neglected titles. For instance, the gay classic Taxi Zum Klo: Taxi to the Toilet (Pride 18 83mins), Frank Ripploh's grungy autobiographical study of a randy leather queen's ceaseless pursuit of pleasure, which is sharply contrasted with the horror of his home-making lover. If the jokes about contracting the clap and cruising men's loos seem to belong to another age, that's because they do. Price: pounds 14.99.

Equally fixated on the flesh is Chain of Desire (Mainline 18 102mins), billing itself as an 'erotic merry-go-round' and a 'modern-day La Ronde', to which the disappointed can only moan: 'You wish.' As one New York pick-up leads to another, tedium soon sets in and patience wears thin, despite a cast that includes Malcolm McDowell.

If sex isn't your bag, how about some violence? Electric Pictures has let Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (18 89mins) out on parole. Not for weak stomachs ( pounds 12.99).

(Photograph omitted)