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The Independent Culture
Hard Rain (15)

Polygram, retail HHH

Kate Winslet may have whimpered about the hypothermic conditions on the set of Titanic, but that was a mere drop in the ocean compared with what Christian Slater and Minnie Driver had to endure on the set of this bungled-heist thriller. Wading about armpit-deep in water from a flooding Ohio river for the whole duration, an armoured-car courier (Slater) and a stained-glass restorer (Driver) dodge flying bullets from an assortment of characters who are all after the same bag full of money. The flooding turns the townsfolk's morals upside-down as the sheriff tries to make off with the cash and a group of looters, headed by Morgan Freeman, show their more positive side. Second-rate stuff, but mindlessly gripping all the same.

Dr Dolittle (U)

Fox, rental HH

Cute animals and toilet humour shape this mediocre Eddie Murphy vehicle. When Murphy's Dolittle was a child, he found he could talk to animals, but was forbidden to indulge in such strange behaviour by his father and went on to become a heart surgeon. But when he knocks down a stray dog in his car, he rediscovers his hidden talents as the hapless mutt tells him to watch where he is going. He soon finds himself dispensing medicine to animals as well as humans. Murphy offers little charisma as Dolittle while his animals are given rasping voices that make South Park's Cartman sound mellifluous. This picture may prove diverting for your little ankle-biters, but the shadow of Rex Harrison's Dolittle looms large.

Dance of the Wind (U)

Artificial Eye, retail HHHH

A renowned New Delhi singer finds that she has lost her voice after the death of her mother/mentor. The loss takes its toll on her relationship with her husband and students as well as her career. Backed by a finely- tuned performance from Kitu Giwani, this debut feature from director Rojan Khosa offers a valuable portrait of Indian life where a woman enjoys a loving and balanced relationship with her husband. It is also a rare sight to observe an Indian heroine throwing up into a lavatory, though one you could live without. The otherworldliness of Indian classical music is lyrically rendered and Khosa offers rich and rare insight into the musical life of the country where a singer's private life is indistinguishable from her art.

The Thief (15)

Artificial Eye, retail HH

Ekaterina Rednikova's young mother cannot believe her luck when she lands herself a soldier boyfriend, Tolyan (Vladimir Mashkov), who is prepared to become a father figure to her six-year-old son, Sanya (Misha Philipchuk). It takes an inordinately long time for her to discover that his soldier's back-pack is stuffed with silver pilfered in the course of his travels across Russia. We, on the other hand, had it all worked out since the film's title rather gave it away. The plot becomes less interesting as we become privy to the growing relationship between Tolyan and the little boy. Sanya believes his new-found father to be a hero, and there is a keen sense of discomfort as we observe his innocence trickling away.

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