Video Reviews

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The Independent Culture
The Gingerbread Man (15)

Polygram, Rental HH

Another efficient thriller from the Grisham stockpile. Director Robert Altman extracts a plausible Southern drawl from Kenneth Branagh as the arrogant attorney celebrating a victory in the courtroom. Having seduced a young waitress (Embeth Davidtz) after the party, he finds himself drawn into her problems as she pleads for protection from her deranged father and his gang of survivalists. There are several seemingly pointless roles, particularly Daryl Hannah as a partner in the law firm who always seems on the edge of events, as if piqued for not being asked to play the leading lady. And though the plot is full of twists, it is difficult to have any sympathy with a man who seduces vulnerable women to make himself feel important.

Love & Death in Long Island (15)

Fox Pathe, Rental HHHH

When writer Giles De'Ath (John Hurt) finds himself in the wrong cinema watching Hotpants College II, he falls under the spell of the film's pin-up lead, Ronnie Bostock (Jason Priestley). He leaves London for Long Island in search of his hero and charms his way into the actor's house. While Richard Kwietniowski's picture is a touching portrait of the complex relationship of the observer and the observed, it comically revels on the collision of low and high culture and the conflict of old and new. From his leathery armchair De'Ath compiles a scrapbook of "Bostockiana" and unsuccessfully tries to watch Hotpants sequels on his new video recorder, not realising that you need a television as well. Irresistible.

The Object of My Affection (15)

Fox Pathe, Rental HH

Director Nicolas Hytner sets out to prove that homosexuality doesn't come in degrees and sets Jennifer Aniston as the litmus test of whether or not a man is really gay. Aniston plays Nina, a young social worker who finds herself pregnant and decides to bring up her child with her gay flat-mate, George (Paul Rudd). This picture fails as a romantic comedy since Nina's relationship with George springs less out of passion than her self-centredness, where he emerges as the bruised victim. While the film gently sends up gay stereotypes, it treads on eggshells over sexual encounters between men. This film was presumably intended to disrupt notions regarding the single woman-gay man binary, but it lacks the courage to confront the basic issues.

Touch (15)

Fox Pathe, Rental HH

Despite an interesting plot and a good cast, Paul Schrader's adaptation of Elmore Leonard's novel is disappointing because the director is unsure whether we should take his characters seriously. Skeet Ulrich plays an ex-monk in possession of strange healing powers. Christopher Walken is the garrulous preacherman turned salesman who acts as Ulrich's agent. There is an element of charm in Touch which stems from its down-to-earth treatment of the miraculous, particularly from Bridget Fonda. Fonda plays Walken's sidekick who, after an eyeful of Ulrich's good looks, endeavours to protect him from the news hounds. As she rescues him from a gaggle of photographers, she sweetly asks "Is it alright to put stigmata blood in the wash?"

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