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The Independent Culture
Pi (15)

Fox Pathe, rental HHHH

The fine line between genius and madness is deftly explored in Darren Aronofsky's directorial debut. Shot in grainy black and white, it upholds the philosophy that everything can be represented and explained through numbers. The story revolves around Max, a reclusive but brilliant teenager on the cusp of discovering the numerical key to the universe. As word gets around, he finds himself persecuted by a Wall Street syndicate and a group of weirdy beardies who believe he has unlocked the secret name of God. Whether Pi adds up or not is anybody's guess, but it certainly stands up as a psychological thriller.

Enemy of the State (15)

Buena Vista, rental HHH

Will Smith's amiable Washington lawyer finds himself accidentally in possession of a video tape containing evidence of a congressman's murder, in Tony Scott's conspiracy thriller. In their endeavours to get it back the National Security Agency infiltrate every corner of his life, getting him fired, framing him for another murder and nearly destroying his marriage. The picture moves at breakneck speed and is cluttered with images of complex computer surveillance systems. Although Scott's film lacks subtlety, it still makes the pulse race.

Palmetto (15)

Columbia, retail H

Woody Harrelson gets embroiled in a young woman's plans to con her husband in Volker Schlondorff's noir thriller. Inevitably, the suitcase of money turns out to be a bag full of paper, and Harrelson ends up with a body in the trunk of his car. Elisabeth Shue acts herself into a sexual lather as the depraved temptress, while Chloe Sevigny's performance as the sultry teenager verges on pornographic. Harrelson's is the only believable character, not surprising since he is accustomed to acting the dolt. But the fact that the viewer is always two steps ahead of the hero ultimately brings this picture down.

Love & Death on Long Island (15) Fox Pathe, retail 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 (Jason Preistley). So much so that he departs for Long Island and inveigles his way into the actor's house. While Love & Death 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 armchair, De'Ath unsuccessfully tries to watch Hotpants sequels on his new VCR, not realising that you need a television as well. Irresistible.