VIDEO REVIEWS

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The Independent Culture
Little Voice (15) Buena Vista, rental & DVD retail HHH

Jane Horrocks plays LV, the timid daughter of Scarborough widow Brenda Blethyn, in this adaptation of Jim Cartwright's stage-play The Rise and Fall of Little Voice. But aside from looking wistful and surprising us with impressions of Judy Garland and Shirley Bassey, Horrocks is left with little to do. Meanwhile, Blethyn acts herself into an embarrassing lather as her slutty mother - you keep expecting French and Saunders to jump out from behind the sofa. But there is modest pleasure to be had from Michael Caine's talent scout, particularly when he is drunkenly belting out Roy Orbison's "It's Over".

Primary Colors (15)

CIC, retail HHHH

Mike Nichols's film follows Governor Stanton's campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. John Travolta is cast as the Clintonesque lech (one of his minions remarks that "he's poked his pecker in some sorry trash bins") and he does an uncanny impression of the US president. Emma Thompson's put-upon wife is played with a blend of ambition and ire while Adrian Lester is brilliant as the political aide who is both seduced and repelled by his boss. The writing remains on the fence though, and the events depicted in the film are still not a patch on real-life US politics.

Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas (18) CIC, retail HH

Rather like dreams, the details of other people's drug experiences are always pretty tedious. Unfortunately, director Terry Gilliam failed to take this into account before embarking upon his film of Hunter S Thompson's cult novel. Fear and Loathing... tells how journalist Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp) and his attorney Dr Gonzo drive to Las Vegas to cover a motorcycle race, binging all the way on tequila, mescaline, ether and acid. Gilliam religiously recreates the effects of alcohol and hallucinatory drugs, but he neglects such basic requirements as characterisation and an intelligible script.

The Truman Show (15)

CIC, retail HHHHH

Peter Weir's picture casts Jim Carrey as Truman Burbank, the average working husband who talks to himself in the mirror, looks furtively at holiday brochures and fantasises about old girlfriends. He doesn't know that his activities are being broadcast to millions of people in the world's most audacious soap opera. The people that surround Truman are actors and his home town is a giant set, with events orchestrated by Ed Harris's God-like figure. In taking pot-shots at issues of paranoia, media saturation and American parochialism, Weir's unsettling movie is a rare treat from Hollywood.

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