VIDEO REVIEWS

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Amistad (15) CIC, rental HH

Spielberg's extravagant freedom flick follows the fate of 53 Africans shackled on a slave ship in 1839. Led by Cinque (Djimon Hounsou), they stage a mutiny and kill most of the crew, only to be picked up by an American ship and put on trial. Amistad scores high on spectacle but low on intelligence. As a hoary Anthony Hopkins enters the courtroom and delivers a climactic speech about justice and freedom (going so far as to feign tearing up the Declaration of Independence), we are made to feel as if we are on the brink of a world catastrophe, and the simplistic symbolism is echoed throughout by a ludicrously overwrought score.

Chasing Amy (18) Miramax, rental HHH

Rather like his low-budget debut, Clerks, writer-director Kevin Smith's wonderfully mucky romantic caper centres around a group of arrogant young men. Ben Affleck plays Holden, who falls for the feisty and vastly experienced Alyssa (Joey Lauren Adams), only to discover that she is a lesbian. The build-up to this revelation is endearingly comical. It takes a long while for the penny to drop, and, as Holden digests the implications of her sexuality, his friend, Banky, swaps hilarious stories with Alyssa about injuries sustained during cunnilingus. But then comes the irritation, disbelief and the obligatory crass questions, and the script becomes aggravatingly trite and ultimately embarrassing.

Event Horizon (18) CIC, retail, pounds 14.99 HH

Flashing strobes, melting eyeballs, buckets of blood and a crashing soundtrack shape Paul Anderson's intergalactic slasher. A brooding Laurence Fishburne heads a crew sent to investigate a disaster-struck spaceship on Neptune. Sam Neill plays the mad scientist and brains behind the eponymous craft, who announces that he has equipped it with an unprecendented gravity drive. The log reveals that the craft has sped to hell and back, returning with an evil force that drives anyone who sets foot in it to confront their worst nightmares. There are some show-stopping special effects and action sequences, but the script is appalling, and the film is essentially a redundant imitation of Alien.

Bent (18) Film Four, retail, pounds 14.99 HHH

An uncomfortable graduation from stage to screen marks Sean Matthias's rendering of Martin Sherman's moving play about Nazi intolerance of homosexuality. Opening scenes, set in Berlin prior to the Night of the Long Knives, display a hedonistic world of dancing boys, dominatrix girls and transvestites presided over by Mick Jagger's warbling drag act. Next we are thrust into the scorched wasteland of Dachau, where two prisoners, Max (an unprepossessing Clive Owen) and Horst (Lothaire Bluteau), must while away the hours hauling rocks back and forth, to no apparent end. The Dachau scenes are powerful, though Matthias fails to utilise the play's full filmic possibilities.

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