Tartan, retail HHHH
Robert Guediguian's picture begins as a romance between mouthy single mother Jeanette (Arianne Ascaride) and a taciturn security guard Marius (Gerard Meylan) but ends up as an examination of the affection that builds up between neighbours. Jeanette lives in an industrialised district of Marseilles where the friendship offered by her neighbours makes her circumstances bearable. When Marius disappears Jeanette writes him off as another unreliable male, but her friends refuse to give in and send their husbands out to look for him. Marius is duly scraped off the floor of a bar and deposited back into Jeanette's bed. Imbued with a dark humour, Guediguian has produced an enchanting paean to community spirit.
US Marshals (15)
Warner, retail H
You may not have thought that you would ever long to see Harrison Ford's furrowed brow again, but Stuart Baird's remake of The Fugitive might just prompt a bit of Ford nostalgia. Wesley Snipes plays the obligatory convict who has cast off his shackles after surviving a plane crash, though our sympathies for him only last the duration of his escape. Accused of murdering government officials, Snipes sets out to find the real killers and show the extent of CIA corruption. Tommy Lee Jones plays the Tommy Lee Jones character with the same gruffness. Though the action sequences cannot be faulted, the script is shockingly feeble. Essentially a mediocre retread of a vastly superior action film.
Zero Effect (15)
Columbia, rental HHH
This engagingly droll comedy from first-time writer-director Jake Kasdan (son of The Big Chill Lawrence) stars Bill Pullman as a wigged- out private eye Daryl Zero who subsists on pretzels and amphetamines. Due to his unwavering paranoia, Zero solves most of his cases without leaving his apartment and only goes out in disguise. Zero's latest task is to find out who is blackmailing Portland tycoon Ryan O'Neal. His sidekick, played by Ben Stiller, resentfully does the legwork, complaining all the while that his relationship is going down the pan due to his employer's eccentricities. It is an unremarkable plot but Pullman is hilarious as the slacker detective, a twitching intellectual who plays guitar badly and has never kissed a girl.
Buena Vista, retail HH
After the moralising of Seven Years in Tibet, Martin Scorsese's rendering of the early life of the 14th Dalai Llama provides mercifully light relief - too light, in fact. This stylishly shot picture, with a soundtrack by Philip Glass, is Buddhism made easy. A group of passing monks spend a night in a remote village and alight on a horribly precocious two-year-old as their spiritual leader. As we watch him grow, his developing spirituality can be measured by the force of the golden hue that surrounds him. And in case we don't quite comprehend the threat posed by the Chinese, Mao Zedong is portrayed as the kind of villain James Bond sneers at. Aesthetically stunning, but intellectually lacking.