Thursday 18 June 1998
A year after David Cronenberg's censor baiter got the moral majority riled, it's hard to see what all the fuss was about. Anyone who was likely to end up corrupted by this tedious study of sexuality, morality and cars would have to stay awake.
James Spader is a decadent commercials director (is there any other sort?) who becomes involved with Holly Hunter following a car accident between the two of them in which her husband is killed. Their relationship develops around the car wreck which unites them and reveals an entire sub-culture devoted to man's subjection to the machine. Rosanna Arquette wanders around in calipers, but by the time she turns up, you're beyond caring about this anaemic adaptation of JG Ballard's novel.
Lawn Dogs (15) (available to rent from Monday)
Sam Rockwell is on a nice little earner. Americans, according to their films anyway, can't get enough of kooky red-neck sages setting the world to rights and Rockwell appears to have cornered the market. In Box of Moonlight, he played a kind of harlequin who flushes the ants from John Turturro's pants and in John Duigan's off-beat drama it's business as usual.
Mischa Barton is a ten-year-old roped into selling cookies in her manicured up-market neighbourhood in order to burnish the family image for her father's local political ambitions. Rockwell, playing a mildly eccentric young gardener (or lawn dog) is befriended by the girl, further incurring the wrath of the rich local teenagers and their uptight families. The suburban satire is efficiently handled even if Tim Burton did it far better in Edward Scissorhands.
Marvin's Room (12) (available to buy now - pounds 10.99)
Back in the days before Leonardo DiCaprio decided that playing drill- wielding yuppies would permit us a glimpse of the urchin's dark side (or whatever), he kept himself busy with roles like this: the sulky, sultry teenager. Jerry Zaks's understated chamber piece about family loyalty works well, though. Even if this adaptation of the late Scott McPherson's stage play provided the sort of choice roles that its A-list cast routinely notch up every few years (to show us all the ac-tor within, of course), it's mercifully of the thesp grandstanding that projects like these often provoke.
Diane Keaton was deserted 20 years previously by her sister, Meryl Streep, and has been burdened ever since with the care of their parents. Now, she prepares for the return of Streep, with brats in tow (including DiCaprio). Pleasingly, the ensuing drama seems to take much of its chilly tone from the shady Florida bungalow in which much of the action takes place. A few treacly lapses notwithstanding, the film also includes a fabulous pair of cameo performances from Robert De Niro as a local physician and Dan Hedaya as his completely loopy brother.
educationTo mark International Women's Day, Sarah Brown on how charities have brought proper joined-up thinking to the delivery of education
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