CINEMA / Critic's Choice

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The Puppetmaster

Puppeteer Li Tianlu narrates his own life story in Hou Xiaoxian's intimate epic, which uses the folk artist's vexed life as an oblique way into decades of Taiwanese history. Hou's style is formal and his narrative method elliptical. Westerners may need a crib sheet to keep track; though, while it can be oppressive, it's also impressive. ICA SW1

Short Cuts

After returning from the wilderness with the entertaining but ephemeral The Player, Robert Altman comes up with a film of real substance: a three-hour tragi-comedy about some two dozen blue-collar Los Angelinos, played by a crack cast of some of America's best actors. It's based (very freely) on short stories by Raymond Carver, although Altman is rather more sardonic and unforgiving towards his characters. But he interweaves their stories with great elegance and verve. Metro W1, locals

Schindler's List

Spielberg's first grown-up film - and this sombre, black-and-white, three-hour epic about the Holocaust, and one man who made a tiny difference, is moving, exhilarating and thoroughly absorbing. As Schindler, the German war profiteer who discovered his better nature, Liam Neeson is filmed with all the glamour of a real, old-fashioned Hollywood star. Empire WC2, MGM Baker St NW1, MGM Fulham Rd SW10, MGM Trocadero WC2, Plaza W1, UCI Whiteleys W2, locals