Film: Also Showing: Chirpy Brits or MTV slackers ... the choice is yours

Shooting Fish (12)

Directed by Stefan Schwartz

Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Stuart Townsend, Dan Futterman

With its desperately jubilant Britpop soundtrack and relentless catalogue of wacky escapades, Shooting Fish aspires to be a hip, cutting-edge caper comedy, though in spirit it's rather long in the tooth. Every time our heroes, the precocious American whiz-kid Dylan (Dan Futterman) and his English computer-boffin chum Jez (Stuart Townsend), have to make another frantic getaway from another gang of businessmen they've swindled, the camera tilts on its side, the music is cranked up and without warning the film turns into Catch Us If You Can.

You could stomach the relentless chirpiness if the writers Stefan Schwartz (who also directed) and Richard Holmes had invested any care in their characterisation. Even accounting for the fact that the secretary, Georgie (Kate Beckinsale), exists only to prove that Dylan and Jez aren't gay, the film still refuses to address her effect on their friendship. She walks out on Dylan's attempt to seduce her, and straight into a romantic stroll with Jez which Dylan witnesses. But where is the jealousy? The recrimination? The audience might have guessed that Dylan will conveniently end the film paired off with Georgie's sister, but Dylan himself can't know this, unless he's been hacking into the screenwriters' computer.

Only Townsend really sparkles as the techno-nerd struggling to pass himself off as an ordinary member of the human race. When Georgie pops round, he hides his computer magazines. What PC? - it's the modern bachelor's Penthouse.

subUrbia (18)

Directed by Richard Linklater

Starring: Giovanni Ribisi, Nicky Katt

Some cinemagoers may recently have asked themselves: How many more films can possibly be made about disillusioned teenagers who hang around shopping malls and/or parking lots posing existential conundrums while getting high and headbutting road signs?

The answer is: none. Not after subUrbia, anyway. The film is often very funny, but it feels like a dramatic full-stop on a parochial corner of cinema. This study in the aimlessness of youth is as bleak in its view of society as it is generous toward its ambling protagonists, a group of twentysomething loafers who spend one long evening hanging around outside a 24-hour convenience store waiting for one of their old friends, now a rock star and MTV regular, to cruise by in his limo.

The director Richard Linklater is working from another writer's script for the first time - Eric Bogosian, the star and creator of Talk Radio, has adapted his own play - and he seems a little shaky, forcing the action to its apocalyptic conclusion. But as Linklater demonstrated on Slacker and Dazed and Confused, his forte is the fluid direction of ensemble casts, and he moves among the eight main characters with a seductive ease and compassion worthy of Rohmer.

Hard Eight (18)

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

Starring: Samuel L Jackson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Philip Baker Hall

Healthy house-plants wither and die under the gaze of the actor Philip Baker Hall, so it's a mystery why he isn't every director's first choice to play a shifty gangster or a morally ropey cleric, especially when his Nixon in Altman's Secret Honor suggested elements of both. In Hard Eight, he commands the screen - you fear looking away in case he notices and berates you for it.

The first half of this noir-ish B-movie is taut and enticing, but the young director Paul Thomas Anderson proves himself more adept at cultivating enigmas than unravelling them. Hall plays Sydney, a professional gambler who offers to teach a scruffy drop-out the tricks of the trade in Las Vegas. Anderson's use of lingering close-ups creates an edginess that the fabulous soundtrack - all ominous chimes and metallic clanging - further heightens.

The film eventually becomes overbearingly portentous, and the poised dialogue makes Pinter's characters sound like after-dinner speakers. But Hard Eight is the work of a fine, intuitive new director, and a weather- ravaged, criminally under-used old pro.

Free Willy 3 (U)

Directed by Sam Pillsbury

Starring: Jason James Richter

You know what to expect by now. The resilient whale Willy gets threatened by poachers and is valiantly protected by young Jesse (Jason James Richter). A new little scamp has relieved Jesse of his Cute Kid duties, and, in a juicy spot of family conflict, turns out to be the hunter's son. Well, you knew his dad was no good by that untrustworthy moustache. What you might not have anticipated is the absence of sentimentality, which means that the film earns your final tears/ lump-in-the-throat/goosebumps without recourse to dirty tricks.

A Simple Wish (U)

Directed by Michael Ritchie

Starring: Martin Short, Kathleen Turner, Mara Wilson

This children's comedy about an inept male fairy godmother called Murray (Martin Short) is undoubtedly a mess, which is all the more frustrating when the flashes of inspiration indicate what a little more care might have resulted in. The fantasy homages are impeccable, from Murray and his young ward disappearing in a whirlwind of paper like Robert De Niro in Brazil, to Kathleen Turner as a witch who disappears into the watery mirror from Cocteau's The Blood of a Poet. Many of the effects are very inventive, such as when Murray turns to jelly and oozes down a staircase like a spilt milkshake, but only a tighter screenplay could have redeemed this.

Divine Decadence Season

A new print of von Sternberg's The Blue Angel is the flagship feature of this season, which collects together the cinematic landmarks of the Weimar Republic. But it is Fritz Lang's M which you should excuse yourself from weddings and funerals - your own or other people's - to see. It's a chilling masterpiece, both fearless and fearsome, which dares to immerse itself and its audience in unmotivated evil. Also in the season: Pabst's Pandora's Box and The Threepenny Opera, those parades of immorality in disguise.

For further details of the Divine Decadence Season call the Everyman Cinema, London NW3, 0171-435 1525 or the NFT, London SE1 on 0171-928 3232.

The other films reviewed here open around the country today

Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

    £26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

    Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

    £24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

    £22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence