Film: Video Watch

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Con Air (15), Touchstone

When Don Simpson died last year, it seemed fitting that the man who had spent most of his career producing rubbish passed away on the toilet.

Occasionally, as with Beverly Hills Cop, it was entertaining rubbish, but mostly he chose to evacuate his high-concept no-brainers with no such ambition. With Con Air, however, his erstwhile partner, Jerry Bruckheimer, seems intent on making amends.

A victim of rough justice, Nic Cage, is being transferred by plane the day of his release when the aircraft is hijacked by a criminal mastermind (John Malkovich) and assorted stars of the US penal system. Given the chance to leave the plane, Cage shows what an all-round brick he is by postponing a reunion with his wife and daughter and choosing to stay on board to help a diabetic fellow con. For those after well-executed guns- and-bangs set-pieces, Simon West's frenetic direction more than delivers. Writer Scott Rosenberg's screenplay is thankfully well aware of its own inanity.

An early montage sequence, for instance, shows Cage passing his time in prison learning Spanish and macrami, as well as inventing ever-more tortuous variants on the press-up. In addition to Malkovich, the mayhem is leavened by the presence of John Cusack, Colm Meaney and Steve Buscemi as a Hannibal Lecter-ish serial killer, all of whom seem to enjoy their blockbuster sojourns. Cage is perfect, too: the comically self-piteous expression of Deputy Dawg grafted on to the body of Arnold Schwarzenegger.


Snow White: A Tale of Terror (15), Polygram

Just so as we know the director's sound revisionist intentions, the Brothers Grimm get a high-profile credit on Michael Cohn's adaptation.

That the fairy-tale collectors appear to be presented on the sleeve as successors to the Coens' indy crown - The Grimm Brothers, if you please - shows we can't expect anything too radical, however.

Harking back to the anthologised Victorian version of the tale rather than Walt Disney's animated classic, Cohn vividly restores a degree of Snow White's original psycho-sexual eeriness. A suitably glacial Sigourney Weaver has won the heart of aristocrat Sam Neill but is less successful in winning over the daughter from his dead first wife. And though Sigourney is very protective of her family heirloom, a mirror, it is not until she blames her stepdaughter for her stillborn son that she starts having conversations with it. We may be asked to see her as a psychologically disturbed over- achiever, but Cohn ensures there is a touch of the wicked witch about Sigourney's performance. He also includes at least one vertically-challenged prole in the band of oppressed social outcasts that Snow White falls in with. Even if the film isn't as faithful to the middle European myth as it thinks it is, these politically correct undertones are actually good fun. With some simple effects and unfussy direction, Cohn also manages to retain the fabulous quality of the tale. As long as you don't expect A Company of Wolves, it's not bad.


Mike Higgins