John Lyttle on film

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Indy Lifestyle Online
There's this unpredictable something the movie business calls word-of-mouth. It's that grass-roots buzz that perversely shrugs off hype and can destroy a big-budget "blockbuster" (Last Action Hero). It can also pick up a small-scale frippery and make it a hit (While You Were Sleeping) and, for good or ill, rescue the critically lambasted and put it into profit (Disclosure).

More provocatively, it also creates cults: films that won't make a penny no matter what, or gain a glowing reputation, but will quickly gather a band of near- fanatical followers. Witness Miami Rhapsody (below), a romantic comedy generally, if genially, dismissed by most reviewers, but, if you go down to the cinema today, already being watched by the charmed for the second or third or fourth time.

The big question: why?

Unfortunately, there's no big answer. There seldom is for cult hits. Oh, Miami Rhapsody is well performed (Sarah Jessica Parker's addled ad writer confirms her as a star), and it plays like a kinder, gentler Woody Allen flick - writer/director David Frankel not only likes but enjoys his characters in a way Allen long ago ceased to do. Line by line, it's currently the funniest picture around, but as there's never a dearth of cuddly Hollywood comedy about love and life, that doesn't explain why it's the next piece of celluloid for covert canonisation.

Go figure: we are talking about a status that embraces not only Miami Rhapsody but The Honeymoon Killers, Gun Crazy and the Carry On canon. Well, that's the magic of movies. And that's the magic of word-of-mouth.