NEW FILMS

THE WINGS OF THE DOVE

(15)

Director: Iain Softley

Starring: Helena Bonham Carter, Linus Roache

There needs to be another term by which we might describe film adaptations of novels which mould, or reinterpret, the source text. With a picture like The Wings of the Dove, the credit "based on the novel by Henry James" just isn't appropriate - it suggests an almost logical progression, as though the ideas and themes contained within the novel were being taken up by the screenwriter in a kind of literary relay race, which isn't the case. You couldn't argue that The Wings of the Dove was faithful to its source in any conventional sense, though it displays another sort of loyalty; it feels like a dream about James's novel, rather than an adaptation of it, which is perhaps the only sensible way for a film-maker to approach this most famously interior of writers.

The picture shifts the action of the novel forward by eight years to 1910, which gives the director, Iain Softley, the chance to pull off some key scenes whose visual potency rests on locations and props specific to the era. The film opens in a seedy London Underground carriage, where the cluster of murky brown suits and bowlers is interrupted by the blue plumage on the hat worn by Kate Croy (Helena Bonham Carter). It may be that this bold effect is only a whisker away from having Kate trot in wearing a platinum wig and a badge proclaiming "Femme fatales do it in stilettos", but the brashness feels rude and devilish.

If Kate's entrance doubles for a statement of intent from Softley, then what follows feels like he and his screenwriter, Hossein Amini, are scribbling graffiti in the margins of the novel. Kate tempts her lover, the journalist Merton Densher (Linus Roache), into an elevator, where their clinch immediately punctures the taut sexual tension that is characteristic of James. As you watch Kate and Merton writhing behind the lift's iron shutters, it becomes clear that Softley and Amini are not prepared to be coy about the extent to which these characters are trapped by passion.

The film is full of images of imprisonment, self-imposed or otherwise. There are repeated shots of Merton being denied access to a woman who remains ensconced in her chamber. At the beginning of the picture, he is turned away from Kate's door, on the orders of her aunt, who wishes her to wed a more respectable suitor, as Kate watches from her window. Later, he receives the same treatment when he arrives to visit Milly (Alison Elliott), the dying American heiress with whom he has travelled to Venice as an unwitting pawn in Kate's get-rich-quick scheme. One of the final shots in the film is of Kate curled naked on Merton's bed, an image which might suggest rebirth if it were not filmed through the bars of the bedstead, transforming Kate's sanctuary into her prison.

STARSHIP TROOPERS

(15) HH

Director: Paul Verhoeven

Starring: Casper Van Dien

I giggled my way through Starship Troopers and, at the end, I still wasn't sure exactly what I had been laughing at. It's a broad spoof of war propaganda - an exercise in gung-ho-ho. It would be incorrect to say that the film works on many different levels, since it rarely works at all, though you might say that it is open to a baffling number of different interpretations. It appears to both celebrate and satirise the blond- haired, blue-eyed space cadets who are despatched from their futuristic fascist homeland to battle the Bugs - giant-killer arachnids bent on universal domination. The director, Paul Verhoeven, devotes much of the film to these cadets and their boring, competitive lives, ticking off a check-list of the components of teenage soap opera: the love triangles, the parental conflict, even the bland colours and prosaic camerawork. You don't care when most of the characters get sliced to ribbons in the second half, and Verhoeven doesn't want you to - it's just a big, perverse joke. You either go with it or you don't. And, even if you do, the movie can still leave you feeling lousy, like the worst sitcoms or fast food.

The Bugs themselves are agreeably nasty, lunging and jabbing with their scissor-blade limbs, swarming over the horizon like a platoon of Swiss Army knives. The battle scenes provide flashes of pure, vicious slapstick - when a Bug swallows a grenade, there's even a cartoon gulping noise on the soundtrack before the creature erupts, covering innocent bystanders in a mucous of bolognaise chowder. It's like hard-core pornography for Rentokil men.

WRITTEN ON THE WIND

(NC) HHHH

Director: Douglas Sirk

Starring: Rock Hudson

If you are looking for something soothing after Starship Troopers, don't turn to the re-release of Douglas Sirk's intoxicating 1956 melodrama for comfort. It's something of a relief that they don't make 'em like this any more - if they did, we would all be on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Robert Stack, Lauren Bacall, Dorothy Malone and Rock Hudson are caught up in a tornado of rampant sexuality and scorching jealousy.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
people
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in What If
filmReview: Actor swaps Harry Potter for Cary Grant in What If
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

    Systems Developer Technical Lead

    £65000 - £70000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based i...

    Energy Engineer

    £25000 - £30000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy En...

    Techincal Accountant-Insurance-Bank-£550/day

    £475 - £550 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Technical Accountant-Insuran...

    Sales Representative, Leicester

    £25-£30k Plus Car: Charter Selection: Major well established nationwide market...

    Day In a Page

    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
    Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

    But could his predictions of war do the same?
    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

    Young at hort

    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

    Beyond a joke

    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

    A wild night out

    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

    It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
    Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

    Besiktas vs Arsenal

    Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

    The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

    Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment