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.

Voices
voicesExclusive: Pete Doherty on drugs and his demons
Sport
footballLIVE: All the latest from today's late game at the Emirates
News
newsNew images splice vintage WWII photos with modern-day setting
Sport
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
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

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

    £45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

    Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Account Manager

    £20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Sales Account Manager...

    Day In a Page

    US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

    Immigration: Obama's final frontier

    The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
    Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

    Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

    Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
    Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

    You know that headache you’ve got?

    Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
    Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

    Scoot commute

    Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
    Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

    The Paul Robeson story

    How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
    10 best satellite navigation systems

    Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

    Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
    Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

    Paul Scholes column

    England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
    Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

    Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

    Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
    Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

    Frank Warren column

    Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
    Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

    Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

    Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
    Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

    'How do you carry on? You have to...'

    The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
    Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

    Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

    Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

    'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

    Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
    Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

    Sir John Major hits out at theatres

    Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
    Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

    Kicking Barbie's butt

    How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines