Director: Goran Paskaljevic Starring: Tom Conti, Miki Manojlovic (15)
This gentle drama about immigrants trying to make their way in America, is nicely acted but desperately short on ideas and insight. Miki Manojlovic, who audiences will recognise from Emir Kusturica's Underground, plays Bayo, who is living with his Spanish friend, Alonso (Tom Conti), in a corner of New York where anything can happen. Yes, this is magic realism territory, though, without the audacity of last year's Rough Magic, it looks a little too polite to prove entirely successful. Without the revered green card, Bayo is forced to do whatever crummy jobs are offered to him, but when his troublesome eldest son, Luka, arrives in America, it's a different story. Luka is enterprising and exploitative, but by seizing the notion of the American Dream, he is set to dwarf his father's meagre achievements.
Any film about immigrants in America must doff its cap to the Statue of Liberty, and Someone Else's America obliges with some hauntingly misty shots of the imposing landmark. But it has nothing pertinent to say about the immigrant experience, and its characters never really develop. Only Luka himself is in any way ambiguous, and as played by the devilish Sergej Trifunovic, he provides the few sparks in a disappointingly tepid film.
Director: Doug Liman Starring: Jon Favreau (15)
Thanks to Swingers, there could be an array of new catchphrases doing the rounds this summer - expect your more impressionable male friends to declare themselves to be "money" and to suggest a tour of parties in a quest to find "the beautiful babies". It's to the credit of the brilliant Vince Vaughn, who plays Trent, the owner of this idiosyncratic vocabulary, that all this turns out to be more endearing than irritating. Trent and Mike (played by Jon Favreau, who also wrote the sparkling screenplay) are a couple of would-be actors who spend their lives hanging out in Hollywood's clubs. Trent is a fast-talking, boyish charmer who is rarely without a girlfriend; Mike is a tragic obsessive who can't stop thinking about the woman he moved to LA to forget. The film follows their various attempts to be cool, meet cool women, and generally convince themselves that they are the bee's knees - or rather, "the money". Despite an extended homage to Reservoir Dogs, it's a warm and witty Diner for the Nineties.
Director: Ash Starring: Darling Narita (18)
Taking off from much the same starting point as the chilling Canadian thriller I Love a Man in Uniform - citizen steals police uniform and exploits the power gained from wearing it - this freewheeling and often slyly funny film is most successful when wringing the comedy from desperate situations. Where it comes unstuck is in trying to impose weighty rhetoric onto a scenario already heavy with ethical complexities.
Darling Narita is the budding actress who turns temporary cop after a really bad day - first a director takes advantage of her, and then she is assaulted by a police officer. Despite being your average, obese, doughnut-chomping cop, his uniform proves a surprisingly snug fit on the avenging angel, and she sets out to redress the balance of power in Los Angeles. But, as she discovers, wearing any uniform carries its own penalties. Even at 98 minutes, too many scenes seem duplicated, but as a series of loose sketches on the theme of power and identity, it has considerable verve and wit.
Director: John Dahl Starring: Linda Fiorentino, Ray Liotta (15)
After breathing new life into modern noir, director John Dahl changes tack completely with this bizarre thriller in which Ray Liotta tries to find the identity of his wife's killer by injecting her cerebral spinal fluid into his own bloodstream. This batty process has been originated by scientist Linda Fiorentino, but her subjects, until now, have been lab rats, so she tags along to chart his progress. It may lack the punch of its closest cousin, Strange Days, but it remains shameless good fun.
STEPHEN KING'S THINNER
Director: Tom Holland Starring: Joe Mantegna (18)
The best Stephen King adaptations - Carrie or The Shining - are infused with a unique directorial vision which elevates King's sensationalist prose. But the worst, like this flat interpretation, simply recycle the original novel's ideas. The plot is typical King. An obese lawyer (Robert John Burke) accidentally kills a gypsy woman; the woman's father touches Burke's face and whispers the word "thinner". After which, the former heavyweight finds that the pounds simply fall off him until he looks almost ready to hit the catwalk. Director Tom Holland shoots in a bland, TV-movie style, and the script's descent into knowing parody smacks of desperation.
GET ON THE BUS
Director: Spike Lee Starring: Isaiah Washington (15)
A partial return to form for Spike Lee, this charts the evolving relationships among a coach-load of black men on their way to attend Louis Farrakhan's Million Man March in Washington. The way that Lee teases out the various political and emotional differences in these disparate souls may be banal, but there's enough hint of the passion which fuelled Do The Right Thing to suggest that Lee has still got life in him yet.
Director: Laurent Bouhnik Starring: Julie Gayet (18)
A gritty look at life in the margins, focusing on the relationship between a young prostitute Nathalie (Julie Gayet), and her drug-dealing brother Tof. Their lives become more complicated when the owner of a shop Tof has robbed becomes infatuated with Nathalie.
MURDER AT 1600
Director: Dwight Little Starring: Wesley Snipes (15)
Hot on the heels of Absolute Power comes another plodding political thriller which begins with a murder at the White House. Wesley Snipes investigates, Daniel Benzali and Alan Alda are wasted as the shady characters lurking at the president's side.Reuse content