If all that urban angst has you reaching for a Mills and Boon, why not rent a superior slice of romantic escapism in the form of Stealing Beauty (15) Fox Guild, 3 Mar. Set in lush Tuscan countryside, this picture-postcard of a film is something of a holiday for director Bernardo Bertolucci after his weighty oriental trilogy - The Last Emperor, The Sheltering Sky and Little Buddha. The movie follows the fate of a young American woman (the nubile Liv Taylor, above) who arrives at the idyllic Italian villa of some ex-pat friends, upsets the equilibrium of the clique and loses her virginity to one of many hopeful contenders. What is really enjoyable about the film, however, is not its scanty plot, or the prospect of Taylor in scanty summer outfits, but lyrical camera work, great ensemble performances and a grunge soundtrack, which, heard through the ears of the young heroine, makes a nice counterpoint to the tourist-brochure images.
Two blockbusting action movies, of very different sensibilities, got lost in a glut of good releases last week: Eraser (18) Warner, out now and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (U) Buena Vista, out now. The first stars Schwarzenegger in the familiar role of robotic hero, protecting the government's precious charges in the witness protection programme. Needless to say, this involves more than door-stepping in a bullet-proof vest. Pumped-up with all the usual action and testosterone, the film sees Arnie leaping from the sky and grappling alligators in New York Zoo - a sequence which has him deliver one of his wonderfully pre- programmed gags as he dispatches the beasts: "You're luggage". The second is Disney's darkest cartoon yet, a Gothic romance worth seeing purely for the gorgeously detailed animation, which conjures a vertiginous cathedral from nothing but a few deft lines.
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