The Independent film guide

WASHINGTON SQUARE

(PG) HH

Director: Agnieszka Holland

Starring: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Albert Finney, Ben Chaplin, Maggie Smith

Bringing up the rear of the latest Henry James boom comes the story of the mousy New York heiress (Jennifer Jason Leigh) whose dour father (Albert Finney) forbids her marriage to a dashing but penniless suitor (Ben Chaplin).

In the hands of Polish director Agnieszka Holland, it is tasteful and carefully observed, but distinctly lacking in passion, with the central trio so muted that Maggie Smith is allowed to steal the show as Leigh's interfering aunt. Besides, William Wyler did it all so much better in his 1949 version, The Heiress.

THE GENERAL

(15) HHHH

Director: John Boorman

Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Adrian Dunbar, Sean McGinley, Angeline Ball, Jon Voight

John Boorman's best film in two decades charts the violent, colourful career of Dublin gangster Martin Cahill, who ran rings round the Gardai with a succession of increasingly audacious heists before the IRA put him out of business in 1994.

Beautifully shot in black-and-white, it's incongruously jaunty and lyrical in tone. But Boorman gets away with it thanks to a larger-than-life performance from Brendan Gleeson, which has you warming to Cahill's defiant individualism even as you recoil from the brutality his lifestyle entailed.

See Interview, p4-5.

WISHMASTER

(18) H

Director: Robert Kurtzman

Starring: Tammy Lauren, Andrew Divoff, Robert Englund

Transforming the djinn of Arabian legend from pantomime figure-of-fun to movie monster might seem like a shrewd idea for a horror franchise. But despite the recommendation "Wes Craven presents" (whatever that means, since he's not credited as director, writer or producer), there's little trace of the Scream director's ironic touch in this turgid gorefest about an evil spirit running amok in the art world after it's released from an ancient Persian jewel.

"Forget Robin Williams," quips one character as they try to describe the genie's evil nature, but frankly his hairy back is a lot scarier than any of the latex on display here.

THE JAMES GANG

(15) HH

Director: Mike Barker

Starring: John Hannah, Helen McCrory, Jason Flemyng, Toni Collette

Desperate Scottish mum Helen McCrory turns to armed robbery with four kids and hopeless boyfriend John Hannah in tow, leading uptight policewoman Toni Collette on a cross-country chase from London to the wilds of North Wales.

Mike Barker's feature debut moves fast and looks fantastic, but never makes up its mind whether it's supposed to be a hard-hitting social drama, a knockabout comedy, a tense psychological thriller or a shaggy-dog road movie. The kids are great, though. DARK CITY

(15) HHH

Director: Alex Proyas

Starring: Rufus Sewell, Kiefer Sutherland, Jennifer Connelly, William Hurt

Alex Proyas, director of The Crow, returns with another over-the-top urban nightmare, as amnesiac suspected serial-killer Rufus Sewell flees through the night, pursued by dour inspector William Hurt, syringe-wielding psychiatrist Kiefer Sutherland and Richard "Rocky Horror Show" O'Brien as one of a sinister, Homburg-hatted breed of aliens known as "The Strangers".

What starts off as a hugely imaginative pastiche of film noir and German expressionism soon spins off into the stratosphere of mind-boggling sci- fi mumbo-jumbo, but it's done with complete conviction and lashings of morbid style.

AFTERGLOW

(15) HHH

Director: Alan Rudolph

Starring: Nick Nolte, Julie Christie, Lara Flynn Boyle, Jonny Lee Miller

Two couples - fiftysomethings Nolte and Christie, and twentysomethings Boyle and Miller - swap partners and wry aphorisms in the latest urbane romantic comedy from writer-director Alan Rudolph (Choose Me, The Moderns).

The plot may be the stuff of farce, but the mood is melancholy, mysterious and ultimately - thanks to Julie Christie's wonderful, Oscar-nominated performance as a washed-up B-movie actress - very moving. The rest of the cast are excellent too, not least Jonny Lee Miller, a long, long way from Trainspotting, as a repressed Montreal yuppie.

John Wrathall

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
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

    Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

    £35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

    Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

    £45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

    Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

    £60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power