Arts and Entertainment

Could Japanese Godzilla beat American Godzilla? And how big is the Starship Enterprise? At last, some answers...

$200m buys a lot of water

WATERWORLD Kevin Reynolds (12)

VIDEO RELEASES Never trust a video by its cover

Two new titles this month come packaged in dual covers, a practice that crops up in the video industry whenever it's thought that a touch more raunch might boost a title's chances. In some cases, the alternative covers are employed to target a specific audience. For example, Tartan Video's simultaneous rental / retail release of the excellent Mexican vampire film Cronos (£15.99) has one cover for the buyers - a moody black- and-white shot - and one for the renters - a brightly coloured design depicting a naked woman leaning heavenwards. The fact that there are no naked women in the movie doesn't seem to have deterred Tartan from going for the loins.

CINEMA / Arnie in almost-human shock

THESE DAYS only two things are certain in movies: death and James Cameron's grosses. Imagine your life depended on making a hit. (If you already do this, you are running a Hollywood studio.) Your first phone call should go to Cameron, even before Spielberg. He has everything it takes to make a blockbuster: the smartness to second-guess the market; the boldness to dare - but not too far; the logistical and leadership skills of a Field Marshal; the intelligence to know better; the ruthlessness not to care. All of Cameron's hits have started from beguiling ideas - science fiction bumps into philosophy in The Terminator's speculations on time-travel - which are then bludgeoned into submission by hi-tech special effects. Following the pattern, his new film, True Lies (15), flirts with thoughts about spying and split personality, before settling

Epic film triumphs after costs go nuclear

THE OPENING in Britain of True Lies, the latest coupling of sinew with cinema, rekindles a question that has been niggling at Hollywood's finer minds. How on earth did the movie, one of the season's big hits in America, come to cost such an astronomical sum?

FILM / Consider this a disaster: Adam Mars-Jones is stunned by the new Schwarzenegger vehicle, True Lies, 'an explosion in a script conference'

Every now and then there comes a film with the power to bring criticism to its knees, whimpering. Such a film is the opposite of a masterpiece, nothing so humble as a failure but an astounding condensation of everything that can go wrong with a project. True Lies, the new Arnold Schwarzenegger action adventure, is just such a reverse classic or anti-paragon.

Woman charged over murders

WENDY Davies, 18, of South Belfast, was remanded in custody by Belfast magistrates yesterday, charged with aiding and abetting the murder, by persons not before the court, of Mark Rodgers and James Cameron, council binmen shot dead on 26 October. She was also charged with possessing a sub-machine

Jill Tweedie: a woman of sparkling wit

JILL TWEEDIE has died, aged 59. She was an emblem for all that was best about the early years of the women's movement. She reflected the excitement, energy and optimism of liberal feminists who were prepared to argue their case with wit and humour, and at the same time retain affection and concern for the poor male creatures who needed to modify their ways. Not for her the stridency of radical feminists who were to split the sisterhood and set back the cause.

CINEMA / Too many kicks, and not enough punch

JEAN-CLAUDE Van Damme sounds like a curse from the Low Countries, and that's a pretty fair summary of his acting too. Like Steven Seagal, he started in karate, martial arts having replaced the Method as the Hollywood leading man's schooling. His early films were cheap but effective: ruthless kick-boxing extravaganzas, in which his lines could fit on a karate block. Van Damme turned down an offer from the Paris Opera Ballet to train as a dancer, and there was a balletic beauty to his kicks to the head. He couldn't put his foot in his mouth because he was too busy putting it in other people's.

FILM / Between the devil and the deep blue sea: Kevin Jackson on the release of James Cameron's director's cut of The Abyss, with a restored 28 minutes of footage. Plus Nowhere to Run and I Was On Mars

REVIEWERS who give away the endings of films can be held indefinitely under the Prevention of Spoilsports Act (1922) and with some justice. However, since it would be virtually impossible to describe how James Cameron's new director's cut The Abyss: Special Edition (12) differs in any substantial way from the regular old Abyss without mentioning its last half-hour, the risk of legal action must be taken. Readers who missed it four years ago, or who happen not to have heard rumours about what was really lurking down in that deep-sea trench, are advised to skip several paragraphs to the title Nowhere to Run.

FILM / Death and the maiden

ALIEN3 (18) sets the seal on an extraordinary series of films, mainstream entertainment firmly in the tradition of I-can't-bear-to-look-but-I-can't-look-away which nevertheless touch on some incongruously ambitious themes. While, say, Tim Burton's Batman films sacrifice the dynamism of their genre to the look but not the reality of art cinema, first-time director David Fincher's Alien3 delivers images of an often extraordinary beauty without letting the adrenalin level of its narrative drop much below the maximum.
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