Arts and Entertainment

In Runner Runner, Justin Timberlake loses a fortune playing online poker, and then flies off to confront the owner of the website, Ben Affleck. But perhaps he could have saved himself the trip if he’d watched a few poker films before logging on.

FILM / Forgiven: For years, thinking people shunned his films. Now Clint Eastwood is one of the most revered public figures in America. As an actor, he has no direct rival. Unless you count Gary Cooper

SEE CLINT run. In his latest film, In the Line of Fire, Clint Eastwood plays a secret-service agent responsible for the protection of the President. There are scenes where he has to be one of the suits running alongside the presidential limousine. Then there are the scenes where he has to double-up the pace and go sprinting after John Malkovich, the fruitiest killer Hollywood has conjured since Norman Bates. Clint does this running himself. The shots may be kindly chosen and edited. But there are scenes where he's running with actors half his age, and there's no evident concession - as there was in Personal Best, say, where real Olympic athletes had to be absent-minded and short-striding so Mariel Hemingway could beat them. Clint can flat-out run still, and he's 63.

FILM / Good Boy, Bad Boy: Hollywood has a quiet obsession with twins. John Lyttle considers the similarities

BORIS Karloff's The Black Room (1935) typifies what's expected of the good twin / bad twin, male order. If women compete to personify a deranged ideal of the feminine, then The Black Room is a primitive struggle for macho dominance. Dumas' The Man in the Iron Mask is perhaps the most naked expression of the equation. It takes the Three Musketeers to save Philippe (Louis Hayward) from conniving Louis XIV and restore the throne of France to order.

GLOSSARY / The trouble with speaking in headlines

POLITICIANS should have learnt by now that metaphor and mass suffering do not mix - or, at the very least, that the public is suspicious of verbal wit when times turn cruel. Douglas Hurd was forcibly reminded of the fact last week when he replied to Baroness Thatcher's operatic intervention on the Bosnian crisis.

CINEMA / Can't see Woody for the tricks

AS Woody Allen's life grows trickier, his art gets tricksier. In Husbands and Wives, his camera juddered about like a nervous tic. In Shadows and Fog, he borrows the full paraphernalia of German Expressionism. The film is set in an unnamed middle-European town (Prague?) at an unspecified time (the 1920s?): a tracing-paper world of slate greys and charcoals, looming shadows and lamps guttering into the gloom. Carlo Di Palma's photography is so murky you could choke on it. The plot is cadged from Fritz Lang's M: a killer on the loose; both law and outlaws anxious to restore the status quo. We see the strangler, in shadow, at the start of the film. With his knee-length cloak, pointy ears, and spatulate fingers, he's a ringer for Murnau's Nosferatu.

ARTS / Absolutely captivating: Play of the Year

THE CHOICE, as usual, has been between accomplished low-key pieces on personal themes, and ambitious public work that fails to take off. Richard Cameron's Pond Life was as truthful and well-written as anything this year; but who outside the Bush wanted to see a group of Doncaster teenagers go on a fishing party? Plenty of people would have been interested in the post-1989 story of a East-European dissident, but when it took the form of John Malkovich servicing a queue of lady spies in his woodland dacha (Dusty Hughes's A Slip of the Tongue), the interest fell off.

VIDEO ROUND-UP / By the light of the tube: John Lyttle reviews new releases including Frankie & Johnny, Def By Temptation and Under Suspicion

FRANKIE & JOHNNY (CIC 15 113 mins). For sour sentimentalists. Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer, both spectacularly miscast, work as a short-order cook and waitress, each leery of emotional entanglement. After many misunderstandings and snappy one-liners and hesitations, the couple uneasily become lovers, just like the characters in the hoary old song. This is condescending Hollywood fakery with wafer-thin pretensions to realism, yet the essential artifice is what makes it, on some silly level, satisfying. You can giggle at the cliches and still be captivated by the prefabricated sitcom feelings. The story also works better on the small screen. Available 17 July.
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