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While You Were Sleeping is a romantic comedy with Sandra Bullock (right), the spirited star of Speed and Demolition Man, and Bill Pullman, who at last gets a crack at a leading role after playing a long succession of nerds. The director is John Turtletaub, who made last year's unexpected hit, the enjoyable "Jamaican bobsledding" comedy Cool Runnings.

FILM / Picture that majors on motion: No characters, no motives, no trickery: 'Speed' is a film like no other, and a hit. Mary Harron talks to the people behind it

IT IS safe to bet that none of the Hollywood executives behind Speed has ever been on a bus in Los Angeles. No one in Los Angeles takes the bus; no one, that is, with the slightest access to money or power or position. Those who do are the working poor, mainly black and Hispanic. They wait at the stop slumped in resignation, knowing they are excluded from the city's rapid pulse, knowing that if a bus ever does arrive it will take hours to crawl downtown. One of Speed's many in-jokes is its title.

CINEMA / A premise that promises too much: In Keanu Reeves, the action genre may have found the hero it has been holding out for. He assumes so little, and beguiles so many

JAN DE BONT'S action-thriller Speed (15) opens to the sound of clanging machinery and the sight of sleek, metallic surfaces. We are down a lift shaft, but at least, thanks to De Bont's sinuous camera, we are moving, which is more than can be said for the lift's passengers. They are stalled in a cage primed by Dennis Hopper to blow up - caught between an explosion and a hard place. This drama is merely the prelude (at 30 minutes, rather a lengthy one) to the main action. But it sets the tone. For Speed is a machine itself, a lurching juggernaut, providing a bus-ride into an unreal world where the laws of logic and likelihood are replaced by those of suspense.

Sue, Grabbit and Write: John Grisham, king of the American lawyers-turned-thriller-writers, has sold 40 million copies in the US alone. Books like The Firm put an anti-Establishment twist on a conservative genre now obsessed, like his country, by the law

AT THE beginning of John Grisham's The Firm - already one of the most successful novels ever published, with its shelf-life far from finished - the Harvard law graduate Mitch McDeere is offered everything: a vast salary and bonus scheme, a BMW, a low-interest mortgage. Think of one of Reagan's speeches on economics, and then double that. It is all in Mitch's contract.

FILM / On release: Sheila Johnston's choice

-------------------------------------------------------------- SHEILA JOHNSTON'S CHOICE -------------------------------------------------------------- 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Tokyo Story 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .The Piano 3. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Naked 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .The Stranger 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Demolition Man ---------------------------------------------------------------

FILM / Sheila Johnston's choice

----------------------------------------------------------------- 1. The Piano 2. Naked 3. The Stranger 4. Raining Stones 5. Demolition Man -----------------------------------------------------------------

FILM / In the best of tastelessness

Hurting people is not a good thing,' pronounces Sylvester Stallone's rogue cop, nicknamed the Demolition Man (15) for his rough-house methods. Then, pausing as the full enormity of this statement dawns on him, he adds, 'Well . . . sometimes it is.' Like many action pictures these days, Demolition Man wants to have its beefcake and eat it.
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