Arts and Entertainment

Nicholas Jarecki DVD/Blu-ray (106mins)

BOOK REVIEW / Life-affirming malice: If you're talking to me your career must be in trouble - Joe Queenan: Picador, pounds 5.99

ANYONE not already familiar with Joe Queenan's work for American magazines like Rolling Stone and Movieline can get a good idea of what to expect from this collection by a quick flick through the index. 'Sting - outacted by dwarf . . . Streisand, Barbra - dates man who married Melanie Griffiths twice'. Queenan expresses the sort of thoughts that many of us might have but do not quite articulate. In Britain, where attitudes towards film stars are less deferential, Queenan's irreverence about Hollywood is not the novelty it is in America. But his flip, corrosive style and obvious love for the subject carry him through, so when he insists that these pieces were 'written in a spirit of cheerful, life-affirming malice, not the noxious, downbeat variety' you believe him.

Interview: So what's it all about, Adam?: Now 53, a philosophical Adam Faith has come out as an Artist. He looks back at the life he left behind as a Sixties pop star and City wheeler-dealer before returning to the stage in 'Alfie'

Adam Faith is at home in here, a monarch in his kingdom, first-naming managers, joking with waiters, purring when recognised. I suggest moving to a corner, out of sight, for our chat, but no, this suits him fine, he wants to stay front of stage, bang in the middle of the lounge, able to see and be seen, one eye over my shoulder for the next arrival.

CINEMA / Is there life after Morticia?: Anjelica Huston is Hollywood's nearly woman. Now 42, with some great performances behind her, she deserves better. David Thomson reports

ANJELICA HUSTON could play Morticia Addams with one arm tied behind her back, or with that acid Mona Lisa smile tucked underneath her arm. If it came to it, and if the special-effects people were deft enough, she and Raul Julia's Gomez could play ping-pong with their heads, relishing every wickedly sliced backhand, and exchanging malicious one- liners as their heads passed at the net.

VIDEO / 1492: Conquest of Paradise (15; Guild)

Lumpen quincentennial epic, only partially redeemed by stunning photography and design. A box-office failure for Ridley Scott and a huge disappointment after Thelma & Louise.

FILM / Horse trading continues for award favourites: American gambling laws preclude much legal betting on the Oscars. Sheila Johnston speaks to a British bookie about the latest odds

ALTHOUGH the Oscars are the object of the fiercest speculation in Hollywood, Californian gambling restrictions preclude formal betting on the outcome, according to Graham Sharpe of the William Hill betting chain. 'People have even flown over to Britain on Concorde to bet on the presidential elections,' he says.

THEATRE / What's it all about, Alfie?: Nick Curtis reviews Alfie, newly arrived in the West End, plus the best of the Fringe

BEFORE the touchy-feely Nineties man has even begun to flash his reconstructed credentials on stage, a pre-emptive strike has been launched by the old lads. First John Osborne exhumed Jimmy Porter for a misogynistic reprise in Dejavu. Then the National Theatre's revival proved that the charming sheen had worn off Billy Liar. Now the ultimate post-war wide-boy has returned: Bill Naughton's Alfie rears his roguish head at the Queen's Theatre.

FILM / Search for oil strikes gold: Lorenzo's Oil (12); Honeymoon in Vegas (12); Under Siege (15); Romper Stomper (18); Leon the Pig Farmer (15)

STRIDENT but sincere, Lorenzo's Oil is an illness movie that jerks thoughts as well as tears. Early on we see the ailing Lorenzo, aged five, paraded before a lecture theatre of medical students. Tier upon tier of starchy white uniforms stare at him. He stands on the stage, alone save for a doctor asking him to take a few paces. His walk is tortured and unbalanced. When he calls to his mother, his speech is a faltering blur. His head, with its few wisps of hair, resembles a coconut. At first you're unsettled by this exploitation, but you come to believe the end justifies the means: Lorenzo's exposure may advance science; scruples won't. The movie is the same, worrying you, and then winning you over. It's about the uneasy relationship between suffering and science.

FILM / Oil on troubled waters: Lorenzo's Oil (12)

The film genre that deals with ordeals of illness has a social-conscience side to it - raising public awareness of particular medical conditions - but it has stronger affinities with the horror film. By being shown extreme versions of mortality we are allowed to think of our own more prosaic fatedness as optional. That's why the disease in question tends to be rare, in films that convert unacknowledged fears into artificial sympathy (Mask, say, or Awakenings). So Adrenoleukodystrophy - ALD - a congenital disease that had only been identified for a few years before five-year-old Lorenzo Odone was diagnosed with it in 1984, a condition too rare to attract much in the way of research dollars, should be the perfect candidate for a bracing weepy, the sort of film that encourages viewers to feel there but for the grace of God . . . - code in this context for I'm all right, Jack, and much better for having given my tear ducts an aerobic workout.

FILM / Miller's crossing: There's a lot of Mad Max in the medical weepie Lorenzo's Oil. No, really. George Miller explains why to Sheila Johnston

DESPITE everything, he will probably always be known as the Mad Max man. At a time when the Australian New Wave was rolling gently along on a crest of picture-book costume drama, it caused quite a sensation, the terminally stylish, energetic, hyper-active Mad Max trilogy. 'All-stops-out, fast-moving exploitation,' Variety said, typically. Their author, George Miller, seemed like a Southern Hemisphere cousin of the emerging generation of Hollywood movie brats. He was frequently compared to Spielberg.

Health: Can Lorenzo's oil really help Glenn?: The tale of a 'miracle' cure for a fatal genetic disease has become a Hollywood film. But, says Liz Hunt, not everyone is convinced

This is Glenn Stafford's big week. On Friday the film Lorenzo's Oil opens in Britain and Glenn will be famous. Not as famous as Lorenzo Odone, the boy from Washington DC whose story is related in the film, but famous enough for a 10-year-old from Stanford le Hope in Essex.

FILM/ The Oscars: The merest whiff of a scandal: 'And the sinner is . . .' Phil Reeves reports on pre-ceremony jitters from Los Angeles; plus nominations and odds

THERE is always belly-aching about the inequity of film awards and this year's Oscars are graced by a spat over Scent of a Woman, a comedy-drama in which Al Pacino's blind military veteran takes a schoolboy on a binge to New York.

FILM / The bare necessities of life: The flesh is weak, but its appeal at the box-office is stronger than ever. John Lyttle offers a scene by scene guide to movie seduction

Sex at the movies doesn't always happen in the back row. Since the Sixties Louis B Mayer's catch-all dictum 'Don't show the bodily functions]' has been discarded in favour of ever more graphic D-I-Y kits showing the public how to assemble the two-backed beast. More and more often 'it' is laid bare across the Silver Screen, in close-up, moans, groans, goosebumps, ice-picks, extras and all.

Made by men, shuddered at by women: Geraldine Bedell observes the effects of the fashionable 'New Brutalism' in the cinema

BLOOD oozed slowly from a stomach, an ear was messily severed, a blade sawed into flesh. And this was supposed to be entertainment. 'Sickening,' said one woman coming out of the cinema. 'We were supposed to be going for a meal, but I can't face it now,' said another. The film was Reservoir Dogs, and many women have been put off going to see it at all, so lasciviously has the publicity focused on its brutality. Some of us feel we've seen those films before, where the camera lingers lovingly on the bruises; films with pretensions to be Art, in which the lesions tone with the frocks. There is a rash of them on release at the moment (Man Bites Dog, Bad Lieutenant, Romper Stomper): films with shocking, intimate scenes of violence, serving much the same function as all those obligatory sex scenes in the Sixties.

FILM / Reading between the lines: Audiences and the camera love her, but Hollywood can't figure out what it has on its hands. John Micklethwait meets Geena Davis, Sex Goddess, feminist and actress

A SWELTERING day in Los Angeles, and Geena Davis is finishing Anna Karenina. She is always reading books, 'usually 10 at a time'. And this in Hollywood, where a book is either a script recipe or a personality prop on a coffee table. But then Davis is no ordinary actress. Now 35, she has gone from dead home-owner (Beetlejuice) to Most Wanted housewife (Thelma & Louise) and now to Dottie Hinson, star catcher of an all-woman baseball team. The film is A League of Their Own - a summer hit in the States, co-starring Madonna and Tom Hanks. On set, Madonna just messed around. Davis read Henry James. If the husbands and highways of America weren't ready for Thelma & Louise, Hollywood is still a bit shaken by Davis. 'We all love Geena,' one mogul admits, 'but we don't really understand her.'
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