Voices

Something unusual happened on American television last week: a drama finished its first season with all the loose ends tied up. There were no cliffhangers. No teasing hints at stories to come. The show in question was Hostages, which started on Channel 4 last night, and it is adding to the stirrings of a television revolution.

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.

The Sunday Preview: From hostage to kidnapper, in one easy move

THE NEXT in our series of film previews for readers is a movie with a real difference: it's British. Or rather Anglo-Irish. It's The Crying Game, directed by Neil Jordan and produced by Stephen Woolley - the team that made Mona Lisa and The Company of Wolves. Stephen Rea (above), fresh from his stage success as a hostage in Someone Who'll Watch over Me, plays a kidnapper, an IRA man with a

BOOK REVIEW / On the trail of dropped names: Tom Shone on a bold attempt by Phillip Kerr to merge the hunt for a serial murderer with a taste for philosophical puzzles. 'A Philosophical Investigation' - Phillip Kerr: Chatto & Windus, 14.99 pounds

EVER SINCE we came across Dr Lecter feigning sleep on his bunk, Alexandre Dumas' Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine lying open on his chest, thriller writers have been falling over themselves to furnish their killers with the same finely-tuned aesthetic antennae as Thomas Harris's well-mannered monster in The Silence of the Lambs. The soundtrack to slaughter in Phillip Kerr's new thriller may be Schubert's Piano Trio in B flat and not the Goldberg Variations, Lecter's own favourite, but this detail is typical of the novels caught up in Harris's wake. A Philosophical Investigation is full, not so much of differences from Harris's novels as of ex-similarities - similarities that have been anxiously smudged, disguised, tweaked into differences.
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