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A Trip to the Cinema - October 2004

What is a good film? Is it one where the performances are top-rate, the direction, production and whole design of the film are just right? If the answer is yes, then COLLATERAL (cert. 15 2hrs.) is a wonderful film! But.and you can sense I have some doubts. My hesitation is due to the fact that the story of the main protagonist is bereft of morals and thus is not at all sympathetic.

Tom Cruise in Collateral
Tom Cruise in Dreamworks' Collateral

Tom Cruise plays Vincent, a contract killer who, by chance, picks on his taxi driver to take him around Los Angeles to kill off a hit-list of witnesses in an impending federal prosecution of a drugs cartel. Jamie Foxx, the cabbie Max has led a perfectly normal life up to this point and now finds himself in a nightmarish situation. His immediate fare before Vincent has been a smart female federal prosecutor (Jada Pinkett-Smith) who engages him in light-hearted banter and leaves him her business card.

Max is a sympathetic character but Cruise, who gives a strong unusual performance as the grey-haired killer, is completely devoid of human kindness. However, the story is well-developed and filmed and there are some terrific shots of the underside of the city of LA. The whole story takes place in one night. It is still playing at local cinemas and so, perhaps, you should take the opportunity to judge it for yourselves.

Morgan Spurlock confronts the McDonald's where he will eat every meal for a month

A super film, excellently presented, Morgan Spurlock's documentary SUPER SIZE ME (cert.12A 1hr. 38mins.) is really worth seeing. Following the genre explored so well by Michael Moore in his films, Spurlock is the Director/Guinea Pig/ Producer. Setting out to discover why Americans are so fat, Spurlock decided to see what would happen if he ate only McDonald's - water included - for an entire month. Making simple rules, he decided that he would always accept supersizing when offered; he had to eat every item on the menu at least once and had to eat 3 meals a day, everyday!

Weighed, measured and examined at the start he was extremely healthy, but, as his vegan chef girlfriend noted, everything deteriorated including his libido! Alongside documenting his month-long fast food binge the film explores the horrors of school lunches (over-sugared, too much fat), declining health and physical education classes, food addictions and the extreme measures people take to lose weight. Much of the information was mind-blowing. Personally, I was concerned that 1 bagel equals 5 slices of bread! Spurlock finished his 30 days in a very unhealthy state and McDonald's has now stopped supersizing. America today, the UK tomorrow. Beware!

Spurlock vomits after his first huge meal but the audience can be driven to vomit by THE ISLE (cert. 18 1hr. 29mins), A korean film where the 2 male and female leads do unspeakable things with fish hooks and IN MY SKIN (Dans Ma Peau) (cert.18 1hr. 33mins) where Marina de Van as Director depicts herself as leading star cutting her body and eating slices of her own skin! I found both films almost unwatchable. Ugh!


A TRIP TO THE THEATRE - October 2004

As Autumn approaches, London's theatres gear up for their busiest season. TWELFTH NIGHT at the Albery is an asian- inspired version of Shakespeare's play. Although it is far from perfect there are, however, some lovely comedy moments and the Director and actors throw new light on the themes of love, loss and inter-gender relationships. The play is worth supporting for bringing new audiences into the theatre.

Although I know that many didn't, I enjoyed BAT BOY- The Musical at the Shaftesbury Theatre. The music, though very well sung, was not always memorable. The performance of Deven May as the feral child was fascinating, particularly early on when he jumped around and hung upside down like a bat in the cage in which he was put before he was civilised. I'm afraid it was another case of "Choreograpy; what choreography?" as there was hardly any and certainly nothing noteworthy. It is a very different kind of musical and to be welcomed for that.

Carlie Newman

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