As the house band at Motown throughout the '60s, the Funk Brothers were arguably the greatest hit machine the world has ever seen. Yet nobody ever knew who they were. Three decades later, director Paul Justman tracked down the survivors and brought them out of obscurity to pay belated tribute to the men who made the Motown sound. Evocative and nostalgic stuff.
Patchy, visually flashy remake by Neil Jordan of his favourite film, Melville's classic Bob Le Flambeur. Its art-robbery-scam story's all over the place, in truth, but Nick Nolte proves to be a wildly compelling force of nature as he kicks heroin, woos a young girl and beats casinos at their own game, all the while looking like he hasn't slept for a very taxing fortnight.
Christopher Nolan's '98 DEBUT was made on a non-existent budget over a year of make-do weekend shoots, but introduced a shrewd talent with a unique knack for blow-to-the-solar-plexus storytelling. Its monochrome view of London's murkier nooks and crannies recalls Antonioni, but critics quickly tipped Nolan as the new Kubrick. And how he's delivered since.
A lonely, bored wannabe writer semi-stalks random strangers (as 'research') but when a smooth-talking cat burglar turns the tables, he's seduced into a series of break-and-enter robberies.
Steve Martin darkens his usual screwball comic persona for Novocaine, playing a suburban dentist implicated in drugs and murder charges in a noir-tinged comedy thriller which turns increasingly Hitchcockian as it unfolds. Helena Bonham Carter's femme fatale, Laura Dern's dental assistant and Kevin Bacon's hilarious cameo appearance lend extra clout to a patchy but commendably accomplished feature debut from writer-director David Atkins.
South African director Oliver Schmitz revisits the same territory as his angry anti-apartheid classic from 1988, Mapantsula, delivering a wry but equally scathing account of his post-Mandela homeland. Researching a role as a street hoodlum, a middle-class black actor (Tony Kgoroge) returns to his childhood township near Johannesburg to learn street cred from his former friend, a car-jacking gangster (Rapulana Seiphemo). A gripping, funny, darkly satirical thriller.
That a Kathryn Bigelow movie starring Sean Penn and Liz Hurley's gone straight to video tells you much: it's a muddled attempt to carry two parallel stories, one ancient (with Sarah Polley), one modern (where Penn recites bad poetry while Hurley rubs ice cubes over her nipples). Confused, pompous.
Passable psychodrama as up-tight corporate suit Julia (Stockard Channing) and haughty PA Paula (Julia Stiles) play out malicious power games in a hotel suite. This often lacks the wit and IQ required for a nerve-jangling thriller, but the assured leads provide seductive intrigue.