A film that will hold no obvious appeal for many, this story of the Dalai Lama's early life is a prime example of how compelling a story can be in the hands of a master film-maker. Martin Scorsese skilfully depicts the formative years of the young Tenzin Gyatso, and with a mixture of sensitivity and intelligence draws us into the terrible dramas of his life. The result is a remarkable tale of a remarkable man, a spiritual and secular leader who has seen his country ravaged and all but destroyed by a powerful neighbour, yet meets its fate with dignity and awesome inner strength.
Kundun image copyright Buena Vista
Following a promising début in Funny Bones, Lee Evans finds another vehicle for his ruthless brand of slapstick comedy, teaming with screen brother Nathan Lane to rid a run-down old house of a solitary mouse. Unfortunately the only intellectual weight lies with the wily rodent, as Lane & Evans (sounds like a firm of estate agents) tear the building apart in their increasing desperate attempts to flush him out. Coming from Spielberg's Dream-Works company, this is the kind of broad-based, highly polished entertainment that it was always predicted would be their strength.
A black comedy from Oliver Stone is, you can be certain, bound to be very black indeed. Sleazy thief on the run Sean Penn breaks down near the one horse town of Superior, and soon wishes he hadn't when he meets the mechanic from Hell, a very fatale femme, a psychotically jealous boyfriend and a husband with designs on having his wife killed. Not such a great advert for Midwestern tourism, Stone's intelligent and genuinely unsettling film has flashes of Red Rock West, Chinatown and many a dark western about it, all wrapped up in that familiar Olly Stone malevolence.
The Big Lebowski
Not quite up to the standard of previous Coen Bros efforts - but then this is a higher standard than most film-makers can dream of - this amiably aimless tale focuses on 'The Dude', a man 'in whom casualness runs deep'. His sloth is stirred only by the staining of a much loved rug by a urinating tough guy who mistakes the Dude's identity, sending our hero and his unlikely chums on a quest into the darker regions of another bizarre Coen-inspired world.
Just how much this film is an example of fictionalized fact we will probably never know, but it could be Woody Allen's own little dig at all the journos who insist his films are based on aspects of his life. His writer character Harry Block certainly suffers such accusations, and with great justification, as his fictional cast clash head on with the people he has loved and lost, and the line between reality as he knows it and fiction as he writes it grows increasingly blurred. Very funny and thought-provoking, but perhaps one for true Woody fans only.