Powerful, but lacking humour

Making a cast of thousands seem like an understatement, <b>The Emperor and the Assassin</b> is about Ying Zheng (Li Xuejian), heir to the throne of the kingdom of Qin. He and his concubine Zhao (Gong Li) come up with a clever plot that will ultimately unify a then fragmented China. She will set up an assassin from the neighbouring Han kingdom whom he will then expose.

Actor Anthony Quinn (86) dies

Anthony Quinn, the Mexican-born Hollywood star who carved a niche playing larger-than-life, good-hearted ruffians, most famously Zorba the Greek, died in a Boston hospital yesterday, aged 86. His death, from respiratory failure, was announced by the mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, Vincent "Buddy" Cianci. "I was proud to call him a friend," Mr Cianci said.

Strong and sexy

The notion of people's lives overlapping each other's has almost become a genre on its own. Examples such as <i>Short Cuts</i> by Robert Altman and <i>Love's a Bitch</i> by Alejandro Gonz‡lez I-‡rritu come to mind. Though not always high on drama, as the latter was, they do create some tension about how and when individuals will cross paths.

The American night

Movies about movie-making are always interesting for the sidelight they throw on the process, though they do run the risk of self-indulgence. Federico Fellini's classic 8 1/2 is in part about such self-indulgence, showing us a confused filmmaker swamped by fantasy as much as by the travails of getting a movie together, and works flamboyantly well.

Johnny be good

He's hardly a stranger to class A drugs. But as he takes the lead in a movie about a cocaine baron, Johnny Depp says he has put his 'years of confusion' behind him. He talks to <b>Danny Leigh</b>.

A boring Cannes? Only if you’re from Hollywood

"The truth is that art triumphed over commerce." Derek Malcolm rounds up Cannes 2001 and defends a much-criticised festival.

As crime goes by

Crime is one of the major streams of film narrative. Some movies - such as <i>Pulp Fiction</i> or this week's release <b>The Mexican</b> - even exist in a criminal world apparently altogether free of police personnel. <i>The Mexican</i> must have put tears of joy into the eyes of its Hollywood producers.

Sulphuric satire

What a bizarre, sulphuric, directionless satire from Spike Lee <b>Bamboozled</b> is. The title is from a speech by Malcolm X ("You've been led astray, led amok. You've been bamboozled") and Lee quotes it by unblushingly showing a clip of his own movie with Denzel Washington addressing a crowd.

Here’s the Rap

Mike Rapaport plays a white television executive obsessed with black culture in Spike Lee's <i>Bamboozled</i>, but in real life he's no Vanilla Ice, writes Bob Strauss.

Romance in South Africa

The Film and Publication Board has passed the video version of the French arthouse film <i>Romance X</i> for general distribution without cuts. The film, which features several scenes of explicit nudity and sex will carry an age restriction of 18, which means that it may only be rented or sold to adults.

Where did all my people go?

Jesse Jackson arrives for screening of video diary and criticises absence of black film-makers.

Do not go gentle

Julian Schnabel made his name as a ''neo-expressionist'' painter during the Eighties, when that form of highly charged canvas experienced a brief revival. His most memorable works were images splashed over huge areas covered with shattered crockery - a rather original way of providing the work with some extra texture.

Cannes kicks off in cancan style

The making of the film was little short of a disaster. The director's father died on the first day of the shoot. The leading lady smashed a knee and broke two ribs. A 60ft tall replica elephant was crushed on the set.

Cannes you believe it

Guardian writer Amy Fleming is at Cannes in the company of three young British producers intent on raising funds for their next feature. In the first of four diary reports, she anticipates life at the business end of the world's most glamorous film festival </font><p>

Give it up for Sean Penn

He is the most explosive actor of his generation, with a professional and personal life characterised by unparalleled intensity. But having turned 40, Sean Penn has become a non-smoking family man who likes boating and riding bikes with his kids. Just don't tell him he's not angry any more.

Horse latitudes

The bestselling success of Cormac McCarthy's 1992 novel <b>All the Pretty Horses</b> was somewhat surprising - his work is bleak and bloody and his writing has the kind of knotty grandiosity not often smiled upon in the videogame-Internet age.

Fry me a liver

Two things emerge from seeing <b>Hannibal</b>, the sequel to <i>The Silence of the Lambs</i>: one is that Hannibal Lecter - "Hannibal the Cannibal" - is not as interesting a character as he used to be, and the other is that Ridley Scott is a very uneven director

Hey dude, gross-out flicks are a turn-off

It's a truism as old as Hollywood itself that no one ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the public.

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