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It ain't Alf hot!

Byline: By Jo Manning South Wales Echo

Kinsey (15, 118mins) HHHHI

ALFRED Kinsey was the provocative American scientist whose work is said to have lit the touch-paper on the sexual revolution of the '60s, and this enjoyable film starring Liam Neeson recalls a life perhaps too preoccupied with humanity's dirty little secrets.

Yes, it's yet another biopic, but it's a job well-done by writer/director Bill Condon and his cast who underline the tragedy of Kinsey's personal life and the public criticism he received, with some outrageous humour and a bold approach to a man full of complexities.

Condon follows Kinsey from the '40s into the '50s when his book Sexual Behaviour In The Human Male contradicts the repressed attitudes of the day to become an instant bestseller.

In it, Kinsey interviewed thousands of Americans about their sexual history, attempting to approach the study as clinically as he could.

He also practised what he preached - frankness and honesty between couples - enjoying an open marriage with his adoring but long-suffering wife Clara, played with much heart by Laura Linney.

But this sexual utopia also brought trouble and his relationship with Clara and his team of researchers was undermined to the point of ruin.

The film also brings into focus Kinsey's fraught relationship with his overbearing father (John Lithgow), a stern Sunday school teacher, and questions whether Kinsey was motivated by science or figuring out his own sexual preferences.

If this all sounds a little too dour, there's plenty of playful fun going on in Kinsey. One great scene sees Neeson at the dinner table imparting advice to his daughters about losing their virginity. And you thought your dad was embarrassing!

THE FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX (12A, 113mins) HHHII

Who's in it?

Dennis Quaid, Tyrese, Giovanni Ribisi.

What's it about?

Remake of the 1965 wartime adventure starring James Stewart, which follows the survivors of a plane crash as they band together to survive the elements in the unforgiving Gobi dessert. Quaid stars as the beleaguered captain of the stricken craft who must inspire his crew and passengers to rebuild the plane and escape certain death.

Is it worth seeing?

As this is a remake, Flight of the Phoenix was always going to lack urgency but director John Moore should have done more to inject some excitement. Thankfully Quaid's charismatic performance as the hard-bitten pilot, struggling to keep a grip in the face of the clashing temperaments of his crew (Hugh Laurie, Miranda Otto, some fella called Tyrese - all on good form), and the annoying presence of a know-it-all engineer (Ribisi), manages to lift this adventure drama so that it remains a compelling watch.

BOOGEYMAN (15, 86mins) HHIII

Who's in it?

Barry Watson, Emily Deschanel.

What's it about?

Since believing he saw his own father perish at the hands of the 'Boogeyman in the cupboard', Tim has been troubled to the extent that all of his home furnishings are as minimal and doorless as possible. But he must return to his dusty family home and face his demons when his mother dies. Predictably it's a far from cosy experience.

Is it worth seeing?

Although this film sets out to exploit childhood nocturnal fears - a great subject for a horror Boogeyman ends up being about as scary as a Halle Berry Oscar-acceptance speech. Trudging through haunted house cliches and covering up the plot holes with some unremarkable CGI, the only thing which maintains the dramatic tension is the absence of the monster from the screen for long periods.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 5, 2005
Words:584
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