New Slant Takes British Classic to New York; Alfie (Cert 15) Stars Jude Law, Marisa Tomei, Omar Epps, Nia Long, Sienna Miller, Jane Krakowski and Susan Sarandon; Director Charles Shyer. 105 Mins. Rating . . . . . THE BIG PICTURE

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Byline: Philip Key

WHY bother with a remake when the original was so good? The 1966 film with MichaelCaine picked up five Oscar nominations and was generally reckoned to be one of the best British films of the 1960s.

The answer to the question is that you don't just do a remake but create an entirely new script which is inspired by rather than based on the original.

Director Charles Shyer and cow riter Elaine Pope have created an Alfie very much for our own time where women are no longer victims and Alfie has a much tougher time romancing them.

It is also reset in New York where the sexual mores are more free-wheeling than the Britain which Caine's Alfie inhabited.

Jude Law, playing an English wide boy set loose in New York, soon makes you forget the Caine original. Law is a much more affable chap although, like Caine, he invents some ridiculous excuses for his philandering. He's helping save the marriage of the married woman he sleeps with, he suggests. Surprisingly, he seems to be right.

While giving his women the good times they desire, when it comes to commitment Alfie will be putting on his coat and leaving very quickly.

Law delivers his thoughts straight to camera, just as Caine did, and the dialogue is equally snappy and amusing. Here he is flirting with the old lady in the next apartment, then dropping off his married woman (a zippy Jane Krakowski) and then dropping in on his on-off girl-friend (Marisa Tomei), a single mother, simply because he wants a bed for the night (he boasts of never having ever made his own bed).

Director Shyer gives the story plenty of pace with lots of fastcutting, a noisy music sound track and a nice tour of New York at night (although much was shot in Liverpool and Manchester, I failed to spot any Liverpool landmarks). …