Just before the intrepid film critic’s computer keyboard mutates into a bumble bee, The List manages to review all of the new films opening this fortnight in Central Scotland.
I At Play In The Fields Oi The Lord (15) Two American soldiers of fortune and four fundamentalist missionaries battle over the future of the primative Niamna Indians in Hector (Kiss of the Spider Woman) Babenco’s rainforest epic. Too many characters and disparate narratives only confuse the admittedly worthy central premise of the natives‘ demise under a combination of spiritual and economic pressures. The film's attitude to the Indians comes over as more sincere than that of certain pop stars but, at three hours‘ duration, it‘s a rather heavy way of pushing your point home. See preview on previous page.
I Ferend] (15) A young writer. in Ethiopia with his relief worker girlfriend, suffers from writer‘s block and visits the former home of French poet Rimbaud. There he becomes embroiled in an ancestral feud that causes him to lose sense of his identity, and ﬁnally to disappear altogether. Feature debut from Sabine Prenczina
(who will attend this UK premiere) has the same sense of slowly escalating psychological unease as The Vanishing.
I J'Embresse Pas (18) Andre Techine brings a gritty Gallic twist to the country-boy-in-the-big- city routine. Pierre comes to Paris, falls headfirst into the joys and dangers of street life, and moves closer to tragedy with each dawn. Impressively unscntimental and boasting some fine performances, it shines a harsh light on urban living and leaves a bitter aftertaste.
I linked Lunch (18) After accidently killing his wife, junkie bug-exterminator Bill Lee enters the sleazy world of lnterzone, with its blend of narcotics and psychotics, helped along by his mutated insect- typewriter and its talking arsehole. Yes, this is the long-awaited screen treatment of William
Burroughs' controversial novel, expertly handled by body horror maestro David Cronenberg. As baffling, astounding and unforgettable as its source material, this is one of an elite band of films that successfully translates the complexities of literature into a stunning series of cinematic images.
_ THE HAND THAT nocxs
When little baby Joe arrives on the scene, Claire and Michael Bartel would seem to have reached the pinnacle oi the American Dream, with a lovely home and the obligatory two kids to till it. But this being the 90s, there are careers to be considered, and so mommy and daddy have to get in some hired help. Enter Peyton Flanders (Rebecca De Mornay), beautliul, trlendly, good with kids and a part-time psychotic nutter on a dubiously plotted revenge irenzy. Yep, we’ve had the psycho hubby (Sleeping With The Enemy) and the psycho lodger (Pacltic Heights), now it’s time tor the psycho nanny.
0i course, the relatively easy scares created when a complete stranger is allowed to look alter a new-born baby have been tried out in William Friedkin’s The Guardian- but any lilm that resorts to a ilying Jenny Seagrove sacriticlng inlants to a baby-eating tree gets all the contempt it deserves. Here
The am That Rocks The Cradle: ‘it'stime tor
we’re treated to a more believable scenario, but one gained at the expense oi any notion oi originality. De Momay does her best with the stock cliches she’s given, while Annabella Sciorra (Jungle Fever) is more convincing as the asthmatic mum, getting to grips with a straight blond v brunette battle over husband and kids. The twists and turns are all too predictable, but to director Curtis Hanson’s credit, he does deliver a smooth escalation oi tension and a shock-tilled linale. in other words, another beautilully cralted piece at mainstream trash. (Alan Morrison)
The Hand That Rocks The Cradle (15) (Curtis Hanson, US, 1991) Rebecca De Momay, Annabella Sclorra, Matt McCoy. 110 mins. All Odeons. All UCls. Cannons: Clarkston Road, The Forge, Kllmamock. Glasgow: Grosvenor. Central: Allanpark. Strathciyde: Kelboume.
Denzel Washington is Nick Styles, a rookie cop whose unorthodox approach to law entorcement is typltled by his stripping down to his underwear in the midst at a dangerous controntatlon that leads to the arrest oi psychotic criminal Earl Talbot Blake (John Lithgow). Seven years later, and Styles is an assistant DA with a promising luture in politics ahead at him, but he can’t help but be concerned when sworn enemy Talbot, alter slaughtering six members oi the parole board, masterminds a daring escape lrom behind bars. Events are to develop that will see Styles’s lite tumbling down around him, leaving him no recourse but to seek help lrom the suitably ruthless Odessa (ice T), a boyhood trlend now turned ghetto gangster kingpin.
A dellriously enjoyable trashtest lit to be mentioned in the same breath as the towerineg tacky Roadhouse. Ricochet's simple but eiiective plot outline allows director Russell Mulcahy to concentrate his energies on a string at individual 011' setpieces -— most notably a wonderfully dalt iailhouse gladitorlal contest where assorted headcases pad themselves with telephone directories beiore knocking the living daylights out at one another with iron bars -that give the movie its lreewheellng tone oi comic-strip abandon. Duality actor
Ricochet: ‘e delirioust enloyeble trashiest’
John Lithgow certainly looks to be enjoying himsell as snarling evil incarnate, but what’s even more extraordinary is the humiliation onetime 0scar~wlnner Washington seems to be prepared to put himsell through in the service oi this extravaganza ot wild witlessness. Whipping his klt oil at virtually any and every conceivable juncture, it all brings to mind that classic Scots ditty ‘Denzel, Where's Yer Trooserst’. (Trevor Johnston)
Ricochet (18) (Russell Muicahy, US, 1991) Denzei Washington, John Lithgow, Ice T. 109 mins. All Cannons. All UCls. Central: Caledonien. File: Glenrothes, New Picture House. Strathclyde: Odeon Ayr.
e psycho nenny’
Mobsters: ‘tiresome nemtive'
Hollywood‘s fascination with the century‘s major organised crime ﬁgures shows no sign of abating. In the wake ofBarry Levinson and Warren Beatty‘s Bugsy, here come Tinseltown tyros Slater, Dempsey and Grieco to recreate the rise to power of the Lucky Luciano/Meyer Lansky/ Bugsy Siegel crime syndicate from their early days of nefarious activity in and around Roaring-205 New York. With old hands like Anthony Quinn as a wily Cosa Nostra kingpin, Michael Gambon turning in an impeccable accent as a vicious rival and the ever-dependable F. Murray Abraham doing a minor guest spot as the boys’ slippery financial adviser, expectations have every right to run at a premium, but this youth-orientated spin on familiar gangster fare never really proves distinctive enough to shake off memories of older, much better movies.
Of course, it‘s hardly a grave cinematic sin not to match up to the likes of The Godfather Part II or Once Upon A Time In America with your ﬁrst movie, but former commercials director Michael Karbelnikoff badly overloads the plot at the expense of any meaningful characterisation. The young cast might wear the right suits and authentic hair oils, but as vendetta piles upon murderous vendetta, the tiresome narrative devolves into a succession of gratuitously vicious action setpieces. And unlike Coppola or Leone, there seems to be little in the way of wider moral or ethical implications to prevent the proceedings from leaving a rather nasty taste in the mouth. (Trevor Johnston)
Mobsters (18) (Michael Kerbelnikoﬂ', US.1991) Christian Slater, Patrick Dempsey. Richard Grieco. 107 Minutes. Glasgow: Cannon Seuchiehell Street.
The List 2-1 April — 7 May W92 23