English butlers and American cowboys, Woody Allen’s neuroses and Oliver Stone’s Vietnam obsession. It’s back to normal for 1994 as The List reviews all the new movies opening in Scotland over the next fortnight.
I Friends ( 15) The friendship of three women from different cultural backgrounds — Sophie (English). Aninka (Afrikaans). Thoko (Zulu) — is severely tested when Sophie's involvement in anti-apartheid activities takes on a more violent. fatal hue. However. writer/director Elaine Proctor gets beyond the easy allegories that such a scenario suggests. creating instead a deeply emotional film that peels apart the various layers that make up what we call 'friendship‘. See preview. I Manhattan Murder Mystery (PG) At last. Woody Allen returns to the tight comedic style. packed with witty one- liners. that first made his name. Diane Keaton plays a ditzy wife who enlists the help of some of New York’s literary set to investigate the ‘murder‘ of her neighbour. Allen himself is on form in his typically neurotic role. while Anjelica Huston and Alan Alda'fill out the acting ranks. See preview. I Remains oi the Day (U) Based on Kazuo lshiguro’s Booker Prize- winning novel. Merchant-
lvory's latest production is perhaps the most satisfying of their period dramas. Just before World War ll. Stevens (Anthony Hopkins) is butler to Lord Darlington (James Fox). who is unwittingly playing into the hands of the Nazis. Devoting himselfcntirely to the organisation of his employer’s conferences and banquets. Stevens is the pinnacle of British emotional repression. particularly when it comes to his strained relationship with housekeeper Miss Kenton (Emma Thompson). A masterly
I work. with Hopkins never
better. See feature.
I Tombstone (15) An old-fashioned style western telling an old- fashioned western story —- Wyatt Earp. his brothers and Doc Holliday head to the streets of Tombstone. Arizona. for a showdown with the Clanton and McClaury brothers at the ()K Corral. An interesting cast — Val Kilmer. Kurt Russell. Charlton Heston. Dana Delany. Billy Zane — its just a pity no one’s shown it to the press so we could tell you what it was really like.
_ HEAVEN AHO EARTH
- i \ "ﬂ..,_ 5X: A X x A .‘ _
Heaven And Earth: “hammer-heavy eiiorts’
Having approached the Vietnam War on behali oi US army combatants in Platoon and American vets in Born On The Fourth Oi July, Oliver Stone now takes it upon himseli to retrace the same story irom the enemy’s side with this epic biopic oi Le Ly Hayslip, a South Vietnamese ianner’s daughter whose own personal saga encapsulates many oi the tragedies and ironies oi the wider conilict.
As played by newcomer and one-time boatperson Hiep Thi Le, this extraordinary woman survived torture at the hands oi both US iorces and the Viet—cong, saw her home village scattered to the winds, married a Yankee soldier and undertook an ill-
iated new lite in America - all oi which lead to a iioal reconciliation with the country and the iamily (papa Haing S. Hgor, mama Joan Chen) she’d left behind many years previously. A remarkable true-lite narrative, to be sure, yet so incredible is the chain oi events that the iilm sails perilously close to trashy mini-series territory, especially when the direction is as ham-iisted as Stone’s hammer-heavy eiiorts here.
Pounded home by Kitaro’s awesomely bland synthesized score, mixed at deaiening volume just so the hard oi hearing can get the message too, Heaven And Earth is so wearineg over- emphatic in its straining ior emotional and metaphysical eiiect that the result is cumulativer counter- productive. Stone’s project trades too much in near-continuous teariul manipulation as its heroine endures suiiering upon suiiering, while its backbone oi Bhuddist philosophising seems somewhere between hali- digested and halt-hearted. Ho complaints about the perionnances, particularly Oscar-worthy Tommy lee Jones as the soldier husband, or , indeed the flawless cinematography : and production design; the fact that this one goes clunk is straight down to
OTT Ollie. A missed opportunity, and l then some. (Trevor Johnston)
5 Heaven And Earth (15) (Oliver Stone,
! US, 1993) Hiep Thi Le, Tommy Lee
E Jones, Joan Chen, Haing S. ligor.141
l mins. From Fri 21. Glasgow: Orosvenor, ? MOMs. Edinburgh: Dominion, MOM. All l UBis.
I Menace ll Society (l8) A couple of years on from Boyz N The Hood and a wave of tough. true-to-life inner city tales from young African-American directors. Menace II Society may at first appear to walk the same streets. but its impact is in no way diminished. Conceived and directed by 20-year-
old twin brothers Allen and Albert Hughes.- this is undoubtedly film-making from the heart. Drugs. guns, antagonism with Korean shopkeepers — the film touches several raw nerves in a decaying America. where staying alive to the end of your teens is an achievement in
; itself. See preview. (AM)
\' ‘s 9 I .=
You can tell a lot about a movie irom that iirst scene. Undercover Blues opens with the sort oi party where hoards oi inaner grinning white-clad revellers don’t so much dance, as vaguely wave their hands around to dixieland (an. Ouite why Jane and left Blue are there in the iirst place is never adequately explained, rather like why Turner and Ouald signed up ior the movie.
The ‘romantic action-comedy’ plot (never trust a iilm that can’t make up its mind what it is) revolves around the Blues being rather good spies who have Ieit the service to bring up baby and generally have a good time. But
Undercover Blues: ‘dire’
, while on holiday in Hew'Orleans
they’re persuaded to have just one
2 more go at capturing ‘Havacek’ (Shaw) a Czeck spy, while the hapless Muerte
’ (Tuccn tries to mug Jeii Blue.
Hone oi which does a great deal ior
1 our leads. Ouald has a good shot at
being cheerful and cheeky with a baby
I in tow while Turner is sassy and sexy
; and violent. The question to ask, and
3 keep on asking, is where they got
? those extras, who manage to drag an
i already dire iilm deeper into the mud.
3 Literally. Hot waving, but drowning.
( Marginally better than going to the
| launderette. (Thom Oibdin)
Undercover Blues (12) (Herbert Boss,
I US, 1993) Kathleen Turner, Dennis Ouaid, Fiona Shaw. 90 mins. From Fri 14. Glasgow: MBMs. Edinburgh: Odeon.
l File: Robin’s. All UBis.
sponsored by BACARDI BLACK
MAN’S BEST FRIEND
Man's Best Friend: ‘dog oi a horror iliek’
The creator of Child Is Play’s cheeky chappie Chuckie goes all canine for this dog of a horror flick. Writer-director John Lafra‘s latest wheeze is to take a cuddly big bow- wow and turn him into a half-crazed killer. and the hybrid result lurches uncertainly between gratuitous carnage and the occasional attack of the doggie-woggie cutesies. Ally Sheedy. a woman presumably approaching career desperation point. is the ambitious TV reporter whose undercover foray behind the locked doors of a top secret animal lab reveals the hideous experiments being perpetrated by Lance Henn'cksen's wigged-out boffin Dr Jarrett. in the process freeing huggable rnastiff Max to lollop along home after her. Little does she know. however. that her four-legged friend is no ordinary mutt. but an experimental prototype with genetically implanted superpowers. and that without his daily dose of drugs he's heading straight for what the doc describes as a ‘psychotic
With a bit ofjungle cat. a bit of grizzly bear and a bit of chameleon (l?) mixed in with his I chromosomes. it‘s no ; wonder Max is in a right i old state — and the same ! goes for the movie as a 1 whole. One minute it's I being all anti- } vivisectionist. the next it's plumbing new depths of schlock (Max rnunches kitten — yum!) and the dialogue seems uncertain whether it wants to take the piss out of itselfor not. In the end. it‘s the sort of film you wouldn‘t inflict on dumb animals. but they'll doubtless go and see it anyway. (Trevor Johnston) Man is Best Friend ( 18) (John Laﬁa. US, I993) Allv Sheedy. Lance Henricksen, Fredric Lehne. 90 mins. From Fri
21: Edinburgh UC I.
20 The List l4~27 January I994