His hair stands on end, he starts drooling, his tongue rolls out . . . who needs a wolf bite when Michelle Pfeiffer is in the movie? The List reviews the new films opening over the next fortnight.
I Appleseed (15) More Japanese animation making it north of the border for one-offs on the big screen. although at a mere 71 minutes in length. this one is a little slender. Most elements are familiar to even the most casual manga fan: a future world run by a singular corporate entity. with humans, cyborgs and biodroids — that compulsory fusion of ﬂesh and technology — living side by side. Our pair of heroes are policewoman Dunan and sidekick Bularis. roped in to track down terrorist A.J. Sebastian. whose criminal acts threaten the delicate balance of this Utopia. The loose cannon in the set-up is fellow cop Karon. who is still bitter over his young wife's suicide. induced. he believes. by the claustrophobia of the new city.
The character animation is rudimentary even by manga standards; the backgrounds don’t aspire. even to the Akiru class. and only the hardware seems to have been drawn with relish — which says a lot about the ﬁlmmakers and more about the target audience. The look is simple, the sentiments suffering from a hippie hangover. and the bad language almost laughably misplaced.
I The Nudsucker Proxy (PG) It‘s pretty obvious what the Coen boys did with the extra money that went into the budget of their latest genre reworking — they simply put it up on the screen to make their best-looking movie to date. The ﬁlm’s joyous celebration of cinematic visuals, its no- holds-barred suspension of disbelief and ﬁrm grasp of fantasy elemean startle us in scenes of true movie-making grandeur. Okay. so Jennifer Jason Leigh does a Whose Line Is It Anyway? version of
40s heroine in the style of
Katharine Hepburn. but Tim Robbins's goofy charm is more than enough in itselfto recommend the ﬁlm.
The style is securely rooted in 40s screwball comedies. the story more in the 50s consumer
boom. the themes timeless
but closer to home in the post-yuppie ‘greed is good‘ era. And this is what the Coens are best at: not parody or pastiche. but sifting through the
treasure troves of ﬁlm
’ history. pocketing the odd sparkling getn to scatter
over their work at a later
date. The Hudsucker
’ Proxy is ﬁlled with magic that only cinema can
' conjure up. See feature.
, I When A Man loves A
Woman (15) A Hollywood
actress drying out in an
alcoholics rehab clinic is
the stuff of tabloid
headlines. although this
' time it‘s Meg Ryan and. inevitably. it’s ﬁction. Star
appeal from Ryan and Andy Garcia can do little to lift this from the TV-
however. as Meg
| struggles through AA
meetings and domestic tensions before the utterly predictable climax of forgiveness. Casting Ryan
against type has certain
advantages — there's an extra dimension added because we’re watching such an icon of safe American loveliness break down before our eyes. Nevertheless. we’re splashing through familiar (shallow) waters of reinforced family values, personal strength. etc. etc. All the markers of a classic weepie are contained within, but the ﬁlm itself could never be said to deserve the ‘classic‘ tag: its emotional manipulation is too consciously structured. Then again. that’s probably exactly what some people are after. See preview.
‘ If you go to this Jack Nicholson
1 feature expecting a full-blooded
i werewolf movie, you will be
‘ disappointed. Yes, he gets bitten by a
3 wolf and, yes, he transforms by stages into something lupine and dangerous
_ but, for director Mike Nichols, this is a ' film about transformation in many
senses - emotional and psychological
as well as physical. Nicholson plays
; Will, a middle-aged books editor who, facing demotion at work and discovering his wife is having an affair ; with his arch rival James Spader,
[ suffers a debilitating mid-life crisis.
3 But, one night on a lonely road in
: Vermont, he hits a wolf with his car
i and, while moving the injured animal
l to the side of the road, is bitten by it.
: Afterwards Will changes gradually but
inexorably from a defeated man into something altogether different, a rejuvenated creature with more hair, heightened senses, a sharper mind and a killer instinct.
Grounding the story in the concrete reality of modern-day New York avoids
Wolf: ‘datemoviiivith teeth‘ the traditional historical trappings,
’ although the film sticks fairly closely
to familiar werewolf lore.
Nichols is far more interested in the relationship between Nicholson’s powerful but frightened wolfman and
= Pfeiffer’s spoilt, cynical rich girl than
in the bestial consequences of the transformation.
More of a ‘date movie with teeth’ than a horror movie, Wolf succeeds best as a dark romance, achieving a powerful emotional charge as the two lovers struggle to cope with his animalistic urges. There is, however, a suitably ferocious fight to the death, with Nicholson confronting a fellow werewolf in a teeth-bared, claws-out
I climax. Nichols’s direction is
restrained and classy, the make-up understated, and the lush score by Ennio Morricone a real delight to the ear. (Nigel Floyd)
Wolf (15) (Mike Nichols, US, 1994)
. Jack Nicholson, Michelle Pfeiffer, James Spader. 125 mins. General
_ BLOWN AWAY
Apart from some hammy Irish accents and two pints of totally unconvincing Guinness, Blown Away has all the high anxiety stress factors and spectacular blockbuster bangs for audiences who like their palms clammy and their
. thrills big.
Psychotic terrorist Byan Gaerity (Tommy lee Jones) blows his way out of a top security prison in Ireland and escapes to Boston, where he sees the heroic exploits of top bomb disposal officer Jimmy llove (Jeff Bridges) on the TV news. Gaerity knows that Dove’s a man with a secret: twenty years earlier, he too was a terrorist until his conscience got the better of him and he messed up on a mission, causing the death of Gaerity’s sister. Meanwhile, Dove’s nerves are shot, so he chucks in active duty for a desk lob and marries his violin-playing girlfriend Kate. But when Gaerity plants a fiendisth clever bomb that kills a member of the disposal squad, Dove comes out of retirement and is forced to confront his past.
I flick of the domestic appliances in ; Nate’s house could hide a potential
Blown Away: 'high anxiety stress factors‘
Revenge and guilt are the triggers for an exciting game of cat and mouse with some great nail-biting moments. The scene when every click, clunk and .
bomb is excruciatingly brilliant.
Bridges ls watchable, if bland, as the good guy, but Jones steals the
limelight with a delightfully demonic
; international terrorism can indeed be 5 fun. (Gill Both)
performance, proving that I
Blown Away (15) (Stephen Hopkins, US, ‘
1 1994) Jeff Bridges, Tommy Lee Jones, , Suzy Amls. 121 mins. From Fri 2. ’ General release. 1
sponsored by BACARDi BLACK
MA SAISON PREFEREE
Ma Saison Preferee: ‘star power'
Veteran French writer/ director Andre 'l‘echine's famin drama is one of those movies that just snag in your memory in spite of themselves. It‘s a case of Gallic star power at its most beguiling. as both Deneuve and Atiteuil pttt their best foot forward and save a standard issue domestic saga from mediocrity while they're at it. iiiiiilie (Denenve) is a public notary in small town South West France. her yottnger sibling Antoine (Auteuil) a top Toulouse neurologist. while their widowed mother Bertha (Villaloiiga) lives alone and causes both offspring no little concern. Yet it's Fmilie and Antoine's ongoing confrontation over care plaiis for the old girl that brings to light the emptiness of their own personal lives.
Unfolding against the sort of plush backgrounds (changing seasons, pastel blouses) (fr' rigueur in iiiiddlebrow French offerings. the performances bring these emotional ensiiarements to vivid. awkward life. The versatile Autetiil. like his bean in Ull ('m'ur Iz'ri Hirer. itiipressively worms out sympathy fora fundamentally detached and even unlikeable character. while Deneuve‘s role allows her to glide elegantly through another two hours of screen time. desired by all. incapable of love herself. It's a party piece. to be sure. but both she and Auteuil go for it as if they really believe in the material: we get the big star and some genuinely assured acting. Mu Saison Préft‘réc may not be a great movie but it certainly works on you. (TJ)
Mu Saison Préﬂ‘réc ( [5) (Andre 'I'et‘hine. 1993) Catherine [)eneuve, Daniel Aureuil, Mun/re WIN/()Ilgtl, Jean-Pierre Boui‘ier. 125 mins. Front Fri 2: Glasgow Film Theatre. From Fri 9: Edinburgh F ilmhouse.
88 The List 26 August-8 September 1994