I Chasing The Deer ( I5 ) It‘s a perennial problem with low-budget Scottish ﬁlmmaking that. although you genuinely want the production to make money so that a slate of ﬁlms can be ﬁnanced and everybody gains more experience. the ﬁrst ﬁlm on the screen is difﬁcult to recommend. Chasing The Deer has a cringingly cliched script in which every line of dialogue has to be peppered with the addressee's clan name; when the words are salvagable. they are mouthed awkwardly by a cast generally unused to big screen acting; and the static camerawork relies on too many group tableaux and character close-ups rather than the mobility that a battle movie requires.
The heart of the story is the father/son tale of Alistair and Euan Campbell who. through no real fault of their own. ﬁnd themselves on opposite sides as the Jacobites and government forces head towards their fatal confrontation on Culloden Moor. Around them are woven the fervent hopes of those loyal to conflicting causes, the in-bred hate that sets man against man and Scot against Scot, and the fuzzy depiction of the political/social/religious backdrop to this early 18th century conflict. There are a couple of noteable performances — newcomers Jacqueline Pirie and Matthew Zajac bring charm and conviction to their parts —- but the overplaying of the others makes co-star Brian Blessed look restrained. See preview. l Highway Patrolman (l5) When not popping up to introduce Moviedmme‘s cult collection. Alex Cox's career has followed a wayward path that has seen him spend the last few years directing and acting in Mexico. The ﬁrst of this fruit to be released in Britain. Highway
Bruce in the buff in an erotic murder thriller? At least it wasn’t called Die Hard. The List looks out its dirty mac and reviews the new ﬁlms of the fortnight.
Palm/mun uses his adoptive country‘s leading young actor. Roberto Sosa. and adds a touch of Latin American ‘magic realism‘. which worked so well in Like Water For Chocolate. The ﬁlm‘s plot roots lie elsewhere. however. amidst police corruption dramas familiar across the northern border. but its style has all the unpredictable idiosyncrasies that we've come to know from Cox's work. See preview.
I Wrestling Earnest Hemingway (PG ) Few ﬁlms about old buffers ever light up box ofﬁce ﬁre. although sparks should fly here with the combination of Robert Duvall and Richard Harris. Duvall is a retired Cuban barber. a batchelor and quiet observer of life; Harris is a salty lrish sea- captain with an eye for the ladies. When they meet itt retirement in Florida. they become unlikely friends. learning and ﬁnding new life in each other. ln many ways. this is a mttch more intimate portrait of true friendship than tnost teen romances or buddy movies. but despite the acting from the old pros ~ with support frottt Shirley MacLaine and Piper Laurie - it will be doomed to good word of mouth from more mature viewers and a swift demise from
i the big screen.
Sprawling rather than truly epic, Wyatt Earp takes three-hours-plus to cover the life of the lawman from his teens until his retirement to Alaska. John Ford may have convinced us in My Darling Clementine that Earp was one of the Old West’s more upright figures, but elsewhere — The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, for instance - the same director revealed that he was well aware how cinema had played a key role in turning history into fiction and myth. Kasdan also takes a more ambivalent approach, presenting a figure whose actions made him a loner more through his unpopularity with others than any noble individualist virtues.
Instructed at an early age by his lawyer father about the merits of family ties and the occasional need to bend the law for the (subjectively judged) greater good, Wyatt Earp (Kevin Costner) meanders through a tragic marriage and period of alcoholism before ﬁnding his true calling. With a badge on his waistcoat s and his brothers at his side, he sets about cleaning up Dodge City, then Tombstone, although his hard-line tactics aren’t always appreciated by the citizens who hired him. Antagonism spills over between the Earps and the Clanton/Mclaury gang, with events leading to the famed Corral encounter and consequences beyond.
Wyatt Earp: ‘amblvalent approach‘
Costner, back in the saddle with his Silverado director, is too one-note in his performance - particularly given the time frame and scope of the narrative - and he’s in danger of being upstaged by Dennis Duaid’s coughing cameo as Doc Holliday and Michael Madsen’s Iaidback sense of honour as brother Virgil. The close quarter
' gunfights are perhaps the most . realistic ever put on screen, and
certainly there are interesting ideas and conflicts taking place intellectually, internally and plot-wise.
j But when it comes to the film’s aim of
really explaining what the man was like, it’s one bullet short of a six-gun.
(Alan Morrison) ' Wyatt Earp (12) (Lawrence Kasdan, US, . 1994) Kevin Costner, Dennis Duaid,
Gene Hackman. 191 mins. From Fri 9. General release.
_ CLEAR AND PRESENT
Clear And Present Danger: ‘trudges on'
In this third and least exciting of what’s been a dispiriting and dismayingly successful series of screen adventures for Tom Clancy’s rugged CIA operative Jack Ryan, Harrison Ford’s gritty protagonist is (promoted to Deputy Director of the 1
whole organisation and finds himself
: battling on two fronts — negociating
the treachery-lined corridors of high office and combating the drug lords of South America in the field.
Thus the scene is set for one of those elephantine but not especially interesting narratives (cf The Firm) that might serve reasonably well in the page-turner world of the airport bestseller, but prove something of a chore on film. All the markers are here: a star performance at the core just so you don’t forget who you’re meant to be rooting for; better playing in the subsidiary roles (man of the match - weasel-faced Donald Moffat as the ostensibly dim-witted, practically Machiavellian US premiere), and a grating tendency to move on to the next location before you’ve a chance to work out what’s happened at the last one.
As the plot spins on its head, trying
\ l to decide whether skilled mercenary
Willem Dafoe (does he need the money this bad?) sabotaging the Colombian cocaine barons on the ground with the benefit of covert US funding is someone to cheer for or an unethical diplomatic embarrassment, the movie trudges on, determined to impress us with the number of fighter planes and warships it has at its disposal. Ford looks as if he’s had his jaws wired together, an easy shorthand for moral integrity. The whole thing stands as a new milestone in big budget tedium. (Trevor Johnston)
Clear And Present Danger (12) (Philip Hoyce, US, 1994) Harrison Ford, Willem Dafoe, James Earl Jones. 141 mins.
Sponsored by BACARDl BLACK.
' _ l ' MR JONES
Mr Jones: ‘trite pearls of wisdom’
Mr Jones (Richard (jere) wants to fly. bttt is more often strapped to a psychiatrist's couch. Needless to say the psychiatrist (Lena ()lin) is very beautiful. and so is he. and. hey. ‘I feel gooood‘ reckons James Brown on the soundtrack. There are no twists to this plot.
The film is probably more interesting for its off-screen history and British director Mike l"iggis's public disowning of it after the Hollywotxl studio ‘sweetened' it without his consent. Several producers and a couple of editors later. the final cttt has many levels but is convincing on none of them. Take its psychological and social ‘realisiti'. for example: there are moments which suggest the film is really trying to grasp the subject of mental illness in sensitive hands. bttt the 'case studies'. who appear in fleeting cameos. and the suicidal Amanda ('hang (Lauren Tom). are uncomfortably sidelined.
Instead. it is the happy- endittg relationship between patient Gere and doctor ()lin that suffocates the film. (iere‘s hero is a cliche (tlte L‘nspoilt (‘hild-Man) whose passage is marked only by the trite pearls of wisdont it produces and tlte awkward comedy of his most depressed moments. ()lin picks tip these pearls. breaks ottt of her hard adult shell and learns to love — which for implausible manic depressive Mr Jones is )ttsl what the doctor ordered. To the rest of us. Mr Jones merely supports the legend. and l‘iggis's‘ perception. that Hollywood does indeed make them light and not very bright. (Hannah fries)
.l/r .lmtm~ (/5) (Mi/re I'ieeis. (IS. [993) Ric/turd (iv/'1', Lena ()lin. Anne Bancroft. [/4 Inf/H. Mom /'.I‘/' 9. (i/(lsgmv: ()t/(‘HIL lir/i/t/iu/je/t: ()t/t'mt, L'C'I. .S'Il'rlI/lt‘lt'rlt’.‘ UCI.
18 The List 9—22 September 199-1