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To Die For: ‘slight but moving’

What does the word ‘worthy' mean? Worth seeing. worth respecting. or more likely worth missing? '12) Die For is one of those films which invariably gets tossed into the worthy-and-British heap by reviewers. There is a reason for this. as the film is short on the complexities of human nature and long on the AIDS Memorial Quilt. but overall. such an ignominious critical death is undeserved. '12) Die For is a slight but moving film.

When Mark (lan Williams) dies of AIDS. his lover Simon (Thomas Arklie) continues to cruise the clubs and bars. apparently unaffected by his bereavement. (i/im‘I- like. Mark returns to haunt him. convinced Simon is in a state of denial, and that only by facing up to his emotions can he set them both free. Coming out to homophobic workmate Dogger (John Altman) and resolving a troubled relationship with his dead father might seem a predictable path to redemption. but Arklie's performance does not make it look easy. Right through to the dwindling minutes we are asking how he is going to manage his character's transition from incredible repression to emotional sentience.

7}) Die For is. nevertheless. an unambiguous tale. and Mark's affirmative belief in ‘bonds of love forged in life that not even death can sever" always seems destined to triumph in the end. Feel-good it may be. but the audience will remember AIDS sufferer Mark's fight to live on in the memory as the affecting crux of the film. (Hannah Fries)

'12) Die For ( IS) (l’erer .llrlt'kc'llfit' Lille”. UK, I994) 'I‘lmmux Ark/iv. lun it’ll/(unis, Dillie Keane. [0/ mins. l-‘mm Ifri /().' Ifr/in/m/je/r Film/muse. l-‘I'um Tue 27: (i/uxgmv I’ilm Theatre.


( Most excellent: 3 film version of Tom

? Robbins’s seminal 705 novel, delivered 3 by Gus Van Sant, who got into the skin

l of misfits and road movies with

Drugstore Cowboy and My Own Private

Idaho? Most excellent: Uma Thurman

! as the free-wheeling Sissy Hankshaw,

joyous partaker in the sexual revolution and queen of hitchiking by

virtue of her exceptionally large

1 thumb? Most excellent: dykes on horseback with dollops of eco-

terrorism and new-age fantasy? Sadly,

the answer is ‘Not’. Part of the original book’s success

was the way it bounded out of the

linear narrative into great excursions of esoteric conjecture. Sissy gets sent by her boss, the arch Countess (John Hurt) to the Rubber Rose ranch, peopled entirely by female cowgirls,

I to shoot an advert for the Yoni Yum line in female hygiene products with a ( flock of rare whooping cranes. There she meets the infamous Bonanza Jellybean (Rain Pheonix), discovers the delights of woman-to-woman sexual activity and meets the Chink (Noriyuki Morita), a Japanese- American in charge of the mysterious mountain-top clock.

However, Van Sant has neither stuck to straight narrative nor fully endorsed

the esoteric. It is a classic example of falling between two stools, no doubt

under pressure from industry

executives. The film is definitely

worth seeing and will survive as a cult

movie. But in the days of advanced


prosthetic devices, the thumbs are seriously wrong. (Thom Dibdin)

Even Cowgirls Get The Blues (15) (Gus Van Sant, US, 93) Uma Thurman, John

Hurt, Rain Pheonix. 88 mins. From Fri 6 ' L

1 Jan: Glasgow Film Theatre. From Fri 20

Jan: Edinburgh Filmhouse.


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Even Cowgirls Get The Blues: ‘falls between two stools’

i The NeverEnding Story lll: ‘fewer effects’

wriggle in its seat.


Ten years ago, The NeverEnding Story was a surprise German international hit that really did transport children to a fantasy land full of original characters and stylish sets. Six years later, the inevitable sequel still managed to sprinkle a handful of magic dust over a much soppier storyline. Needless to say, by the time we’ve visited Fantasia for a third time, ridden again on the back of a pink flying poodle/dragon and got so exasperated by the goo-goo antics of the Baby Rock Chewer that we’re ready to reduce him to rubble, even the most tolerant tot is starting to

Bastian Balthazar Bux (Jason James Richter) moves with his newly remarried father to a dull American town. Awaiting him there are an over- zealous stepmother, an unfriendly stepsister, a gang of school bullies

and a book in the library that writes the story of his life as it is happening. When this magical volume falls into the hands of the Nasties (not the world’s most inspirineg named troublemakers), their oafish leader realises that he now has the power to wreak havoc in the far-off land of Fantasia.

The twist on the formula here is that, instead of placing a contemporary kid in a fantasy world, we have the offspring of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop stop for a while in modern-day America. The trouble is, of course, that this means there are fewer special effects to distract younger children from the skimpiness of the plot and the intrusion of seen-them- all-before adolescent domestic problems into a fluffy fable.

(Alan Morrison)

The NeverEnding Story lll (U) (Peter MacDonald, Germany/US, 1994) Jason James Richter, Melody Kay, Jack Black. 100 mins. From Fri 16: General release.


? In this disturbing, post-modern take on. the Nightmare On Elm Street series, the director of the original uses a

complex film-within-a-film structure

; to rework, reassess and revitalise the

moribund Freddy mythology. Craven’s major coup is to cast himself, Robert

Englund (the man beind the Freddy

mask), Heather Langenkamp (the heroine of the original) and even New

4. World Pictures’ cynical supremo Bob Shaye as both themselves and their

.fictional counterparts. In so doing, he

deals explicitly with New World’s

exploitation and softening of the once horrifying Freddy Kruger persona.

During the preparations for yet

another sequel, the malevolent Freddy

is born again, spilling over from the

pages of Craven’s script-in-progress to i

,threaten those involved in the

(production. Langenkamp’s husband, a

ISFX wizard charged with creating a new slashing glove for the Freddy

(character, is found with chest

(lacerations. Actress Langenkamp’s

32 The List l6 December I994 -|2 January 1995

§ insomniac son suffers disturbing dreams and hallucinations as Freddy

tries to use him as a geteway into the real world. Skilfully mixing child-like fairytale simplicity with the complex, skewed logic of nightmares, Craven also blurs the boundary between reality and fiction, as Freddy’s

malevolent spirit tries to escape the '1 script’s confines.

Don’t be fooled by the 15 certificate.

' There’s some creepy, subversive stuff

going on here, not to mention some sly sideswipes at the censors as when Langenkamp’s sleepwalking son stands mesmerised in front of an unplugged TV showing scenes from the first Elm Street movie. The climactic punch-up does not match the conceptual power of the original’s ending (when langenkamp simply refused to believe in Freddy, thus destroying him) but this nevertheless redeems both the series and Craven’s own tarnished reputation. (Nigel Floyd) Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (15) (Wes Craven, US, 1994) Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, Wes Craven. 112 mins. From Fri 6: General release.



Wes Craven’s New Nightmare: ‘creepy subversive stuff'