SFW? IQ? NBK? JFK? The List decides to review the new movies opening in Scotland PDQ. OK?
I Mrs Parker And The Vicious Circle (15) Dorothy Parker is a legend in American literature and joumalism. one of the few female ﬁgures in the 20s who wielded genuine inﬂuence. At their lunch table at New York‘s Algonquin Hotel. she and her sophisticated group of critics. playwrights. novelists. musicians. poets and painters would discuss the affairs of the day, virtually creating agendas for the arts.
Although Alan Rudolph's slice of literary
cinema reveals Parker to be a passionate woman (who went through three marriages and countless affairs). he makes it clear that perhaps the real love of her life was longtime friend and conﬁdant Robert Benchley. Jennifer Jason Leigh enters a new phase of her career with this performance. but there is a sense that it is too mannered. too reliant on surface details such as accent. to get to the core of this complex. contradictory woman.
I llell (12) Although Jodie Foster’s latest role seems to be tailor-made for award nominations. it is to her credit that she has developed this project with her production company over several years and was willing for the ﬁrst time in her career to do some unflattering nudity. The result is a ﬁne performance indeed. perhaps more theatrical than cinematic. but that‘s no criticism here.
What is interesting about Nell as a character is that she’s not deﬁned by physical disabilities. as in My Left F 00:, Rain Man or Children OfA Lesser God. This is a sweet. sometimes distressing. always compelling portrait of a young woman. totally isolated in her own sphere with its own language and expectations. who suddenly discovers the existence of the outside world (perhaps more so than it discovers_her).
Despite slipping in a courtroom ﬁnale that underlines the ﬁlm’s good
social intentions. director Michael Apted seems to be a good choice. as his dual careers in documentary ﬁlmmaking (Granada‘s 7 Up series) and Hollywood ﬂicks (Blink, Thunder/rear!) combine to create a ﬁlm that entertains without becoming condescending.
I Priest (15) Writer Jimmy McGovern just goes from strength to strength. Particularly in his recent TV work — Cracker and Hearts And Minds — his biting wit roughens the edge of bold. uncompromising forays into social areas of contention. Director Antonia Bird. who proved herself with BBC homeless drama Safe. shows that she too is adept at balancing political and emotional impact. The subject in Priest is homosexuality within the clergy; but this is no excuse for tabloid scandal. instead, what emerges is a story of personal freedom achieved against the odds. built on a brilliant performance by Linus Roache. See feature. I Duiz Show (15) The television quiz show. now generally derided as a populist format. still manages to garner some remarkable viewing ﬁgures. The nation’s taste for trivia is more than catered for. but nowadays few of the contestaan go on to become household names. Not so in the 1950s. when television was in its intimacy and America itself was riding on a wave of post-war/ pre-Kennedy innocence. Robert Redford's Quiz Show concerns the inevitable collision of ethics and glamour. morality and proﬁL Britain's Ralph Fiennes conﬁrms his status (following Schindler 's List) as a star to watch out for. as he plays Charles Van Doren. the golden boy who succumbs to the lure of fameWhen it comes to the sharing out of prizes on Oscar night. this is deﬁnitely the one that. in the Best Picture category. could dump on Gurnp. See feature.
Destined to be remembered as John Candy’s final film, Wagons East is not really worthy of the larger-than-life comedy actor’s memory, but is, at the same time, typical of the films he made throughout his chequered career. Casting him as a wagon master of questionable competence, the film has some bright moments but collapses under the weight of its own predictability and half-hearted jokes, coming off like one of those American sitcoms that attempt to force humour out of constipated material — the absence of a laugh-track is perhaps the most surprising thing about it all.
A group of settlers in the Old West grow disillusioned with life on the frontier and, in one of the film’s few original twists, return east to the land of crisp white sheets, decent cooking and indoor plumbing. The man they choose to guide them back is the improbany grizzled figure of James llarlow (Candy), a reformed drunk with a shady past. On their journey, they cross paths with an Indian tribe, who take a surprisingly pragmatic view of them, and a jaded gunslinger (Ed Lauter) hired by a railroad magnate to turn them back in order to justify his plans for a huge westward rail network.
Aiming for broad comedy, these scenes only echo the lame machinations of Kirk Douglas’s Cactus Jack. Similarly the casting of comedian Richard Lewis as a leading citizen heading east recalls his previous attempt at film comedy,
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Robin Hood: Men In Tights. For the characters on screen and the unfortunate audience watching them, the omens are not good. A sad way to end a career that amused so many, perhaps this film does serve to prove John Candy’s talents in that he makes much more of it than he had any right to. Coming after the success of Cool Runnings, in which he played a slightly less grizzled has-been with a shady past, Wagons East is a poor film indeed, but — as with most of Candy’s work - he is easily the best thing in it. (Anwar Brett)
Wagons East (PG) (Peter Markle, US,
1994) John Candy, Richard Lewis, John
C. McGinley. 107 mins. From Fri 10. General release.
_. “k S
‘the film has some bright moments but collapses under the
weight of its own predictability and half-hearted jokes’
Disclosure ls swift, faceless and so smooth you coast across its gleaming surfaces without so much as Iadderlng your tights on the zeitgeist of sexual power relations. The movie invents a corporate supra-reality peopled by wonderful androids who live more expensive, more perfect and more treacherous lives than us. Character is sparse. A nice guy is a nice guy because he behaves nice; a bitch is a bitch because she lies and cheats. Phalllc logic compels: power is what counts, and the victims are the ones that lose. Disclosure is a clockwork thiller with a cynical intelligence.
Meredith Johnson (Demi Moore) is the high-powered bitch in the works and, as long as it’s a man’s world, her downfall is certain. Tom Sanders (Michael Douglas) is the rival she sexually haresses, and we cheer for him because he tells the truth. Of course, Meredith does embody the danger of the corporate female, but the film’s politics are less obvious than that.
Although it almost trips up when the figure of the redemptive maternal woman appears in the finale, the script by Paul Attanaslo (Duiz Show) lays down taut lines of argument and keeps its allegiances discrete. The makers of the film seem to have understood that, while the corporate vision remains intact, they do not have the room to develop a moral attitude.
llice guy Tom wants more money and more power, and he’ll play to his unscrupulous bosses, just like that bitch Meredith. (Hannah Fries)
Disclosure (18) (Barry Levinson, US, 1994) Michael Douglas, Demi Moore, Donald Sutherland. 128 mins. From Fri 10. General release.
‘Phallic logic compels: power is what counts, and the victims are the ones that lose.’
20 The List 10-23 Mar 1995