The List gets out
of the summer
heat and into the cinemas, but still manages to get Burnt By The San. Discover the good and bad among the next fortnight‘s new releases.
I Burnt By The Sun Nikita Mikhalkov's Oscar-winner is a genuine masterpiece. The gradual slide from the glory of the Revolution into the terror of the Stalin dictatorship is concentrated into the events of a single summer‘s day in 30s Russia. as the country household of a popular Soviet officer is disrupted by the return of his wife‘s former lover. now a government informer. It is rare for a film to begin in such a sunny. idyllic manner. then darken so effortlessly and so completely.
The sense of tragedy is immense. the frustration and anger at this flow of history is tangible. Ensemble performances are warm and embracing. individual actors give their all. Thematically. the film's questioning of basic certainties lifts it from being merely a period piece and gives it contemporary relevance. confirming it as one of the l best films of this or any year. See preview.
I The City Of Lost Children Every once in a while. a film comes along that totally immerses its audience in a world of its own making. with its own logic and rules. where the bizarre is an everyday occurrence. Delicatessen was one such film. and its follow-up. The City Of Lost Children is another. French madcap duo Jeunet and Caro have created a brilliantly visual. fairy tale world. where Siamese twins run an 1 orphanage. a disembodied 1 brain lives in a fish-tank I
and talks with the voice of Jean-Louis Trintignant.
: I While You were
and six identical court jester clones are played by Dominique Pinon. Crazed
inventor Krank is unable
to dream. and so is ageing
prematurely; with the help
of his Cyclops henchmen he kidnaps children from the local port and brings them to his laboratory on a mist-shrouded oil rig. Two years and millions of francs went into the making of the movie. and it shows in the brilliant visual effects and quirky
; costumes by Jean-Paul
Gaultier. It's an idiosyncratic piece. to be sure. but one that‘s easy to go overboard about if you're in the right frame
; of mind. See feature.
Sleeping Hot Hollywood actress Sandra Bullock has her first chance to
carry an entire movie. and ' she proves herselfcapable
of the task. She stars as Lucy Moderatz. who
works at the ticket booth in a train station. where
she‘s fallen in love with Peter (Peter Gallagher) a
tall. dark and handsome man who passes through 3 every day. When he is
mugged and falls off the platform. it’s Lucy who rescues him in the nick of time from an oncoming train. Peter is hospitalised in a coma. and when his relatives assume that Lucy must be his fiancee. who‘s she to correct their mistake? Her fantasy is coming true for a short time at least. and everything is perfect — until she falls in love for
real with Peter‘s brother
Jack (Bill Pullman). Will true love find a way? Of course it will. This is Hollywood. Romance. Comedy. Warm hearts. ln abundance. See preview.
BEFORE THE RIN
As the conflict in former Yugoslavia
unfolds in ever more bewildering ramifications. Milcho Manchevski's
film — set not in war-torn Bosnia. but largely in the more southern republic of Macedonia — should offer invaluable insight into a bafflineg complex human situation.
Manchevski’s film is constructed as a trio of interlinked tales. The first is set in a Macedonian monastery and concerns the shy relationship between a teenage clergyman and a runaway Muslim girl; the locale switches to London for the second. being about the equally fraught relations between a
picture editor (Katrin Cartlidge) and an
exiled photographer (Rade Serbedzija);
; the third follows Serbedzija back to
Macedonia for another account of cross-ethnic relations. Before The Rain‘s main strength lies
in the apparent authenticity of its very naked emotions — allied to superb landscape photography of rolling Balkan hills — which sustain Manchevski's glossy lament for his homeland (he’s currently residing in New York City). Equally. though. it's a quality all too lacking in the London- set episode: garishly shot and edited (in stark contrast to the lyricism of its companion pieces) with little feeling for the place or its inhabitants. But plenty survives this not-quite-fatal weakness to offer a moving. heartfelt tribute to the travails of a splintering culture. (Andrew Pulver)
Before The Rain (15) (Mile/to Mane/revski. UK/l'ranee/Mar‘edonia. 1994) Rade .S'erhedzija. Katrin Carl/I'dge. H5 mins. From Mon 28: Ifdinlnog/t ('anieo. l’roni Friday / .' Glasgow l’ilni 'I'heaire.
I THE USUAL SUSPEOTS
Like all the best films noirs, a veil of fatalism rests over The Usual
Suspects from the very first frame: “Last Night’ reads the caption, as Keaton (Gabriel Byrne) is shot at point- blank range on a boat in a San Pedro
3 dockyard. The rest of the film twists ; and turns back towards this point with a gnawing sense of inevitability.
Five small-time crooks, including Keaton, are hauled in by the NYPD after a truckload of gun parts is hijacked. Stuck together overnight in a holding cell, they make the best of a bad time and agree - some reluctantly - to pool talents on a forthcoming jewel heist. But this coming together of a well-matched team isn’t as random as it first seemed: the frightening and elusive gangland legend Keyser Sose has a personal grudge against each man, and they’re all pawns in his intricate power game.
Bryan Singer’s debut movie, Public Access was one of the forgotten gems of last year; its follow-up has all the style, hard-boiled dialogue and teasing plot twists that the crime genre could wish for. Writer Christopher Mcuuarrie has assembled
= Stephen Baldwin. 106 mins. From Fri
The Usual Suspects: “teasing plot twists’
a cracking set of pulp characters from i a different kind of fiction, with one exception: the frankly ludicrous use of Pete Postlethwaite and his role, threatens to undermine what is otherwise a tantalisineg brilliant example of guessing-game cinema. (Alan Morrison)
The Usual Suspects (18, Bryan Singer, US, 1995) Gabriel Byrne, Kevin Spacey,
1: Glasgow MGMs. From Fri 8: Edinburgh: Cameo. See Film Festival for Preview.
A LOW DOWN DIRTY SHAME
A Low Down Dirty Shame: ‘undistlnguished' Having profitably ransacked the 70s blaxploitation genre for the ratherjaunty send-up I'm (ion/ta (Ii! You Sue/(a. writer-director-star Keenen lvory Wayans comes up with a few cliches of his own in this contemporary action- comedy. Andre Shame is a struggling private investigator. whose street wisdom and rough charm still aren‘t winning him any new cases until DEA agent Rothmiller (genre stalwart Charles Dalton) offers him a lucrative covert operation. tracking down 320 million in drug money from elusive narcotics baron Mendoza (Andrew Divoff. courtesy of Rentascumbag). So far. so hackneyed. but when Shame’s per 'y assistant Peaches (Jada Pi nkett) starts overdoing the enthusiastic incompetence in a vain bid to up the humour quotient. and the dear boy's seductive old flame Angela (Salli Richardson) turns up on Mendora's arm to add a dash of romantic rivalry. the plot development gets so predictable you'll be groaning at the screen. Action king Joel Silver would surely have put the odd spin on the plot. sorted out the balance between comedy and the tough stuff more satisfactorily than it is here. and hired a director who could have given the set-pieces more of a punch than they get in this particular instance. While Miles and Sanborn basstnan Marcus Miller's thumping score delivers the requisite kick and young Pinkett shows enough enterprise to suggest she might be quite appealing with a better script to work from. it's a moderate. undistinguished movie all round despite Wayans' basic likability in the star role. Not exactly shameful. but not great either; video is doubtless its natural habitat. (Trevor Johnston) A Low Down Dirty Shame (l8) (Keenen li'orv ll’ayanx, US, 1994) Keenan Ivory Mira/is, Jada Pinkett. Charles .S'. Dalton. From l’ri /. (it’llt'l’rl/ release.
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