in response to a radio telescope message from Earth to the rest of the galaxy. an alien culture sends back a DNA sequence that. when combined with the human cell. produces a hybrid being that will kill all- comers in its attempts to ﬁnd a suitable mate. Naturally. Sil. as the creature is called. escapes the government lab and. naturally. a mismatched team is assembled to track her down — the chief scientist (Ben Kingsley. with that 'Donald Pleasence in Hallowe'en’ mix of guilt. understanding and mercilessness). a freelance ‘exterminator‘ (Michael Madsen). a bumbling anthropology professor (Alfred Molina doing the Hugh Grant stuff). an over-sensitive empath (Forest Whitaker) and a brainy biologist (Marg Helgenberger). Yep. it's as if one personality was split into ﬁve parts.
H.R. Giger‘s monster design isn‘t the only aspect of the ﬁlm that
Species: ‘plece of trash’ provokes inevitable comparisons with the Alien series: that both feature a female creature is also signiﬁcant. but while Aliens gave Sigourney Weaver :1 thematically strong and dangerous adversary. the female factor in Species is one of its tnost troubling. The ﬁlm has a clear subtext which plays on male fear of female power: the whole drive of the plot is to stop the alien breeding. to destroy its ability to reproduce. even if this is a natural and instinctive act. It's an easy. misogynistic line to take — and a hypocritical one. given the amount of gratuitous nudity by ex- model Natasha Henstridge in her ﬁrst ﬁlm role — but one that brings a serious note to otherwise basic complaints against this unoriginal. non-scary piece of trash. (Alan Morrison)
Species ([8) (Roger Donaldson, US, I995) Ben K ingslev. Michael Mar/sen, Natasha Henstridge. 108 mins.
POCAHONTAS Disney has turned its back on fairy tales and cuddly animals in favour of Native American lndian folk legend Put'alimt/as. Pocahontas was only about fourteen when she bravely spoke out in
front of her people and persuaded her ' father. the village chief. to let Captain
John Smith live. to teach the whites how to farm the land and to live in harmony with them. It was her act of extreme courage and generosity that put an end to the slaughter. although. tragically. the whites continued to usurp the natives from their land.
You wouldn't know any of this from watching the Disney film. however. Suddenly. Pocahontas is a full-grown woman with doe eyes and a Barbie doll figure. When a dozen or so Englishmen and a token Scot turn tip in search of gold. she falls madly in love with their leader. Captain Smith. Gone are the massacres of history. the slaughtered babies and burning teepees. According to Disney. only two people died. both of them Native Americans. before Smith himself was captured. True to history. Pocahontas speaks tip and saves his neck. but she doesn't do it to save her people and the land: she does it merely to rescue the man she loves. Thus she is reduced frqu heroine to lovesick bimbo.
This could have been a great film.
After all. the true story is great. Bttt'thc cliched beauty of the lead characters. the cutesy animals and the talking tree make it a travesty. liven the songs aren‘t up to Disney 's usual standard -—
i timeless warbling ballads that merely
I prolong the agony. ()f course. the
‘ animation is. as ex er. fantastic. Unfortunately. that‘s not enough. (Gill Harris)
I’Ur'rl/tmtlrlx (If) (.l/lkt’ (id/H‘lt'l/l'fl'lt' (in/(I/M‘r‘u. US. l995) ll'II/I I/lt‘ i'ult't’s‘ (if Mel Gibson, Irene Bet/uni. [ill/y ('mtIm/ly. 8/ mins. I’m/n I’ri I}.
‘Pocahontas is a full- grown woman with doe eyes and a Barbie doll figure . . .she is reduced from heroine to lovesick bimbo’
[LEM— THE BIG SLEEP
Even author Raymond Chandler and director Howard Hawks, so the legend goes, couldn’t work out exactly who killed who in a plot that has more red herrings than could fit in an EC fishing quota. However, the story is only there to serve the mood and the characters: this is the shadowy world of film noir, where morality clashes with immorality on a daily - or, more likely, nightly - basis, good guys and bad guys are just as likely to get whacked, and the tarnished are offered a glimmer of redemption.
Humphrey Bogart is Philip Marlowe, a private detective caught in a web of blackmail, pornography, gambling and murder. The daughter of a wealthy and respected old general is at the heart of the scandal, but Bogie’s more concerned about the heart of her older sister, played by Lauren Bacall, who glows in this new print. Bogart and Bacall are one of cinema’s greatest pairings: his world-weary wit and droopy features play against her fresh, sharp-boned beauty, and their verbal sparring matches show that they’re clearly having fun together (some scenes were filmed a year after the
principal shoot, once the pair were married). She gives as good as she gets, and part of the film’s enduring appeal is how sexually overt it is: even minor female characters can stake their claim, announcing their availability to our hero but only on their own terms. (Alan Morrison)
The Big Sleep (PG) (Howard Hawks, US, 1946) Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, John Ridge/y. 114 mins. From Fri 13: Glasgow Film Theatre. From Fri 20:
‘this is the shadowy world of film noir, where morality clashes with immorality on a daily - or, more likely, nightly - basis’
16 The List 6-l9 Oct 1995