Dead Man: “innovative and unexpected’
ARTHOUSE WESTERN ;
violence you do not; yet he manages to bring a bleak absurdism to the
: shoot-outs appropriate to the trigger-
; happy actuality of the period. As the
This darkly comic existential Western underlines Jim Jannusch’s uncanny ability to reinvent himself yet remain true to the slow-buming sensibility that links all his movies. Shot by Bobby Muller in atmospheric black and white, we realise Johnny Oepp is way, way out west right from the opening scene.
After surviving an enigmatic encounter with stoker Crispin Glover on a train, the shithole pioneer town of Machine leaves Oepp without a job, but with a gun in his hand, a price on his head and a bullet in his chest. local bigwig Robert Mitchum (barking mad and brilliant) sends posse members Lance llenricksen and Michael Wincott after him, but fugitive Oepp hooks up with educated Indian Oary Farmer, and their carnage- strewn adventures in frontier territory acquire a new purpose when the latter decides to prepare the ‘stupid fucking white man’ for a proper Indian funeral.
Glorious deadpan dialogue you
expect in a Jannusch film, mental
title suggests though, the main locus of attention is on differing concepts of The Big O itself, with literate redskin Farmer believing that his travelling companion is the William Blake (rather than plain Bill Blake, Cleveland-born accountant) and thus deserving to be helped on a spirit )ourney whose noble transcendence contrasts starkly with the muddy finality of the film’s myriad other casualties.
While lleil Young’s keening guitar score provides a visionary ambience, Jarrnusch arches in a slow fade from the Old West to a point beyond the infinite. Innovative and unexpected, it’s his finest movie since Down By Law, while angelic killer Oepp certainly matches his best work with Tim Burton. Don’t miss out on it. (Trevor Johnston)
Dead Man (18) (Jim Jarmusch, US, 1995) Johnny llepp, Gary Farmer, Lance llenricksen. 121 mins. From Fri 5. Edinburgh: Cameo. From 9 Aug. Glasgow: 6F T. See preview.
Six years after the adrenalin-rich frenzy of Pump Up The Volume. director Allan
Moyle has returned to white. middle- Arnerican teen angst for this excuse t compile yet another pumping indie soundtrack.
The setting this time around is the eponymous record store. an independent outﬁt managed by Joe
(Anthony LaPaglia) which is due to be
sold off to a dreary multi-outlet
franchise. Joe and his gaggle of teenage sales assistants have but one day to ﬁnd
the money to save the shop from corporate uniforms and artiﬁcially inﬂated prices.
Although this is a scenario which is about as slender as a catwalk supermodel. it has plenty of scope to
explore the variously bruised characters ofthe assistants. There’s Lucas (Rory
Cochrane). a disturbed Mr Bean
lookalike who has a deep aphorism for
every eventuality: and Debra (Robin Tunney) who is in the middle ofan identity crisis and starts the ﬁlm by having a Sinead O'Connor-type relationship with a pair of scissors. Good little rich girl Corey (Liv Tyler) and misunderstood artist A]. (Johnny Whitworth) provide the lurve action while Mark (Ethan Randall). a sub Berri-is And Bun/rend. grunge-loving dork plays the clown.
Unfortunately. there are simply too many quirks around for anyone to get to grips with their character and they all end up being so two-dimensional that the result is not so much slender as bulimic. Only Tunney manages any depth and. despite a cracking soundtrack and some reasonably realised ensemble playing. even the target teen audience will barf at the angst-ridden mock funeral scene. Overall. a miss. (Thom Dibdin) Empire Records ([2) (Allan Moyle. US. I 996) Anthony LnPug/iu. Johnny Whirworrh. Robin Tunney. 89 mins. From Fri 28. Limited general release.
Empire Records: ‘too many quirks’
lleaven’s Prisoners: ‘genulnely shocking
Of the Baldwin actor brothers franchise, Alec is proving to be the most watchable performer. lie was the unlucky con-artist in the gorgeously sleazy Miami Blues, Olengarry Olen Boss’s mercenary boss and the suave masked crime fighter in The Shadow. More recently, he was the one redeeming feature in the otherwise unimaginatlve The Juror. With lleaven’s Prisoners, Baldwin imbues James Lee Burke’s detective Oavid Bobicheux with the desperation and resignation of an alcoholic and the resolve and principles of an ex-cop. Things get off to an explosive start with lloblcheux and wife llelly lynch rescuing an illegal immigrant child
from an aircraft crash. The
government agent status of one of the crash victims involves Robicheux with the llew Orleans mafia, Eric Boberts’s high school buddy-cum-small time hood and Teri llatcher’s nasty femme fatale.
At two hours plus, Heaven’s Prisoners boasts involved plotting, colourful characterisations, a genuinely shocking plot twist and a jaw- dropping prolonged rooftop chase. Although the pacing is occasionally sluggish and the female characters ' stereotypical, this is still a solid llollywood thriller. llaving dropped the Jack llyan series after The llunt For lied October, there’s still potential in a Robicheux franchise for this Baldwin. (Miles Fielder)
Heaven ’s Prisoners (15) (Phil Joanou, us, 1996) Alec Baldwin, Kelly lynch, Mary Stuart Masterson. 132 mins.
From Fri 28. General release.
Screamers: ‘occasionally dlverting’
Philip K. Dick is renowned for two things in his science-ﬁction works: his discussion of big ideas and his scrappy writing. Unfortunately. in Screamers- Christian Duguay has stuck so closely to Dick's 1952 short story ‘Second Variety‘. that both elements are present.
The year is 2078 and on the mining colony of Sirius 68. the ground war between the Alliance and the New Economic Bloc has degenerated into stalemate. The reason is the Screamers: nasty pieces of machinery which zap around just under the surface and jump out on anything with a pulse. chopping it into little bits. Offered the chance of peace by his opposite number. Alliance Colonel Hendricksson (Peter Weller) disobeys orders and sets off to accept
The big idea in Streamers is the exploration of the difference between humans and replicants. something which was examined to greater effect in Blade Runner. The poor writing extends to glaring holes in the plot and banal dialogue. but it would be wrong to lay all the blame at Dick's door. as the B-list cast exacerbate the dialogue problem and do nothing to mask the transparent plot developments.
Not that this is a thoroughly dire movie. The effects. though hardly original. are well done and it contains sequences of startling tension and a few moments of nightmare-inducing horror. While occasionally diverting. Streamers is unlikely to please any but the most ardent of Dick's fans. (Thom Dibdin) Screamers ( [8) (Christian Dugua)‘. Canada. I995) Peter Weller. Roy Dirpois. Jennifer Rubin. I 08 mins. From Fri 28. Glasgow: ABC. Edinburgh: ABC. UCI.
The List 28 Jun-ll Jul I996 27