Blood Simple: ‘gleetully vicious attitude’


Modern noir. Neo-noir. The popular consensus is that these new terminologies for a half- century-old genre have arisen frotn the likes of film buffery and kitsch pop culture of Tarantino. the engagement with racist issues by Carl Franklin in Devil In A Blue Dress and John Dahl's rewriting of the femme fatale in The Last St’t/tlt‘iiuii. to natne but a few. To name two more and address the true rebirth of noir cool. go to the Coen brothers' Blum/ Simple.

Original post-war noir

3 Edinburgh: Cameo.

was dark. menacing and cynical at its best. Blum/ Simple mixes that with macabre humour and a shocking. gleefully vicious attitude. With their debut. the Coens produced a noir-schlock horror movie hybrid. In it you can see the origins of their compositional and editorial sure touch. a perfection of economical filmmaking visible in everything following. up to the recent Fargo.

Alid [310ml Siniple's plot'.’ Go and see it. (Miles Fielder)

Bland Simple ( I 8 ) (Joel ('uen. US, I983) John CeiI. Frances Menu/initial, Dan Her/ava. 9‘) Iliill.\‘. Front Fri 2. (i/axgrm'.‘ (1/37:

The Godfather, Part II: ‘demands the largest possible trame'



That rarity ofcinematic rarities: a sequel that's credited as being as good as. if not better. than the original. Like its predecessor. this gangster epic won the Best Picture Oscar and also brought home statuettes for Robert De Niro and director Francis Coppola. But on the surface. it presented the audience with a less commercial prospect: two separate timeframes. intercutting each other. coming before and after the action of the first instalment.

What makes this so far above the typical Hollywood sequel is the free creative rein given to Ceppola. This is no mere re-run of the original‘s

set-pieces: instead it expands upon The (Iml/atlier's themes (the ongoing denial of guilt and sin in Al Pacino‘s portrayal of Michael Corleone) and scope (the immigrant history of 20th century America. seen in the rise to power of the young Vito Corleone. played by De Niro). Audiences might think they are all too familiar with the film after countless television screenings. But. as was proved a few weeks ago when the original was seen on the big screen in a new print. photography this rich and a tale of this magnitude demands the largest possible frame. (Alan Morrison) T/te Gut/father: Part II ( I 8) (Francis C appala. US, I974) Al Pacino, Robert De Nira, Robert [)uvall. 200 mins. F mm Fri 2. Edinburgh: Film/muse.



When meteorologist Bill Harding meets his wife Jo on the Oklahoma plains to get her to sign their divorce papers. personal tempests are set aside as they and their storm chaser entourage dash offto the site ofa nearby tornado. Jo wants to test Bill's design for small sensors which can be released into a storm funnel. allowing for more accurate information about the paths of these seemingly unpredictable phenomena. Not far away is fellow scientist Jonas Miller. who has stolen Bill’s idea while grabbing media glory and corporate sponsorship. Also on the horizon is the largest storm the state has seen in half a century. and everyone is about to get caught in its trail of devastation.

This slight plot is all that's needed as an excuse to shake the screen with some awesome special effects that would make Dorothy and Toto dismiss their Kansas cyclone as a mere summer breeze. Attempts are made to inject sotne emotional content into the proceedings. but continual dives into all-out action mean nothing is allowed to develop to a level where the audience feels concerned about the characters' well-being.

That's not to say everyone on screen is a puppet. Helen Hunt plays 10 as a plucky heroine driven by the loss of her father in a tornado. Bill Pullman makes his namesake‘sjourney back into his wife‘s arms a believably half-fought inner battle. and the storm chasers provide comic breaks but also thrust aside their geekiness when teamwork beckons.

The film‘s tnain problem is its dully

repetitive structure: each tornado is a bit bigger and tnore vicious than the last. each encounter takes the characters a little closer to the eye of the storm. The effects whisk tractors. cows and houses up into the air but. by some twist of fate. they always land slap bang on the road in front of our heroes‘ truck. ltnpressive in parts. but »— like its own set-up suggests eventually something bigger and more spectacular will come along and this brush with excitement will blow over. (Alan Morrison)

'Iivis‘ler (PG) (.lan De Bani. US. /996) Helen Hunt. Bill Pat/mt. Jami Ger/r. [/3 mins. l-‘rmn Fri 26. General release.

‘This slight plot is all that’s needed to shake the screen with some awesome special effects that would make Dorothy and Toto dismiss their Kansas cyclone as a mere summer breeze.’


Those of us old enough to remember Flipper, the 60s television series, vaguely recall a highly intelligent creature with a permanent smile on its tace, no matter how grave the latest disaster at sea which it was reporting to close human triend Sandy. The 90s version - you know it’s contemporary by the use ot now obligatory Pc tittingly gives a cameo to the original Sandy (luke llalpin), who plays one of the bad guys.

Elijah Wood takes on his mantle - or swimming trunks - as a ditticult teenager, sent down Florida way tor the summer to stay with his eccentric uncle Porter (weather-beaten Paul Hogan), a tisherman operating trom a rust-bucket inappropriately named Reliable. A battle of wills commences between ex-hippy Porter and city kid Sandy, deeply sulky that his entorced sojourn with nature means missing the lied llot Chili Peppers concert back home, until the appearance ot Flipper, an orphaned dolphin who attaches himselt to the boy.

The marvellous mammal not only prompts welcome changes in Sandy’s personality, but also brings a shy, nine-year-old bottin called Marvin (Jason Fuchs) out ot his shell and his yellow oilskins, prompts llncle Porter to value the idea at commitment to his on-ott lady love (Chelsea Field), and is

instrumental in exposing the dumping of banal-loads ot poisonous chemicals on the sea bed.

Wood, growing up test, has that rare quality of being a young actor who can act, and Hogan is quirky without being overpowering. Much of the story brings to mind aspects ot Andre and Free Willy, but then there are only so many scripts that will accommodate the capabilities at aquatic superstars. Predictable stutt in the heart-warming category, but a sate bet tor a school holidays outing. (Sue Greenway) Flipper (P6) (Alan Shapiro, US, 19%) Eli/air Wood, Paul Hogan, Chelsea Field. 96 mins. From Fri 2. General release.

‘There are only so many scripts that will accommodate the capabilities at aquatic superstars’

26 The List 26 Jul-8 Aug I996