SCI-Fl ATION INDEPENDENCE oAv
Pitlless. lmplacable. Destroying everything in its way. The unstoppable force that laid waste to the American box office is on its way over here, and even the critics’ armed thermonuclear vitriol is powerless to do anything about it. Yes, Independence Day is here, and it’s bigger than all of us.
Everyone wants to know whether it’s any good or not, and though the question almost becomes irrelevant with such a juggernaut hype monster, the answer is both a qualified ‘yes’ and an emphatic ‘no’. They may have remade 1953’s War of The Worlds without letting on about it, but director lloland Emmerich and his digital effects crew have done that magical thing of hitting the right movie idea at just the right time. Maybe it’s millennium fever, maybe it’s The X Files, but as miles-wide spacecraft descend from the ether and zap the world’s major cities-into toast, the movie definitely strikes a nervy public unconscious. What if? Scary thought indeed.
Actually, it’s wholesale annihilation paranoia that powers the rest of the picture, which throws in more computer-generated imagery than you can shake a tornado at, but shows a saddening lack of imagination in its
independence Day: ‘a big, loud, uncomplicated alien attack movle’
503 retro design work, cartoon characterisation, and shoddy use of computer buzz-words to smooth over gaping plot holes. The actors are cattle, though Bill Pullman makes a decent Bill Clinton and Jeff Goldblum gives good boffin, but even the aerial dogfights seem stolen from George Lucas.
Basically, there’s everything wrong wrtn Independence Days—even before its loudhailing iingoism takes over - but if you want a big, loud, uncomplicated alien attack movie it undeniably delivers the goods. Just remember though, kids, they can zap your body, but they can’t take over your mind. (Trevor Johnston) Independence [la y ( 12) (Roland Emmerich, 1996, US) Bill Pullman, Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum. From Fri 9. General release.
COMEDY THE STUPIDS
The tale of a man of diminished responsibilities fantasising a world where injustice is rife is a very old one; but the new comedy by John Landis offers no lion Quixote railing against windmills, only Tom Arnold wrestling with an inner tube. Jettisoning any insight into the human condition in favour of llollywood’s current preoccupation with farcical foolishness, the director of Beverly llills Cop III presents us with a bunch of idiots who get involved in an actual conspiracy, yet emerge from it as clueless as they were at the start.
Arnold is Stanley Stupid, a former postman who got sacked for asking why lots of letters be sorted were being returned to a Mr Sender. Once a week, he and his equally feeble- minded family put their rubbish out on garbage celebration day, only to find it stolen the next morning. Investigating this mystery, they stumble upon what they think is a massive rubbish theft scant, but is in fact a plot by a group of renegade military types to sell off arms to world criminals.
llnconcerned with character, Landis
rrie Stu'plds: “farcical foolishness’
and screenwriter Brent Forrester pile on the gags - some good, most woeful - as the actors mug disgracefully to the camera; there’s also the added attraction of more of the director’s now tiresome filmmaker cameos (including, bizarrely, Atom Egoyan and Gillo Pontecorvo). Tom Arnold, a sub- Dan Aykroyd, is engaging in a limited, clownish way, while Christopher Lee appears just long enough to pay his mortgage but not take responsibility for the farrago as a whole. (Simon Wardell)
The Sfupids (P6) (John Landis, US, 1996) Tom Arnold, Jessica lundy, Christopher lee. 94 mins. From Fri 9. General release.
Films screening this fortnight are listed below with certificate, credits, brief review and venue details. Film index compiled by Alan Morrison.
I WWI Thing ( l5) (llettie Macdonald. UK. I996) Glen Berry. Linda Henry. Scott Neal. 90 mins. Jamie. a teenager having a hard time at the local comprehensive. falls for neighbour Ste. who himself is on the receiving end from his ex- boxer dad. First-timer Macdonald's direction is unf'lashy. but attuned to the inner lives of these motley individuals. arid the cast work wonders. Bright. summery and full of life‘s possibilities Strathclyde: East Kilbride Arts Centre.
I Blood Simple ( l8) (Joel Coen. US. l983) John Getz. Francis McDormand. M. Emmet Walsh. 99 mins. Auspicious debut frortt the Cocn brothers‘ direction/production team. Walsh excels as the seedy Sheriff investigating a simple murder whose devilish Texan chronicle of double- crossing is anything but simple. Art enthusiastic attempt at contemporary film Itoir. which keeps everyone guessing even after the final frame. Edinburgh: Cameo.
I Braveheart ( I5) (Mel Gibson. US. I995) Mel Gibson. Patrick McGoohan. Sophie Marceau. I77 mins. Mel Gibson's long and bloody account of the life of Scottish warrior hero William Wallace boasts some remarkable battle scenes and great performances. Aiming to entertain on a wider scale than the more literate Rub Ray. Br'uI-i'lrmrr's Scottish passion is tempered by a few Hollywood moments — touches of sentimentality and ‘dramatic‘ historical inaccuracy. Nevertheless. it‘s a litre. full-blooded attempt to tap into the spirit that fires Scotland‘s history and heroes. Edinburgh: Filmhouse. Odeon. Central: Mac~Robert.
I The Cable Guy ( l2) (Ben Stiller. US. I996) Jim (’arrey. Matthew Broderick. Leslie Mann. 96 mitts. When he settles into his batclrelor' pad. hoping to enjoy an easy life ofcable television. architect Steven Kovacs (Broderick) didn‘t expect that the cable installer would go to any lengths to become his friend. Misjudged comedy wrtlt the hyperactive Carrey in conniving form. frrll of spot-the-scene humour. Edirtburglt: Odeon. UCI. Strathclyde: UCI Clydebank.
I Dead Man ( l8) (Jim Jarmusclt. US. I995) Johnny Depp. Gary Farmer. Lance llenricksen. Ill mins. After heading out west for a job vacancy that's already been filled. accountant Bill Blake (Depp) finds a posse on his tail after the shooting of his would-be employer's sort. With a btrllet in his own chest. Blake hooks tip with art Indian called Nobody (Farmer). who reckons this is the spirit of the poet Blake and so prepares a proper funeral. Glorioust shot in black and white. rtteticulously paced and imbued with a spiritual transcendence. .larmusch's existential Western is innovative and unexpected. Glasgow: GFI‘.
I BEFF: Brambuie Edinburgh Film Festival The 50th Filrtt Festival spreads itself wider than ever. taking over all the screens at the Cameo and Filmhotrse. and creeping irtto the programrttes at the Edinburgh ABC. Dortrinion. ()deon arid ITCI.
as well as the Glasgow Film Theatre and
Dunfermline's (‘arnegie Hall and Robin’s Cinema. The ftrll list of screenings can be found it) the Film Festival's own widely available preview publication. attd further ittforrttatiort cart be gleaned on ()l 3| 229 2550. For a very comprehensive set of reviews for the films screening this week. see pages 75-78. Various
I Denise Calls Up ( I5) (llal Salwen. IFS. I994) Alanna I'baclr. Tint Daly. Dana Wheeler. SI mins. The morning after a disasterotrs party. the invited non-attendets ring In their excuses to tire hostess. A movie of telephone calls'.’ ()lt. yes. As a satire on the growing loss of our ability to comrttunicate face to face. the film is inventive and ftrrr. btrt the joke extends itself too far and. somewhere along the line. disappears up its owrt mouthpiece. Edinburgh: Cameo.
I Desperado ( l8) (Robert Rodriguez. Us. I995) Antonio Banderas. Salma llayek. Joachim De Almeida. l()() mins. I’ar't sequel. part big budget remake. [)t’.\/H’l'llt/U delivers all the shoot-outs and explosions denied (Is in Rodriguez's invettttve debttt (5/ Muriuc/ri. Bander'as srrtoulder's as the revenge-driven guitarist. btrt tlte emphasis is not on plot — deligltt instead it) the glorious action set pieces. The ultimate firearm fiarrtenco. Stratltclyde: Odeon Ayr.
I Down Periscope (PG) (David S. Ward. US. I995) Kelsey Grammar. Lauren Holly. Bruce Dern. I00 mins. ('Iri'w'i arid F ru:ii'r star (‘rr‘arttmar plays a navy cortttttartder' given the
unenviable job of taming a rusty submarine and its scabby crew into a ﬁghting unit. Slapstick knockabout and cringemaking humour put this on the level of Police Academy. Strathclyde: Magnum.
I Fargo ( l8)(Joel Coen. US. i996) Frances McDormand. Steve Buscemi. William H. Macy. 97 mins. Hoping to make some bucks. a car salesman attempts to have his wife kidnapped by hitmen: bttt quickly blood is spilt. As the - pregnant police detective on the case. McDormand provides a wamr-heaned centre for the movie. while the absurdist plot and weird local colour gain momentum. It'll be considered a classic. given time. Glasgow: ABC Sauchiehall Street. Strathclyde: Magnum.
I Flipper (PG) (Alan Shapiro. US. l996) Elijah Wood. Paul Hogan. Chelsea Field. 96mins. Difficult city teenager Sandy (Wood) doesn't warm to ex-hippy uncle Porter (Hogan) down in the Florida Keys until along comes friendly dolphin Flipper. The story brings to mind aspects of Andre and Frt’t’ Wr'l/gv. btit there are only so many scripts that can accommodate an acquatic star. Predictable sttrff in the heart-warming categOry. General release.
I French Twist Guzmr Mimi/ii ( l8) (Josiane Balasko. France. l995) Victoria Abn‘l. Josiane Balasko. Alain Chabat. l05 mins. When her van breaks down outside the house of a conventional couple. cigar-chomping btrll dyke Balasko brings a new variation of the menage-avtrois into the lives of Abril and Clrabat. A naughty. fun and engagineg French sexual farce. filled with dynamic characterisations. Edinburgh: Filmhouse.
I From Dusk Till Dawn ( l8) (Robert Rodriguez. L'S. I996) George Clooney. Harvey Keitel. Quentin Tarantino. l08 mins. For its first third. this Tarantino-scripted movie is a suspenseful kidnap thriller as two killers on the run (Clooney and Tat‘antino) hole tip with three hostages in a Mexican strip club. Then the tone changes into an sfx-heavy vampire western as the clientele spring fangs. Repetition abounds in a messy. tedious affair that's neither scary nor funny. Edinburgh: UCI.
I The Godfather II ( l8) (Francis Coppola. US. I974) Al Pacino. Robert De Niro. Robert [)uvall. Diane Keaton. John Cazale. 200 mins. Still the only sequel to writ the ()scar for Best Picture. Coppola's extended gangster epic looks at the life of the Corleone family before and after the events of the first movie. De Niro is superb as the young Vito. rtewly arrived from Sicily and making his mark in the Land of the Free; his son Michael (Pacino). now fully corrupted by absolute power. extends his crime empire. btrt at the expense of killing family attd friends. A magnificent achievement that outdoes the l97l original and the tnore recent third instalment. Edinburgh: Filtnhotrse.
I Gregory’s Birl (PG) (Bill For'syth. UK. I98!) Gordon John Sinclair. Dee llepburn. Clare Grogan. 9| mins. Winning comedy from (‘umbernauld with Sinclair eventually finding r'orrtance after his heart is set aliarrte by the latest recruit to the school football team. Seminal piece of Scottish cinema. its universal appeal demonstrating that homegrown talent can compete with llollywtxrd's finest in the entertainrrient stakes. ()utdoor screening. Edinburgh: lrtverleith Park.
I llenry: Portrait Of A Serial killer ( l8) (John McNaughton. L'S. l986) Michael Rooker. Tom Towles. Tracey Arnold. 80 mins. Based loosely on the true life (and subsequently recanted) confessions of Henry Lee Lucas. McNaughton‘s exemplary film is a harrowing account of an amoral mass Ilitll‘dCl'Cl‘. Scenes of tape attd mutilation transcend the usual titillation of the genre and force the audience to question the use of murder" as entertainment. Simultaneously one of the most important releases of recent years. and one l'CCUIl‘ililClldL‘d \s itlt caution. Edinburgh: Cameo.
I flow To Make An American llttilt ( l5) (Jocelyn Moor house. L'S. I995) Winona Ryder. Anne Bancroft. Dermot Mulroney. l l6 mins. A multi- gener'ational cast of wonderful Arttericart actresses - irt addrtiort to Ryder arid Bancroft. there‘s Ellen Burstyn. Kate Nelligan. Jean Simrttons artd Samantha Mathis - appear in a rttultigenerational women's rrtovie. When Ryder ponders over a Ittarr'iage proposal. advice on love and men is l'ortltcorttitrg from her female relatives. Unfortunately. Hollywood has knitted tip tltis pattern before. Stratltclyde: Magnum.
I The llunchback (if llotre name (PG) (Gary 'l‘r‘ousdaIe/Kirk Wise. L’S. I996) With the voices of Tom lIuIce. Demi Moore. Kevin Kline. 90 mins. Young Quasimodo is kept prisoner in medieval Paris's great cathedral by the evil Judge Fr'oIlo. but when the beautiful gypsy Esmeralda comes on the scene. the boy's heroic instincts save the day. Strong vocal performances. stunning cityscapes. grand songs and art expertly mature ltartdlirrg of adult themes make this an irrstartt classic with plenty to say about moral hypocrisy. General release.
The List 9-l5 Aug I996 97