Being goosed: Anna Paquin In Fly Away llome
FLY AWAY HOME
When her mum is killed in a car crash. young Amy (The Piano‘s Anna Paquinijoins her eccentric but lovable dad Thomas (Jeff Daniels) in Canada. Amy ﬁnds it hard to settle. but ﬁnds a new goal when she cares for a nest of goose eggs exposed by uncaring land developers. The geese hatch. but have no parent to learn from. so Thomas attaches a small engine to his glider and it‘s up to Amy to encourage the geese to fly south before the local cop clips their wings or the proposed migration ground is snapped up by another
group of nasty developers. More orphaned kids. more cute animals. But this latest children‘s adventure. from the director of The Black Stallion. is nicely and believably handled in emotional terms. It‘s clear that Amy relates to the chicks because both have been dislodged from a safe environment by the randomness of fate and. transferring her helplessness onto them. she becomes a surrogate mother. This adds a little extra to the usual quota of animal flufﬁness. (Alan Morrison) Fly Away Home ( U) ( C aroll Ballard. US. [996) Anna Paquin. .lejj' Daniels, Dana Delanv. [07 mins. Front Fri 7.
Against a backdrop of Naples that seems to emphasise a city in moral and physical decline. Delia (Anna Bonaiuto) searches for the reasons ' for her mother‘s death - ofﬁcially designated a suicide. but a growing series of circumstances indicate it was murder. Delia's detective work takes her back into her own past. where she must reassess her relationship with her mother and question her very identity. Mario Martone's second feature (after Death OfA
l’Amore Molesto: ‘dlsorlentatlng flashbacks’
Neapolitan Mathematician. shown at the Edinburgh Film Festival) is full of disorientating ﬂashbacks that indicate Delia‘s investigation is hindered as much by obstacles of her own psychological making as any Hitchcockian red hern'ngs. The mood is excellent and. despite a few clichés along the way. the ﬁlm manages to combine an engaging story with a strong sense of cinematic style. (Alan Morrison)
L 'A more Molesro ( 15) (Mario Marrone. Italy. I995 ) Anna Bonaiulo, Angela Luce. Gianni Cajafa. [03 mins. Tue Ill—Thurs 20. Edinburgh: F ilmhouse.
Self-made millionaire and all-American airline owner Tom Mullen (Mel Gibson) sees his life takes a turn for the traumatic when his only child Sean (Brawley Nolte) is kidnapped and held for ransom. After bringing in the FBI and a spot of lethal pandering to the baddies. Gibson gets into full Branson- esque mode and joins the media circus by appearing on network TV to offer the ransom as a ‘52 million lottery ticket’ for the kidnapper's head. Dead or, if he chooses. alive.
This is. of course. a formulaic load of testosterone-laden macho posturing. But if it at ﬁrst appears to be laden with the sort of over-worked Hollywood cliches in which all the baddies are singled out by sporting tattoos. nonsense it is not. It is a tightly paced. dark and brooding thriller which. thanks to director Ron Howard. has more than the average gumption. tension and twists.
The acting is excellent all round. Rene Russo works hard to do more than simply ﬂap her arms around in the ostensibly two-dimensional pan of the distressed mother. Gary Sinise is a suitably sleazy kidnapper and Delroy
Lindo adds some nicely humorous touches to break up the tension as the FBI negotiator. But this is very much Gibson's movie and he is perfectly cast as the likeable bloke with an underlying vicious streak. Even better. despite the potential for schmaltz in the ‘kids in jeopardy’ plot. you end up caring whether the boy lives or dies. Which is unusual for brats of American millionaires. Especially Nick Nolte‘s. (Thom Dibdin)
Ransom ([5) (Ron Howard. US. I 996) Mel Gibson. Rene Russo. Gary Sinise. I 2/ mins. From Fri 7. General release.
Father’s pride: Mel Gibson and Brawley llolte in Ransom
The team from A Fish Called Wanda - John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline and Michael Palin - get back together for a light zoo farce. Director Robert Young’s captainship is lacking, as is the script, but there are some funny scenes amid the frankly embarrassing ann-wavings ex-Bond girl Carey lowell (what a waste) and television liters Robert Lindsay, Ronnie Corbett and Derek Griffiths.
It isn’t a sequel; the characters and situation are quite different from Wanda. Kline plays two parts - crude Murdoch-style media tycoon Rod McCain and his pathetic son Vince. Cleese is the new director at Rod’s recently acquired Marwood Zoo in England, and has to make it hugely profitable or it closes and he’s out. lie decides that violence - or at least the threat of it - is what the punters want, so any creature which is not fierce
must go. The keepers rebel in silly ways, trying to pass off lemurs and other cuddlies as man-eaters.
Sexy executive Curtis takes a personal interest in the zoo, and arrives from the us with Vince lusting after her. Vince’s ridiculous sponsorship scheme saves the animals, but makes a wild (actually, very tame) mockery of them. Meanwhile, Rod has already decided on closure.
Fierce Creatures hasn’t much bite despite considerable reshooting by a salvage team lead by director Fred Schepisi. Film reviewer lain Johnstone was there from the start, though, as Cleese’s co-writer. It’s always interesting to see a critic in the firing line, and this could be a case of the ostriches coming home to roost. (Cio MacDonald)
Fierce Creatures ( 12) (Robert Young/ Fred Schepisi, arr/us, 1996) John Cleese, Jamie lee Curtis, Kevin Kline, Michael Palin. 93 mins. From Fri 14. General release.
Bear necessities: Kevin Kline and furry friend in Fierce Creatures
HARRIET THE SP
llarrlet the Spy: ‘fresn, sparky pertonnance'
The world upon which Harriet spies is not ﬁlled with exciting incidents. She doesn't stumble on a bunch ofcrooks planning a robbery or a kidnapping. nor does she get to save the world. lnstead. Harriet spies because she is intrigued by the smaller human dramas that constitute life. And ifthat sounds like a mighty precocious attitude for an eleven-year-old to have. then you're beginning to understand her.
Harriet is a slightly smug character. conﬁdent in the way that bright and privileged children are. and certain about her future as ‘a writer‘. Yet she is not altogether nauseating. thanks to Michelle Trachtenberg's fresh. sparky performance and a plot-line which puts Harriet‘s determination to the test. Those children who are similar enough to relate will enjoy this story of an obsessive loner whose vocation lands her in trouble.
When Harriet's friends and classmates discover the criticisms she has made of them in her private journal. they unite to take revenge. Harriet rallies round and ﬁghts back and is eventually rewarded by renewed popularity. editorship of the class newspaper and even greater conﬁdence in her own identity.
Based on Louise Fitzhugh‘s classic children‘s book. Harriet The Spy is big on encouraging children to stick to their dreams. lts tone is friendly and teacherly. bordering on the patronising. There is little here to amuse accompanying world- weary adults. whose reality is portrayed as irrelevant. All the ﬁlm's grown-ups (including nanny Rosie O'Donnell and eccentric neighbour Eartha Kitt) are barely dimensional at all. (Hannah Fries)
Harriet The Spy (PG) (Bronwen Hughes. US. [996) Michelle Trachlenherg. Rosie O'Donnell. Gregory Smith. 102 mins. From Fri I4. General release.
22 The List 7-20 Feb I997