Basket cases: Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan in Space Jam

Space Jam (U) 87 mins Hi

It must have been some script conference ’Hey guys! I’ve got this great idea for a Michael Jordan movie, you know, the basketball player everyone loves? Anyway, check this: nasty little alien cartoons have captured Bugs Bunny and are gomg to enslave the Looney Tunes in their amusement park on Moron Mountain. Bugs persuades them to play for the Tunes’ freedom With a game of basketball and, here's the punch, enlists the help of Michael to save them.‘

'Sounds good. You’ve got Tunes in jeopardy, we'll get a sexy young rabbit to provide the love interest. I’m sure

Bill Murray isn’t domg much at the moment he'll add a bit of comedy if Michael can't and it should hit the UK JUSI as Channel 4 picks up the NBA championships in time for the Easter holidays.’

And so was this camel of a mowe created. Okay, so Jordan is superb on the court and Bugs and pals are guaranteed entertainment, but it lacks the class of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and the pace of a real basketball game. Moreover, both the jokes and the speCial effects are tired from over-use. Still, it should divert the kids on Saturday mornings, even if Jordan looks completely bemused throughout. (Thom Dibdin)

I General release from Fri 27 Mar.

Conspirators Of Pleasure (18) 75 mins *‘k‘kt

Czech surrealist Jan Svankmaier’s third feature is a live action black comedy that makes a Wicked, slightly disturbing foray into the bizarre sexual fantasies that lurk in the human mind. Six disparate city-dwellers frantically construct home-made erotic devices, linked by their eXCitement for the upcoming Sunday when they can put their creations into action. A magazine shop owner drools over a TV newsreader while building a contraption With five lace-gloved arms; another man makes a papier mache head from porn mags and feathers; a postwoman rolls loaves of bread into small balls And that's not to mention the rolling pins and fish.

Sparing in the use of his trademark stop-motion animation, Svankmaier manipulates his actors instead.

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Feather-headed: strange desires in Conspirators 0f Pleasure

Drawing on the work of de Sade, Freud, Max Ernst and Bunuel to illuminate his characters’ sadistic, masochistic and fetishistic desires, he strips them of dialogue and amplifies the sounds they make, turning every crumple of paper and scrape of bristle into a turn-on.

It's on a par With Un Chien Andalou in the way it revels in perversity for its own sake, although whereas that film was a model of succmctness, Svankmajer has yet to master the pacing requned in the longer format. However, so good is the animator at creating a world of the imagination that it is easy to forget the painful reality that can follow these strange pleasures. lf Svankmaier has his tongue in his cheek for much of the time, there is sure to be a nail through it. (Simon Wardell)

I Edinburgh Fl/lnhOUSE’, Fri 2 l-Tue 25 Mar; MacRobert Arts Centre, Stirling, Sun 30 Mar.

new releases FILM

The Railway Children

(U) 108 mins *** ,1 - I i In a world where children's films have become little more than extended adverts °*‘ for shelves of merchandise, it is somehow refreshing to come across a movie whose only tie-in could be an old-fashioned " Hornby train set. The Railway Children is part of that mythical British collective consciousness all lace dresses, cloth caps and comfortable middle-class values. It is obviously not as cutting edge as the current Hollywood output for kids, but that could be the film’s advantage at the time of this re-release: despite countless teleVision screenings, it is rare to be able to take the offspring along to a matinee where solid storytelling is the key. (Alan Morrison)

I Glasgow Film Theatre from Fri 28 Mar.

Train of thought: The Railway Children

Larger Than Life (PG) 93 mins

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Trunk call: Bill Murray and Vera in Larger Than Life

In this desperate comedy, Bill Murray plays sidekick to an elephant. As popular therapist Jack Corcoran, he has difficulty coming to terms with his father’s legacy Vera, a Circus elephant. Aiming to get rid of her, he agrees to sell Vera to heartless Hollywood animal trainer Terri (Linda Fiorentino of The Last Seduction fame). But, whaddya know, journeying aCross America With his elephant makes Jack a better person.

The duo stumble into a few faintly exciting situations such as nearly getting arrested, almost dehydrating in the desert and saVing a church -— and somewhere along the line Jack finds he has started caring for the beast.

Larger Than Life is a loosely plotted odyssey, literally and figuratively, but its philosophical bent is drowned in mindless elephant worship. Acres of film are devoted to Vera's three-legged feats, and the filmmakers seem to be under the misapprehension that a performing pachyderm is a wondrous sight.

A few reasons why you shouldn't go and see this film: dumb animals don’t make for funny dialogue; Murray leaves the gags to the elephant; Vera’s Visual Jokes are awful (she gets tangled in washing lines and houses fall down); and there are only so many times you really want to see an elephant stand on three legs. (Hannah Fries)

I General release from Fri 28 Mar.

Star Wars: Specnal


(U) 126 mins *** it

A screen legend returns, slightly souped- up for the modern audience: sound is suitably thunderous, the minimal extra footage of largely academic interest, and the additional digital effects rather obviously painted in. Set against today's . blockbusters, it has become a period piece. True, the design work has worn well, but the sight of oldies like Peter Cushing and Alec Guinness date the film almost as much as Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford's ultra-70s footballer haircuts. Dialogue is undernourished by irony, and characterisation non-existent, but for its conceptual imagination, its innocence of spirit and budget-stretching technical resources, Lucas’s mowe milestone remains Just that. (U)

I General release from Fri 27.

21 Mar—3 Apr 1997THEUST23