Playing for real: Maggie Cheung in Irma Vep

Irma Vep (15) 98 mins

Who is Irma Vep7 She's the feline thief of the silent movre serial Les \x’arnprres She's also the character that fictional film director Rene Vidal hires real life Hong Kong actress Maggie Cheung to play in his remake of the very same pulp crime drama As Vidal, a man on the verge of a nervous breakdown, loses interest in his" film and instead becomes inc i'easingly obsessed with his oriental star, the film's real drama unfolds an expose of frlmrnaking. lvleanwhile, Cheung strives valiantly to find neaning in her thankless (fictional) role

Far more cynical than, say, Tom DiCrllo's similar L/i/ing In Ohlry/on, /rma Vep shows a self-indulgent, preoccupied, gossiping cast and crew who are unable to finish their film.

Director Olivrer Assayas’s observations are assured and full of insight, providing faSCinating VieWing. His genius touch, however, is to cast Cheung as herself, a strategy which blurs the line between reality and fiction, revealing the arduous production process behind the film. Best known for her action flick collaborations with Jackie Chan, Cheung's performance which gurdes us through the bewddering, manic world of filmmaking is honest, open, endearing and utterly convincing

With numerous wry observations, well-developed characterrsations and mini-dramas ~ espeCIally enjoyable is Cheung's tentative method acting scene in which she steals a necklace clad in Vep’s 'Catwoman' outfit lr/na Vep is great filmmakrng about awful filmmaking. tMiles Fielder)

Edinburgh Fr/mhouse from Fri 4 Apr

Truth or consequences: Matthieu Kassovitz in A Self-Made Hero

A Self-Made Hero (15) 105 mins

\N’rrter-ct‘irector Jacctues Audiaid's second feature, for which he won the Best Screenplay (award at Cannes last year, is a 'a'e blend of f"|\’~i)'iiy and SOTla;tls.'\-f‘ss 't :rrobes the legacy cf France's firth" tre'u‘d 3:".(1 ctif'lf‘S up ‘3."th a '\l"c1 i"l v‘ of life

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Matthieu KciSS(?‘.'li/ ryes, the same guy who made the brilliant street—saga La Harrie) fills Albert with an engaging melange of timrdity, low cunning and underlying deternunation He convinces us that all this :s UerSINO, knitting together the various strands flll( luding Reds-style personal testimonies, which themsel'.'es may or may not be :nventezl‘ of Audiard and Alain Le Henry's {lr‘:.//l"‘.<l script lt's intriguing, blessed \'.'2’.l‘. a vac ked sense of humour, and really rather thought- movokir‘g after all, many strategically-oasrt'uned lies would rt take to exchange a'tyor‘e's li‘e for a ritzie.r model7 Def'nrtely one of the films of the year 'Treyor Johnstoni

' Glasgow Film Theatre from Fri 4’ Apr Edinburgh Fr/mhouse from Frr l I Apr

new releases FILM

The Near Room (18) 89mins r '~

Enter a vision of Glasgow where Mr Happy never smiles better and prostitutes tout their wares in concrete wastelands washed in the stylised, shadowy light of a thousand American crime movies, This is the landscape trawled by washed-up newspaper hack Charlie (Adrian Dunbar), a man beginning to realise that the young girl he is searching for in a sewer of corruption and child pornography is his own long-lost daughter Charlie fathered her when only sixteen and has never seen her since: her absence from his life is an emptiness in his s0ul, the tragic flaw that continually drags him down.

Charlie’s v0iceover narration to his tale contains a bleak poetry that lifts rt above Raymond Chandler pastiche The mix of Catholrc gurlt tangled vvrth lowlife crime draws us into Martin Scorsese-Abel Ferrara territory, while the film’s unstoppable descent into the dark underbelly of life makes The Near Room the Scottish equivalent of Seven

Robert Murphy's screenplay throws a tight net over the characters, but also has a beautifully circular guality, creating a world where the past hunts you down

with a relentless, merciless ineVitability, yet there is hope and a gl redemption in Charlie's final sacrifice. The Near Room is part homage

Mean city: The Near Room


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cinema genre, but its depiction of an end-of-the-millennrum tit-oral decay «also

touches some raw nerves in a particularly unforgiving city r Alan

General release from Fri 7 7 Apr

Hard Men (18) 87 mins

It hasn't been posmble to revrew Hard Men before going to press, but fans of off-centre crrrne movies might want to make the effort to check out this low- budget British indie The risky but frnanCrally rewarding world of Tone and his gangland debt-collector mates is shaken when an old girlfriend and baby appear on the scene. Tone knows too much to retire to domestic life, so this could be the excuse that Pops Den, the local kingpin, needs to knock hrrn off By concentrating the action to a single night, this exercise in loyalty and betrayal doesn't overstep its ambitions Like Tarantino, it knows its reference points, and director J K Arnalou gets bonus points for his eclectic casting -7 former criminal 'Mad' Frankie Fraser, DJ Andy \Veatherall and maveric k theatre monologuist Ken Campbell 4Alan Morrison) Glasgow Showcase from Frr 4 Apr

The Empire Strikes Back (U) 124 mins

Like the middle section of many great tr'ilogies, The Ernprre Strikes Back is caught between reintroducing the _>opu|ar elements of the original while setting up the context for the climax, as such, the story itself doesn't move on greatly Luke's sc ‘r()()llftg in the ways of the Jedi is picked up by Yoda, while the Rebel Army continues its fight against The Empire The effects were considerably advanced by this stage and, of course, are even snazzrer in thrs special editioanlan Morrison)

Feel the force: Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back

4 2/ Apr new THELIST 25