The Devil's Own (15) 111 mins **
Already lambasted in print by Brad Pitt over its irresponsible portrayal of an IRA gunman, and plagued by script and production problems that inflated the budget no end, this contemporary thriller comes to these shores trailing very low expectations. The end result, however, is more likely to lull cinemagoers into a faint doze than it is to enrage their tender political sensibilities.
The Northern Ireland on view here is a place of contrasts, where a gentle people in chunky-knit sweaters live oppressed by the British yoke, and gunfire kills the keening sound of the uileann pipes. His father a victim of the 'security forces', Pitt is driven into the IRA, where his courage in a gun battle with British soldiers allows him to escape to the sanctuary of America. There he plots a daring revenge from a safe house set up by New York’s network of republican sympathisers.
His host, solidly decent Irish- American NYPD man Harrison Ford, is kind enough to offer shelter to this young man from a troubled homeland without stopping to ask the questions that would reveal his true identity. As Pitt settles into the
family home he never really had, it can't be too long before his arms-procuring activities cast a dark shadow
over his transatlantic sojourn.
As events proceed, it becomes clear that Alan J. Pakula's film is much happier in New York than it is anywhere else. The tension between the dedicated terrorist and the family nest that might yet possibly redeem him is the film's strongest suit, along with Ford’s believable performance as the hard-pressed cop trying to do the decent thing against all the odds. Almost everything else in the film is disastrous however, not
Killer on the loose: Brad Pitt in The Devil's Own
least the virtually unquestioned acceptance of the IRA cause and a quite laughable central plot strand
involving the shipping of arms back to the Emerald Isle
in a tiny trawler.
Illegal alien: Milla Iovovich in The Fifth Element
? The Fifth Element
; (12) 127 mins HM
; Time and time again, the critiCism is ; madc- that Luc Besson's films are all
style, no substance SO give him the
1 biggest budget ever for a French ’ production (around $70 million), a star cast that includes Bruce Willis and Gary 'l Oldrzian, state-of-the-art digital effects
~ and what do him that's all style, no but on a huge and, for the ri‘mst part, entertaining scale "2e fi‘vh opens in Egypt early this
and a futuristic setting
ymi rlet7 A
24 l3 Vb llili i(:‘(l/
century With the discovery of a secret chamber where the feur elements — earth, air, fire and water — must combine With a mysterious fifth every five thousand years in order to keep a devastatingly eVil force of anti-matter at bay on the edge of the universe. Fast forward to New York City in the 23rd Century, where cabbie and former Special Forces member Korben Dallas (Willis) picks up an unexpected passenger in the shape of the incomprehensible Leeloo (Milla Jovowch) She holds the key to savmg the world, as the dark blob closes in on
Without the grip of an out-and-out action movie, and lacking the intelligence to be anything else, an air of doom hangs over the proceedings. Pitt's accent is most convincing when he says 'aye', less persuasive elsewhere. Another Hollywood bodge.
(Trevor Johnston) I General release from Fri 20 Jun
Earth, aided by megalomaniac Zorg (Oldman) and his army of ugly alien mercenaries
Besson's second English language film — followmg the excellent Leon —- is a colourful iumble of camp designs (by Jean-Paul Gaultierl, self—indulgent performances and genre rip-offs. The opening sequence owes a lot to Stargate; the Earth spaceship that monitors the galactic menace has a command structure that’s pure Star Trek, and the Vision of a cramped New
York is the comic side of the coin to
Blade Runner's Los Angeles
The Fifth Element starts as an all-out sci-fi mowe, introduces some comedy which is at odds with the established mood, then gives up and plays for laughs as genuine genre ideas run dry As a reSUlt, Chris Tucker's overplayed MC — like Prince on helium »- iiitrucles into the action finale, and Willis looks strangely camp, swapping his Die Hard macho white T~shirt for Gaultier‘s orange creation Perhaps Besson's problem is that he sticks too close to the canvas, his obsession With the details and look of the film harms its overall coherence (Alan lvloirisonl II General release from Fri 73 Jun
Lesbian and Gay Film Festival
Sometimes the British system of rating films seems too silly for words. Take Sebastian, a Norwegian film about a sixteen-year-old coming to terms with all the usual adolescent angst. Apart from its rather cloying educational tone, it contains nothing which would be out of place in the tea-time teen TV soap Ho/lyoaks. Yet, because Sebastian is gay and has a rather embarrassing crush on his best friend, the film is rated ’18’ in this country. Presumably the 50 per cent of Norwegian school children who have seen the film have not turned into raging queens.
Matters of public decency apart, this is very much a film festival of two halves. The lesbian movies are, on the whole, about mood and emotion, while the gay films have a tendency towards the objectification of flesh. And lots of it. This is nowhere more apparent than in the two programmes of short films.
Of the lesbian films in Shorts Programme A, only Why I’ll Never Trust You ventures into any real voyeurism - so much so that it is surprising the director is female. Meanwhile, Twilight Of The Gods and Saint in Shorts Programme 8 are very 80s in their black and white portrayal of homoerotic themes.
The films which work best as cinema are those dealing \Nllh real moments of turmoil. the first schoolgirl crush in Sherlock, Louise And Mina, or the discovery that your best mate has picked up the boy of your dreams in Must Be The Music. Gay and lesbian cinema is being driven forward by the makers of films like this, and the Visually stunning but over-long first feature Work.
But the discovery of the festival is the utterly camp and outrageous comedy It’s In The Water. Subverting not only right-Wing American hypocrisy, but also gay and lesbian cliches, it will be a hit With anyone who has a half-open mind. (Thom Dibdin)
I Glasgow Film Theatre and Edinburgh Filmhouse, Fri 13—Wed 25 Jun. See Listings and Index for programme details
It's In The Water
STAR RATINGS * t r it * Outstanding t i t it Recommended it air * Worth a try t * 50-50 at Poor