Men In Black
(PG) 95 mins air it * ir
When the teaser trailer for this droll sci-fi comedy was screened earlier this year, there was a strong feeling that it might turn out to be the left- field hit of the summer. And so it has proved. There is more wit, inventiveness and droll humour in the first half hour of Get Shorty director Barry Sonnenfeld's deliciously deadpan movie than in Batman & Robin, The Lost World and Speed 2 put together.
Tommy Lee Jones and Independence Day star Will Smith play J and K, two cryptically named ’cosmic G-men' who monitor and police extra-terrestrial aliens living on Earth. They visit anyone who claims to have seen evidence of alien life and attempt to persuade them that the ‘sighting' was a figment of an over-active imagination. If persuasion fails, they simply erase the Earthling's memory of the incident with a handy gizmo called a Neuralizer. The rest is pretty routine stuff: shaking down sleazy pawn brokers with a sideline in alien weaponry, protecting exiled rulers from distant galaxies, and keeping an eye on illegal immigrants whose actions may lead to the destruction of the entire planet.
Loosely based on Lowell Cunningham's little-known, short-lived comic-book series, Men In Black was scripted by Ed Solomon (co-writer of the Bill and Ted movies), who shares Sonnenfeld’s feel for an unforced humour that emerges from K and J's cool reactions to the bizarre organisms and oddball situations they encounter.
Jones's jaded, seen-it-all straight man is the perfect foil for Smith's wide-eyed new kid on the block, delivering most of his best lines in passing and setting up Smith with the more obvious verbal gags and pay-off lines. Sonnenfeld's skilful use of visual effects also proves that
Coffee break: Tommy lee Jones shares a cup with some
alien chums in Men In Black
eye-popping spectacle and coherent storytelling can go
hand in hand.
Sadly, Linda Fiorentino is cruelly wasted as sexy mortician Dr Laurel Weaver, whose role as Smith's hapless love interest seems to have drifted in from a dodgy 50s ‘8' movie. This aberration aside, Men In Black delivers everything that this year's other blockbusters failed to come up with - imaginative ideas, dry humour, engaging performances and smart direction. Plus snazzy suits, cool shades and ludicrously over-sized weaponry.
I General release from Fri 7 Aug
A kiss before spying: Matthew Broderick and Meg Ryan in Addicted To Love
Addicted To Love (15) 100 mins H
The Cinematic equwalent of a frozen ready-meal — not turkey, but close — Addicted To Love is bland, predictable and convenient, but Just about digestible. Audiences who rubbish it really have no one to blame but themselves, for this is a Meg Ryan romantic comedy after all, With some similarities to French Kiss in its
hackneyed and obVious theme.
This time around she is the hard- hearted Maggie who Wishes bad things on her recent ex, Anton (Tcheky Karyo), only to stumble across Sam, a hopeless romantic (Matthew Broderick) mooning over his own ex (Kelly Preston) who has jUSl shacked up With Anton.
Spying on the lovers from across the street in an abandoned but remarkably well-appomted building, they combine
a camera obscura — which reflects and projects the romantic goings on — with the latest hi-tech bugging equipment. In this way, they are able to observe and eventually plot the downfall of this inconvenient relationship - with Sam's motive being blind romanticism and Maggie's being an equally blinkered taste for revenge.
And, oh, you'll never guess what happens when these two contrasting characters are forced by their common purpose to live together for a while. The film trundles down a track laid down by so many better, more subtle and wittier films as director Griffin Dunne — who might conceivably have played the Broderick role — cannot or will not try anything fresh or new with it.
Ryan tinkers With her sweet image but it never really rings true: she is fighting against a prejudice that assumes she is as unutterably nice as her equally nice co-star. They are, in casting terms, made for each other and audiences who recognise that Will surely get the most out of a film that is ultimately and hastily headed for Video. (Anwar Brett)
I General release from Fri 7 Aug.
new releases FILM
Broken English (18) 90 mins *‘kir
Writer-director Gregor Nicholas's film focuses on a corner of New Zealand where identities are in collision. Here we find a Croat community which doesn't want to be there rubbing against the largely denied and sidelined Maori people; both, in a way, pushed out of their own homes, both holding proudly to their own traditions, looking at each other through fences.
Nina (Aleksandra Vujcic) and her family have fled the war in their native Croatia and settled in Auckland, where her mother was originally born. Her father (Rade Serbedzija) is over- protective to the point of violence toward anyone or anything he perceives as a threat to the unity of his family or the way of life he is trying to maintain.
At the restaurant where she works, Nina meets and falls in love with Eddie (Julian Arahanga), a young Maori man. There she also becomes peripherally involved in the immigration racket run by the restaurant's owner, offering herself as a bride to facilitate the gaining of legal citizenship for a Chinese couple. When Nina’s father learns of her involvement with Eddie, his anger comes down upon both.
Another variation on the star-crossed lovers theme, Nicholas's film strangely fails to gel. Having set up its initial premise, the film seems unsure as to what it is trying to say, except perhaps that hope lies with the youth. The Croat-Serb conflict seems forgotten then remembered, employed here as no more than a convenient war responsible for displacing Nina's family. The symbolism of the ‘family tree' Eddie hauls about with him, running bare-chested through the night with branch and spade under his arm to plant the thing beneath his imprisoned princess's window, is worthy of Catherine C ookson.
Vujcic, though, makes an impressive debut as the confused, sometimes sultry, sometimes lost Nina; while Serbedzija gives the film its redeeming centre with an affecting performance of a man drowning, threshing at whatever waves threaten. (Damien Love)
I Glasgow Film Theatre from Fri 25 Jul. Edinburgh Fi/mhouse from Fri 19 Sep. See preview on page 34.
Warrior race: Julian Arahanga in Broken English
STAR RATINGS ii i t t * Outstandi at * *1: Recommen iii Worth a try I: it 50-50 at Poor
25 Jul—7 Aug 1997 THEUSTSS