non festival reviews

Kevin Spacey Director of Albino Alligator

Throw a rock in Hollywood and, it seems, you will hit an actor who yearns to direct. One of the latest to take his seat behind the cameras, Kevin Spacey has made a predictably assured debut. Predictable, because as an actor he exudes versatility and intelligence. In interviews Spacey comes across as analytical and sharp, but above all as someone who is determined to enjoy the fruits of success that began with his Oscar-winning role in The Usual Suspects, continued with box office hit Seven and now includes in his directorial debut, Albino Alligator.

’I found this script in October 94,’ he recalls, 'and I basically thought it was a good little thriller. I felt it would be a good opportunity for me to learn from my first time as a director, placing myself in a very intimate, almost theatrical atmosphere with a group of actors that I admired.’

A tale of three crooks on the run who end up in a bar and hold the various customers hostage while the police surround the building, Albino Alligator is an actors' piece that Spacey approached with the

benefit of his theatrical training. But, for all his screen acting experience, he could not anticipate the specific demands of shooting a suspenseful and claustrophobic film a cross between Dog Day Afternoon and Waiting

For Godot - largely on one set.

‘I hadn’t heard that description,’ he smiles, 'but it's not bad. I didn’t have any specific film in mind when I was making this one, but I did watch some like Twelve Angry Men that had been done in one central location. I called Sidney Lumet and asked how he built up that feeling of claustrophobia, and the old trickster explained that he built the jury room set on wheels and

Suspect’s device: Kevin Spacey directs Albino Alligator

brought the walls in by six or eight inches during the course of the movie.

’Unfortunately we didn’t have that kind of money, so we built a bigger space and tried to build the

claustrophobia filmically. Above all, I was curious about


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the morality in the story, filming it in a way that was interesting without being gimmicky, doing a lot of stuff that would seem like film school crap. If we could do that, we might just be able to sustain the story.’ (Anwar

I Edinburgh Fi/mhouse from Fri 25 Aug. See review on

Event Horizon (18) 91 mins *irir

Paul Anderson's $60 million ’haunted house

Watching British director mowe in space’ is an oddly disorientating experience. Technically speaking it is superb, With tight direction, first rate visual effects and stunning ’Techno Medieval' design. However, the damage wrought by the arbitrary excising of at least twenty minutes of footage means, that the finished film has been edited to wrthin an inch of its life, allowmg none of the

98 THE LIST 22—28 Aug 1997

Universal fears: Sam Neill in Event Horizon

narrative threads time to develop, and none of the actors room to breath.

In 2047, Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne) and the crew of the search- and-rescue ship 'LeWis & Clarke’ head for the far reaches of known space, where the ’Event Horizon’ ~ a prototype spaceship that disappeared with all hands seven years before has mysteriously reappeared off the shoulder of Neptune. Also on boaid is Dr William Weir (Sam Neill), designer of the ’Event Horizon', a man haunted by both the disappearance of his ship and his wife’s suiCide.

When they finally board the ship, they find it eerily empty, though the blood-coated walls suggest that the crew met a grisly end. As their search continues, the haunting begins; iiidiyidual crew members start to experience what may be hallucinations, Or perhaps psychological protections of their deepest fears

A taut, psychological horror film that borrows freely from Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solar/S, Stanley Kubrick's The Shining and a slew of other genre mowes, Event HOrizon benefits from the dramatic weight brought to it by Fishburne‘s authoritative and Neill's deliriously unhlnged performances

Judging by pre-release publicity stills, the Visceral horror has been toned down considerably, and there are several puzzling inconsistencies iii Philip Eisiier"s script -- not least of all why only some crew members experience the terrifying hallucin- ations. So, for all its strengths, it is impossible to watch this butchered ver5ion Without wondering what might have been if Anderson had been allowed his own final cut.

(Nigel Floyd) I General release from Fri 22 Aug.

Lost Highway

(18)135 mins ****

Wild At Heart author Barry Gifford has collaborated with David Lynch on this further radicalisation of film noir traditions a dark landscape where the flawed hero, an alluring femme fatale, a threatening Mr Big and a trouble- filled past cohere to radical effect. Further out than even the celluloid version of Twin Peaks, Fire Walk With Me, the end result may infuriate many, but it does win you over for simply daring to dream a few different dreams for a change.

At the start, jazz saxman Bill Pullman is ensconced with spouse Patricia Arquette in their minimalist LA apartment, but is becoming increasingly plagued by a feeling she may be leading a double life while he’s away at gigs. Tensions are not helped by the unannounced arrival of a series of videos taped inside their home and an even less explicable encounter at a party with mystery man Robert Blake. Lynch intersperses these scenes with roving camera shots that probe the shadowy interiors of the couple’s flat, creating a palpable sense of dread to match its protagonist’s own interior anxieties. It's the scariest half-hour or so to hit the screen in ages.

Then it flips. We're inside another head now. Garage hand Balthazar Getty is charged With looking after the car belonging to crime kingpin Robert Loggia one 'Mr Eddy', with whom you do not mess - when gangster's moll Patricia Arquette (againl?!) walks into his life. His hormones go haywire and a more familiar thriller plot gears into action.

Before the end credits are upon us, the logic of dreams will have whisked us full circle between the two ’heroes', and we'll leave the cinema with a headlul of questions and a replenished stock of memorable Lynchian images. That it’s hardly the equal of, say, Blue Velvet comes down to an over-reliance on the central narrative device for its own sake, a weak turn from Getty, and a lingering su5piCion that Lynch inevitably punishes his sexually voracious female sirens. Despite all that, it's haunting, provocative, and a genuinely personal undertaking. (Trevor Johnston)

l Glasgow Film Theatre from Fri 22; Fdinburgh Cameo from Sun 24.

Hard cell: Bill Pullman in Lost Highway

...._ STAR RATINGS * t ‘k it t Outstanding ~k * it * Recommended a: it it Worth a try it it 80-50 t Poor