FILM new releases

Night Falls On Manhattan

(15) 113 mins *‘k‘k

Not since Q&A, the Nick Nolte/Timothy Hutton starrer that went for the throat of corrupt New York coppers, has Sidney Lumet made a film that has created as much of a stir. Close To Eden, a Chasidic thriller with Melanie Griffith, and the lawyer-client fraterniser Guilty As Sin with Don Johnson were the intervening movies, and they were giggled pretty much out of court.

The veteran director, who's in his 40th year of top-line movie-making (going way back to 1957's 12 Angry Men and taking in Serpico, Network and The Verdict) has found yet more material in Robert Daley's novel Tainted Evidence. Like Q&A, this story investigates the complex moral issues involved in the execution of justice in the jungle that is New York City. No tittersome melodramatics here: a drug bust goes wrong, cops are shot, there's suspicion that the police are on the take.

The difference between Night Falls On Manhattan and cam is that an idealistic cop-turned- lawyer is at the centre of the frame. Andy Garcia plays naive

hot-shot Sean Casey, whose veteran-policeman father (Ian Holm) is one of the officers wounded in the drug bust shoot-out. The more Sean moves deeper into the criminal justice system and begins to believe a serious crime has been covered up, the more he suffers moral turmoil and experiences personal and professional


With a host of top class performers - Richard Dreyfuss as Garcia’s grandstanding courtroom opponent, Lena Olin as another defence attorney with whom he gets more than a little friendly - Lumet’s movie has a rock-


A fair cop: Andy Garcia in Night Falls On Manhattan

solid bottom for its feverishly unfolding saga, in which both lawyers and cops are motivated by factors murky to the eye. Garcia does a decent enough job too, even if his Latin looks are a tad unlikely for the Irish Iawman’s offspring he is supposed to represent. Lumet's craftsmanship in the corrupt system thriller is

everywhere apparent. The only real question is

whether his seemingly inexhaustible appetite for them will ever be blunted by increasingly unlikely variations on the theme. (Andrew Pulver) I Selected release from Fri 5 Sep

The spy who loved me: Mike Myers gets babe action in Austin Powers

Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery

(15) 94 mins *4”

It took several minutes before the hysterics died down after the title sequence. Pure Swmgin’ Sixties Carnaby Street cool Britannia cliche: open-topped sports cars, stripey Jackets, Biba babes and cartwheeling bobbies on the beat, all together in one big period-detailed frug-in. Like, crazy baby!

24 THE usr 29 Aug~ll Sep i997

As written by and starring Wayne’s World’s Mike Myers, the next 90 or so minutes are hung on a very promismg comic conceit: Austin Powers, the Sixties' silliest superspy, is brought out of suspended animation and pitted against his old nemeSIs against the backdrop of AIDS generation anXieties and a world that’s moved on three decades.

Myers gets so much of the detail right, it’s easy to take his resourcefulness for granted - everything from Austin’s velvet frock

coats and frilly shirts to the hilarious ’psychedelic' scene-breaks and jaunty use of music from Burt Bacharach and Quincy Jones. There’s also spot-on casting, including Liz Hurley's slinky sidekick Vanessa Kensmgton, scheming henchman Robert Wagner, and Michael York as the man from the ministry who explains the plot, one BaSIl Exposmon.

Why then, didn't I enjoy the film even more than I did? Well, one of the problems is that Myers is probably too far ahead of his American youth audience for his own good. If they don't qune get all the references, he needs to put in stuff guaranteed to raise a guffaw from the mallrat generation -— so in go the pee-pee gags and toilet iokes.

Myers himself may need firmer control too, for alth0ugh Austin's English accent is a hoot ('Shall we shag now, or shag later?'), it’s easy to feel you’re getting too much of a good thing when he pops up as dastardly megalomaniac Dr Ewl as well. Director Jay Roach moreover, seems pretty hapless at givmg it any shape and rhythm so attention does wander. Still, it's perhaps too easy to carp, since the best moments are inspired. Not perfect, but immensely likeable all the same. (Trevor Johnston)

I General release from Fri 5 Sep.

The Battle Of Algiers

(18)116 mins *inkirir

Gillo Pontecorvo's cinematic masterpiece has become a model for political cinema. The multiple award- winning film, released four years after Algeria won its independence, but banned in France for fear of inciting civil unrest, portrays the rebel struggle against the French colonial forces in Algiers.

Beginning with gueriIIa-style military actions in 1954, which paved the way for revolution in 1960, the film focuses on the activities of the Algerian Liberation Front (FLN) and the response by French paratroopers in the years between 1954 and 1957. The escalation of terrorist activities (on both sides) is chilling: demonstrations are met with arrests, assassinations with curfews and imprisonment, bombing campaigns with torture.

The film was showcased in spectacular fashion this year during the Scottish Screen Edinburgh International Film Festival, with the director making a guest appearance in one of the Scene By Scene filrnmaking masterclasses. Pontecowo recalled how the film was originally to have had a much larger budget and Hollywood superstar Paul Newman in the lead. Refusing the budget and star,

Pontecorvo opted for a less glamorous E

'objective’ documentary approach: newsreel-style Cinematography, use of Algerian non-actors (including a man

who had to be temporarily released from prison to play his part), and a refusal to glorify or demonise either i

the Algerian rebels or French colonial

forces. It’s this tactic that asswed The 3

Battle Of Algiers a place in film history. The political comment and documentary style in no way mitigates

the cinematic spectacle, most notably :

Ennio Morricone's alternately thunderous and haunting score, which emphasises the energy and the tragedy of the struggle. The music credit is shared with Pontecorvo, who remembered how Morricone heard the director whistling a tune outside his flat and transformed it into the now instantly recognisable theme.

As relevant today as it was in 1966, The Battle Of Algiers's matter-of-fact

comment on the nature of terrorism

makes for compelling and thought- provoking Viewing. (Miles Fielder) l Glasgow Film Theatre, Mon 7--Wc~r13 Sep

Rebel yell: The Battle Of Algiers STAR RATINGS

** tit Unmissable l ‘k * t it Very good i t * it Worth a shot i it t Below average | it You’ve been warned |