Air Force One (15) 124 mins it
At first sight, it’s almost like a relic from the Reagan era. Somehow stuck for a hero for square-jawed, no-nonsense Harrison Ford to play, Hollywood has come up with turning the US President himself into the highest-ranking action hero of all. In a film that's like a more self-important version of the pulp aerial actioner Passenger 57, Kazhakstani terrorists hijack Air Force One, the White House's private 747, so President James Marshall (Ford) has to put his own life on the line to save the day. There are times when you’re almost tempted to think that German director Wolfgang Petersen might be taking the piss out of US gung-ho positivism; but his movies from Das Boot to Outbreak haven't exactly been a cavalcade of irony, and the thought soon fades and dies. With it, the entertainment value somehow passes away too. What's left is an overextended excuse to show American resourcefulness triumphing once again over whatever dribs and drabs are left in the Russian republics. Really, the whole ass- whupping jingoism of it all is so virulent, you feel like checking with CNN to see if there’s a Third World
War on you might have overlooked. The Yanks obviously love this stuff. The Brits attending the
preview screening just groaned.
As a movie, the early suspense stuff inside the plane is competent enough. Ford (in identikit Jack Ryan mode) has secreted himself in the bowels of the jet and has to work out how to save his family and the rest of the crew from the trigger-happy excesses of terrorist Gary Oldman and his thickly-accented cohorts, who are after the release of a rabid nationalist general from prison in Russia - a bad thing, we’re meant to think. Back at the
Plane nonsense: Harrison Ford in Air Force One
White House, Vice-President Glenn Close runs the joint while other politicos jostle for position.
Plenty of stuff for the editor to play with then, but,
like the summer's other airborne blockbuster Con Air, overkill takes the controls, credibility goes out the window without a parachute, and the ride gets progressively bumpier. What do you say to a movie that goes from Die Hard In A Jumbo to Airport 1975 to Top Gun within the space of a couple of hours? Thanks, guys, but no thanks. (Trevor Johnston)
I General release from Fri 12 Sep.
g $3 l mm * ‘ ~ ~ ‘. 1‘9 ‘2 I: if): $\\\' ' " s}
it. .. ’ all. ., r,,, "It'll ii, :l.’ U".
Days of wine and neuroses: Lynda Steadman and Katrin Cartlidge in Career Girls
Career Girls (15) mins ir *
Whatever mainstream audience Mike Leigh won over With the Oscar- nominated Secrets And Lies, he's likely to lose as qmckly With its follow-up, Career Girls The former at least had a clear story With a beginning, middle and end Career Girls reverts to a pattern familiar in Naked not so much a narrative, but a series of character
24 THE lIST 12 Sep—-2S Sep 1997
encounters, which means the extended scenes are only as Interesting as the characters wrthin them It's this that, at best, causes sparks when diverse peeple brush together or, at worst, lets actors indulge in up-market drama workshops.
The film differs from much of Leigh's work in that it plays out in two time- frames. Annie (Lynda Steadman) and Hannah (Katrin Cartlidge) are two women who meet up for a reunion weekend in London years after they
shared a flat together as students. As their relationship slowly begins to find its footing again, we’re flipped back to the mid-80s when they were both insecure, hard-up and obsessed with The Cure. In the present and in the past, they cross paths - With credibility stretched to breaking pomt —- With a past boyfriend, another flatmate, and a schizophrenic fellow student.
Too often Leigh allows his actors to show all the surface layers used to bwld their characters rather than the rounded, believable figure at the end of the process. That's not to say that the performances by Steadman and Cartlidge are entirely self-indulgent: their present-day scenes are full of Subtleties as the adult women begin to find strength in each other. However, their student creations are little more than a lucky bag of quirky voices, body tics and scabby make-up — these people would more likely have been handed doctors' certificates than college degrees. The emotions and social backdrop to Career Girls ring true where the characters themselves crucially do not (Alan Morrison)
I Glasgow Film Theatre and Edinburgh Cameo from Fri 79 Sep
(15) 116 mins *****
Quite possibly the coolest French debut since Diva, this romantic thriller by first- time writer-director Gilles Mimouni hits the ground running, as Vincent Cassel’s young exec Max finds himself drawn into the mystery of his own past. A chance encounter in a cafe basement sends him hot on the trail of the girl he loved and lost, so he bids goodbye to his fiancee, merely pretends to go off on a business trip to Tokyo, and creeps around hotel rooms, a funeral, and a fabulous art-deco apartment in search of the elusive Lisa (Monica Bellucci).
Flashbacks and reminiscences with his best pal (reliably excellent lean-Philippe Ecoffey) reveal the story of a passionate near-thing. Meanwhile Mimouni complicates the present with the. enigmatic Alice (the yearning presence of Romane Bohringer) whose part in the affair becomes clearer only after she’s tried throwmg herself out the Window. Piecmg it all together is the fun part.
Mimouni marshals the switchback between past and present with effortless elan, and he’s aware enough of the potential ab5urdity of such cartwheeling complication for the film
never to get po-faced. It's all very
Hitchcockian — Vertigo and Marnie resonate through this parade of obsession, voyeurism and desire — but it’s the film’s emotional component that stops it from being mere pastiche. The central image of a couple joyously dancmg in a open-Windowed apartment does provide a singular frisson of bliss-Just-out-of-reach.
Toying With a series of masks, mirrors and evocative colour-coding, Mimouni's master illusionism delivers a genuinely heightened experience. The performers, however, ground it in real feeling, thanks to the simmering passions characteristically lurking behind Bohringer's surface reserve and the sheer fascmation of Cassel's skewed handsomeness. Beautifully controlled, supremely seductive, it’s a film to leave you reeling With pleasure.
I'd wrllingly swap it for the entire Luc
Besson filmography. (Trevor Johnston) I Edinburgh Fi/mhouse from Fri 72—Thu 78 Sep.
Lost love: Vincent Cassell in
L'Appartement STAR RATINGS it 'k 'k 'k * Unmissable * i ii it Very good i i: it Worth a shot t * Below average it You’ve been warned