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(15) 119 mins *i‘kir
Mooted as a Blackboard Jung/e for our times, this solid drama is very different from the epic action of Kevin Reynolds's other directorial ventures, Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves and Waterwor/d.
Written by Los Angeles teacher Scott Yagemann, the story follows the disillusioned Vision of sCience teacher Trevor Garfield (as ever, a commanding, charismatic performance from Samuel L. Jackson) who had all his idealism knocked out of him following a near-fatal attack by a pupil at a New York high school. Recovering and relocating to LA, Garfield discovers that 3000 miles away the kids are no
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Life classes: Samuel L. Jackson in 187
more impressed with his lessons, but this time round he's far less prepared to go by the book when dealing with aggressive pupils.
In addition to boasting strong performances from teachers and psycho pupils alike, the film is beautifully shot in amber tones (moody grey for the New York scenes at the beginning), but the real triumph is in the manipulation of audience perceptions. Just when you’re thinking that Garfield is the ultimate in fine, upstanding citizenship, the suggestion that there's more than meets the eye comes as unexpectedly as most twists in the tale are predictable. However, the ending has a bleak ineVitabiIity to it. (Fiona Shepherd)
I Selected release from Fri 7 9 Sep.
Enchanted forest: Frances Barber in Photographing Fairies
Photographing Fairies (15) 107 mins Hr it
Sex scenes, hallucinogenic drugs and other-worldly encounters don't tend to figure much in costume dramas as a rule, but then, for all its inter-war setting, Photographing Fairies is worlds removed — at times literally -~ from the Cinema of Merchant-Ivory. Nick Willing's directorial debut is in fact the latest in a long-standing, if recently little seen Cinematic tradition -» the British fantasy film
Photographer Charles Castle (Toby Stephens), emotionally frozen after watching his Wife fall to her death on their honeymoon in the Alps, makes a living from camera trickery. A vrsrt to a TheosOphical Society meeting sees him eprOit his technical knowledge to
debunk supposedly authentic photographs of fairies. But his role as a 1920s Agent Scully takes a Mulderesque turn when Frances Barber presents him With a picture he can’t explain away. The result is a Journey that brings him face-to-face With his own icy heart and the fairies he has dismissed as myth. While it taps into our current millennial angst, there’s something curiously old-fashioned about Photographing Fairies that goes beyond its period setting and Stephens's matinee-idol good looks. Willing's ObVIOUS affection for the films of Powell and Piessburger has been absorbed rather too effectively, resulting in a film that is something of a curiosny, but a pleasingly watchable one. (Teddy Jamieson) I Selected release from Fri 79 Sep
(18) 85 mins *‘k
Fans of grainy verité will find much to admire in this debut film from France’s Laurent Bouhnik. Rough locales deserve a rough style, and there aren’t many places more depressing than the eponymous, ironically-titled hotel — a haven for Paris’s pimps, drop-outs, junkies and street low-lifes.
Bouhnik’s film comes on like a documentary: the camera wanders the narrow hallways and uncovers the hotel's inmates in all their squalor- laden glory. Like Les Amants Du Pont- Neuf, it displays a very French fascination with the scummy off-cuts of society’s underbelly: here, they’re presented as anti-romantic heroes, and each drug trip an existential ' ‘ "‘ ' journey into the nothing generation. Jean'MiChe' Fete and M38 Gayet in
The meat of the story concerns sue“ "me' junkie Nathalie (Julie Gayet in an award-winning performance), who sells herself to finance her drug intake, and her petty-crim brother Tof (Jean-Michel Fete). Crossroads are reached by both when he robs a local store and she can no longer stomach her beyond-demeaning lifestyle.
Although there is undoubtedly talented filmmaking on display, select Hotel falls into a category — a kind of chic anti-chic — that wows fashion magazine editors but may leave others cold. Like Johns, the forthcoming Pusher and other no- budget, drugs-and-hustlers movies, restless style is all. It goes With the territOry (Andrew Pulver)
I Glasgow Film Theatre from Fri 72—Sun 74 Sep.
Plein Soleil (Purple Noon) (15) 118 mins ****
The latest in the series of restorations initiated by Martin Scorsese (who gets a disconcerting namecheck in the opening credits), Rene Clement's lusth filmed reworking of a Patricia Highsmith stOry manages to hook Viewers into its skewed moral universe as well as showcasing the body of Alain Delon
As Highsmith's cheerfully unprincipled Ripley, Delon projects a raffish charm that seems worlds (as well as decades) away from Dennis Hopper’s trigger-happy incarnation of the same character in Wim Wenders’s The American Friend. In Wenders’s film, Ripley is the catalyst for a US-European Cultural confrontation; twenty years earlier, however, he seems an encapsulation of the playboy deadbeats so mercilessly attacked in La Do/ce Vita a few years after.
Simple of plot — Ripley nurses a grudge against a friend with girl trouble and hatches a plan to kill him on a yachting trip — Plein Soleil seems almost inconsequential for its first twenty minutes or so. It‘s only when Ripley's murderousness is unleashed that everything clicks into place. Thereafter, Clement’s film — ClumSy in places, over-long in others -— becomes an absorbing excerCise in careful plotting and spooky emotional manoeuvring. (Andrew Pulverfl I Edinburgh Fi/mhouse from Fri 79 Sep. Glasgow Film Theatre from Tue 7 Oct.
Mel Gibson And His WM-“ Movies
Brian Pendreigh (Bloomsbury £16.99) * sir *
Despite being one of the world’s top box office draws and the proud owner of a couple of Oscars, Mel Gibson keeps his private life very private and is Circumspect enough in interviews to play down his beliefs. Brian Pendreigh's book does well to prowde the personal detail but, given the title, it's not surprising that the focus is more on Gibson’s body of work than his off-screen antics.
Naturally, for a book from the film editor of The Scotsman, it's Braveheart that takes precedence Within that filmography. Here, Pendreigh can offei a first- hand account of the film's development because he broke the stoiy of its pre- production days and followed it right through to Oscar night when, he-kilted, he was in the backstage press room to greet the freshly successful director
Pendreigh is definitely on the Side of writer Randall Wallace as the unsung hero in Braveheart’s creation, and Gibson doesn't always emerge in glowrng light - this is no simple hagiography. Time and time again we hear of the joker on the set, but interViews With colleagues reveal a man Whose dithering on projects causes problems for others and Whose reactionary Views - particularly homophobia and misogyny a make him an exception in Hollywood’s more liberal atmosphere.
Mel Gibson in Braveheart
12 Sep—25 Sep 199/ THE “ST 25