(12) 104 mins ****
On paper it reads like one of those clumsy British comedy caper movies from the 605 - does anyone remember Only When I Larf? — as two contrasting con men recruit a beautiful assistant and set about fleecing the complacent rich (big fish) in order to help the poor (themselves).
However, the greatest, most intangible quality of this latest film from The Gruber Brothers - director Stefan Schwartz and producer Richard Holmes, who made the Peter Capaldi film Soft Top, Hard Shoulder - is that they are able to turn a contrived, cheesy and very busy plot into a sublime story that unfolds on screen with seamless ease. Only afterwards might you question the various improbabilities of it all.
Twentysomethings Dylan (Dan Futterman) and Jez (Stuart Townsend) have little in common, apart from being orphans - the former is a fast-talking Yank, the latter a shy computer nerd. Together, however, they combine American sales schtick with good old British ingenuity, only to find that their newest associate, the lovely Georgie (Kate Beckinsale) is more than a match for them both. She is the least of their problems though, as a range of their 'victims'
- deserving as they may have been - plan their revenge.
The cons, double-crosses, inevitable romance and some well worked comedic set-pieces are stirred together in a breathlessly pacy movie that will provide solid entertainment at home and should continue the British renaissance abroad. The soundtrack (see Competitions Page at the back of the magazine to win a copy)
: ’ 3
Three’s company: Stuart Townsend, Kate Beckinsale and Dan Futterman in
features Space, The Divine Comedy, The Wannadies, The Bluetones, Silver Sun and Symposium, which matches the energy of the story. Shooting Fish is a film that delivers even more than might be expected thanks to some wonderful performances and bucketloads of charm. (Anwar Brett)
I General release from Fri 77 Oct. See feature.
It‘s all Greek to me: Phil and Hercules get ready for new labours
(U) 91 mins *****
it must rank among the seven wonders of the world that nobody at Disney thought of it sooner. The Greek myths are so full of adventure, mystery, strange characters and bizarre situations — and so profoundly underpinned with moral messages — that Walt himself might have commiSSioned them.
This is no Mickey Mouse project, though. Subject matter aside (and there are plenty of nods to the classical scholars among us), it looks superb.
Originally inVited to contribute a few sketches, British cartoonist Gerald Scarfe became the first outsider ever to work as production designer on a Disney film. Over three years, he pumped thousands of drawings through his fax; and the reSuIt —— while lacking his customary Vic'iousness - is an inspired marriage of Scarfe’s extravagant grotesquery With the noble profiles depicted on Grecian urns, and the JOYOUSly inventive animation of Hollywood's finest.
The Underworld scenes are seriously chilling, while the sequence in which
Hercules slays the many-headed Hydra is pretty nasty — too much, perhaps, for some children — but Disney sensibility prevails, keeping things light, frothy, and romantic.
The central plot concerns the machinations of Hades (a magnificently splenetic James Woods) to exact revenge on Zeus by destrOying his son Hercules. He is aided by morphing henchmen Pain and Panic; but his principle tool is Meg, the apple of Hercules’ eye, a decent-at-heart femme fatale who has fallen under Hades' thrall. Luckily, Hercules has Pegasus as his steed and Phil the grumpy satyr (Danny DeVito) as his coach and, well, it wouldn't be Disney if he didn’t win the day.
Hercules’ twelve labours are glossed over, but we do get a good grounding in Olympian affairs, Zeus’s struggle against the terrifying Titans, the eyeball-sharing Fates, and the winsome Muses, who form a soul-singin' chorus to embellish Charlton Heston’s narration. Purists could complain that there should be seven Muses, not five, and that their refrain about ’Gospel truth' belongs to an entirely different myth-cycle; but even purists don’t expect accmacy from Disney.
What we can expect is that Hercules wrll be remembered as one of the studio's most dynamic and entertaining features. (Andrew Burnet)
I General release from M 70 Oct.
new releases FILM
Pusher (18) 105 mins ‘Hrt
Watching the Danish thriller Pusher is rather like gazing into a basin full of piranhas in the midst of a feeding frenzy. The directorial debut of 26-year- old Nicholas Winding Refn is positively primeval in its world view, offering a picture of a society utterly stripped of all feeling, where only survival matters, and the concepts of friendship and family are severely brutalised.
The pusher of the title is Frank (played by Bobby Williamson lookalike Kim Bodnia), a small time dealer who finds himself in hock to local Serbian gang boss Milo after a drug transaction Frank set up is ruined by a police bust. As Milo makes increasingly threatening demands for the return of his money, Frank spends a desperate week trying to come up with a solution, including beating up his best friend and even begging from his mother. But his attempts to get himself from under are balked at every turn as it becomes more and more apparent that fate has it in for him.
In the film’s uncompromising physical and verbal violence, Refn’s debt to Scorsese and Tarantino is obvious. The influence of Trainspotting can also be seen — most notably in the name-flash introductions to the characters at the beginning of the movie — in his Copenhagen-based tale.
Pusher, though, is confident enough to essay its own style — a vision of leached out colour and semi-verite hand-held camera shots that gives the film a documentary sheen. The result is admirably controlled but, God, is it cold — in both form and content. How much you like the film in the end depends on how much sympathy you can garner for Frank on his manic pinball momentum round the Danish capital before he comes to a dead stop in the final frame. Think of it as some weird natural history programme by a Danish David Attenborough that lifts the lid on a particularly gross can of worms, and it has a grisly fascination. (Teddy Jamieson)
l Glasgow Film Theatre from Fri 17 Oct. Edinburgh Fi/mhouse from Fri 7 Nov.
Dealer’s choice: Kim Bodnia in Pusher
10 Oct—23 Oct 1997 TllELlST 27 l