(15) 105 mins * ‘k ***
Last year, film fans got excited at the thought of Robert De Niro and Al Pacino appearing together for the first time in Heat. Writer-director James Mangold ups the stakes considerably with Cop Land, entincing us not only with De Niro's first scene with Harvey Keitel since Taxi Driver, but also Sylvester Stallone's best performance since Rocky.
Stallone plays sheriff Freddy Heflin, nominally top cop in Garrison, New Jersey, but in reality, bossed around by the NYPD men who make up the town's entire population. Built just across the George Washingon Bridge from Manhattan, Garrison is one of America’s lowest crime areas — until hot-shot cop Murray Babitch (Michael Rapaport) wrongly shoots a pair of joyriders. In order to avoid a damaging investigation into police tactics, Murray fakes his own suicide with the help of cop uncle Ray (Keitel), but the boys in blue double-cross each other to protect a deadlier corruption in the heart of their idyllic homes.
Like L.A. Confidential, Cop Land has a stormer of a plot, but is essentially a character-driven movie. Mangold throws in some shockingly brilliant narrative twists which aren't, however, gratuitous in themselves: they either reveal hidden aspects of a character, or allow that character to take action
and independently reveal something more about themselves. Only occasionally does his sense of
storytelling trip over itself.
The acting is, unsurprisingly, in a league of its own. De Niro brings weight to his internal affairs investigator, Keitel is a nasty bully whose moral core has decayed beyond recognition, and Liotta is an electric force of
Watching the detectives: Robert De Him in Cop Land
wired, coked-up energy. But it’s Stallone's movie, and he is perfect as the lumbering hero with a one-shot chance
at glory. Freddy’s faced with his own High Noon, and
The Borrowers (U) 86 mins :9 t: is a
Mucb loved by generations of British children, Mary Norton's classic tales waited 40 years before being adapted fOr teleVision by the BBC in the early 905 With that memory still fresh in the mind comes a movie version wrth a big budget, seamless effects and a Hollywood name attached. The pleasmg thing to report is that the film
Blatant plug: Tom Felton in The Borrowers
is every bit as entertaining as past incarnations, albeit at the serVice of a r0utine plot that pits the Borrowers against the nastiest of movie Villains ~ a lawyer
Given that the Borrowers (headed by Jim Broadbent and Celia lmrie) are JUSI a few inches high, the odds seem stacked against them They peacefully co-exrst With their uriwitting host family, the Lenders, hiding in wall caVIties and liVing beneath the
General release from Fri ‘3' [)ot
the shoot-out ending — combining that movie with Rio Bravo — places Cop Land in very fine company indeed.
floorboards, scavenging the discarded bits and bobs of everyday life and getting by quite nicely, thank you. But after they are discovered by Pete Lender (Bradley Pierce), they all 10in forces to ward off the (MI scheming of treacherous family lawyer OCIOUS Potter (John Goodman), who is svrindling Pete’s family out of the licsuse that is their rightful inheritance.
C(ﬂlltlllf‘if] a strangely familiar, oddly unplaceable world, the excellent produc tio'i design and effects combine to enhance rather than distract from a simple but effective story. Children Will have little difficulty Suspending enough disbelief to be spellbound by the magic of this film, while adults should find plenty to amuse themselves, either from the pratfalls of Goodman — who discovers that size isn't everything — or the chirpy cameos prowded by Hugh Laurie and The Fast Show's Mark Williams
In short, The Borrowers is a film designed for the whole family, one that does not take itself too seriously, but which proves that they actually do make family films like they used to. (Anwar Brett) "3 General release from Fri 5 Dec
new releases FILM
Keep The Aspidistra
Flying (12) 101 mins *‘k
It's worth noting that, although British cinema's recent successes have come wrth contemporary pieces, our vast literary oeuvre is still inspiring a steady stream of more traditional period dramas. The latest Victim is George Orwell, whose minor novel about a would-be poet in 1930s London has been adapted into a whimsical romantic comedy by director Robert Bierman and writer Alan Plater,
As advertising copywriter Gordon Comstock, Richard E Grant has another stab at that tortured artist character he plays so intensely Far from wanting to get ahead in advertising, Comstock feels stifled by the bourgeois nature of his Job turning lines from great poems into catchphrases for household products - and impulsively decides to mm and follow his own poetic muse Naturally things go rapidly downhill Long-suffering girlfriend Rosemary (Helena Bonham Carter) still won't have sex Willi him, his poems are being ((PJCCICd and his prim Hampstead lodgings are filled Wllh aspidistras, those 'hypocritical symbols of middle- class respec tability'
It's a cosy, comfortable film. Bierman handles Cornstock's calamities in a light-hearted fashion, while Platei keeps the comedy llowmg throughout The design and lighting veer towards the warm and colourful, even in the scenes set in grimy, working-class Larnbeth The score by Mike Batt sedates the senses With lush string arrangements, as for his end credit song, 'Tiger In The Night' ~ my sympathies to William Blake
Any Orwellian satire that creeps in
reflects more on Comstock's inability to
be happy With what he's got than on the iniguities of the class system. He swears like a trooper and is blunt about his sexual frustrations, which is pleasing to see, but you always know With Grant that he is playing his depresSion for laughs. Bonham Carter, in a role beefed up from the novel, is less of a walking doormat, but still has little to do but look patient in the face of her co-star's trademark ranting. (Simon Wardell)
3 Selected release from Fri 5 Dec.
Class divide: Richard E. Grant in Keep
The Aspidistra Flying STAR RATINGS * t * it it Unmissable * t t a Very ood * t * Wort a shot * it Below average * You’ve been warned
5-18 Dec 1997 THE “ST 29