new releases

The Jackal (18) 128 mins * t

From a script littered with more acronyms than a dyslexic Bond movie (CIA, KGB, MVD, IRA all secret service life is here) Michael Caton-Jones sets out to give 705 thriller The Day Of The Jackal a contemporary makeover. He ends up instead with a meandering wigfest low on thrills and high in tourist information.

Where the original had Edward Fox as the Jackal, a ruthless assassin hired by the GAS to bump off General de Gaulle, this time it's Bruce Willis's turn to don the mantle of the chameleon the authorities cannot catch. This involves Bruce getting kitted out in some of the worst disguises this side of Lily Savage, as he criss- crosses the States, Canada and Europe to complete his 570 million hit for the Russian Mafia. All red herrings point to the Director of the FBI being the target. But then they would, wouldn't they?

Only one person alive can identify the Jackal - we know this because Major Valentina Koslova says, ’There is only one person alive who can identify the Jackal' - and that's

a former Basque terrorist played by Mathilda May. As it turns out, Koslova's info isn't all it should be. Richard Gere's loveable IRA terrorist Declan McQueen can also finger Willis. And he's got a better comedy accent. Isn't that just the way? You wait ages for a terrorist informant and then two come along at once.

From here on in, it's all Harold Robbins backdrops and 605 TV dialogue as cat-and-mouse turns to foot-and- mouth. No one seems embarrassed to order out for

Killer on the loose: Bruce Willis in The Jackal

(Alan Chadwick)

Interpol or utter lines like ’Transfer the funds to my account in Macao'. Overlong and overblown. Caton- Jones’s attempt to invest his ponderous travelogue with hip stylings courtesy of a soundtrack by the likes of Black Grape and Massive Attack only serves to highlight that what he’s come up with could have been made 20 years ago. Oh I forgot, it was. Only better.

a General release from Fri 9 Jan.

Boogie Nights

(18) 152 mins * at it *

Boogie Nights does for the porn film industry what Goodfel/as did for gangsters. Here, however, the inner workings of a business and a particular way of life are unveiled through the rise, fall and redemption of porn film superstar Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg). Like Goodfellas, Boogie Nights has an epic feel to it, and also features signature Scorsese-style use of pop mUSIC, a fabulous supporting cast,

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Room for one more on top: Heather Graham and Mark Wahlberg in Boogie Nights

bold editing and dynamic, fluid camerawork,

The film focuses on one small film production operation, a surrogate family for assorted oddballs led by a patriarchal director (Burt Reynolds) and a maternal actress (Julianne Moore). Within this context, writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson manages to suggest the enormous changes wrought in the industry between the 70s and 805, while developing human dramas and, of course, getting down to the nuts

and bolts of filming porn.

It’s these nuts and bolts that prowde much of the film's humour (and a very cheeky epilogue). But the kind of crudity involved in, say, directing the 'cum shot' is offset with odd, touching moments such as Diggler's na'i‘ve but tender and respectful treatment of a female co-star. Diggler later develops this into an ambiguous philosophy, to say the least, caught on a film-within- a-film in his hilarious, self-promoting documentary.

Boogie Nights suggests the 705 were the porn genre’s golden era. That sentiment doesn't quite ring true: it’s hard to swallow porn as an innocent, respectable artform. However, there's also a cinematic trend underlying BOOgie Nights’s take on the era sentimentalising the 70s and demonising the 80s (much the way Goodfellas did). During its 805 section, Boogie Nights takes on a darker tone. Porn filmmaking becomes corrupted by commerce, and Diggler's surrogate family is exploded.

The large-scale sooal commentary and small-scale human dramas account for the film’s epic feel, and Anderson smartly balances that With the more superfiCIal JOyS of his period setting (kitsch fashion and funky disco) to produce a film that is as ambitious as it is entertaining. (Miles Fielder)

It Selected release from Fri 76 Jan.

new releases FILM

Devil's Island (15) 103 mins 3% *‘k ~k

With his last movie, Cold Fever, Icelandic director Fridrik Thor Fridriksson won high praise and the Channel 4 Director's Award at the Edinburgh Film Festival for his witty celebration of the sheer otherness of his native landscape in road mowe form.

His new mowe, Devil’s Island, is not nearly so freewheeling. lt's confined for the most part to a former US army base in Reykjavik but, like its predecessor, it exhibits Fridriksson’s capacity to fuel his films With a winning mixture of humour and heartache.

Devil’s Island explores the cultural and material impact of America on Icelandic sooety in the 19505 and 60s. It follows the fortunes of the extended family of Karolina an ageing seeress, constantly plagued by ghosts and her soft-spoken husband Toomy, around whom flit a cast of eccentrics. The family lives at Camp Thule equal parts mud, corrugated tin and cratered roads given over to impoverished refugees.

When Karolina and Toomy's grandson Baddi, a boorish lush besotted with Elvis, returns from America where his mother took him when she married a GI he brings with him a rock ’n’ roll outlook that wreaks havoc on the lives of his relatives.

What ensues is a superior family saga through which Fridriksson shows the painful consequences of a clash of two inimical cultures Baddi's imported values are as out of place in his home country as his bright red convertible on the pock-holed tracks that pass for roads in Camp Thule. Fridriksson suggests that Baddi's drunken Ioutishness is no James Dean-style Cry for help, but simply a bullying selfishness, and contrasts it sharply with the gentle stoicism of Toomy.

If the film has a problem, it’s the tendency of the narrative to lurch rather than glide forward at points. However, this remains top-class soap opera and when was the last time you saw Coronation Street have a go at cultural imperialism? (Teddy Jamieson)

I Edinburgh Filmhouse from Fri 76 Jan.

Rebel without a cause: Battasar Kormakur in Devil‘s Island

STAR RATlNGS it it w it it Unmissable it t i it Very ood ii * air Wort a shot * air Below average * You’ve been warned

9-22 Jan 1998 THE LIST 41