FILM new releases

Like mother. like daughter: Phyllida law and Emma Thompson in The Winter Guest

The Winter Guest

(15) 110 mins whisk

There's something about the way Alan Rickman's directorial debut moves from one pair of characters to the next that suggest it is based on a play. This isn't a criticism, however: there's nothing stagey about The Winter Guest, which works out themes of loss and emotional dependency against an impressive snow-covered landscape. Photographer Frances (Emma Thompson) is struggling to thaw out the coldness inside her following her husband’s death; her mother Elspeth (Thompson’s mother Phyllida Law), on the other hand, needs to relinquish her maternal instincts and forge a different relationship With her daughter. Meanwhile, Frances’s teenage son Alex

(Gary Hollywood) finds it difficult to begin a love affair with Nita (Arlene Cockburn) because he has been neglected by his parents. These main plot strands are reinforced by the pre- teen debates of school truants Tom (Sean Bickerstaff) and Sam (Douglas Murphy), and the dour observations of funeral-loving, little-and-large duo Lin (Sheila Reid) and Chloe (Sandra Voe). The Winter Guest is a beautifully realised work which weaves its icy metaphor through the characters' iriner lives and the film's computer- enhanced images. As Elspeth, Phyllida Law proves herself to be Scotland’s hidden treaSure, creating a woman whose stubborn independence goes hand in hand With a touching plea to feel loved. (Alan Morrison) I Selected release from Fri 9 Jan.

LA. Woman: Andie MacDowell in The End Of Violence

The End Of Violence (15) 120 mins it me

In Wim Wenders’s Wings Of Desire, angels looked down benignly on the human world; in The End Of Violence, the eye in the sky is much more hostile. Ray (Gabriel Byrne) is a former NASA scientist hired by the US Government to provide a computer link between satellite cameras and the Los Angeles surveillance system. By chance, he witnesses on screen the kidnap of top film producer Mike Max (Bill Pullman) and its climax in hi-tech death. Now both men are in the firing line for different reasons.

Reminiscent of those open-ended

42 THE “ST 9—22 Jan 1998

paranora thrillers of the 70s (The Conversation, The Para/lax View), The End Of Violence is set in a modern world where person-to-person communication has broken down, and reality and fiction are both most keenly experienced through the camera lens. The themes are intriguing, but the film comes over as too knowingly European and elliptical to really connect With its material. Often the scenes feel like self-contained set- pieces that don't link together, and the overall effect is very patchy. (Alan Morrison) l Glasgow Film Theatre from Fri 16 Jan. Edinburgh Filmhouse from Fri 23 Jan. See preview.


The Devil's Advocate

(18) 144 mins it a

Defence lawyer KQHH Lomax tKeanu Reeves) is riding high in his small Florida hometown, He's got the ‘.‘.lf€’, the car, the suns and he’s never lost a case Somehow his hot-shot reputation reaches New York and a posh attorney descends to lure him to the big City. Lomax can't see further than bundles of cash and the Iflcf‘l‘ll‘ve of Success, and so he happily falls under the watchful eye of his new firm's founder, John Milton (Al Pacmo)

He should have listened to his God- fearing mother (Judith lvey) tliOiigh, because she knows that New York is sin central. Before Lomax‘s wife iCharlixe Theron) has even chosen the colour scheme fOr their new home, strange

Hell on earth: Al Pacino in The Devil’s Advocate

computer graphics are afoot, frightening the Wits out cf her and warning us all that Milton is head of SOmething a lot more scary than a law firm

The Dew/’5 Advocate is deSIgned as a modern-day moralin play and explores, in its all- too-obvrous way, the ethical consequences of an euo~drneri leoal system Pacino grandstands as Milton, but the part IS absurd, and Reeves :s' wooden as the supposedly charismatic Lomax. Theron's breakdown is almost convincing, but the film's focus is too Wide and can't muster the kind of gothic intens.ty its suhiect matter demands (Hannah


I General release from Fri 76 Jan See Keanu Fellini’s feature, page 30

Bring Me The Head Of Mavis Davis

(15) 90 mins it

Think of the worst film you've seen recently. Multiply that lexel of crapness by ten. Now you're getting close to the sheer incompetence that is Bring Me The Head Of Mavrs Davis.

Rik Mayall plays unscrupulous rec0rd label boss Marty Starr, whose fortune rests on the shoulders of singing sensation Marla Dorland (Jane Horrocks) But when her popularity begins to wane, and a couple of bOne-crunchingly eager loan sharks start breathing down his neck, Marty is forced to resort to desperate measures Sales of recOrds by John Lennon and Elvis took an upswrnq when they died, so Marty plans an untimely demise for his diva.

Jane Horrocks in Bring Me The Head Of Mavis Davis

Unfortunately he hires a hitman who is more likely to harm himself than his VlCillllS Embarrassmgly unfunny, With gratineg obnOxious characters, this film is a pimple on the

buttocks of British filmmakirig. Director John Henderson brought charm to Loch Ness, but

here he sets up scenes as if he reckons the script isn't worth the effort And he'd be right

(Aian Morrison) I Selected release from Fri I6 Jan,

Kissed (18) 79 mins vi a: 1': 1‘!

Sandra Larson (Molly Parker) is a pretty, innocent-looking girl who reckons every c0rpse contains a bright energy force caused by the shift from life into death Her common that the bodies in her care at a funeral home make perfect lovers causes a problem when new boyfriend Matt (Peter Outerbridge) grows ieaIOus and his obsession With her takes a fatal Mist

Like Sandra, director Lynne Stopkewicz finds beauty and poetry in death The dark, taboo-ridden SUDJQCI matter of Kissed is treated tenderly, and the film is at heart an unconventional romance centring on an unusually self-confident female character.

Stopkevwcz is intrigued by human

Molly Parker in Kissed

responses to death, and hints that Sandra's actions ~- her job includes cleaning and preparing dead bodies have a foundation in childhood. When burying dead animals, young Sandra undresses, impro-vises chants, and rubs the corpses against her skin These rituals have tribal variations across the world and thrOughout history, which suggests it's Our Western attitude of fearing a dead body that's essentially perverse utian Morrison)

l Edinburgh Filmhouse from Fri 9 Jan See prey/err.