Titanic (12) 194 mins ‘k w *A' Mr
With loud fanfares about size and cost, Titanic is launched in a manner that would befit the ship itself. The film isn't likely to suffer a similar fate, however, as it sets sail with a touching love story that isn't overwhelmed by the awesome special effects.
Discovered in the wreck of the Titanic, the drawing of a young woman wearing a necklace becomes the catalyst for a flashback to events during the tragic voyage of 1912. Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) is unhappin engaged to rich, arrogant Cal Hockley (Billy Zane) and is saved from a suicide attempt by third-class passenger Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio). Their instantly blossoming love affair goes against the social rules of the day and Cal's jealousy comes to a climax as the ship hits an iceberg in the North Atlantic.
With director James Cameron at the helm and Hollywood's millions in the hold, the sheer scale of the movie should come as no surprise — and, in all its on-screen glory, Titanic does indeed look like the most expensive film ever made. But when it shifts into its ’disaster movie' phase, the special effects do more than simply amaze the eye.
As we watch this huge ship break in two and throw its passengers into the freezing sea at the cost of hundreds of lives, we are offered cinematic spectacle like never before. But we’re also trapped in claustrophobic corridors as the water rises and panic sets in, forced to experience the terror felt by those on board. Having been drawn directly into the heart of the love story earlier on, the audience can find a point of emotional focus within the thrills. This film isn’t all about mechanics and size, it's the human element that really
When the bow breaks: Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic
makes an impact.
Leonardo DiCaprio fulfils his leading man potential and seems perfectly at ease carrying a movie of this length, while Kate Winslet travels the full spectrum of emotions as the independently spirited Rose. One of the major surprises, however, is the film's political content, as Cameron uncovers the rigid on-board class distinctions that ultimately played a part in the bulk of the deaths. (Alan Morrison)
I General release from Fri 23 Jan,
Last orders: Mark Wahlberg and Julianna Margulies in Traveller
(18) 100 mins 2% at
Now, there’s nothing wrong with a slight tale. Some of cmema's finest moments have been built around the gentle, simple or baSic. But when slightness draws itself into the kind of flimsiness which would make a featherlight wafer seem a model of sturdiness, you know you're set to tread
on dodgy territory.
Such is the way with Traveller, the directorial debut of Clint Eastwood’s long-standing cinematographer Jack Green. The rural South is the setting for a community driven by the bond of blood and scams to con outsiders of their cash. When Pat (Mark Wahlberg, star of Boogie Nights) returns into the fold after the death of his father who
had married outwith the clan, it takes time for him to be accepted. He is shown the ropes by experienced scam- monger Bokky (Twister’s Bill Paxton) who is getting himself into an ill-fated relationship with Jean (ER’s Julianna Margulies), herself an outsider and one- time victim of the pair's scheming.
Not only does Pat learn all manner of tricks, he begins to get the upper hand on Bokky. As the jobs they pull begin to get bigger and more dangerous, an inevitable bloody confrontation is just around the corner. The compilation soundtrack which has been chosen also does the film few favours — a dark menace is difficult to reproduce when you can’t get The Dukes Of Hazard theme tune out of your mind.
Not that there's anything inherently horrid about Travel/er — the performances are adequate and, as you would expect, there is much pleasure ahead for the eye — it merely fades from the memory halfway into the closing credits. 'Never try to con a conman’ is the message of the film. Attempting to mess with your audience is equally dangerous. (Brian Donaldson)
I Glasgow: Odeon at the Quay from Fri 30 Jan.
new releases FILM
Stella Does Tricks (18) 97 mins ****
With her hair in child-like bangs and a teddy bear rucksack on her back, Stella (Kelly Macdonald) could be a schoolgirl anywhere. But after buying an ice- cream cone and joining the paternalistic Mr Peters (James Bolam) in a park, she accepts £15 and gives him a handjob beneath his newspaper.
Right from its opening scene, Ste/la Does Tricks — from an original A.L. Kennedy screenplay -‘ sets up the conflicts between surface image and reality, innocent dreams and true-life nightmares. Stella is one of a group of school-age prostitutes working in London, fuelling themselves with drugs and fantasies to keep the harshness of their situation at bay.
Stella's childhood memories have fused with her current daydreams. The flashbacks we see of her loving father (Ewan Stewart), a third-rate stand-up comedian, take on a darker tone when we witness the sexual abuse he forces upon his open-hearted daughter. Here is the key to Stella’s flight to London's supposedly gold-paved streets and, eventually, the catalyst for her return north to wreck revenge on those who made her what she is.
Kelly Macdonald fills her first leading role with more emotional depth than would be believed from her brief appearance as Diane in Trainspotting. When the film begins to falter in its final third — all its points made, with only an unconvincing climax to come — it’s Macdonald who keeps our eyes on the screen. She colours her character's toughness with just enough loneliness and fragility to suggest that her high- spirited, often extreme behaviour is only one notch away from a serious breakdown.
Even Stella's individual strength succumbs to the despair of a generation. Perhaps the saddest image of all in a resolutely bleak film comes when, as punishment for leaving London, Stella is gang-raped by friends of Mr Peters, but reaches out for his hand in support throughout the ordeal. (Alan Morrison)
3 Glasgow Film Theatre from Fri 23 Jan. Edinburgh Fi'lmhouse from Fri 30 Jan. See feature.
Pros and cons: Kelly Macdonald and Hans Matheson in Stella Does Tricks
STAR RATlNGS . * 1r * 4r * Unmissable a * a: it Very good a 1: air Wort a shot * Jr Below average * You've been warned
23 Jan—S Feb 1998 THE UST 39