FILM new releases
Fallen (15) 124 mins "k *
An atmospheric serial killer movie with supernatural overtones, Fallen is spoiled by tricksy direction which distracts from the screenplay’s underlying strengths.
Before taking dubious pleasure in an execution by electric chair, homicide detective John Hobbes (Denzel Washington) shakes hands with the demonic murderer (Elias Koteas), who then bursts into the old Rolling Stones song 'Time Is On My Side'. And so it proves, because soon after Hobbes and his partner (John Goodman) visit a murder scene that bears all the dead killer's gruesome trademarks.
Do they have a copycat killer on their hands? Since everyone who worked on
Dead again: John Goodman and Denzel Washington in Fallen
the Reese case is a suspect, Hobbes can't trust even his closest colleagues. Then, as the circumstantial evidence starts piling up against him, the increasingly paranoid Hobbes starts to doubt even his own sanity.
A graduate from TV cop shows such as Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue, director Gregory Hoblit is more comfortable with the neo-noir trappings of Fallen than he was with the talky, sub-Hitchcock silliness of his debut feature Primal Fear. Even so, he can't underlining the diabolical sub- text with flashy images and jolting sound effects that dictate our emotional responses. The final twist is clever, but comes too late to save a film that escapes B-movie cliche by only a cat’s whisker. (Nigel Floyd)
I General release from Fri 73 Mar.
Killer‘s kiss: Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman in Kiss The Girls
Kiss The Girls
(18) 116 mins war A serial killer mowe that shares its lead actor and some preoccupations with Seven is asking for trouble. Director Gary Fleder, who made a splash with the self-consciously clever.Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead, avoids some of the pitfalls, but never invests the over-familiar material with any original psychological insights. However, thanks to the magisterial Morgan Freeman and the awesomely talented Ashley Judd, he does bring more human depth to the stock scenario than we've come to expect from mainstream Hollywood pictures. Having learned that his teenage niece has been abducted from college, Dr Alex Cross (Freeman) flies to North Carolina, where he learns that seven
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other girls are missing, but only one body has been found. Cross surmises that the killer may be a 'collector' who has a harem of victims incarcerated in some secret lair. His theory is confirmed when local doctor Kate McTiernan (Judd) escapes the self- styled Casanova's warren of subterranean tunnels and cells.
The early scenes, chronicling the painstaking investigation and the screwed-up killer's twisted sense of his own irresistible romantic charms, make the most lasting impression. Sadly, in the final twenty minutes, the film pushes beyond acutely observed detail into increasingly contrived and ludicrous situations. Freeman and Judd deserve a great deal better. And so do we. (Nigel Floyd)
I General release from Fri 6 Mar.
Good Will Hunting
(15) 126 mins *~k**
Robin Williams in understated role stunner! Maybe it’s him being swamped beneath a forest of greying facial fungus, but after a while you very nearly forget that the bloke playing therapist Sean McGuire has forged a career on characters who have appeared to be under the influence of all the cocaine in Christendom.
McGuire is invited to suss out the genius mind of Will Hunting (Matt Damon, who also co-wrote the cracking script) - a college janitor with an aptitude for algebra, whose motivation for self-advancement IS zero. Unfortunately, he also likes a good scrap and only regular analysis at the hands of McGuire will save him from a spell in jail.
Despite a rather flaccid love interest with Minnie Driver — though she does get the film’s biggest laugh — and some about-the-town buddy shenanigans, Gus Van Sant's film truly soars when Damon and Williams are alone on screen. Brilliantly, if somewhat predictably, their sessions reveal as much about McGuire’s torments as Hunting's in a kind of Hannibal Lecter/Clarice Starling kind of way - thankfully without the threat of anyone’s jugulars being ripped open. Damon is being touted as this week's next big thing, but it is Williams who just about sneaks it on points. (Brian Donaldson)
I General release from Fri 6 Mar.
Ugetsu Monogatari (12) 96 mins ****
Along with Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon and Yasijuro Ozu’s Tokyo Story, Ugetsu Monogatari (The Story Of Ugetsu) helped define the 1950’s golden age of classical Japanese cinema. Paying studious attention to both domestic tradition and Western influence, these filmmakers moulded a cinematic style that spoke eloquently to international audiences still numbed by Japan's role in WWII.
Ugetsu — also known as Tales Of A Pale And Mysterious Moon After The Rain - is adapted from a story cycle by 18th century author Akirari Ueda. Set during Japan's bitter civil war, it follows the misadventures of a pair of village-dwelling married couples whose lives are irrevocably altered when the fighting sweeps over them. One of the husbands, a potter, is consumed with greed to take advantage of the commercial opportunities the war brings; the other husband, the potter’s assistant, nourishes a bizarre dream to become a samurai, and rushes headlong to seek his fortune.
As is standard in Mizoguchi’s work, it's the women who bear the brunt of male irresponsibility and dream-chasing. Underneath the formal composition and stately pace of the cinematography, there’s a simple love story of regret and missed opportunities. There's a compelling humanism about the movie, that makes it a genuinely rewarding experience. (Andrew Pulver)
I Edinburgh Filmhouse from Mon 9 Mar, beginning a six-film Mizoguchi season running until Mon 3 May.
Un Air De Famille
(15) 109 mins ink‘k
Taking the concept that almost all families have their own familiar script which gets played out at every gathering, the new film from Cedric Klapisch (director of When The Cat’s Away) is a witty expose of family interaction.
Based on the French stage production of the same name, Un Air De Famille — which translates as 'Family Resemblances’ — shows us an evening in the life of one particular family. Frank-speaking Betty (Anges Jaoui) has a painful mother (Claire Maurier), who fusses endlessly over her favourite son, Philippe (Wladimir Yordanoff), while perpetually criticising her other son, Henri (Jean-Pierre Bacri).
Gathering to celebrate the birthday of Philippe's wife Yolande (Catherine Frot) in their family-owned bar, these people partake in their weekly exchange of news and views, but as Denis the barman (Jean-Pierre Darroussin) looks on, their dialogue heats up into a crescendo of outspoken comments.
Set predominantly in one location, the film retains an element of its stage roots, but a host of clever cinematic touches — from sonic distractions to flashback sequences - release the play from its theatrical origins. Making the Mitchells in EastEnders look like the Brady Bunch, Un Air De Famille is a cruelly comical family portrait. (Beth Williams)
I Glasgow Film Theatre and Edinburgh Filmhouse from Fri 6 Mar.
Jean-Pierre Bacri in Un Air De Famille