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The Rainmaker (15) 136 mins **

The latest John Grisham legal drama to reach the screen reserves its biggest surprise for the very end. After nearly two and a quarter hours of forensic manoeuvres and sudden twists of fate, the film reaches its climax and the first of the closing credits appears: ‘A Film by Francis Ford Coppola’.

What is the director of The Godfather, The Conversation and Apocalypse Now doing at the helm of this piece of hack work? Paying his dues to Hollywood is the answer (like Robert Altman, whose almost equally bland and anonymous The Gingerbread Man will be released soon), hoping eventually to earn enough credit with the bean counters who run the studios to be able to make more personal projects.

ldealistic law school graduate Rudy Baylor (Matt Damon) can barely get his foot in the door at any of the big legal firms in Memphis, and ends up working as an ambulance chaser for shady lawyer and topless bar owner Bruiser Stone (Mickey Rourke). Working for Bruiser, Rudy gets a rude awakening to the realities of America's legal system, but he doesn't lose his principles.

He comes upon the case of a young man dying of leukaemia who is being denied proper medical care because his insurance company won't honour his claim. Taking on the giant corporation, Rudy uncovers a monumental insurance scam that has created a fortune for the company by systematically cheating the poor.

Grisham and Coppola's indignation at the iniquities of American capitalism - not to mention the corruption of its legal and health-insurance systems - is impressive, but the film's plot is too cliched and

And justice for all: Matt Damon in The Rainmaker

predictable for their analysis to make the impact it deserves.

Not that there aren't good things in The Rainmaker. The acting is excellent. Matt Damon convinces as the hero, and there is fine support from Danny DeVito as Rudy's morally compromised mentor and from Jon Voight as the insurance company's sleek and arrogant lawyer. But they cannot redeem the film's dull and formulaic storyline.

Back in the 70s, Coppola took a middle-brow bestseller - Mario Puzo’s Mafia pot-boiler - and transformed it into a screen masterpiece. Sadly, the same alchemy hasn't worked this time. (Jason Best)

I General release from Fri 24 Apr.

Things can only get wetter: Christian Slater in Hard Rain

1!? inewtably, a hot and very damp pursuit


The faults with Hard Rain are almost too numerous to mention, but it's worth a go. Thematically, there is too much being crammed in greed, betrayal, the choice between right and wrong, good and evil, retribution, etc. It actually comes across as an extended Bible class: Karen (Minnie Driver) renovates the local church in her spare time, the whole flood thing, Jim's crucifix earring, the church as sute of final showdown with the stained-glass apostles being smashed to smithereens.

The line where attempting to deal with weaponry and the real, brutal damage they cause is crossed, leading to outright fetishisation of guns. That's

Hard Rain (15) 96 mins *

It will come as little surprise to anyone iewing Hard Rain that director Mikael alomon received Oscar nominations or Visual Effects in Backdraft and inematography in The Abyss. nfortunately, telling a story with harp dialogue, intelligence and umour is clearly unknown territory for m.

TIIE “31’ 16-30 Apr 1998

The mother of all storms has hit the sleepy town of Huntingburg and with evacuation the only solution, it's a field day for looters. In particular, the less petty ones led by Jim (Morgan Freeman) who have their eyes on a $3 million prize. Only the elements and an armoured car guard, Tom (Christian Slater), appear to stand in the way and, unluckin for Tom, the local sheriff (Randy Quaid) has designs on the booty for himself. Somewhat

one lasting memory of this film, as is the downright rankness of the dialogue. 'For twenty years, I've been eating shit breakfast, lunch and dinner. Now I’m changing the menu’, is but one example. Fortuitously, the action is so fierce and the volume so pumped up in the last third that much of the lame talk is drowned out. Hard Rain is going to appal.

(Brian Donaldson)

I General release from Fri 17 Apr.

Deconstructing Harry (18) 94 mins tttt

Author Harry Block is in trouble. For one thing, Block is blocked. For another, his circle of friends has decayed to the point where there's almost no one left, due to his habit of recasting them as characters in his best-selling ’fiction’.

Six analysts down the line, he remains a self-centered, pill-popping, whisky- swilling, sex-obsessed, hooker-addicted neurotic. His ex-wife won't let him see their son. And the only woman he might just be in love with is going to marry a man who, until this revelation, was one of Harry‘s few remaining friends. The only bright spot on the horizon is the forthcoming honouring ceremony his old college is holding for him. But what good is an honouring ceremony if there's no one to share it with?

Woody Allen’s 27th film opens on a riff: Judy Davis emerges from a cab, pays the driver, crosses a road and rings an apartment's buzzer. Three times. Three times, the same little staccato, jump-cut flurry, establishing the film’s dominant editing motif. Allen uses this intrusive style everywhere, fracturing Harry's life into a stumbling mosaic with tiles missing everywhere, that is, except in the episodes drawn from Harry's fiction which recur throughout the film, where, tellingly, everything flows, is controlled, worked- out.

Allen is playing with Woody Allen here or, rather, with ’Woody Allen' the received, perceived idea. Stardust Memories floats in the background. Harry's work is autobiography with more laughs and blind grannies, just as Woody is sure that we are sure that his IS.

There are flaws in the film Cookie the Harlem tart of gold, the Hell sequence, Demi Moore but on the other hand there are many, many prime Woody throwaways, the profound delight of witnessing Allen swearing fluently (though

’motherfucker’ seems forced from the tongues of Davis and Kirstie Alley), and the only Star Wars themed bar mitzvah cinema will ever need. (Damien Love) I Glasgow Film Theatre from Fri 77 Apr

Woody Allen in Deconstructing Harry

STAR RATINGS , it t at t * Unmissable * * at it Very ** at Wort a shot at * Below average it You've been warned