Russian about: Bill Murray in The Man Who Knew Too Little

The Man Who Knew Too Little (12) 93 mins *

It’s Wallace Ritchie’s birthday, and he's flying over to the UK to surprise his

investment-banking brother. Unfortunately, the brother doesn’t want him around that night he’s entertaining corporate Germans who won’t appreciate Wallace’s wacky sense of humour. So Wallace (Bill Murray) IS sent off to participate in The Theatre Of Life, London’s hottest interactive show.

Arriving early to answer the phone call which wrll kick off the theatrical adventure, he mistakenly picks up a call from British defence minister Sir Roger Daggenhurst (an entertaining if predictable cameo by Richard Wilson) and gets himself involved in a crazy

scheme, deVised by secret agents worried about job shortages, to re-start the Cold War Under the false impression that all the guns and torture form part of the pre-paid, make-believe experience, Wallace exudes a cheeky fearlessness previously demonstrated only by the likes of James Bond (or so we are supposed to think).

There are funny moments like when Wallace finds himself accidentally having to perform as the star turn of a Russian dancing troupe at an ambassador’s reception of F(?l'l’(}f() Rocher proportions Tellingly, these moments only occur when Murray is free from the constraints of the very dull script, which is too fluffy to make the Bond pastiche work one more time. (Sophy Bristow)

a General release from Fri 75 May

Wild Things (18) 111 mins it

During the credit sequence, an alligator rises out of the Florida Everglades. From there, a helicopter-mounted camera flies off to the opulent yachting community of Blue Bay and its high school at which Matt Dillon teaches cheerleader Kelly Van Ryan (Denise Richards). 'Gator, teacher, school girl: they're all predators. Geddit? That’s as smart as this film gets, which isn't very far for an ’erotic thriller’ that crams in more plot twists than the Everglades has water courses.

At the centre of the film is a menage a trois: Dillon's hunk, Richard's wealthy brat and Neve Campbell's goth teenager. The brat accuses her teacher of rape, the goth does likewise and teach is ousted from Blue Bay. Then, in

Pooling forces: Neve Campbell and Denise Richards in Wild Things

court, the goth admits the teacher was set up and the slandered Sues the slanderer.

To give away more plot WOuld rurn the film, except that the seemingly unending series of tWists becomes self- defeating: the audience anticipates yet another double cross. From Keyin Bacon’s uninspired turn as a dogged cop, thrOugh the leaden blues soundtrack and cliched sex scenes, there's little to recommend. This is commercial western cinema at its worst: glossy and crude (and, sadly, by the directOr of Henry: Portrait of A Serial Killer). Only Bill Murray's enjoyably subtle, quirky performance as Dillon's Wily, deadbeat laWyer has any merit, but it isn't enough drag Wild Things out of the swamp.

(Miles Fielder) I General release from Fri 75 May.

new releases FILM

The Real Blonde

(15) 110 mins *i‘k

When Will Tom DiCillo’s day come? As with all his films, The Real Blonde boasts a great cast Denis Leary, Daryl Hannah, Elizabeth Berkley, Steve Buscemi and Kathleen Turner join DiCiIlo regular Catherine Keener and a story which hits many of the right spots in attacking the artifices of life.

Yet, despite these plusses, The Real Blonde falls into the trap of his earlier trio Johnny Suede, Living In Oblivion and Box Of Moonlight. They are comedies without a mass of laughs; human stories which move you only sporadically; and offbeat numbers which, too often, stray into a heaving middle ground.

Joe (Matthew Modine) is a struggling actor who has to forego dreams of being an 'artist' by appearing in a Madonna video. His girlfriend (Keener) massages the egos Within the modelling industry, and takes care of herself through a Leary-led self-defence class. Meanwhile, Joe’s less-talented friend (Maxwell Caulfield) has got himself a peachy plum role in a daytime soap. And there's a semi-sub-plot about a stolen dog, which presumably has some greater significance than is apparent.

A stylish and at times pointed movie, but one which ultimately slo-mos rather than fist-flies its punches. (Brian Donaldson)

3 Selected release from Fri 22 May.

Daryl Hannah in The Real Blonde


(PG) 100 mins Meteors: every movie should have

one At least that’s how it feels this fortnight, with Deep Impact crash- landing in cinemas across the country and its disaster movie rival Armageddon set for a late summer release. Even the kids' market has got in on the act with Star Kid.

Spencer (Jurassic Park's Joseph Mazzello) is that film cliche: the shy kid, at a new school, overlooked at home by his recently widowed dad. One night he spots a meteor landing in the local junkyard and, on investigation, discovers Cybersuit, an intelligent, hollow robot with a voice and personality of its own. Climbing inside, Spencer is able to kick the butts of the school bullies, but finds himself up against a deadlier foe when he faces intergalactic tough nuts, the Broodwarriors.

Clearly aimed at pre-adolescent boys who want to live out their underdog fantasies, Star Kid fits a popular pattern: like Clark Kent, Spencer can turn from mild-mannered nobody into someone with superhuman strength. The critical reaction in America was quite favourable, with veteran reviewer Roger Ebert reckoning it's a film with ‘a sweet heart and a lot of sly wit'. (Alan Morrison)

a General release from Fri 22 May.

Star Kid: cybersuits you, sir

FILM BOOK Contemporary Cinema John Orr (Edinbur h University Press £15.99) *irim John Orr's excellent ta e on contemporary cinema doesn‘t go the usual route of film histories. lt eschews a chronological trudge through the great names and dates for a fast-paced, theory-driven look at some of the main movements and developments over the last 30 years.

Taking off from Pasolini's belief in 'free indirect subjectivity', Orr explores films

which reject easy audience identification and heavy plotting for what he sees as a

kind of multi-faceted auteurism.

Orr Cites Red Desert, Persona and Le Samourai as films which need less to be seen than read: interpreted through the director's career generally, or perhaps through a close scrutiny of the subjectively presented image. Comments on Exotica may lead us back to Egoyan’s earlier work; a reading of Le Samourai, to the tilt of Alain Delon‘s hat or to cameraman Henri Decae's use of greys and blues.

Of the 270 films covered, most are the closest we have to cinematic set texts Blow-Up, Marnie, Raging Bull, Three Colours Blue, La Belle Noiseuse - films available from all good video libraries. Which is just as well, because Orr isn’t one to dawdle over a film‘s plot when there‘s a theoretical point to be made. This is film writing to quicken the pulse. (Tony McKibbin)

14-28 May 1998 rucusm