City Of Angels (12) 117 mins int x
A wise man — or it could have been a film producer? — once said that you should never remake a great film. But when the original is a foreign language classic, then something more tends to be lost in the translation, a sense of gravitas that mainstream Hollywood strains to achieve.
Which is not to deny the efforts of director Brad Silberling and his cast in this earnest but unintentionally leaden remake of Wim Wenders‘ sublime Wings Of Desire - but it does point to their failure. Somehow Nicolas Cage, playing an angel who mooches around Los Angeles (the ‘city of angels' in more senses than one), cannot match the depths of torment that Bruno Ganz summoned with one pained look in the exquisite original.
Cage tries hard, but the sight of him - and all the cinematic baggage he brings to the role — stalking Meg Ryan often comes off as more menacing than romantic. Seth (Cage) and his fellow angels roam the earth unseen, listening to the thoughts of mankind and comforting those in need. Only in times of great stress, or in near death experiences, are they noticed.
Sitting in at an operating theatre, the better to escort the unfortunate patient to his next destination, Seth glimpses lovely heart surgeon Maggie (Ryan) and his whole existence is thrown into question. Experiencing a succession of rather unangelic emotions, he quickly begins to wonder how he can resign his immortality and live the imperfect life of a human being.
Seeking advice from his impassive fellow angel Cassiel (Andre Braugher), he discovers a way out. But life as we know it is not entirely what Seth expects, and after an eternity as an unseen, indestructible spirit he has to
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yan in City Of Angels
els instead: Meg R
cope with the vagaries of the big city, as well as finding
a way to get close to the unsuspecting Maggie.
It would be wrong to suggest there are no moments of high emotion, which themselves are off-set by flashes of humour, but in taking itself so seriously at other times, the absurdities of the concept are laid open to ridicule. The Gothic magnificence of Wenders' film, which is duly credited in this remake, is replaced by a soft focus, filtered earnestness that pushes the story towards soapy melodrama and the worst kind of 8- movie romantic cliches. (Anwar Brett)
General release from Fri I 9 Jun
Shakespeare's sisters: Jessica Lange, Miche
A Thousand Acres (15) 105 mins 1k as
Based on a book, itself based on King Lear, A Thousand Acres isn't a traditional reworking of the Shakespeare story — that kind of thing is left to Kenneth Branagh. In fact, the film starts out more like an episode of The Waltons than a dose of the Bard — an all-American farm, a beautiful family who all live on the same property and a father who is
26 THE “ST 11—25 Jun 1998
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Thousand Acres cantankerous but apparently sweet underneath.
Things start to go wrong, however, when the old man decides to sign over the estate to his three daughters The youngest turns down the offer on the grounds that he is making a mistake Her thoughts stay With him as the other two accept, and he consequently becomes obsessed With the idea that he has been wronged, deoding to sue to get the farm back.
Suddenly being faced With daddy as
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lle Pfeiffer and Jennifer Jason Leigh in A
baddy enables the elder sisters to own up to a whole lot of things about their father which they had preViously denied — like the sexual abuse they suffered as children. Cue fighting — fighting With daddy, fighting With their husbands and fighting With each other. The three key actresses -- Jessica Lange, Michelle Pfeiffer and Jennifer Jason Leigh -- all do 'distressed' very well, and Jason Robards as daddy is truly nutty as a fruitcake. But Pfeiffer remains too beautiful to look like she is suffering and Lange is up against it in the narrating sequences, which desCribe an array of accidents and deaths in the blandest way imaginable. When a Hollywood producer suggested that King Lear met Terms Of Endearment on Walton Mountain, there was always gomg to be an element of risk involved Putting such a meaty story into a modern setting c0u|d have been gripping and movmg - but A Thousand Acres is sodden With schmaltz Only to be recommended if you are overdosed on World Cup testosterone and need a strong injection of the complete opposite to act as antidote. (Sophy antow) a General release from Fri 72 jun
Western (15) 136 mins it *
Although the title of this film suggests gun-toting outlaws and sheriffs With shiny badges in the American Wild West, this particular Western is in fact a comic French-language road mowe.
From PeruVian-born director Manuel Poirier, it tells the tale of two foreigners who meet in a coastal town in Western Brittany. The ironic tone of the movre is set in the opening scene when Spanish shoe salesman Paco (Sergi Lopez) stops his car for a hitchhiker, quite obvrously because she is a pretty French woman, only to find that she is immediately replaced by a scruffy, small Russian man. After his new travelling companion Nino (Sacha Boui'cio), runs Off With Paco’s vehicle, leavmg him furious and bent on revenge, the irate Spaniard does, surprisingly, manage to track him down,
However, once he has given the crafty RUSSIan a beating, the two men become best of friends and go on to drive from Village to Village together Both outsiders Within their environment and both searching for love, their strange relationship is characterised by male bonding, drinking and chasing women. Like chalk and cheese in character, these two nevertheless find each other excellent companions and go on to experience one adventure after another.
Although the drifting lOLJTTTOY structure, the struggles between different cultures and the strong male perspective do, in fact, link this filiii tenuously to the classic Western genre, its title is much more relevant to the film’s geographical setting iii western France. Combining the attractive Brittany countrySIde Willi a flamenco guitar soundtrack, Poirier has created an amusineg cross-c iiltural backdrop for this dryly comic buddy iiioVie
Featuring strong performances from Lopez and Bourdo, Who manage to radiate a matey chemistry despite their very opposite personalities, Western is like a French Wlfh/ial/ & lon the road, but less eventful. Very funny in parts, it is only mildly entertaining overall, and its slow-paced meandering structure unfortunately makes it feel ()VCflOllq. (Beth Williams) is? Glasgow Film Theatre from Fri 72 Jun Edinburgh Film/rouse from Fri 3 Jul
Field of dreams: Sergi Lopez and Sacha Bourdo in Western
1. , . . STAR RATINGS a: t si: s: a Unmissable * st * 1 Very 900d 1- 'k it Worth a Shot 3% 1k Below average ii You've been warned