Paul Schrader's fairly literal adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s gtirrkily comic novel relocates the story from DetrOrt to LA, inviting comparison with that other Leonard movre, Get Shorty. This rs a low-key affair, however, which largely avoids drama, farce and guns, and opts for actors’ actors rather than rnegastars

Sharp-suited Christopher Walken plays evangelical entrepreneur Bill Hill, keen to exploit a young man named Juvenal (Skeet Ulrich), whose touch can apparently cure people of illness or disability Prevrously a Franciscan monk, Juvenal now works in a detox clinic, so Hill persuades his former haton-twrrler

rich in Touch Lynn Faulkner (Bridget Fonda) to pose as an alcoholic in order to check him out.

Lynn wrtnesses Juvenal heal several people, and the two of them fall in love. Their happiness is threatened, however, because now everyone wants a piece of Juvenal, including chat show barracuda Gina Gershon and fanatical ultra-conservative Tom Arnold, who wants to use him to publicise hrs own sect.

Not the sort of material you’d expect from the man who wrote Taxr Driver and directed Cat People and The Company Of Strangers, but Schrader rs at least partly successful in recreating Leonard's milieu of very secular saints and hustlers. (John tvtacKenzre)

a Selected release from Fri 70 Jul

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Forest grump: Billy Bob Thornton and Lucas Black in Sling Blade

Sling Blade (15) 135 mins t 2 At last, a Irlm about a simpleton that isn’t dumb W:rter—director-star Billy Bob Thornton's Best Screenplay Oscar'- wrnnrng, Sling Blade couldn‘t be further removed from the mawkrshness of films like Rain Man and Forrest Gump

Thornton's protagonist, Karl Childers, is no idiot savant though one of the people he meets does assume he must be a ’deep tlirnker'. He's a slightly retarded man who has spent 25 years in an asylum after killing his mother and her lover when he was twelve, Turned loose from the 'nervous liosprtal' against his Will, he returns to his small Southern hometown and frncls work as a reparrrnan. He is befriended by a young boy whose mother - echoing the past IS being drawn deeper into an abuswe

relationship With a local redneck.

In creating a film that is movrng wrthout being sentimental, Thornton never overplays his hand, either as director or actor. Hrs performance as Karl may be burlt on external trcs ~- hunched shoulders, undersliot raw and a gravelly voice but the portrayal goes much deeper Karl is groping towards a kind of redemption and he becomes the agent of a very rough Justice. But the film’s morality is far from simple-minded

Thornton’s restrained direction and fine performances from the supporting cast, which includes country singer Dwrght Yoakam as the vrolent boytriend, prevent us from rclentrfyrng too closely With Karl and the film's ending has a tr0ub|rng ambiguity (Jason Best)

a Glasgow Film Theatre and Edinburgh Cameo from Fri 10 Jul.

new releases FILM


(18) 90 mins at six rs a

When Mop first appeared at London’s Royal Court Theatre in July I995, 25- year-old playwright Jez Butterworth was immediately hailed as the Next Big Thing Having first conceived it as a film, he now makes a tremendOusly confident debut as movre director.

In I958 Soho, Silver Johnny, a rock 'n’ roll star in the making, has been acqurred by dodgy businessman Ezra for a residency at his Atlantic Club. Teenage culture is dawning and the pill-popping lads who run the Atlantic figure Johnny’s a cake and they want a slice. When Ezra fails to cut a deal with his sinister rival Sam Ross, double- crossrng kicks in, a gang war escalates, and the club becomes a kind of Alamo.

Butterworth sustains the amphetamined-up frenzy of the first scene right through to the horrifying finale. The play's queasy sexual subtext is brought further to the fore, and there are flashes of exquisite humour. The violence remains implicit until the final scene, otherwrse you might imagine it was an experiment in Cockney argot by Tarantrno or Scorsese.

There rs no starring role, but Andy Serkrs and Alden Gillen (both from the original production), Ian Hart and Ewen Bremner all put in top-notch performances. The two older men are offstage characters in the play, but here Ricky Tomlinson and especially Haroch Pinter are allowed to revel in sleazy menace. (Andrew Burnet)

:3. Selected release from Fri 70 Jul

Hans Matheson in Mojo


Jack Smith: Flaming Creature

(Serpent's Tail £25) ss- a: ‘fit as

Wait For Me At The Bottom Of The Pool Jack Smith (Serpent's Tail £9.99) sir «k as

You may be wondering who Jack Smith is Well, anyone at all interested in American underground filmmaking, experimental theatre, poetry, photography and writing should find OUI immediately. Smith, who died in 1989 of an AIDS- relatecl illness, was one of the major influences on the New York avant-garde art scene of the 60s, but his reputation has remained buried under a conspiracy of silence.

Flaming Creatures is a collection of Smith’s photographs, collages, parody adverts and more, wrth an erudite and fascinating series of essays on his work by various luminaries among the American performing and visual arts. Warhol and Ginsberg pop up now and then in what is a brilliant piece of work, if a bit expensive

Wart For Me At The Bottom Of The Pool brings together Smith's ’ravings’ and swings from intelligent critical insight tc) various artistic fields to baffling babbling in his unique style -— often on the same page. These books are vrrtually impOSSIble to explain, except to say that they made me want to lead a plastic penguin about on a leash. Read them and you'll understand. Or maybe not. (Graham Rae)

Kurt And Courtney I .. , i (18) 93 mins r . .

In his latest documentary Kurt And Courtney, Nick Broornfreld investigates the possibility that Nirvana marnman Kurt Cobain's death wasn’t suicide, but something altogether more sinister Courtney Love's father is JUSI one of the intervrm‘vees who alleges that it was Courtney herself who had a hand in her husband's untimely demise.

The film doesn't stand a chance of getting to the bottom of these allegations, however, as most of the people that Broomfreld talks to are too drug-addled to be coherent, let alone convrncrng. Kurt And Courtney is more of a freak show, a glimpse at the strange characters still grasping at pieces of Cobain's life, than a serious investigation into his death. Even so, it angered Love enough for her to have the film banned at the Sundance Film Festival and for certain critical sections of the original dialogue to be cut from the British release.

Unsurprrsrngly, Kurt And Courtney provrdes another opportunity for attention- seekrng filmmaker Broomfreld to get hrs LA tan in front of the lens as much as possible His escapades on camera are often extraneous and sometimes entertaining, but worth sticking With because he does occasionally manage to push people to a point where they suddenly crack, wrth totally bizarre results. (Sophy Bristow) tie Edinburgh Cameo from Fri I7 jul.

Who killed Kurt? Never mind

9-23 Jul I998 THE “ST 29