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The Truman Show (PG) 103 mins 1k tirint

Andy Warhol forecast a world in which everyone would enjoy fifteen minutes of fame. The hero of Peter Weir’s surreal satirical fable is a joe schmoe who's been famous for 30 years.

Jim Carrey’s goofy everyman, Truman Burbank, leads a life of sublime banality. Each morning he bids goodbye to his smiling wife, salutes the neighbours and leaves his neat suburban home to drive to work along the well-scrubbed streets of the picture perfect island community of Seahaven. His cosy routine runs like clockwork until one day the machinery starts going awry. It gradually dawns on Truman that he's being watched. Too right. Truman is in fact the unwitting star of the world’s longest-running documentary soap opera.

From his birth, as the first child to be legally adopted by a corporation, every move he's made has been recorded by hidden cameras and relayed to a worldwide audience of millions. The town of Seahaven is a gigantic soundstage and everyone in it - including Truman’s relentlessly cheery wife and his best friend - is an actor. In a counterfeit world, Truman is the only thing that isn't fake.

Every item in his home is for sale, every conversation he has is an opportunity for product placement. His wife is always clumsily (and hilariously) trying to introduce items like ’Mochoa Cocoa' into idle chit-chat. But, beneath the laughs, the humour is unsettling. Take away the jokes and The Truman Show would be the perfect conspiracy thriller, a turn-of-the-century version of 505 paranoid sci-fi chillers like Invasion Of The Body Snatchers or 705 films like The Parallax View and Three Days Of The Condor.

Screenwriter Andrew Niccol tapped similar millennial

anxieties as writer-director of Gattaca, in which god-like scientists have, through genetic engineering, created a cool, emotionless, perfect world. Truman, like the hero of Gattaca, refuses to accept the role he has been assigned, and longs for the girl (Natascha McElhone) with whom he enjoyed a fleeting (and genuine) romance in college.

The Truman Show (the movie) is flawlessly put together. Script and direction are perfectly judged, with Weir conveying Truman's life under surveillance through the clever use of wide-angle lenses and odd camera angles. Carrey, still a schmuck but less ingratiating than usual, surprisingly gives the movie its heart. (Jason Best) 1 General release from Fri 9 Oct.


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Horse play: Mulan gallops into battle

crowds, snowy landscapes, raging fires and terrifying horseback charges are truly astonishing, while the design team stirs in an authentic flavour of China.

There is a jarring moment when Mulan's ancestors summon up her blundering spirit guardian, a small dragon named Mushu. Voiced by Eddie Murphy, Mushu threatens to overbalance the remarkably subtle storytelling with a brash presence that belies his small stature. But the 1.. narrative soon settles back into an agreeable balance of knockabout comedy and compelling drama, even if

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After Disney's tastily designed venture into Greek mythology with last year’s Hercules, the studio brings its lens to bear on the rich and colourful possibilities of Chinese legend.

Like many a Disney heroine before her, Mulan is a young girl who doesn’t fit in. Despite her best efforts, she dramatically fails to impress the matchmaker, bringing disgrace to her family. Meanwhile a pack of savage Huns are pouring over the Great Wall, and when Mulan's lame father is

28 THE "8‘! 8—22 Oct 1998

conscripted to defend the Emperor, she risks further dishonour by dressing as a boy to replace him. After the rigours of training, she wins the day, saving her beloved captain from certain death; but when her secret comes out, she is shamed, scorned and sentenced to death.

The most striking aspect of this romantic epic is its magnificent animation. Details of character, movement and expression are as fine as should be expected from the world's best known cartoon studio, but the large-scale set pieces thronging

the finale is every bit as mawkish as you’d expect.

The only unforgiveable aspect of Mulan is the damn songs. Why, oh why, oh why, oh why? Just when you're really wrapped up in the story, up swell the strains of some FM- friendly adult-oriented rock: no wonder the kids in the audience start squirming in their seats. Stevie Wonder or no Stevie Wonder, it's about time someone knelt at the master’s ancestral shrine and told him, ’Oi! Walt! Noooo!’ (Andrew Burnet)

I General release from Fri 76 Oct.

A Perfect Murder (18) 107 mins *1"le

It seems that a sizeable minority of film- goers many of them women hate Michael Douglas as a matter of principle. Perhaps they associate him with the characters he played in formulaic ’ei'otic thrillers‘ such as Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct or Disclosure. Yet he was superb in all those films, and better still in Falling Down, The War Of The Roses, Wall Street and The Game.

There is, quite simply, no one to touch Douglas when it comes to playing alienated, middle-class, middle-aged, white American males. Which is precisely why he's so perfectly cast as a manipulative, predatory ’control freak’ with a talent for exploiting human weakness in this entertaining and intelligent re-working of Hitchcock's dramatically flat 3-D thriller, Dial M For Murder.

Inspired by, rather than slavisth faithful to, the 1953 original, screenwriter Patrick Smith Kelly’s contemporary take both complicates and adds emotional depth to the triangular relationship between Douglas’s cuckolded industrialist, Viggo Mortensen's struggling artist and Gwyneth Paltrow’s sleek, highly intelligent 'trophy wife’.

In a role inherited from Grace Kelly, but developed way beyond the mere 'helpless victim' that Hitchcock created back then, Paltrow is by turns passionate, na‘ive, vulnerable and strong. Ultimately she finds the mental and physical strength to confront the truth about the deceitful, mercenary relationship between herself, a lover who is not what he seems, and a husband who has paid him to kill her. Yet right to the end, Douglas's motives remain murky: is all this Machiavellian scheming merely the result of his jealous, wounded male ego, or does he need the wealthy Paltrow's family trust fund to cover some disastrous stock market losses?

Although better known for big action pictures such as Under Siege and The Fugitive, director Andrew Davis handles the complex plotting, nerve-jangling suspense and scenes of twisted intimacy with consummate skill. Seductively glossy and perfectly executed, this superior Hollywood thriller creates a tension that is at once emotionally raw and intellectually refined. (Nigel Floyd)

I General release from Fri 76 Oct.

A kiss before dying: Gwyneth Paltrow and Michael Douglas in A Perfect Murder


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