Band on the run: Stephen Rea, Hans Matheson, Bill Nighy, Timothy Spall and Jimmy Nail in Still Crazy

Still Crazy

(15) 95 mins *‘k**

A couple of years ago, every new British film was billed as 'the new Trainspotting'. Now they're all ’the new Full Monty’. It's a tag you’ll no doubt see thrust upon Still Crazy, but with some Justification: a disparate bunch of guys come together, suffer strife, but triumph against the odds. This time, however, the pants stay on as it’s a reformed 70s rock group that's at the centre of attention.

Strange Fruit were big in their day, but inevitable 'musical differences’ forced them apart. Twenty years on, each member is suffering hard times so jumping on the nostalgia bandwagon seems like a good idea. It's not that easy, however ~ the lead guitarist is missing, presumed dead; tensions still

exist between Les the bassist (Jimmy Nail) and Ray the ginger (Bill Ninhy); and a tour of the toilet gigs of Europe is required before the record company will take them seriously again.

The laughs hit yOu With a two- pronged attack: rock 'n' roll excess is a perfect subject to send up, while this collection of character actors (hats off to Timothy Spall and Billy Connolly) have the skill to take their roles right to the edge of the stereotype line without relying on easy parody. TV stalwarts Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais deliver a script that’s just a little episodic, but never less than funny, provmo you don't need special effects to produce a hit mOVie - especially when ‘,i’i’)'tl"~.’(? already got more rot l: dinosaurs than Jurassic Park (Alan fie General release from Fri 30 C: .‘ preview

Halloween H20 (18) 89 mins 1: ‘k * ‘k

First of all, forget the tiresome sequels that followed 1981 's Halloween 2 StOry and style-Wise, they count for nothing. In fact, this twenty-years-on instalment is perhaps the only slasher mowe to make any Claim to the crown of John Carpenter‘s original.

The plot picks up With Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) having changed her identity to that of a respected school headmistress and mother of a seventeen-year-old son (Josh Hartnett). Not all is rosy in her garden, however: she’s divorced, a closet alcoholic and has recurrent flashes of the masked face of Michael Myers, her insane killer-brother, who slew her teenage friends so many years ago. But Myers

Cutting class: Adam Hahn-Byrd, Jodi Lyn O'Keefe, Josh Hartnett and

Michelle Williams in Halloween H20

has discovered Laurie's whereabouts and is on his way to fulfil his eVil mISSIon in life her death

Pretty soon, a decent mimbe’ of cast members are suitably iso'ated. and the slaying begins in ea'eest -- but this is no throwaway gorefest of disposable airheads The characters are well— rounded and Strongly played, With CUfliS delwering what's orobaoly the gutsiest performance of her career And as we get to kro - even grow to like all the potential ‘vlCtti'TlS, we can’t detach Ourselves from their slaughter. in one particularly reniOrseless scene, Myers is shot from below as his knife comes down again and again and again, into the faces of the audience. Halloween H20 is brutal and without mercy, just like its killer (Alan Morrison) 3 General release from Fri 2.? Oct

new releases FILM ,

The Governess

(15) 114 mins *‘k‘k

As period films remain one of the few genres willing to place women at the heart of the narrative, actresses are always understandably happy to jump into stays and bonnets. In the title role of Sandra Goldbacher’s directorial debut, The Governess, Minnie Driver is the latest in a long line, though she foregoes corsets for a leather dress and sleeves combination that suggests nothing less than Victorian fetishwear. j

If so, it would be appropriate, so 33".. ' «t, dominant is Driver in this film as the j, ;" "‘_ "if charismatic Rosina, a Jewish proto- T feminist who moves from the rich red i \ " T clutter of her London life to stark, green ’presbyterian' Scotland. There she passes herself off as a Gentile governess for a dysfunctional family, charming her way into the work and bed of the master of the house (Tom Wilkinson).

In a performance combining sensuality and humour, Driver commands attention from the start. Her Rosy is vivid, attractive, humane and endlessly watchable. However, Goldbacher’s screenplay is as much in thrall to the film’s leading lady as her camera IS. Rosina’s self-assurance, attractive though it is, is never really challenged by events or the rather pallid characters that surround her. The result is, unfortunately, an underachieVing movie, but Driver's star will continue to rise on the back of what is an utterly memorable performance. (Teddy Jamieson)

Minnie Driver in The Governess

i e Selected release from Fri 23 Oct.


Razor Blade Smile

(18) 101 mins

It's a while since Britain produced a decent new vampire movie. Despite the Iiiiiitations of a low budget (which kept the film on the shelves for a couple of years before editing c0uld be completed) 28-year-old writer-director Jake West seems to have pulled it off with Razor Blade Smile. 'Now this is what we call a ‘~.’rilill)li'0 mowel' raved SFX Magazine, and the film also played well to a home audience of gorehounds at the most recent Fantasm festival in London.

Fusing the Goth scene in 90s London With England of the 1850s, the story tells of Lilith Silver (the gorgeous Eileen Daly) who is given the dark gift of eternal life by the dastardly Sir Sethane West after being inadvertantly shot during a pistol duel. Now, in the present day, she’s working as an assassin tracking down members of the ’illuminati'.

The film company's own description of their anti-heroine sounds interesting out-fighting Emma Peel, out-dressing Catwoman and busting Barbarella’s curves' so this could prove a Halloween treat for fans of the horror genre. Just don't expect the glossy production values of Hollywood. (Alan Morrison) § Edinburgh Cameo from Fri 30 Oct.

Small Soldiers (PG) 110 mins *

Back in l984, Joe Dante made a movie called Gremlins, successfully capturing the anarchic essence of 194 s cartoons (Tom And Jerry, Bugs Bunny, Road Runner, etc) in a live action tale about a small American community being overrun by nasty little creatures. Fourteen years on, Dante has plundered his own concept, substituting toys for little devils and adding state-of-the-art computerised effects.

in this carbon copy, a munitions- dealing multi-national corporation sets its sights on the tOy industry, producing artificially intelligent dolls (commandos ai‘d extra-terrestrials) With built-in microchips. Originally destined for the Defence Department, these become violent when animated.

Unfortunately, Small Soldiers displays none of the sadistic mischief, nor the knowing Capra-esque whimsy of its antecedent. Sanitised, bland and banal, it is little more than an extended commercial for a line of action figures, whose antics become tiring very quickly although kids might give it more leeway. The one vaguely subversive element, the psychotic commandos' attempts to slaughter their peace-loving alien prey (Native American genocide anyone?) is probably coinCidental.

More indicative is the closing scene, in which corporate entrepreneur Dennis Leary (in a slick, but weary performance) trouble-shoots extreme customer dissat:sfaction with large amounts of cash. Small Soldiers is a film with small ambitions. (Miles Fielder)

General release from Fri 23 Oct.

Into action. man, with Small Soldiers

22 Oct—S Nov 1998 THE lIST 33