new releases

Covering all the angles: Nicolas Cage and Gary Sinese in Snake Eyes

Snake Eyes mins i: a: .;.

Control freak director Brian De Palma's coldly executed techno-thriller opens with a signature sequence - a continuous, 20 minute Steadicam shot that starts outside an Atlantic City sports arena, then snakes its way along corridors, up stairs, and down an escalator, to reveal the capacity crowd waiting to see a championship boxing match.

We’re following flamboyant, shiny-suited Rick Santoro (Nicolas Cage), a corrupt cop who revels in the fact that he sees every angle. Inside, Santoro’s old pal, Navy commander Kevin Dunne (Gary Sinese), is keeping an eye on Secretary of Defence Charles Kirkland, who has a ringside seat courtesy of arena owner/munitions tycoon Gilbert Powell (John Heard).

Minutes later, the odds-on favourite hits the canvas, a shot rings out, and Kirkland is fatally wounded. Suddenly all bets are off. Santoro immediately seals the panicking crowd inside the arena and, using television and surveillance camera playback, scans the screens for clues as to the killer's identity. Who is the voluptuous red-head who left Kirkland just moments before he was

Taking a gamble: Benicio Del Tom and Johnny Depp in

shot? Where is the woman in the blonde wig who took her place, whispered something in his ear, and then vanished? As Santoro interviews the key witnesses, this turns into Rashomon with action replays, as we watch overlapping flashbacks from multiple points of view.

After the tedious, over blown Mission: Impossible, De Palma's latest teaming with scriptwriter David Koepp is far more effective, echoing the director’s best film to date, Blow Out. Although the use of multiple perspectives and screens-within-screens relies, by definition, on a great deal of repetition, the narrative is driven forward by the edgy suspense, telling revelations and razor-sharp editing.

The intuitive Cage is perfectly complemented by the more technically controlled Sinese, their on-screen personas and contrasting acting styles striking sparks off one another as their characters drive towards a denouement that‘s only slightly marred by an over- reliance on gratuitous spectacle. Also, unusually for a De Palma film, the sheer technical wizardry does not distract us from the more serious political and emotional dimensions of this dense, convoluted conspiracy.

(Nigel Floyd) ' 1 General release from Fri 6 Nov

Fans of the novel wrll love the first five minutes (with Depp narrating that most narcotic of opening lines -- 'We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold') and appreciate most of what follows The uninitiated will wonder what the hell has hit them Hold on, it's worth the ride for the hat scene and lounge lizards alone And check out a bizarre and brief dream sequence involwng Hairy Dean Stanton as a hanging jtldQO

Overall, though, the film lurches‘ from

Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas (18) 118 mins

‘(ficnsensus is hullshrt' declared Terry

(siiiiarii, iritr‘r)dticing the Britisll l)ff~'ll.(-'~“ r Fear And Loathing at this yen“ E‘riznrgurgh liitern.‘itional Film

Fr-shu- This a fi‘n‘. not for

(Al'lga!"ll (V.

'.'l a climate c>f criticism that fun and in do There’s Soiiietning About Mary scoring an

iinrlassifrahle rating in one broadsheet,


' here is a timely return from the man

who began his directorial career With

Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas

The Life Of Brian His latest work contains no blasphemy, but there’s ample excess, madness and all round depravin to displease the easily ofiended.

As adaptations of cult hooks go, Gilliam's take on Hunter S Thompson's assasSination of the American Dream is a glorious mess of a ll)()‘.’!{‘ it remains true to the author's Vision of moml torpor and psychosis, while injecting a good shot of Gilliain's own obsessions Cue cirCLis freaks, time travel (in which the real Thompson, in cameo, meets his yOunger Johnny Depp-played self), and monsters sipping Manhattans

one scene to another in as much a state of sensory derangement as its characters Depp is magical as Raoul Duke, simultaneously humbling and knowrng, like Mr Magoo on acid, not to mention grass, mescaline, speed, cocaine, uppers, downers, ether, tequila, rum and beer Whatever gets you through the night < and this is the long night of the knife-wielding, pill- popping living-dead, in an age of Nixon and 'Nam The spliff end of the hippy dream Flawed, certainly, but epically degenerate And thus pure gonzo (Rodger Evans)

General release from Fri 73 Nov See prewew

new releases FILM

Henry Fool (18) 137 mins M- is, a

When intellectual vagabond Henry Fool (Thomas Jay Ryan doing a fine impersonation of Tom Waits) drifts into a small American town, the effect he has on the monotonous lives of shy garbageman Simon Grim and his bickering family is profound Most profound of all is Grim’s metamor- phosis into celebrated writer, whose

memoir, completed under the guidance of Fool, is praised by some as great art and by others as pornography.

Henry Foo/ is, in many ways, the antithesis of Hal Hartley's most recent work, The Book Of Life, which was shot on Video for French television and premiered at this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival. With pop promo-style Visuals, The Book Of Life deals with grand themes (good and evrl, the millennium, the apocalypse) during its modest, Jaunty-paced 60 minutes, By contrast, Henry Fool is a low key, sornhre affair, unfolding leiSUrely over its two plus hours running time. That’s no criticism of the film; indeed, the mood perfectly Suits Hartley's hallmark droll humour.

As usual with Hartley, the humour manifests itself in his characters’ dry philosophical musings, in this case upon art and life Once again, the superb, flat delivery of Hartley's poker- faced performers is crucial in maintaining the difference between pretension and irony It's not hard to imagine the director asking his cast not to act, rather simply read their lines out loud

Henry Fool’s stars —- notably

newcomers Ryan and James Urbaniak (both of whom also appear in The Book Of Life), but also 'indie gueen' Parker Posey -- prove to he well-suited additions to Hartley's acting entourage. Working With them, Hartley manages to have his cake and eat it, making fun of - while meditating upon potentially audience-alienating high- brow themes. And while that strategy is nothing new in art, Hartley's idiosyncratic take on it does make him a unique voice in modern cinema. (lvtiles Fielder) Edinburgh Film/rouse from Fri 73 Nov Glasgow Film Theatre from Fri 75‘ Dec

Intellectual slumming: Thomas Jay Ryan

in Henry Foo


:r r. ‘5: ‘5 6; Unmissable 1 -~ s ~ s Very good i Worth a shot I

is. Below average . a You’ve been warned ]

‘» )9 Nov 1998 THE “ST 29