Gamekeeper turned poacher: Samuel L. Jackson and H. Walsh in The Negotiator

The Negotiator (15) 140 mins Danny Roman (Samuel L Jackson) is a local media hero, the best hostage negotiator in the Chicago police force So when he's‘ charged with stealing from his fellow cops" disability fund ~ and then with murder it’s clear he's being set up lt, hov-Jever, tne real criminals are those on the inside, who can Danny trustl‘ And so the master of the situation turns the game around Taking Internal Affairs investigator Niebaum (J T Walsh) and some others hostage, Danny uses hrs skills to seal himself off in an office high-rise. Someone on his team wants him dead, and Danny knows they won't allow As an extra that



him to he Tltker‘. safeguard, he negotiations are

handled by Chris

m Wig




Out or Sight (15) 123 mins Until now, neither Steven Soderbergh nor George Clooney has truly made the grade rrr Hollywood All that has changed, hoax/ever, with this stylish ("adaptation of Elmore Leonard's 1996 novel

Both a crime caper and a love story, Out Of Sight teams Clooney's bank robber lac k folev ‘.'.’ltl‘. Jennifer Lopez's chic, Ct‘ar‘el—.‘xearing con, Karen CiScc) They 'L-v-w? c-r‘. Florida ;:

Jacf- -'-~,:.trpes ‘r'crm a :to the F-ot‘ttittately lot Jacli. ‘19s partner, Buddy, rs there to help bundle Kat-“t itttcj gcg-taway car, .losely lc.:rl<2‘.‘.'('tl lzy Jack himself Later, as he heads ll’.)ftll to Detroit to pull off one last heist, their paths tantalisineg cross and re—c ross With Out Of Sight, Soderbergh and Screenwriter Scott Frank have pulled

rem-r and 'Lrns rr

Sllf)l’.llll‘.".Uri'lfll'tf; Kai-yr.

the trunk ()l the

Sabian iKevrn Spacey), hrs peer from another precinct and who, as an outsider, might just be able to sniff out the rat.

Last year, Warner Bros had a hit wrth LA Confidential, and The Negotiator cOuld do the studio similar favours. Like the Ellroy adaptation, this film boasts better acting than rs often required by its genre it's a maznstream movre With indie credentials. Apart from a little exc'iterrient dip two thirds of the way through, the action is exceptionally tense: because the realm is that of the hostage negotiator, the audience’s brain rs constantly engaged as our hero walks a psychological tightrope Take a deep breatt at the beginning, because you won't let it out until the final credits 'oll (Alan Morrison)

off a seemingly rrrrpossrble balancrrtg act They catch perfectly Leonard's sly, deadpan wit, but they infuse it witl‘. a wistful melancholy Tlte movie's lcnok is similarly poised, moving frorr‘. the warm, saturated colours of the scenes in Florida to the cool, the Detroit seguenc es

The filmmakers are no less sticcesst'ul in translating Leonard's colourful low-life supportwg :harac ters to the screen, but the lll'.l‘.’l-‘ belongs to

wintry tones of gallery of

(Rooney and lot‘e; Though they're

only pro; erly on xreert t wtetlrer in

txro scenes, the sense of anticipation hetx'reeir thrse inc-inent‘s is palpable

eltltl 'r.‘.lltett tl‘t-y (it) {ti-t tea-Other, their cnen‘rrstry rs electric (31;: ('1’ Sig/rt may not amount to very touch, but :t's

srnar‘t, sexy and deliciously hitter sweet (Jason Best)

Fit General release from Fri 50 Nov See feature

new releases FILM


(15) 98 mins vs-

When Francis Ceppola took the essence of Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart Of Darkness and transformed it into Apocalypse Now, he made one of the greatest films of all time. The author hasn't been as well served by Mark Peploe on Victory. The elements are all there passion, a Dutch East Indies period setting, a cast featuring Willem Dafoe, Irene Jacob and Sam Neill »- but the director can’t make any coherent sense of the story and the characters.

Dafoe is the hermit-like Axel Heyst, whom some believe had a hand in the death of his business partner. On a rare. vrsrt to Java, he meets Violinist Alma (Jacob), who is trapped in an all- female chamber orchestra of prostitutes. To save her from being sold to sleazy hotel owner Jean Yanne, he takes her to his island, but their slow-burning affair IS interrupted by the arrival of misogynist conman Sam Neill and hrs violent 'secretary' Rufus Sewell.

Right from the start, voiceover narration tries to explain what's going on; instead rt clarifies nothing and only repeats what we can see on screen. There's no sense of tension, danger or romance; no believable edge to any character’s motivation or behavrour. Let’s ltJSt say the locations are nice and leave it at that (Alan Morrison)

5 Selected release from Fri 27 Nov

i Irene Jacob in Victory

Dead Man's Curve (15) 86 mins

Made for under a million dollars, Dead Man’s Curve is a sleek film With some acidly funny things to say about college life.

Trrrr ct‘clatthew Lillard) is an over-privileged, generally unpleasant prick who thinks the world owes him a lrvrng, Above all, he believes it is his right to go to Harvard When he hears of a college policy to reward students with straight A oracles if their room—mate commits sciICIde, he persuades Chris (Michael Vartan) to help him kill Rand (Randall Batinkoff). Chris appears troubled by the idea, but the 'frrends' go ahead and hatch a plan This film has one helluva complicated plot, and things swing this way and that Only by the end do yOu realise how very paranoid the world is

Cases of students murdering others do occur, but Dead Man’s Curve is not a reat:strc frlm The characters' backgrounds are left hanging in the air and their relat'enslvps with one another don’t ring very true However, the film’s strength is its laceratrng wit, which is best displayed in one-liners and sketches, often improvised These refer to a cynical culture beyond the film and can hardly fail to resonate vath anyone who grew up iii the 80s. For good measure, The Smiths and Bauhaus feature on the soundtrack (Hannah Fries)

Selected release from Fri 20 Nov

If Only (15) 93 mins :1: Every romantic comedy has its own distinctive flavour he's about to get rrrarrrecl, he's gay, her life Will change depending on whether or not she gets on the tube The difference wrth If Only is that the recipe was written in Spanish, although director r‘vlaria Ripoll has filmed it in London V-Jltll an English language c ast

Self-absorbed actor Victor (Douglas Herrshalh rs distraught that his ex- 'tll'lll'lOl‘rtl, Sylvra (Lena Headey), is about It: marry someone else. Mind you, it was his coming clean about an affair that caused their break-up One drunken night, Victor meets a couple of foreign c‘lristrnen who magically (true lrrzn the opportunity to relive the day he told Sylvra the truth Destiny has a may at steam-rollerrng over any rrrrriran aspirations, however, so when the .ovely Louise (Penelope Cruz) comes on the scene, Victor has to look deeper rnto lrrs heart than ever before

lr' Orr/y bounces along wrth a fresh, independent spirit It takes a bit of time to trrrzi its rhythrrr, but beneath the modern fairytale story, clever pornts are being made about corripatrbility, fate and second chances. Henshall switches from arrogant bastard to appealing rogue to erriotronally mature man in a performance that should make hrrn Scotland's latest big screen star. (Alan Morrison) 3 Selected release from Fri 27 Nov See feature.


s‘ 'r

Destiny calling: Penelope Cruz in If Only

l9 Nov-3 Dec 1998 THE LIST 55