The Mask 0f Zorro (PG) 137 mins
A black-clad figure enters from the right, stops in the centre of the screen and, to the sound of flamenco guitar, carves a 'Z' in the air like a swashbuckling James Bond. Then it's on to the set-piece opening scene: a public execution, a crowd of peasants, a hooded figure who slips in and saves the day like Robin Hood. We're told it's 1821, we’re told it's Alta California, but the references that set up Zorro as a mythical hero are clearly cinematic rather than historical.
Later we’ll note that Zorro is the alter-ego of Don Diego de la Vega, who keeps his crime-fighter gear hidden behind a waterfall in some sort of Mexican Batcave. And when he finally passes on his skills to a younger man, the training sequence owes more than a little to Obi-Wan and Luke in Star Wars. As a piece of old-school matinee hokum, The Mask Of Zorro flashes its blade with the best of them, but it's also clever enough to draw in a new audience by plundering every manifestation of the action~adventure formula.
Don Diego (Anthony Hopkins) has his reign as the original people's champion ended when Spanish governor Don Rafael Montero (Stuart Wilson) kidnaps his baby
daughter, kills his wife and throws him in prison. Decades later, Don Diego escapes and comes across Alejandro (Antonio Banderas), a charismatic bandit with a quick
Realising that here is the man who could resurrect the legend of Zorro, the Don teaches Alejandro not only fighting skills, but also the dignity that comes with being a gentleman hero. But when the duo face Don Rafael, complex emotions come into play over Elena (Catherine Zeta Jones), Diego's beautiful daughter who has been
Straight from the horse's mouth: Jim Jarmusch and Neil Young
Year Of The Horse (E) 105 mins
'lt's Just ’lfrll‘fl It: be seine cutesy stuff like he ‘.‘.'r:uld use in some arISy film to make (wee/one think he's cool It's not goini; to rapture anythrng,’ spits Frank Sarnpedro, Nerl Young's guitar sparring partner, about Jirn Jarrnusth's Crazy Horse rotkurnentary Frank’s Only half right While Year Of The Horse fails to (omprehensrvely tell the story of a band whose ragged, glorious, three-det ade career is littered wrth drugs, deaths and classrc
. 'f "iii-y
Catherine Zeta Jones in The Mask 0f Zorro
brought up believing the villain is her real father. With the dark Latin looks of a romantic hero and a physical ability to pull off the film’s acrobatic stunts and
comedy, Banderas is perfectly cast - an Errol Flynn for the
‘ «L “ 5'. ‘13, gg
albums, Jarmust h delivers ]<l\.“.’- dropping live footage ‘.‘.’ll|(ll goes some way to capturing the band dynamic
Filming during Crazy Horse's 1996 tour, Jarmusch treats us to incendiary versions of 'Like A Hurricane, 'Fuckrn' Up', 'Stuprd Girl' and a lot more Shot on Super-8 and looking suitably grainy and out-of-fotus, the lo-fr style rs appropriate for a band who create ear-bursting epics out of burn notes, and heart-piercing ballads from strained throats.
By comparison, the intervrews with
905. Director Martin Campbell follows the success of Goldeneye with another slice of thrilling cinema entertainment. Swordfights haven't looked this good since Basil Rathbone last headed for the staircase.
‘-"‘~ General release from Fri 1 7 Dec See feature.
the band and entourage are dull. There's no fresh insight into gurtarist Danny Whitten's fatal overdose of 1972 (a key event as it directly inspired Tonight’s The Night, arguably Young's best album) and no mention
whatsoever of the singer-songwriters
Jarmusch is outclassed by archive footage from 1976 and 1986. In the 70s scenes, the band are archetypal stoners, sleeprly setting fire to an artificial flower display in a Glasgow hotel room, but a decade later, Young seems much more aggressive and professional, a man Willing to start a vrtious argurrtent over three-part harmonies
This itixtapositron of the band at ten year intervals and the lrve footage are the aspects of Year Of The Horse ‘.'Vlll(ll will appeal to committed fans who might otherWrse find the frlrn too lightweight Certainly anyone looking for an introduction to Neil Young would be better adVised to head straight for the Decade triple-album retrospective and Davrd Downing's biography A Dreamer Of Pictures (Peter Ross)
at Glasgow Film Theatre from Fri 1 7 Dec.
new releases FILM Twilight
(15) 94 mins ***
The only thing in Twilight you haven't seen before is a septuagenarian Paul Newman making love. Grey haired and shrivelled, Newman still looks great. Twilight provides him With the opportunity to play himself — twitches, mannerisms, the way he walks, lines like 'You betcha!’ (one of Fast Eddie‘s from The Hustler) - and play on his former sex symbol status.
His character, an ageing ex-cop named Harry Ross, gets shot in the leg by his friend’s runaway teenage daughter while attempting to bring her home. Feeling responsible, the parents, a pair of married film stars (Susan Sarandon and Gene Hackman kind of playing themselves too — Hackman is spotted watching his own movie, Downhill Racer) give Ross a home. But Harry becomes a liability when he discovers his friend is being blackmailed over a twenty-year-old homicide.
None of this is very new. it should come as no surprise to find there's a femme fatale involved. Nor is rt particularly difficult to work out whodunnit. It's always a bad sign when the audience solves the case before the investigator (unless it's Columbo). What Twilight does have is a great cast. As well as the major players, it’s wonderful to see James (The Rockford Files) Garner and Stockard Channing in supporting roles. Even the cameo appearances are class: Giancarlo Esposito playing Ross’ sometime sidekick and M. Emmet Walsh, who drops dead wrthout saying a line.
Ultimately, Twilight is a rather too self-indulgent nostalgia trip for the filmmakers. The older actors get to do it all one more time, the younger ones get to work With the screen greats. Director Robert Benton attempts to dress up the whole empty affair with the kind of seductive, melancholic nostalgia that Roman Polanski hit on the nose in Chinatown and which other directors have been trying to emulate ever SINCE. Against such California crime capers as The Big Sleep, Chinatown and LA. Confidential, Twilight Just doesn't make the grade. (Miles Fielder)
e Selected release from Fri 4 Dec,
Grey area: Paul Newman in Twilight
it a w s >k Unmissable
s is w ‘3' Very ood
ii at it Wort a shot
* as Below average
* You've been warned
3—17 Dec 1998 THE llST 37