(18) 110 mins s
First of all: yes, it’s a stupid idea. Gus Van Sant remakes one of the best-known films of all time, not just by going back to Robert Bloch’s novel and developing a new take on the story, but by following the original 1960 Joseph Stefano script almost line for line, restaging Alfred Hitchcock’s camera set-ups and editing choices, and even re-using Bernard Herrmann’s unforgettable music.
This new Psycho is in colour and plays a few tiny variations, some effective (the opening helicopter shot is finally the one Hitchcock wanted rather than what he was able to get), some crass (Norman masterBates while spying on Marion). Otherwise it's exactly the same but not the original, like a forged painting.
If nothing else, this proves just how good Psycho is. Slow-paced by the standards of Scream and with an ending that was a well-kept secret in 1960, but which audiences now know is coming, the story still grips. The scenes are the same, but the excellent cast give real performances rather than impersonations of Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins, etc. Vince Vaughn’s chunky, giggly Norman is a gayer reading than Perkins gave, which defuses some themes but opens up others. Anne Heche's vulnerable/tough Marion Crane
escapes from Leigh and works as an entirely fresh character; she’s so good, you wish she were cast as Norman (whom she could easily play) as well.
The murders have subliminal flashes cut into them, and the second half takes a slightly different tone as Viggo Mortensen and Julianne Moore play the colourless John Gavin and Vera Miles roles with a bit more flamboyance. The only real beefing up comes in the fruit cellar: originally, the revelation that Norman and Mother were the same person was so shattering
Opposites attract: Lyle Lovett and Martin Donovan in The Opposite Of Sex
The Opposite Of Sex (18) 101 mins
Christina Rlc’. has the best advrsors in i-lc,vll‘,n.‘roorl or the worst Once an enormoust bankable child star, she has sin. e displayed a fetish for rubber Nixon rnasks in The Ice Storm, been kidnapped by a vrsibly drooling “.lincent Gallo in Buffalo 66 and now, in [)h T/r‘t' Opposite Of Sex, she trut- 'ncs'. hateful narrator since HUl’li"? («11.lflf':i'l attended the Myra
Watch with Mother: Vince Vaughn in Psycho
Hrndley charm school.
Ricci plays Dedee Trurtt, a sixteen- year-old super-bitch who runs away from Louisiana to live in Indiana With her half-brother Bill (Martin Donovan), who is still grievrng for his dead lover, Tom. Dedee swrftly steals Bill's new dishy-but-drm bOyfriend Matt (Ivan Sergei), announces her pregnancy, and flees the state wrth Tom's ashes and $10,000 of her brother‘s money lvleanv-Jhrle, Bill is left to face Tom's super—tense sister ilrsa Kudrou‘r,l and a
that there wasn’t time for more than a scuffle. Now we get a 905 scrap with Moore delivering an un-Vera Miles- like boot to Norman's face rather than shrinking back to
Psycho is more like a bizarro art project than a commercial thriller (though it plays okay as a suspense film) and is thus a heroically redundant exercise, but — like a solidly okay cover of a classic song — the tune's still there. (Kim Newman)
General release from Fri 8 jar:
nasty sexual harassment suit Cue a dark comedy brrrirful of bxro-trrnrrtg, double-crossing and lslirrder One
This film plays best as an inky-black romp With a seemingly never-ending supply of barbed one-liners Ricc‘i is particularly Vicious as the luck wrth a heart of coal, her ".‘Jll laced with venom, hei self-presen'ation :nstincts fang-sharp But Don Roos overaeaches himself with a \.‘-.rilft.'lly tin-PC treatment of sexual politics wriic'h simply seems slight when compared ‘.'.llll, say, In The Company Of Men
Worse, Roos dallres with a post— modern nar atron which has Ricci commenting on the action of the frlrn and toying with audience expectation This makes it impossible to care about any of the characters as we are forced to constantly consider them as nothing more than just that lt's hard to understand what Roos was hoping to achieve With this devrce Cinema audiences know that directors use stirring music as emotional short-hand; to have Ricc! point this out Isn't a revelation, its a kid loudly spotting the
trick at a math. ‘il‘it‘f.’ ‘,:llll)l\' annoying ri’eter Ross- ‘3‘? Se/ec for," release from lrr .' ‘i lr/i
new releases FILM
Meet Joe Black (12) 181 mins we
Despite the best efforts of the magrsterial Anthony Hopkins, the bOyishly handsome Brad Pitt and the ethereally beautiful Claire Forlani, this sumptuously realised adult fantasy movie is an indulgent, over-inflated vanity piece. A three-hoot, $90 million remake of a 78-minute movie — Death Takes A Holiday (1934) ~ it suffers from a chronic inability to find the emotional heart of an essentially simple story. Shortly before his 65th birthday, old- fashioneti media tycoon William Parrish (Hopkins) suffers a heart attack that heralds the end of a life dedicated to the pursuit of truth However, the Grim Reaper turns out to be an enigmatic young man (Pitt) who, in return for some insights into the way that humans live, offers Parrish a few more premous days of life
But when Death, now christened Joe Black, falls for the apple of Parrish's eye »- his youngest daughter Susan (Forlanr) -v things get mighty complicated. At the same time, a boardroom coup organised by Parrish's ambitious right- hand min and would-be son-rn-law Drev. oake Weber), threatens to turn his life's work over to an asset- stripprno, l‘clurdz’x‘h-style corpOratron. the first two hours, the (f‘f‘il'lllltc‘tl performances blend With ravishing photography and opulent set desigr distracting us from dialogue that strains for profundity while sounding empty and portentous. Tolerance Is stretched to breaking point, thOugh, by an hour-long finale in which every tear-jerking scene is at least l‘r‘JICG as long as it needs to be, all the loose ends are neatly tied up, and a dumb trick—ending allows Pitt and Forlani to end up together
Given the rare quality of much of director/producer Martin Brest’s prestige plOJCCl, one can understand Universal's decision to grant him final (tll, but With the advantage of hindsight, this is a classic case of never in.er the duality, feel the length. At two and a bit hours, this might have proved tolerable, at three hours plus, it is llﬂl()r()l\.’dl)lt? (Nigel Floyd) General release from Ffl IS Jan
Death becomes him: Brad Pitt in Meet Joe Black
STAR RATINGS :. .- -‘~ ~3- Unmissable s »« Very good ‘ .- x Worth a shot
Below average You’ve been warned j
/ )l Jan NW THE lIST 53