Sleepless in Scandinavia: Stellan Skarsgard in Insomnia

Insomnia (15) 97 mins *‘kki

A pair of big city police detectives are dispatched to the distant coast of northern Norway to assist their colleagues solve a macabre murder. A trap to snare the criminal goes very wrong when detective Engstrom (Stellan Skarsgard) commits manslaughter. Concealing the physical evidence of his crime and suppressing his feelings of guilt, Engstrom focuses on solving the original homicide. However, his troubled conscience keeps him awake at night while his

ongoing investigations reveal disturbing parallels between himself andhisprey.

Often this kind of twisted

psychological thriller is played out using the stylistic techniques of film noir expressionistic lighting, claustrophobic locations, manic performances - but director Erik Skjoldbjaerg opts boldly for something altogether different, reversing the by

now familiar genre conventions (much as Stanley Kubrick did With horror in The Shining).

Skarsgard (superb in everything he has appeared in, from Breaking The Waves to Good Will Hunting) gives a mesmerising performance as a man whose increasing desperation leads him to purge himself of emotions and ethics. As with film noir, what’s going on within is mirrored by what's going on outside; Engstrom’s investigation takes place in a bleak landscape, bleached by the blinding Arctic sun. In this film, a mounting and melodramatic sense of hysteria is replaced with an icy anaesthetising chill, a mood reinforced by the crisp, minimal soundtrack by Norwegian techno outfit BiOSphere.

With his film debut Skioldbjaerg has taken a gamble and it has paid off in spades. /nsomnia is as compelling as it is unnerving one of the most original thrillers in years. (Miles Fielder)

I Edinburgh Fi/mhouse from Fri 72 Feb.

Jack Frost

(PG) 102 mins Hm

A Christmas film coming out in February does not suggest the distributors are over-confident in the product. But bear in mind that this is Warner Brothers, the company that thought cancelling press shows would whet the public appetite for The Avengers.

Michael Keaton, who has made a career of offbeat roles since discarding his Batman mask, plays rock star Jack Frost in an (old) boy band. He has a wife with Bonnie Langford-style ringlets (Kelly Preston) and the usual American smartass kid, whom he neglects so badly he does not even know that the pet hamster has fallen victim to the household vacuum cleaner.

Instead of going on holiday with his

24 "IE UST 4—18 Feb 1999


Frozen assets: Joseph Cross and snowman friend in Jack Frost

family, Jack goes off With the band and is killed in a car accident. However he gets a chance to begin afresh when he is reincarnated as, em . a snowman. Reincarnation does not get much cooler than this.

‘As long as you hold someone in your heart you Will never lose them,’ Snowman Jack expounds. DeSpite lines like that or maybe because of them and despite the obViousness of the humour involvmg dogs and yellow snow, Jack Frost has a simple, puerile charm that eight-year-olds Will enioy. And in these days of sophisticated computer-generated imagery, it is delightful to see a snowman that looks as if he has been put together by the special effects team at the local amateur drama society.

(Brian Pendreigh) I General release from Fri 5 Feb.


The Cinematic City Glasgow: GFT from Thu 4 Feb.

If you want to experience the claustrophobic intensity of four walls, go to the theatre. The cinema screen can convey this too, but it also opens up wide landscapes from barren deserts to the stone and metal Jungle of the cityscape. The latter is about to be examined in its many forms in ’The Cinematic City’, a season of films and talks at the Glasgow Film Theatre, tying in with Glasgow 1999: UK City of Architecture and Design.

As befits these weeks of oppressive Winter skies, the programme kicks off with a month dedicated to ’The Dark City’. Here the city takes on a menacing and alienating edge: it can be a vast, automated environment (Metropolis), full of deceitful film noir shadows (Scarlet Street), a vision of a disorientating future (Twelve Monkeys) and a seedy underbelly that's uncomfortably close to home (The Near Room).

Brightness beckons in March, however, as the season continues by exploring the city as a Site of opportunity and liberation in 'City Lights’ An American In Paris, Sleeper and Man With A Movie Camera will be featured. Even without the running urban theme, the season offers a fine opportunity to experience classic examples of production design down through the century. (Alan Morrison)

I See Film Listings and Index for details.

City limits: Metropolis

I Think I Do

(15) 87 mins it * 1r

Although this is not half as hip a movie as it would like to think, it gets by on some charming performances and plot twists as contrived and compulsiver watchable as anything in TV sitcomland. Imagine a post-Friends 905 version of The Big Chill. College rockand the always cool sounds of The Partridge Family replace the Stones and Motown standards of Lawrence Kasdan’s baby boomer ensemble piece, but the structure is basically the same.

A group of George Washington University graduates are re-united at a social gathering (in this case a wedding) and unresolved issues are settled by the score. Ex-roomies declare their same sex crushes, unfulfilled promiscuous women find true love, and other Ricki Lake episode titles occur before matters are settled a tad too tidily. AleXlS Arquette gives perhaps the best performance, probably relishing a relatively lightweight leading role, and main man of queer cinema Guillermo Diaz (Stonewall, Nowhere) generates plenty of laughs as the stoner, Eric.

Brian Sloan’s film is ultimately a little too sedate to join the screwball masterpieces of Hawks and Sturges that he claims as inspirations, but as an ’alternative lifestyle’ take on featherweight romantic comedy, it succeeds well enough. (Rob Fraser)

I Glasgow: Odeon Quay from Fri 72 Feb.


Living Out Loud (15) 99 mins

Richard LaGravenese, whose impressive screenwriting credits include The Fisher King, The Bridges Of Madison County and The Horse Whisperer, finds inspiration in two Chekhov short stories for his latest film, which is also his directing debut. LaGravenese has no doubt used his clout as top scriptwriter to assemble a fine cast for what is billed as an ’adult, character-driven comedy'.

Holly Hunter plays Judith, the unfulfilled Wife of wealthy New York doctor Martin Donovan, who discovers friendship and a fresh start in life with elevator operator Danny Devito after she is dumped by the doc for a younger woman. Rap artist/actress Queen Latifah lends support as Judith’s friend and gets to sing the blues, while the deVilishly seductive Elias Koteas (Exotica, Crash) makes an appearance as ’The Kisser', the catalyst for change in Hunter's life.

American critics have given the film the thumbs up: ’At last, a romantic comedy for grown ups!’ wrote the New York Post. Cross-country, the LA. Times concurred with 'a bright, unpredictable comedy that successfully pairs Holly Hunter and Danny DeVito' while the San Francisco Chronicle was more temperate with its headline: ’All Talk, Little Action.’ (Miles Fielder)

I Selected release from Fri 5 Feb.

Out Loud