FILM review


Urban Legend (18) 99 mins wk

Stop me if you've heard this one before. A group of good-looking, sexually active college students are terrorised by a savage killer, who murders in sadistically inventive ways and targets one young woman for reasons buried in the past.

Australian first-time director Jamie Blanks’s efficient stalk ’n' slash flick continues the nudge~nudge, wink- wink tradition of Scream, but instead of knowing asides about horror movies, here the characters set their minds to hoary urban myths which, naturally, turn out to be true.

Natalie (Alicia Witt) is shocked to learn of a friend's brutal murder but becomes rather more concerned after witnessing a classmate being hanged in the same way as described in a


Urban Legend

textbook about contemporary legends. When the body disappears, only student Journalist Paul tlared Leto) believes her story

If you Judge a post-Halloween horror film on how creative its deaths are, then this one has a few neat touches, including a Witty warning about sharing a room with a sexed-up Goth. But the stock characters are never far away: the practical Joker, the creepy janitor who never gives a straight answer, the professor (played by Robert Englund, of course) with a skeleton in his closet The cast are adequate, but only because so little is expected of them Thankquy, lead actress Witt is not the usual prom queen blonde with her character granted a degree of intelligence, she lends the enterprise a (lass it only occasionally deserves. (SllllOl‘i Wardell) I General release from Fri 26 Feb,

Changing places: Aaron Eckhart, Jason Patric and Ben Stiller in Your Friends And Neighbours

Your Friends And Neighbours

(18) 100 mins tam-r it Depending on your pomt of view, Neil LaBute is either one Sick puppy or the smartest son of a bitch currently making films. While In The Company Of Men left itself open to charges of misogyny with a depiction of women as the passwe victims of male cruelty, Your Friends And Neighbours adopts a much more equal opportunities approach. These ladies are very nearly as fucked up as the fuck-ups they fuck, and just as likely to resort to vengeful emotional manipulation. ’Very nearly' because no female member of the cast plumbs the depths of Jason Patric, giving an astonishingly convincing performance as a psychotic narCiSSist. His work shouldn’t eclipse that of his

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co-stars, however Amy Brenneman's is perhaps the most involvmg of the characterisations, making her eventual fate all the more shocking, while Aaron Eckhart's pathetic figure of a husband could well be seen as a punishment for the fun he had as Chad in LaBute's first film.

Catherine Keener makes aloofness incredibly alluring, and Nastassia Kinski seems finally to have escaped bad action movies to emerge as a fully formed character actress Maybe most praise shOUId go to Ben Stiller, who plays an irredeemable asshole With a total absence Of self-servmq vanity. Like the film as a whole, he is hard to watch and impossible to take your eyes off. (Rob Fraser)

a Glasgow Film Theatre and Edinburgh Cameo from Fri 79 Feb.

'Oh my God! Kenny killed them. The bastard': Tara Reid meets the killer in


Holy Man

(PG) 114 mins

As a vehicle for comedians, cinema is responsible for producing some of the grossest offences to good humour. Think Leslie Neilsen in Mr Magoo, Bill Murray in The Man Who Knew Too Little, Chevy Chase in anything. Even the once great Steve Martin eventually appeared in the lamentable Sgt Bilko. In fact, Martin himself said, 'As you get older, it’s harder to be silly on screen.’

All too often the comedy vehicle Substitutes the simplest of concepts clumsy short-sighted man causes chaos, tourist is mistaken fer secret agent for a decent scnpt. In Holy Man, Eddie Murphy, who has already played a cop, a prince, another cop, a professor and a doctor, plays G, a guru who shakes up the, er . . . world of the home shopping networks.

Religion and commerce might be prime material for biting satire, but, according to the critics, Holy Man doesn’t bite. The San Francisco Chronicle wrote: ’Oh, no, they mean fri' us to take this seriously} Cross-country, The Chicago Sun-Times commented: 'll JUSI sits there on screen.’ USA Today was marginally less scathing With 'it's a slight improvement (very slight) over Murphy’s last vehicle, that movie- Iength butt joke Dr Dolittle.’ Ouch. (Miles Fielder)

a General i‘elizise from Fri 79 "eb.

Shop talk: Eddie Murphy in Holy Man

Perdita Durango

(18) 122 mins ‘3? 3%

With Wild At Heart and Lost Highway, novelist Barry Gifford and director David Lynch twice collaborated to bring disturbingly protean worlds to the big screen. When Gifford's characters fall into the hands of Spain's Alex de la lglesia however, they‘re badly served by a filmmaker whose blatant misogyny and incompetent handling of narrative momentum were evident in Accion Mutante and Day Of The Beast.

Perdita Durango (Rosie Perez playing Isabella Rossellini’s character from Wild At Heart) toms ~..: with bankrorher, murderer and 'saiizero' witchdoctor Romeo Dolorosa (Live Fiesh’s laVier Baidem) while he's preparing to collect a |0rry-load of human foetuses for use in the cosmetic industry. To bring their enterprise luck, they kidnap i WASP college aids and plan a ritual sacrifice.

Despite hPll‘i‘l in the title role, Perez is sidelined except when called in for the sex scenes. The terrorised couple are so dumny American it's hard to care for them, and the other characters seem Wilfully weird (particularly Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, obvioust hired for his presence, not his acting ability). Bardem is the film's redeeming fe iture: a horrible man (who commits a needlessly graphic rape) whose dange: :iis and carnal rharisma radiates from the screen. (Alan Morrison) I Edinburin Filmhouse frOm Fri 26 Feb. Glasgow Film Theatre from Fri 79 Mar.\

The Eel (Unagl) (18) 117 mins s a When the Edinburgh Film Festival honoured inchei Imamura ith a retrospective in 1994, the Japanese director hadn‘t made a film in five

years In “.297, he went to the Cannes Film :~"\ilV8| With Th' Fel and shared the Palme D'Oi Such,

perhaps, is the redemptive power of a Visit to Scotland

Paroled afte servmg eight years for the murder r i his adulterous wife, Takuro (KOJI Yakusho) tentativer re- enters the world. A recluswe and uncommunicative man, he opens a near derelict :fiar'oer shop for tzusiness, but prefers the company of his pet eel to that of h-s iistomers. In a ‘earby field he finds a young woman, Keiko (Misa Shimizui, l.l". iscious after iii attempted overdose .Vhen she recovers, she becomes his assistant and, although she brightens up the shop, she discovers that it is much mow difficult to brinri Takuro back to life, particularly when another ex- con recogiiisus 'llm from DTISOH and starts causing trouble.

After its .suii fl‘slngly brutal o: hing sequence, The Eel emerges as a supremely low key work A study of integrity, Its COmedy rests In TakUrO'S readJUSIment IO society and its tragedy in the way elements in his present Keiko’s cut finger/his Wife's stab WOunds mirror more serious elements in his past. Simplicity is its strength (Ala: ‘x/lorrison)

I Edinburin Fii'mhouse from M 26 Feb.

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Born slippy: Misa Shimizu in The Ee