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Orphans (18) 95 mins

What all actors want to do is direct. What all directors want to do is act. But, if you're Peter Mullan, you can act, direct or walk the dog, and people will sit up and take notice. The fact that Mullan won the Best Actor prize at last year’s Cannes Film Festival for My Name Is Joe will surely give his directorial feature debut a box office boost. But even if Orphans were the work of an unknown, it would demand attention as a blacker-than-night comedy drama brimming over with tremendous performances.

On the eve of his mother's funeral, Thomas (Gary Lewis) takes it upon himself to keep an all—night vigil in the church. His brother Michael (Douglas Henshall), who was stabbed earlier in a pub brawl, is now wandering the streets until day breaks and he can try to pass off his bleeding wound as a work injury. Youngest boy John (Stephen McCole) teams up with a pSycho cousin and determines to shoot Michael’s attacker, while sister Rosemary finds herself trapped in the city’s housing schemes when her wheelchair breaks down.

As each individual expresses grief in their own manner Michael and John's chaotic violence contrasts with Thomas’s painful introversion storm clouds gather in the skies. The apocalyptic mood comes to a head as human emotions, elements of nature and the night's events swirl out of control. Mullan’s style is not, however, the social realism of Ken Loach; more a surreal expressionism that's European in origin and which takes everything to its illogical conclusion.

All around the film festival circuit last year, Mullan was dogged by the shadow of Roberto Benigni. Both Orphans and Life Is Beautiful blend tragedy and comedy

Courting success: John Travolta in A Civil Action

A Civil Action

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Crying in the chapel: Gary Lewis in Orphans

in a bold manner, but while the Italian film has a cuteness designed to appeal directly to the tear ducts of American audiences (and Oscar voters), Mullan’s take on sentimentality is wholly Glaswegian in its essence a heart-on-sleeve honesty tinted with self-deprecating humour and countered by a life-goes-on resilience.

Orphans is a farce fuelled by sadness and loss, where a sense of family duty, in the shape of a mother’s coffin, can literally weigh down her survivors - but where the notion of family solidarity is ultimately stronger than anything life can throw at it. (Alan Morrison)

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8mm (13) 123 mins ts:

A thriller about a snuff fthVle from the director of Batman And Robin7 Joel Schumacher has moved on from torturing his audience to torturing his characters, but may surprise some with the depths he has risen to Nicolas Cage plays famin man Tom Welles, a private investigatoi asked by a rich WldOW to track down the source of a reel of 8mm ‘ilni, apparently depicting the Vicious murder of a teenage girl, which was found in the dead man's safe. His search leads hiiii to the fringes of the porn industry in Los Angeles where, aided by sex shop employee lv‘iax California (Joarruin Phoenix), he starts l’\()kll‘if_] for the people responsible for the lltf/Vlf? There are echoes "if {raising}, Hardcore and even ‘i/ideer/rome here, as the introverted, secretive Welles is sucked into a pr—trsoi’ial heart of darkness by the underground life he becomes increasingly obsesscd X’s/llh. For a mainstream riiiiv'e, the :iepictioi‘. of this world is fairly explicit Although the sex shown is soitcore, the treatment of the sublet: matter is laudably adult, and Schuinacher opts for a downbeat style to go with this, filming predominantly at niriht oi in darkened rooms to maintain a relentlessiy oppressive atriiaspi‘iei‘e Problems with the di‘ ltllz‘: come from Cage“, character lie for) impassive for us to connect With the batterinr: “I‘- sanity is rereiViitci, and ortly when the plot unravels fit the (‘tl’i does the rav.‘ energy the actor so good at expressmg finally bizists 53".}: Phoru‘ax's chipper presence is ostensibly to {tilt-1h" the innocent into the tiitdei‘\.'.oi"ij, but often serves to lighten the tree treated by the beOtlllii; Cage The use of Ai‘abi: whenever Welles t'l‘(i’...’l‘.li‘l‘, the business is .iitritlie" i:"ti:i<i as it does that Kiowa: ? iifi‘. foreign, explititly suggests ti‘-.:' betavmur (an be found it‘- “'it'llfll‘ z-j.’ ordinary American men. iSimon Wardelli 41.3? Ge/iera/ release feature

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Life of snuff: Nicolas Cage in 8mm

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