FILM new releases

eXistenZ (15) 92 mins arr-a» ss- David Cronenberg remaps some of his favourite territOry in eXistenZ, an intriguing movie game about two fugitives on the run from reality. Jude Law and Jennifer Jason Leigh lead a typically unusual ensemble that includes Willem Dafoe, Ian Holm, Christopher Eccleston and Don McKellar.

eXistenZ posits a future-now where groups of people participate in Virtual reality games by literally plugging consoles that resemble foetuses into their bodies. The game designers are revered like gods, and the film begins with one of them, Allegra Geller (Leigh), introducing her latest . brainchild to a delegation of game " i —-

Dying for a slash: Freddie Prinze Jr in I Still Know What You Did Last Summer

I Still Know What You 1

the usual round of gory deaths, With

Did Last Summer (18) 101 mins a-

the gym and greenhouse used to good effect, but Judge Dredd director Danny

freaks. During this demo, an assassin has a pop at her using an organic Jaw-pistol which fires teeth, and

Game on: Jude Law and Jennifer Jason Leigh in eXistenZ

Cannon stays depressingly close to the horror formula. Half of his time seems to be spent trying to get HeWitt into skimpy clothing, turning her into a petrified wet T-shirt contestant, and the other half making sure the killings arrive every fifteen minutes.

Hewitt is more feisty second time around, but still ends up a nervous

Allegra finds herself on the road With Law's greenhorn security man Ted Pikul. Addict that she is, she soon ropes Ted into playing eXistenZ with her, despite the (Rushdie-inspired) fatwa imposed on her.

The cast were required to mug up on their Sartre, Camus et al, but Cronenberg serves up a much more appetising dish of existentialism As bizarre, magnetic and playfully grotesque as Videodrome and Naked Lunch, eXistenZ should keep audiences guessmg, or at least squirming, right to the finish (John MacKenZie)

a Glasgow Film Theatre and Edinburgh Cameo from Fri 30 Apr See feature

The ineVitable sequel to the ineVitably successful teen slasher mOVIe. Julie (Jennifer Love HeWitt) is trying to rebuild her life at college, away from fellow surVivor and boyfriend Ray (Freddie Prinze Jr) when flatmate Karla (Brandy) Wins a holiday in the Bahamas in a radio competition. Reluctantly

joming her, along With Karla’s wreck, while pop singer and fellow page 74. bOyfriend Tyrell (Mekhi Phifer) and teen TV star Brandy sparkles classmate Will (Matthew Settle), she occasionally amid all the running and soon discovers that a hurricane is screaming. But Jeffrey Reanimator Slam

(15) 103 mins re.

Slam's origins go back to a conversation director Marc Levin had With a street kid during the filming of his documentary Gang War Bangin’ In Little Rock. Levin had JUSi escaped a drive-by shooting when the boy asked, 'are yOu ever gorng to make a real movie?’ Real, as in, paradOXically enough, a fiction film. The result is Slam, the story of a street poet who is framed by the cops for a drugs bust and locked up in a Washington DC. Jall. Inside, the poet is befriended by a teacher who encourages him to put his talents to creative use.

ConVict and teacher are played by performance poets Saul Williams and Sonia Sohn, who both make their big screen debuts. In fact many of the cast of Slam, which was filmed on location in Jail, are conVicts And the iudge is played by a non-act0r, Washington DCTs Mayor Marion Barry

Thus fact and fiction are seemlessly intertWined. The locations, use of non-actors and Levm's dOCumentary background provide gritty authenticity. The performances the dynamic Williams in particular - give Slam its considerable

Combs, as the wonderfully sour hotel manager, catches the true in-it-for-the- money spirit that informs the whole enterprise. (Simon Wardell)

w General release from Fri 7 May

heading for their island resort and that someone With a fish hook is gutting the hotel staff.

Movmg to a labyrinthine hotel partially succeeds in adding interest to

The Red Violin

(15) 130 mins air it“???

With Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould, director FrancOis Girard practically re-invented the musician's biography genre, structuring his film around the late Canadian pianist’s famous interpretations of Bach's Goldberg Variations. Working once again With co-writer and actor Don McKellar, Girard takes formal innovation a step further by telling not the story of a musiCian, but the story of a musical instrument.

Spanning four centuries, the ‘Iife story' of the Violin is related in five chapters, beginning With its origin in an Italian workshop, ending With an

K Strad motherfucker: Samuel l.. Jackson in The Red Violin

anything but harmonious: the first 'owner' is a stillborn child whose spirit seems to haunt the VlOlln. Subsequent owners - a child prodigy, a womanising Englishman and a woman caught up in China's Cultural Revolution - are SUOJECI to curse and posseSSion. This supernatural aspect is emphasised by a flashback to a tarot card reading for the dead child's mother, which precedes each chapter But Girard does not rely heavin upon such genre trappings, instead his film has a hauntingly lyrical quality. Unfortunately, it's also a very uneven film. Strong early episodes are let down by a weak finale and the frankly laughable Oxford chapter, which

dramatic effect (Miles Fielder)

§ Glasgow Film Theatre from Fri 30 Apr Edinburgh Fi/mhouse from Fri 7 May.

See prewew


(15) tbc mins

In the wake of The Full Monty, several things have happened to British films. Renewed confidence, regional settings dealing successfully in universal themes, a social consCience that underscores the humour The fact that Nick Mead's charming film subscribes to a couple of these pomts and also stars Hugo Speer the well- endowed Guy from The Full Monty adds further to the comparison But the real JOY of SWing is that it very qUickly establishes its own identity. This is helped by the music it celebrates, at once out-of-time (and place) but eternally hip

All that jazz: Lisa Stansfield in Swing

SWing music is now the lifeblood of ex-con Martin Luxford (Speer) who is released on parole determined to set up a hand back home in Ll\'ClpOOl He enrols the Support of a motley group of musicians, and also calls on ex-girlfriend Joan (Lisa Stansfield) to be his singer Since he has gone insiie Si‘.(} has got

'auction in Montreal and touching comes across like Ken Russell doing married to Martin's arresting officer, who is not too plvilsi‘ii mth this new down in Vienna, Oxford and Shanghai Carry On Shagging Nevertheless, development

Inbmween. AS the Violin passes Joshua Bell's Violin playing is superb Light comedy and light drama stand shoulder to shoulder in xi \\)llS|SIQfli|y through various owners, their stories and worth the t:cket (and CD entertaining him, With Speer and Stansfield makino .i ‘c‘.‘ll‘.lllli(; pair and the music

become intertWined With that of the instrument, However, this fusron proves to be

22 THE IJST 29 Apr-l3 May 1999

soundtrack) price alone.(MiIes Fieloer) ea Edinburgh Fi/mhouse from Fri 30 Apr.

emerging as a star in its own right (Anwai Bre t)

3 General release from Fri 7 May