A Simple Plan (15) 121 mins a ...
Best known for films of extravagant violence, such as The Evil Dead, Sam Raimi is also a long-term associate of the Coen brothers. So when he takes on a snowbound crime drama in a small Midwestern town, it brings to mind black comedy in general, and Fargo in particular. His treatment of violence is different, however, in A Simple Plan, a gripping and quite earnest psychological thriller about the destructive lure of money.
Bill Paxton and Billy Bob Thornton play Hank and Jacob Mitchell, two close but very different brothers. Hank is an upstanding, college- educated working man. He and wife Sarah (Bridget Fonda) are about to have a baby, and their lives seem quietly mapped out for them. The good-natured Jacob has neither a job nor a partner, being too retarded and too physically unattractive to gain either. All Jacob has are Hank, his dog and his best friend Lou (Brent Briscoe), who is also unemployed.
So when, one New Year's Eve, the three men accidentally stumble upon 54m in a wrecked plane, Jacob and Lou are desperate to keep the cash. Initially reluctant, Hank agrees, but insists that he holds the
money until they know it is safe to use, and with the proviso that he’ll destroy it if anyone comes looking. ‘This is better than the American Dream,’ Sarah insists. as her honesty evaporates at the sight of the banknotes. But of course, their illegal lottery jackpot is just the start of a nightmarish descent into greed.
suspicion and murder.
Scott B. Smith’s Oscar-nominated script shifts the events of his own novel to bring the brothers closer together. The story does leave the rails at times, and
Eternity And A Day (PG) 132 mins Y... ..
Film critir Gilberto Perez reckons there are essentially two (IliPlTlallC modes: the dramatic and the narrative. The first is closer to the public nature of theatre, the serond to the privacy of the novel Theo Angelopoulos's work — like Antonioni's, like Tarkovsky’s — falls 'into the latter category. With a Cinematir vocaoulai‘y of scrutinismgly slow and elegant tracks, the Greek director doesn’t so much unravel a Story as inIUitively build towards one,
hopinr; for enough cumulative
Chasing Raimi: Bill Paxton in A Simple Plan
Raimi's direction falters once or twice, but that is to nit- pick. The acting is first-rate, the dialogue constantly wrongfoots the audience, and the characters constantly
Owing as much to John Steinbeck's Of Mice And Men as to the likes of Shallow Grave, A Simple Plan is a
haunting reminder that scavengers must lead a cold
“3%.: ‘- .
Art of poise: the cast of Eternity And A Day
meaning to suggest emotional depth over dramatic breadth.
Bruno Ganz, spending his last day as a free man before hOSpitalisation, wanders around Thessaloniki with several things on his mind. He has his late wife’s letters to evoke memories of the past, a poem to complete. There’s also the presence of an Albanian boy he saves from the police. This young illegal alien supplies companionship while also pornting up political tensions.
That the emphasis rests on Ganz's gloomy, forlorn face c0uld have given the film the tone of a joyless reverie.
existence, and that the snow is rarely whiter on the other side of the fence. (John MacKenzie) a Selected release from Fri 27 May.
But Angelopoulos has a sly, almost underhand sense of humour — surreal in its blend of set-piece realism and comedic inopportunism. During one lengthy sequence, where bride and groom serenade each other in front of family and friends, along comes Ganz looking to offload his dog on his housekeeper — the mother of the bride. This is that rarest breed: a solipSistic movre with a sense of proportion.
Other scenes are equally effective. As Ganz COnJUFES up his Wife (Isabelle Renauld) out of words and memory. the camera — in a single take — travels through a second floor veranda and down to the beach front where Ganz and Renauld reunite. understands that bringing back the dead demands Cinematic transcendence of equal magnitude.
Many claim art cinema is dead, but if Eternity And A Day is an example of cinema as autopsy, it's useful to know autopsy's Greek root: 'the act of seeing with one's own eyes'. (Tony McKibbin) I Edinburgh Filmhouse from Fri 74 May. Glasgow Film Theatre from Fri 28 May.
new releases FILM Apt Pupil ‘
When the release date of a film is continually put back, the conventional wisdom is that it's not worth the celluloid it's printed on. So it comes as a pleasant duty to recommend, at last, this finely acted adaptation of a Stephen King novella.
Taken from the same book, Different Seasons, that has already inspired two rather speCial films (Stand By Me and The Shawshank Redemption), Apt Dupi/ tells the story of Todd (Brad Renfro), an academically gifted sixteen- year-old, who is researching the Holocaust when he finds a photo of a Nazi that resembles Kurt Dussander (Ian McKellen), an old man living nearby. Intrigued by the fascist mentality, Todd blackmails the incognito war criminal into reminiscing about his experiences at a concentration camp. But as their relationship becomes more interdependent, the balance of power starts to shift.
Director Bryan Singer’s first film since 1995’s The Usual Suspects is well w0rth the wait. A claustrophobic two- hander, the film presents McKellen with a role to the dark side of his James Whale in Gods And Monsters. A waning man trying to forget his troubled past, Dussander is reluctantly dragged back into it by the inquisitive youth, and ends up submerged in the memory.
McKellen is particularly good; when ordered by Todd to put on a Nazi officer’s uniform the switch from guilty shame to arrogant pride is chilling to witness, and a glint in his eye is all that is needed to suggest the Aryan heart lurking underneath. Renfro understandably comes off second best, although his cold-faced exterior, punctuated by sweat-soaked nightmares, gives some idea of the conflict going on in his mind.
A hilarious cameo from a moustachioed David Schwimmer and a weakish ending aside, the psychological drama is handled economically by Singer, who again demonstrates his eye for suspense and pacing, while first-time screenwriter Brandon Boyce gives the source material a thriller edge.
(Simon Wardell) a General release from Fri 27 May.
Last house on the far right: Ian McKellen in Apt Pupil f . .
STAR RATINGS 3k 'k ‘k * * Unmissable * 3k 1* it Very ood it 1: ir Wort a shot * at Below average it You’ve been warned
13—27 May l999 THE UST 23