FILM new releases

Finding North (15) 95 mins at my Lesbian 81 Gay Film

Festival Glas ow: GFT from Fri 18 Jun. Edin urgh: Filmhouse from Fri 25Jun. One of the good things about the growth of multiplex cinemas is that, every so often. something a little out of the ordinary slips onto one of the screens. That's the case with Finding North, a charming American comedy that treats modern-day subjects in an old-fashioned manner.

When his lover Bobby dies of AIDS, Travis (John Benjamin Hickey) is ready to commit suicide. but is distracted from his grief by a scavenger hunt through Texas that Bobby has pre-recorded on audio cassette. On his trip he's joined by Brooklyn girl Rhonda (Wendy Makkena), who thinks at first Travis could be her Prince Charming.

As ever, the on-the-road formula becomes more about ‘finding yourself’ than what seems to be the surface plot. Tanya Wexler's directorial debut has its flaws: the Noo Yawk Jewish humour begins to grate and the music that underlines the mood of the scene or the geography of the setting is far too prominent. The leads, however are excellent. Makkena shows the range denied her as the wimpy nun in Sister Act, while Hickey fills Travis with real human fear, sadness and strength.

Finding North has a distinct gay theme and mainstream appeal. So do some of the titles in this year's touring Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, while others take a raunchier approach to satisfying their intended audience. America and Canada dominate the line-up of seven features and three programmes of shorts, although a little Latin heat can be found in Spain's Beloved/Friend, which charts the lives of five friends in Barcelona.

Other highlights include Beefcake, the latest film by

A new direction: John Benjamin Hickey in Finding North

Thom Fitzgerald, whose feature The Hanging Garden received very positive reviews last year. Beefcake fills the screen with well-oiled, semi-clothed men as it tells the story of the Bob Mizer, the founder of the Athletic Model Guild in the 19505. And if classic camp is more your thing, don't miss a rare screening of 1948’s One Touch Of Venus in which a statue of the goddess in Macy's department store comes alive in the predatory shape of Ava Gardner when kissed by Robert Walker. (Alan Morrison)

iii Finding North is at the Odeon at the Quay Glasgow, from Fri 7 7 Jun. See film listings and index for Lesbian 81 Gay Film Festival.

The Matrix

Pulling no punches: Carrie-Anne Moss in The Matrix

(Laurence Fishburne) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), whom he believes hold all the answers.

There is a strong comic book feel to The Matrix. Most of the action occurs within 'cyber-reality', and so the boundaries of human performance are drastically wrdened by special effects. This is where the film leaps into genuinely groundbreaking territory. The hand-to-hand combat scenes were completed With the actors hooked to puppet-like wires and the Wachowskis captured much of the action in extreme slow motion what they call 'bullet time’ or 'Flo-Mo photography' enabling the Agents (and later Neo) to dodge gunfire, while in motion. The stars perform some incredibly fast and

(15) 139 mins wt 9:. w

The Matrix is the other big sci-fl movie being released this year. Spawned deep within the minds of the Wachowski brothers (Bound), it’s far darker and more menacing than the good vs evil fables of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

In the future, reality is actually an illusion, in which the human race are enslaved by The Matrix, a computer

24 TIIELIST 10-24 Jun 1999

VII'US which has taken over the world. A few do escape, however, to live in the underworld, avoiding The Matrix's Sentinels (nasty flying robots) and Agent Smith (brilliantly played by Hugo Weaving) while attempting to find 'The One’, the saviour who will lead them all to freedom. Neo (Keanu Reeves) is a computer genius, one of the few people who believes that things are not what they seem. His private investigations lead him to Morpheus

accurate stylised movements that cannot be faulted.

The Matrix has 'made' not only the Wachowski brothers (there are talks of two sequels) and Created a star out of Moss, but once more re-invented the almost embarrassing career of Reeves. Who would have thought that a future so dark would be so bright?

(Simone Baird) a General release from Fri 7 7 Jun. See feature.

N icky Agate In a new column, NICKY AGATE

checks out the summer movies from the streets of New York.

it's 95 degrees and humid as hell. Christy Turlington and David Copperfield are regulars at my local Ben and Jerry's and Jim Jarmusch parades his creative bouffant through the Lower East Side. Sometimes, when reality becomes surreality and the world is a little too strange, celluloid escape is the only way to go.

And what better destination than a galaxy far, far away, where Ewan 'n' Liam get to play at being Jedi Knights .7 So I brave the mean dirty streets, only to discover that three weeks after opening, with 50 screenings a day, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace is totally sold out. Eventually I get a ticket. The fraternity boys in the front row are here for the eighth time. The music begins, the audience applauds and Ewan McGregor has the time of his life. Two hours and eleven minutes, a couple of sublime Dolby Digital Surround sound super-woofer light sabre moments and an army of Hensonesque bastard puppets later, my life remains unchanged.

Admittedly, I'm no Lucasophile: I only saw the trilogy for the first time last year. But my lack of enthusiasm for this latest offering was nothing compared to the tears of frustration wept by my Manhattanite companion. A true aficionado, his Phantom Menace experience had been akin to first time sex - messy, painful and predictable as hell.

Meanwhile, in non-Lucasville USA, there are still celluloid gems to be found. Election, a tale of high school rivalry and suburban ennui, pits a middle-age-spreading Matthew Broderick as an enthusiastically confused teacher against the conniving preppie charms of the wonderful Reese Witherspoon.

However, all is overshadowed by the hysteria Surrounding the release of Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. I jest not. The kids are on a Star Wars comedown, and the most annoying character in the history of American Cinema (discounting Jim Carrey) looks set to provide the cure. When Americanised reality interacts with celluloid fantasy, you realise there’s sometimes no escape. May the shag be with you.