Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me

(12) 96 mins x 1h: 9': e

The Spy Who Shagged Me doesn't really make any advances in what is surely, by now, a new film franchise Austin Powers 3: Live And Let Shag, Austin Powers 4: The Man With The Golden Mojo, perhaps? - rather, it consolidates its three types of jokery - 60$ kitsch, film references and sexual innuendo (Mike Myers has acknowledged a debt to Britain's Carry On films). In that sense, Austin Powers mirrors the Bond series, which has invariably stuck to a tried, tested and very popular formula, merely adding bigger explosions to each new film.

So, The Spy Who Shagged Me expands upon the first film's carefully concealed nudity gag. Remember the milk jugs covering Elizabeth Hurley's breasts? The new film opens with a lengthy song and dance number, during which Powers prances through a posh hotel in the buff, pausing occasionally to have his tackle obscured by various suggestively shaped objects: salamis, cucumbers, meat platters, etc.

Laying on hands: Mike Myers and Heather Graham in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me

The same principal of consolidation is true of the new film's plot. Hurley's Vanessa Kensington turns out to have been one of Dr Evil's robots all along and is replaced by Heather Graham's ultra-groovy CIA operative, Felicity Shagwell, whom Powers finds even more shaggadelic. Dr Evil returns, this time with a new sidekick, a minature replica of himself named Mini-Me. There are multiple Powers, created by Dr Evil's time machine, which he uses to travel back to the 605 to steal the hero’s mojo (his libido). Finally, Myers plays a third role, a child-eating Scottish villain named Fat Bastard.

Where other comedy franchises, such as The Naked Gun films, employ the scattergun effect, spraying audiences with a cascade of quick-fire gags, the jokes here are fewer and farther between, but their impact is built upon repetition. How many times does Powers use his catchline: 'Oh, behavel'? And how often daes Dr Evil deliver a threatening ultimatum with finger placed, curiously in the corner of his mouth? Many, is the answer and the film is all the funnier for this.

Mind you, who’s going to become the new Powers when Myers retires after a dozen films? (Miles Fielder)

I General release from Fri 30 Jul.

It All Starts Today ( a

Commence Aujourd Hui) (12) 118 mins 9: s e

Depressed state: Philippe Toreton in Ca Commence Aujourd'Hui

The story of a nursery school teacher (Philippe Torreton) trying to cope in a northern French town with high unemployment and despairing poverty is told here by Bertrand Tavernier with his usual eye for detail. From the shots of bleak winter landscapes to close-ups of urban despair, Tavernier knows how to combine immediacy with a sense of the elegiac.

This is a shrewd combination. Tavernier's film is a bang up to date ‘state of the nation' look at France’s rush towards advanced capitalism. At the same time it makes one aware of the relative wealth and comfort this industrial region once possessed. Now, it's all casual labour and elastoplast social care. In one scene a father explains how he makes a few quid on top of the dole; in another Torreton writes a cheque to cover school meals that should be provided by the state.

There’s a feeling, however, that Tavernier believes he's telling us something new. In fact, filmmakers

have recently been tripping over themselves to tell us how prostrate the region has become La Vie de Jesus, La Vie Revee des Anges and the 805-set Seul Contre Tous are examples and where other films found distinct and fresh methods of enquiry, Tavernier adopts melodramatic social realism. Hospitalised fathers, abused children, cut off electricity are all here each event peripheral and half attended to by the director’s busy camera. When a filmmaker of Tavernier's renowned sensitivity takes on so much, the brisk shift from misery to misery can seem too close to a formulaic reworking of the audience’s emotions.

If it’s finally more than that, and it is, its significance lies in Torreton's piledriving performance. He manages to suggest close links between general exasperation and a more personal despair and just about pulls together the film's loose strands.

(Tony McKibbin) I Edinburgh Fi/mhouse from Fri 23 Jul.

preview FILM

Rough cuts

Lights, camera, action . . .

GLASGOW‘S ANTONINE FILMS (Orphans) are poised to announce a production slate of twelve feature films, currently in development. According to Antonine producer Andrew Meehan, around a quarter of the films will be book adaptations, the first two of which are likely to be Luke Sutherland’s Jelly Roll and Toni Davidson's Scar Culture. Jelly Roll, a semi- autobiographical tale of the adventures of a jazz band on tour in the Highlands, is currently in development. Antonine is yet to finalise a deal with Rebel Inc. for Scar Culture, which follows a renegade psychiatrist's unorthodox treatment of child abuse victims. 'We are after and are in a good position to get Scar Culture,’ commented Meehan. ’These are two of the most exciting books in terms of film. We'd be daft to ignore writers.‘ Sutherland and Davidson will be reading from their respective books at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on 29 August.

FILMFOUR PRODUCTIONS ARE replacing their short film talent showcase, Short & Curlies with lump Cuts. The aim of the new scheme is to introduce a more flexible approach to the production of low budget commercial cinema. Previous beneficiaries of FilmFour's short film initiative have included Simon Beaufoy and Damien O'Donnell, whose feature film directing debuts, The Darkest Light and East Is East, are playing at the Edinburgh International Film Festival later this month.

THE GLASGOW FILM 8: Video Workshop has introduced a new course designed for writers of film, video and theatre titled Story Forms. The new course is aimed at writers at the beginning of their careers and will run from 21 August for eight weeks. Further details are available from Rachel at the Glasgow Film 8: Video Workshop, 34 Albion Street. Glasgow G1 1LH. Tel: 0141 553 2620.

On a roll: Luke Sutherland

22 Jul—5 Aug 1999 THE ustss