new releases

Analyze This (15) 104 mins idrk

It must have seemed like a genuinely brilliant idea at the time. A tough Mafioso is struggling to hold it all together and in desperation, and to his utter embarrassment, decides to seek out a therapist. Poor old Harold Ramis (director of Groundhog Day, Ghostbusters and Caddyshack) probably thought he had a truly original hit on his hands but then The Sopranos came on telly and nicked his thunder while nabbing a bunch of Emmys.

Robert De Niro plays Paul Vitti, a man whose key purpose is to strike fear into the heart of others, not suffer palpitations in his own ticker. When the attacks become yet more panicky, he decides that it may be time to get some help. That aid comes to hand somewhat unexpectedly when Vitti's bodyguard, the splendidly-named Jelly (Joseph Viterelli) is rear-ended in traffic by divorced suburban psychiatrist Ben Sobel (Billy Crystal). The shrink is keen to get the insurance sorted but the gangster has other ideas on the payback front.

Sobel's initial hesitation at taking on such a notorious client moves on

to fear then fed-upness. The final straw appears to come when a Vitti-inspired fatality disrupts his wedding to his newscaster fiancee Laura (the rather wasted Lisa Kudrow), but as Sobel, discovers, being married to the mob is a tricky partnership to break. Yet, while he is repelled by Vitti's more extreme deeds, there is something inside him which yearns for the drama. Analyze This is mainly an excuse for Crystal and De Niro to ham their way through the motions; Paul Vitti is merely De Niro amalgamating most of his most famous characters and taking great delight in sending them up; Ben Sobel is simply Crystal doing that Crystal thing.

You . . . you're good: Bob De Niro in Analyze This

Though, to his credit, he does steal the film with his extremely amusing appearance at The Meeting - when all the crime families get together to discuss policy and problems - where he faces down the Mob by playing them, quite literally, at their own game.

Analyze This is undoubtedly fun for a while (though the cod-Freudianisms regarding father/son relations should really have been lost from the plot) but, as is the way with all caricature, compilations, it is largely unsatisfying and simply too, too familiar.

(Brian Donaldson) I General release from Fri 24 Sep.

The Haunting

(12) 113 mins *ir There’s something of the lost cause from the start about remaking a classic horror film. You can take Gus Van Sant's approach, which slavisth follows the master formula shot-by-shot, creating an adequate Psycho, but one which can't replicate the atmosphere of the original, and seems ultimately a little arid and pointless. Or you can do worse - let Jan De Bont show you how.

From Robert Wise's classic 1963

28 TIIEUST 23 Sep-7 Oct 1999

Daphne, Freddy, Shaggy and Thelma. but where's Scooby7: The Haunting

ghost story, for some critics the best of its kind, De Bont starts carefully and pretty successfully, then quite literally loses the plot, as his special effects budget takes over from storytelling. Wise confirmed the aptness of his name by understanding that horror, like the erotic, is often most effective when it‘s mostly left to the imagination. De Bont, to extend the analogy, prefers amateur gynaecology to a look in the eye. Here, the story of a small group of people gathered in and tested by an old dark house is

finally treated for its spectacle value, rather than its atmosphere.

De Bont's characters parallel those in the original film, but lack the psychological dimension required. Whereas Nell, Julie Harris’ much put- upon spinster in the original film, gained pathos through the fact of her repression, Lili Taylor's version seems pretty well balanced despite her problems. It's just that everyone thinks she's potty. The problem here is that a genuine neurotic might be more interesting in this context. Liam Neeson's manipulative, pompous academic retains more of Richard Johnson's original, although the new version moves him from dedicated, if half-arsed parapsychologist, to a medic with implausible funding for an experiment in fear. As to Catherine Zeta-Jones' bisexual Theo, the change from Claire Bloom's worldly lesbian isn't radical, it’s just that alternative sexualities aren't shocking these days.

Finally, the plot resolves itself into a metaphor for child abuse, not evident in the original, and not particularly appropriate to this vehicle.

(Steve Cramer) I General release from Fri 24 Sep.

Winter Sleepers (15) 123 mins whit

German director Tom Twyker’s 1997 film gets a belated release on the back of his newest, the high energy Run Lola Run, which was screened at this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival. Winter Sleepers displays similar energy in its opening scenes in which various characters get ready, steady and go, travelling by car, train and boat to a mountain ski resort town where their lives eventually collide.

In fact, it’s a collision of the literal variety that provides the film’s plot. Stumbling home from an all night drinking session, Rene comes across a brand new sports car, door open, key in ignition, abandoned by Marco and his randy girlfriend Becky, who are in the house brushing up on their carnal knowledge. So Rene takes the car for a joyride, which is cut short when he runs into local farmer Theo, putting the latter’s daughter into a coma. Evidence of negligence is buried beneath the snow with Marco's car, aided by René’s impaired short term memory and Marco’s post-crash amnesia. Thereafter, matters are laid to rest and the characters go about their alpine lives until the snows melt and another set of bad coincidences bring about further tragedy.

Twyker's predisposition for speed is apparent in the plethora of jump cuts and almost constant camera movement. Although these techniques, combined with handsome widescreen photography, threaten a case of style over content, that scenario never quite manifests itself. Twyker's characters are well-defined; in fact, two of them Rene and Laura, Becky’s flatmate - define themselves in terms such as self-involved, arrogant and egocentric. And they are, which is a problem, because their life dramas getting together, splitting up, getting back together are dull, verging on tedious.

Yet there’s enough to watch in Winter Sleepers: breathtaking locations, those stylistics, good performances and Twyker himself, a confirmed cinefile and horror movie enthusiast, who can't help but make one of his characters a cinema projectionist in a film that strives to be haunted by love and death. (Miles Fielder)

I Edinburgh Fi/mhouse from Fri 24 Sep.

Haunting: Ulrich Matthes and Floriane

Daniel in Winter Sleepers

i f STAR RAT'NGS ,1. *«kfifi‘ Unmissable . ' g; '-:’,'i****~- Very " " '1 r j . Wo ashot ' ,ggfiy: ., . Below average = _...; ‘fk You've been warned