new releases

Pushing Tin (15) 124 mins *‘kak

There are some films you see and realise how easy it must have been to convince the money men to back the idea. The box office friendly. CGI antics of Independence Day and The Phantom Menace, for example. This is not the case with Pushing Tin, a peculiar film about the heady world of air traffic controlling. It was perhaps however, when John Cusack's name became associated with the film that it was nudged a little further down the production line. Thankfully, this is neither a self- indulgent Cusack vehicle, nor the pedestrian office drama that it potentially could have been.

Cusack is Nick Falzone, the hotshot aircraft navigator at New York's busiest airport. and star of the show until Russell Bell (a brooding and restrained Billy Bob Thornton) arrives. Bell's past is shrouded in mystery, and persistent rumours of his maverick methods working in Denver enchant his co-workers. All, that is, except Falzone, whose nose is put firmly out of joint at being

edged out of the spotlight.

Due to the danger of having under-performing workers in a position of huge responsibility, air traffic

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Air traffic controller: John Cusack in Pushing Tin

controllers can only have three 'near misses' before they lose their jobs. The arrival of Bell brings out cracks in Falzone's once unflappable exterior. Bell's pouting wife

(Angelina Jolie) provides further distraction for Falzone, despite the attentions of his own caring, but kooky spouse (Cate Blanchett). The two men confront each other after Falzone's paranoia peaks and thereafter the film spirals sadly downward.

This is a movie of peaks and troughs. We are initially rewarded as the dubious subject matter proves to be interesting, if not hugely visual. The rivalry between the two men builds well and the displays of machismo are reminiscent of Top Gun, minus the homoerotic overtones and aerial dogfights. Instead. the two men engage in some far more entertaining verbal head-to- head rumbles. Both Cusack and Thornton are excellent, with Blanchett and Jolie providing more than adequate support. Director Mike Four Weddings And A Funeral Newell guides the four lead performers skilfully. However, the script sags in the last quarter, and considering how close it often veers towards buddy

movie territory, Pushing Tin is resolved in a rather

peculiar and unsatisfying way. (Mark Robertson) I General release from Fri 29 Oct.



(12) 97 mins *1:

Hollywood hopefuls will go to any lengths to get their names in lights, although they're often held back by the inordinate fees demanded by the obligatory 'big name' stars. But what if you were to film without the star knowing that he/she is in the picture? Using guerilla tactics to secure an ultra- low budget film is the first and last whiff of originality in the script of Bowfinger. written by its star, Steve

28 THE UST 21 Oct—4 Nov 1999

Hollywood insiders: Eddie Murphy and Steve Martinin Bowfinger

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The film opens with Martin, playing the proprietor of Bowfinger International Pictures, ecstatic after reading a ’great script'. Procuring the services of a collection of hopefuls, he begins the farcical attempt to make a movie with Hollywood's flavour of the month, Kit Ramsey (Eddie Murphy), as its unwitting star.

As inspired as Bowfinger's plan may be, it doesn't allow for the fact that Ramsey is as paranoid as he is famous.

Consequently ham actors coming out of nowhere, spewing lines from a low- budget alien invasion movie, do little to ease his troubled mind. Exposing Hollywood's neurotic underbelly, but sadly all too briefly, the plot then develops into double trouble for Murphy. In his second role in the film, he plays the stunt-double and - unbeknownst to the film crew brother of Kit Ramsay.

Where does the main fault lie? Look to director Frank 02, who previously worked with Martin on Little Shop Of Horrors, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Housesitter, but is remembered most fondly for his work directing the Muppet movies. Dispensing with the fur and the felt here, but retaining the larger-than-life assortment of oddballs, 02 has instead ended up with half- hearted Muppets made flesh.

There's some humour in the premise of unwitting stars - Bowfinger comments that 'Tom Cruise had no idea he was in that vampire movie until two years later' - but, unfortunately, both Martin and Murphy know full well they’re in this one.

(Catherine Bromley) I General release from Fri 22 Oct.

John Carpenter's Vampires (18) 107 mins *

A few years back, the title John Carpenter’s Vampires might have quickened one's pulse. But after the sorry disappointment of John Carpenter’s Village Of The Damned, one approaches this similarly proprietary project more in hope than expectation. And rightly so, it transpires. A Vampire Western that feels like a throwback to the bad old days of 19705 gore movies, it wastes Carpenter's directing skills and James Woods' considerable acting talent on a pedestrian plot littered with nasty violence, gratuitous female nudity and repellent violence against women.

Based on the novel Vampire$ by John Steakley, it pitches the obsessive mercenary Jack Crow (James Woods) and his Vatican-backed band of vampire slayers against Valek (Thomas Ian Griffith), a 600-year-old bloodsucker nearing the end of his quest for the legendary Berziers Cross. If Valek gets his hands on this ancient religious relic, he and his undead cohorts will be just one ceremony away from the ability to walk the Earth in broad daylight.

The only ones standing between Valek and world domination are Jack Crow, his portly side-kick Tony Montoya (Daniel Baldwin) and naive young priest Adam Guiteau (Tim Guinee). The slayers do hold one ace card however. Bitten by Valek but not yet 'turned', prostitute Katrina (Sheryl Lee) has a telepathic link with the vampire master.

Eschewing the ‘Eurotrash fag' approach to vampire mythology, Carpenter opts instead for a tough- guy, beat 'em up style. The vampires get staked, decapitated and torched, this last accomplished by dragging them out into the scorching New Mexico sunlight, where they spectacularly and spontaneously combust. The scene in which Valek and his followers emerge from beneath the desert sand at dawn is the sole reminder that this is the same John Carpenter who brought us Assault On Precinct 13, Halloween and The Thing.

It's easy to see why distributors Columbia left this on the shelf for nearly two years; it’s harder to fathom why they chose to dust it off now. (Nigel Floyd)

I General release from Fri 29 Oct.

Too long in the tooth: John Carpenter's Vampires

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