FILM new releases
(PG) 95 mins i
Amanda Shelton (Sarah Michelle Gellar) has inherited her mother’s quaint New York eaterie, but her own culinary skills are distinctly mediocre and the restaurant is faced with imminent closure. However, after an encounter at the local market place with a mysterious crab-seller, Amanda is suddenly blessed with the ability to create the most wonderful dishes, which bring tears of joy to her customers. And when handsome young department store executive Tom Bartlett (Sean Patrick Flanery) tastes her Crab Napoleon, he becomes smitten with the chef . . .
Yet another variation on the Cinderella fairy tale, this also draws heavily on the Mexican arthouse film Like Water For Chocolate, but to absolutely no avail — rarely can a Hollywood romantic-comedy have been so witless and so lacking in any chemistry between its leads. The blandness of Cruel Intentions and Buffy The Vampire Slayer star Gellar is particularly disappointing.
Leaving aside the numbing predictability of Judith Roberts’s screenplay, there’s also a thudding literal-mindedness to the film’s ’magical' aspects: thus director Mark Tarlov has Gellar and Flanery physically float through the air in certain scenes, presumably in case the audience hadn‘t cottoned on to the characters' soaring feelings. Throw in some dismal slapstick, an array of stereotypical supporting characterisations and a cliched message about letting go of one's inhibitions, and you have the recipe for this half-baked and entirely resistible offering. (Torn Dawson)
I Selected release from Fri 22 Oct.
Bland ingredients: Sarah Mchelle Geller and Sean Patrick Flanery in Simply Irresistible
(18) 95 mins ~k
Our female protagonist is very young and wears either nothing or a white frock throughout. She weeps constantly and nags her boyfriend for attention; denied this, she embarks upon a small-scale sexual odyssey. Long, static shots show a series of sterile, joyless physical encounters, while a morose and pretentious monologue describes her feelings. She has cold-blooded sex with a man with a big penis. Another man strips, humiliates and tortures her, reducing her to a physical and emotional wreck. The camera lingers unforgivineg upon her nudity, her suffering, her tears. A stranger makes her an aggressive offer of sex; she accepts and is brutally attacked. Again. She concludes that the only true fulfilment comes from motherhood.
Is this a summary of: a) a tawdry, misogynistic porn flick that lacks even the virtue of eroticism thanks to its unrelenting bleakness; or b) a groundbreaking study of sexuality by a celebrated feminist auteur? Discuss. Unless, that is, you have something better to do, like picking dead skin off your feet.
The great Bill Hicks dismissed the controversy around Basic Instinct with the observation that said film merited no such kerfuffle, being a ’piece of shit’. Indeed. This is worse. Everyone should stop talking about it right now.
(Hannah McGill) I Edinburgh Filmhouse from Fri 22 Oct.
Welcome To Woop
Woo (18) 9 mins ***
One of the two premiering films in Glasgay 99's film strand (the other is Lola 8: Bilidikid, seen at this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival and given four stars by The List), Welcome To Woop Woop can truly be considered neither new nor gay (although that shouldn't preclude inclusion in the programme). That Woop Woop is director Stephan Elliott‘s follow- up to the camp classic, The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert might explain its inclusion here.
Woop Woop replaces Priscilla's gender-bending fun with crude, outrageous satire targeting redneck Australia, which was timely when the film played at the 1998 Film Festival, given the rise of the likes of extreme right-winger Pauline Hanson. Into Woop Woop, an outback town populated by in-bred white trash, comes Jonathan Schaech's New York hustler on the run, Tommy, who is seduced by and then forced to marry a nymphomaniac, Angie, daughter of the town's big boss, Daddy-O (played by Hollywood vet, .Rod Taylor). Thereafter, Tommy finds himself stranded in a living hell where culture comprises barby-ing kangaroos, slurping tinnies and endless Rogers And Hammerstein.
Woop Woop's single-note satire wears thin, but Elliott, whose next film is the Ewan McGregor thriller Eye Of The Beholder, has created what may yet become a cult classic. (Miles Fielder)
I GFT Sun 24 Oct. Screening as part of Glasgay! 99. See also Film Listings and feature for other Glasgay! 99 events.
Outrageous: Welcome To Woop Woop
30 TIIEUBT 21 Oct-4 Nov 1999
Films screening this fortnight are listed below with certiﬁcate. credits. brief review and venue details. Film index compiled by Miles Fielder.
The Adventures Of-Pinocchio (U) (Steve Barron, US, 1996) Martin Landau, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Udo Kier. 96 mins. More faithful to the original novel than the Disney cartoon, this mix of anirnatronics, computer animation and live action still falls short of the mark. Landau is a sympathetic Geppetto and the period detail gives a nice fairytale mood, but the sentimentality and moralising (and the shoddy cricket animation) undermine its good elements. Edinburgh: Filmhouse.
All About My Mother (15) (Pedro Almodovar, Spain, 1999) Cecilia Roth, Penelope Cruz, Antonia San Juan. 101 mins. Almodovar's new ﬁlm is without a doubt his best to date. When Madrid hospital worker Manuela’s son is killed in a car accident the grief-stricken woman sets out to fulﬁl her son’s last wish to know his father, and goes to Barcelona to ﬁnd the transvestite she ran away from eighteen years earlier. Renowned for his portrayal of strong women, Almodovar pays tribute here to their capacity to act, to mother and to create strong bonds of solidarity in the face of extremities. Edinburgh: Cameo. Stirling: MacRobert.
The American Friend (PG) (Wim Wenders, West Germany/France, 1977) Germany/France. 123 mins. Based on the Patricia Highsmith novel Ripley’s Game, this excellent, existentialist film noir centres on an alienated Hopper at large in Germany, where his task is to locate and motivate a killer without a track record. He ﬁnds his hired man in the innocent Ganz, but loses his sense of identity in the process. Stirring stuff, with all that eloquent desolation that typiﬁes Wenders’ work. Edinburgh: Filmhouse.
American Pie (15) (Paul and Chris Weitz, US, 1999) Jason Biggs, Eugene Levy, Chris Klein. 96 mins. The latest in 1999’s bumper crop of teenage comedies turns out to be a surprisingly sweet-natured account of adolescent sexual frustration. Jim (Biggs), a Michigan high school student, desperately wants to get laid by Prom night. But when he is caught by his dad in ﬂagrant with mom’s apple pie, his prospects in the contest look bleak. What disappoints is American Pié’s ultimate conventionality. Entertaining, but hardly in the comic league of There's Something About Mary. General release. Analyze This (15) (Harold Ramis, US, 1999) Robert De Niro, Billy Crystal, Lisa Kudrow. 104 mins. 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. But then The Sopranos came on telly and nicked his thunder while nabbing a bunch of Emmys. Analyze This is mainly an excuse for Crystal and De Niro to ham their way through the motions and its undoubtedly fun fora while but is ﬁnally simply too, too familiar. General release. And Life Goes On (PG) (Abbas Kiorostami, lran, 1992). 91 mins. This blend of ﬁction and documentary by the master Iranian ﬁlmmaker Kiarostami (director of Through The Olive Trees and The Taste Of Cherries) follows on from Where Is My Friend is House?. A director leaves Tehran to discover if the actors from the first movie have survived an earthquake. Glasgow: GF'I‘.
Antz (PG) (Eric Darnell, Tim Johnson, 1998) The voices of Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman. 83 mins. When worker ant 2-4195 (Allen) meets Princess Bala (Stone), he falls completely in love; but, while trying to prove himself as a soldier, he uncovers a dastardly plan to flood the colony. Antz is brightly coloured and full of gags, so adults will chuckle while kids are pulled in by the slick computer animation. Edinburgh: Filmhouse. Apocalypse Nowl (18) (Francis C0ppola, US, 1980) Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando,
Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper. 153 mins. Vietnam as The Ultimate Trip. We follow US Army assassin Sheen down river and deeper into the Heart ofDarloress ruled over by Brando’s mad Colonel Kurtz. Altemately pretentious and visually overpowering, its grandiloquent folly somehow pierces right to the bone of the conﬂict. Edinburgh: Cameo.
The Apple (PG) (Samira Makhmalbaf, Iran, 1997) 85 mins. in a small Teheran community, a 65-year-old man and his blind wife were reported to the authorities by concerned neighbours for keeping their twin daughters locked up for the entire twelve years of their lives. Taking up this true story in 1997 after it hit the headlines in lran, director Makhmalbaf’s docu-drama observes the changes undergone by this family after their lives were publicly exposed. Glasgow: GET.
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (12) (Jay Roach, US, 1999) Mike Myers, Heather Graham, Elizabeth Hurley. 96 mins. 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. Glasgow: Showcase. Edinburgh: UCl. Paisley: Showcase. Wishaw: Arrow Multiplex.
Badlands (18) (Terence Malick, US, 1973) Martin Sheen, Sissy Spacek. 94 mins. A young girl and her garbage collector boyfriend leave a trail of murder across the American Midwest. Literate, beautifully judged and impressively performed study of small town torpor and youthful rebellion. With introduction by Mark Cousins. Edinburgh: Filmhouse.
Batman (12) (Tim Burton, US, 1989) Jack Nicholson, Michael Keaton, Kim Bassinger. 120 mins. in which Burton achieves the impossible by creating a product which lives up to possibly the biggest hype job this century. Nicholson is on top form: psychotic, witty and zanier than ever; but the real triumph is Keaton’s. With less screen time than the Great Upstager, he produces a performance of memorable subtlety and power, which gives a new credibility to the Bruce Wayne/Batman character, while remaining true to the comic strip. With eerie angular design by Anton Furst, a terriﬁc score by Danny Elfman, a suitably wacky script and a strong supporting cast. Glasgow: GFT.
The Belstone Fox (PG) (James Hill, UK, 1973) Eric Porter, Rachel Roberts, Bill Tavers. 104 mins. Faithful adaptation of David Rock’s novel about an old huntsman who raises an orphaned fox cub and a hound together. Edinburgh: Lumiere.
Big Daddy (12) (Dennis Dugan, US, 1999) Adam Sandler, Joey Lauren Adams, Jon Stewart. 93 mins. Sadly not an homage to the late wrestling great, this is the new comedy vehicle for Adam Sandler's similarly unsuthe comedy talents. Which is not to say he isn't funny, just that most of it, in this case, seems to revolve around his abrasive screen persona Sonny Koufax, a full time slob who becomes the unwilling daddy to a sweet ﬁve-year-old. Silly it may be, but despite the lack of ambition it’s occasionally funny, and brief too. General release.
The Big Lebowski (18) (Joel Coen, US, 1997) Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi. 113 mins. The Coen brothers give their unique twist to a Chandler-esque LA noir, as 705 hippy throwback Jeff ’The Dude' Lebowski (Bridges) is drawn into the sordid aﬂ'airs of his millionaire namesake. Trademark oddball characters, surreal imagery and excellent performances grace this virtuoso comedy. Edinburgh: Film Guild at Filmhouse.
The Birds (18) (Alfred Hitchcock, US, 1963) Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedren, Suzanne Pleshette. 119 mins. Brilliant macabre idea from a Du Maurier tale to have our winged friends turned into malevolent killers, this is Hitch at his most mischievous. Oh and for the amateur psychologists among you, there is a glacial blonde leading lady, and she is mistreated. Glasgow: GFI‘. Edinburgh: Filmhouse.
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