new releases

The Sixth Sense (15) 107 mins *~k~k*

The mean spirited among us could ruin the scariest film since The Blair Witch Project with two simple words, because, like The Crying Game and The Usual Suspects, The Sixth Sense has a cunning twist in its tale. Therefore: be careful what you read about this film. That fact out of the way, here's another: The Sixth Sensehas cleaned up in the US. However, box office returns and genre aside, M. Night Shyamalan's supernatural thriller has little else in common with Blair Witch.

Nine-year-old Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) is a freak. He has no friends, he won't talk to his mother (Toni Collette) about his problems and he has a terrible secret. Child psychologist Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) takes his case and spends all of his time, at the expense of his marriage to Anna (Olivia Williams), attempting to help the boy. After Crowe throws professionalism to the wind and gets personal, telling the remarkably empathic Sear about his disintegrating marriage, the boy reveals his secret: he can see the dead walking the earth; they're around him all the time and it's scary as hell.

Although The Sixth Sense started life as a low budget

Men in black: Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment in The Sense

affair, Willis's interest in the film raised the budget considerably. The resulting improved production values are offset by a thickish layer of Hollywood cheese. Crowe's motivation for helping Cole, for example, is the vindication of guilt (concerning a previous patient he was unable to help). We've seen this kind of desperation in an emotionally damaged man in other Willis films: Striking Distance (maverick cop fails so save his father from being murdered), Color Of Night (psychiatrist fails to save a suicidal patient), Mercury Rising (government agent fails to save a boy in a Waco- style siege). That said, Willis downplays his action man screen persona, opting instead for an appropriately introverted one. In fact, Shyamalan elicits fine performances from all concerned, particularly Osment, whose grim acceptance of his fate, which never desensitises his utter terror is extraordinarily convincing.

What Shyamalan does stick to is his own clever script. which suggests much and explains little, keeping the audience guessing. Like Cole Sear's hideous predicament, The Sixth Sense is an often terrifying experience. (Miles Fielder)

I General release from Fri 12 Nov.

'Blazln saddles: Jew

el and Skeet Ulrich in Ride With Th

their friends, for their hometowns, because they've been told to and they're intoxicated by violence and fellow-feeling. At the end of the film, Roedel is a seasoned killer just turned nineteen, with little idea of why he fought at all.

There are limp moments - some scenes tail off uncertainly, there are moments of ill-judged comedy, and some performances (particularly that of Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the dandyish, Disneyish baddie Pitt) are overstated. Furthermore, Lee's devotion to

e Devil

Ride With The Devil (15) 138 mins “Hr

Ride With The Devil is a dusty epic of Gone With The Wind proportions, set amid the bloody chaos of the same war, but far less certain of its own allegiances. It follows the fortunes of young Jacob Roedel (Tobey Maguire), who rejects his father's Unionist beliefs to follow his best friend Jack (Skeet Ulrich) in fighting the Confederate cause. Rather than enlist in the legitimate army, the pair hook up with the Bushwhackers, brutal guerrilla .égfighters. Among their companions is black slave Holt (Jeffrey Wright), whose

devotion to his master first eclipses and then confuses his loyalty to his own people, whose bondage he is fighting to preserve.

Neither the script nor Wright's beautifully nuanced performance ask us - as Gone With The Wind did - to condemn the abolitionists and celebrate the cowed compliance of Confederate slaves. Instead, Ang Lee's film is marked by a delicate moral ambiguity. This war-as-rite-of-passage theme recalls the canon of great Vietnam movies. We are asked to accept soldiers as victims of naivety and emotional manipulation; boys fighting not for their beliefs, but for

old-fashioned widescreen splendour over stylistic experimentation means

'that, battle scenes apart, things

sometimes look flat. But Oscarworthy performances from Maguire, Wright and (in a surprising crossover from US musical mega-stardom) Jewel ensure a vivid and compelling narrative. Maguire’s winning combination of gauche vulnerability and world- weariness is the lynchpin of an unashamedly traditional Hollywood war movie that nonetheless benefits from Lee's deft way with the intimate, the ambiguous and the morally complex, (Hannah McGill)

I General release from Fri 5 Nov.

new releases FILM

Journey To The Sun (15)104 mins “in:

With the recent arrest and deportation of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, the world's media sat up and for a moment took notice of the Kurdish peoples' struggles. It then slipped back into apathy when, after continuous torture and the threat of the death sentence, Ocalan recanted his crimes and denounced his terrorist ways. There can be little doubt that history will shame us all as far as the holocaust of the Kurds is concerned. Meanwhile, Journey To The Sun is that rare and beautiful thing - a movie polemic that moves the emotions on nearly every level without once spiralling into hysteria.

When Mehmet (Newroz Baz), a dark- skinned Turk from the West, befriends Berzan (Nazmi Qirix), a Kurd from the East, in lstanbul, his life is changed beyond his simple dreams of a future with the beautiful Arsu (Mizgin Kapazan). Through misfortune and mistaken identity Mehmet's life becomes politicised as he is forced to live as a marginalised Kurd, a lifestyle that eventually compels him to undertake a remarkable journey across Eastern Turkey in order to bury Berzan in his home town of Zorduc. It's also a journey that becomes a shocking indictment of the environmental impact of Turkey’s dam building schemes on the Euphrates and Tigres rivers a means of flushing Kurds out their villages.

Made with a superb non-professional cast, Journey To The Sun is a hymn to naturalism. Writer/director Yesim Ustaoglu handles the cross-ethnic friendship with a compassion and subtlety rarely seen in European cinema; she draws her political activists in flesh and blood, devoid of cliche. She is of course helped by the excellent camera work of Jacek Petrycki Kieslowski's former DOP and Vlatko Stefanovski’s great score. As European cinema becomes ever more cannibalistic with its in-jokes and homages, it is refreshing to find an issue-based film that delivers with such maturity and humanity. (Paul Dale)

I Edinburgh Fi/mhouse from Fri 72 Nov. Kurdish odyssey: Journey To The Sun

4-18 Nov 1999 "IE [13725