FILM new releases
Life isn't beautiful: Robin Williams in Jakob The Liar
Jakob The Liar (12) 119 mins Jaime
Robin Williams' taste for sentimental drama is well known. Audiences have enjoyed (or endured) several tragic and melodramatic tales over the years, and in that respect Jakob The Liar follows on naturally from Patch Adams and What Dreams May Come. But it is unfortunate that this movie should be released after the hugely successful and critically lauded Life Is Beautiful, which approached the subject of the Holocaust with a similar mix of gravity and grim humour.
Williams plays Jakob Heym, a Jew living in the Polish ghetto in 1944. Summoned to Nazi headquarters after breaking curfew, he overhears a radio report on the progress of the war. Recounting this to a friend, Jakob
witnesses the positive effect such news has on those around him. As he invents more and more stories to keep up this renewed optimism, people come to believe that he has a radio hidden somewhere, a fact that if true would be punishable by death. So Jakob is caught in a terrible dilemma — to come clean and admit his deception, or maintain it at the risk of his life.
Made with the best of intentions, Jakob The Liar proves strangely uninvolving given the drama and scale of its setting. Williams and an excellent supporting cast work hard, but cannot give the film more than a passing curiosity value where it might have offered something more meaningful. (Anwar Brett)
& General release from Fri 5 Nov.
The Out Of Towners (12) 90 mins Mk
Dollar signs no doubt lit up in the eyes of the suits at Paramount when Goldie Hawn and Steve Martin (last seen together in the 50-50 Housesitter) signed up for this remake of Neil Simon's 1970 comedy. And just as surely they must have gone out again when the execs saw what director Sam Weisman (George Of The Jungle) and scriptwriter Marc Lawrence had done with the concept. For the original, no masterpiece itself, might as well be Citizen Kane compared to this jaw- droppingly unfunny remake.
Taking on the roles originally filled by Sandy Dennis and Jack Lemmon, Hawn and Martin cruise indifferently through the film as a married Ohio couple who
23 THE LIST 4—18 Nov 1999
leave their empty nest for the Big Apple. He is bound for an important job interview, but the entire world appears to be conspiring against his getting there on time. First, their plane is diverted. Then they crash their.hire car. Then they get mugged. Then their daughter maxes out their last remaining credit card. Then . . .
The leads get shuffled from one mis- timed comedic situation to another, their slippery, infantile characters making as a little sense as the rest of the movie. And while John Cleese shines briefly as 3 Basil Fawlty-esque hotel manager, he cannot save this screwball love letter to NY from stupefying stupidity.
(Stephen Applebaum) I General release from Fri 5 Nov.
East Is East
(15) 96 mins ***** Playwright Ayub Khan-Din has teamed up with first time feature film director Damien O'Donnell to bring his semi-autobiographical drama to the big screen. Extensively re-written, but preserving the essence of the play, East Is East draws its perfectly
balanced mix of belly laughs and tears from the conflict within a multi-racial
Crowd pleasing: Emma Rydal and Jimi Mistry in East Is East
family living in Salford in the 705. Chip shop owner and head of the Khan household, George (unaffectionately known as Genghis to his kids) attempts to force his sons into arranged marriages in a belated effort to preserve tradition, having abandoned his Pakistan family for Britain in the 305. Born in England, the sons are having none of it. Caught in the middle, undertaking diplomatic relations that would put Koffi Anan to shame, is canny wife and mother, Ella. These domestic shenanigans have universal appeal, and the filmmakers root out all the pain and hilarity to be found in two generations squashed into a two up, two down terrace house. The kitsch period detail also provides laughs (check out the ongoing spacehopper gag) while the performances, particularly Linda Bassett (Ella) and the great Om Puri (who has just completed the Bollywood remake of The Magnificent Seven, taking the Yul Brynner role) as George, give the comedy
real depth. (Miles Fielder)
I Selected release from Fri 5 Nov. See preview.
Fight Club (18) (135 Mins) MM
Material possessions and a designer lifestyle maketh the man, right? Wrong, says Fight Club, David Fincher's adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s novel. Masculinity is in a mess and consumerism is to blame. Men have become pathetic, docile spectators of life.
In reckless response to this late twentieth century malaise, Ed Norton's docile spectator teams up with Brad Pitt’s mischevious Tyler
Male bonding: Ed Norton and Meatloaf in Fight Club
Durden to form Fight Club, an arena for men to beat each other to a pulp and thus reconnect with the world. Similar clubs appear all over the country, but things go too far for Norton when Tyler transforms them into a terrorist organisation with corporate America in its sights.
Fight Club has stirred up another of those predictable hornet’s nests of controversy for its supposed glorification of violence — it's the new Clockwork Orange, apparently. What’s controversial is that it’s an intelligent movie that says
something about pre-millennium tension . .
. out of Hollywood. Fincher (who
previously worked with Pitt on the similarly audacious Seven) slaps the audience to attention with a wild sensory overload of camera tricks, sfx, music and black (and increasingly absurd) humour. lt's hit and miss, but enough of the punches connect to startle even the most docile of viewers. (Miles Fielder)
I General release from Fri 72 Nov. See feature.
Claimant (PG) 98 mins Jr 1k 3k *
The most confident British film debut in years sees the most sensational court case of the Victorian Age brought to the screen in David Yates's The Tichborne Claimant.
1866. When the long lost heir to the English Tichborne fortune is sighted in Australia, the family's African servant, Bogle is packed off Down Under to retrieve him. Years later, a
Courtroom controversy: Robert Hardy. Rachel Dowling and Stephen Fry in The Tichborne Claimant
neglected and dejected Bogle returns with a man claiming to be the heir. Clinging to their family jewels, the Tichbornes refute the claim and a court case of
scandalous proportions ensues.
Superior lead and cameo performances aside (the less familiar faces of Robert Pugh and John Kani are joined by crusty old Sir John Gielgud, Charles Gray and Stephen Fry among others), the vigour with which the film gives the Victorian establishment a sound thrashing, exposing its snobbery and hypocrisy, is extremely satisfying. It may be unfair to burden Tichborne with such praise, but in building such a bold film with so few resources, Yates's debut is reminiscent of Orson Welles. In fact, two of Welles’s films, It’s All True and F For Fake, provide the bookends between which the ultimately ambiguous Tichborne rests. A footnote: The real (or was he?) claimant died on April Fool‘s Day, 1898.
I Selected release from Fri 12 Nov. See preview.