The King 8: I: Kerry Fox and Ray Winstone in Fanny And Elvis

Fanny And Elvis (15) 111 mins Hr

Kerry Fox and Ray Winstone play another of those chalk 'n’ cheese couplings favoured by makers of romantic comedies: she’s a middle-class feminist who’s struggling to complete her first bodice-ripping novel; he’s a chauvinistic Cockney car salesman. And it's hate at first sight.

Kate and Dave meet when she crashes her ancient VW into his brand- new Jag in a pub car park. Both of them are en route to meet their respective spouses. Both have a surprise in store. The thirtysomething Kate has just learned that her biological clock is speeding up she only has a year left to become pregnant. But before she can tell her college lecturer husband Rob the news,

The Rage: Carrie 2 (15) 104 mins **

Last year's solid chiller, Halloween H20, used some Scream-style in-jokery to pay homage to the prototype ’stalk and slash’ thriller. This year, Stephen King’s teenage telekinetic terror is revisited, but it's neither a knowing homage nor an effectively scary movie.

This time round the highly-strung girl is Rachel Lang (Emily Bergl), whose telekinetic tantrums have driven her mother into an asylum. At school she is an outcast and dresses Goth style. When her only friend commits suicide after being seduced and dumped by one member of a gang of sports jocks, Rachel is barely able to control her

he springs a bombshell of his own: he’s leaving her for one of his students, who just happens to be Dave's wife. The plot now contrives to bring Kate and Dave together and, boy, does it contrive.

The directing debut of Kay Mellor, best known for the TV series Band Of Gold and Playing The Field, Fanny And Elvis strives hard to give the material an original spin. Kate's desperate quest to find a partner/potential sperm donor is juxtaposed with the countdown to the new millennium. In the meantime, she imagines each possible lover as the hero of her Wuthering Heights-like book. But despite game performances from the cast, the results fail to rise much above sitcom-level predictability. (Jason Best)

I General release from Fri 79

Burning desire: Emily Bergl in The Rage

terrible power. Her dog being run over by a car doesn’t help much, but when she’s humiliated at the jocks’ party, she flips and unleashes mass destruction. The Rage goes over the same territory as its 1976 predecessor with only Amy Irving making a (negligible) reappearance. Director Katt Shea, whose resume consists of straight-to- video schlockers, attacks the uninspiring project with gusto, and the climactic scene has a few interesting touches (CDs doubling as martial arts throwing stars). But against such horror movie innovations as The Blair Witch Project and The Sixth Sense, The Rage is merely a temperate tantrum. (Miles Fielder) I General release from Fri 19 Nov.

new releases FILM

The Astronaut's Wife (18) 108 mins *1:

Rocketman Spencer Armacost (Johnny Depp) and his wife, school teacher Jillian (Charlize Theron), are deeply in love. During a routine space mission to repair a satellite orbiting the Earth, mission control loses communication with Spencer and a fellow astronaut for two minutes. Spencer returns home apparently unharmed, but quits his job for a new, more lucrative career behind a desk and the couple move to New York. Following a bout of rather brutal sex, Jillian discovers she is pregnant with twins, after which she begins to suspect her husband is an alien impostor and she has been impregnated with Us.

If this sounds a lot like the plot of Rosemary’s Baby with an extra terrestrial substituted for the anti- Christ . . . well, it is. Like Roman Polanski’s cerebral horror film, The Astronaut's Wife hinges on uncertainty: is Spencer actually an alien or is Jillian suffering from a stress-related disorder during her pregnancy? But where Polanski maintained the suspense until the final scene of his film, writer/director Rand RaVicli fails. The denouement itself is unsurprising and crudely executed, while it’s difficult to muster either curiosity or concern for the rather dull main characters Still, Depp and Theron do make the most gorgeous screen couple in Hollywood.

(Miles Fielder) I General release from Fri 26 Nov.

Pretty vacant: Charlize Theron and Johnny Depp in the Astronaut's Wife

Dreaming Of Joseph Lees (12) 92 mins *** Fancying itself as Thomas Hardy-style tragi-drama, Dreaming Of Joseph Lees is essentially hacked from the template of Catherine Cookson. Eva (Samantha Morton), a bright girl in a dingy town, is pushed through her ’cusp of womanhood' obligations when she is torn between two lovers. Succumbing to the advances of a well-meaning but dim-witted local lad, she shocks 1950s sensibilities first by shacking up with him, then by movmg out when her one- legged, but intellectually superior cousin Joseph Lees returns on the scene

Some juicy cliches are floated in a mush of grimy realism, largely rendered by the perpetually drizzling countryside. The script threatens to sink the film into bottomless sentimentality, but astonishingly sensitive acting and subtle direction from Eric Styles partially save the day. Lauren Richards on is wonderful as Eva's catty but wise kid sister, while Lee Ross copes remarkably well With his task of presenting a sympathetic character who spends the best part of the film behaVing

like a prick. It is, however, Morton's affecting performance and inventive dexterity -' in dodging the clichés raining down upon her that ultimately gives the film its "

credibility. (Judith Ho) I General release from Fri 26 Nov. See preview


(15) 86 mins **

Boy-racer Daniel (Samy Naceri) quits his pizza-delivery job to drive a souped-up taxi around Marseilles for a living. No sooner has he passed The Knowledge than he’s arrested for speeding by mummy’s boy c0p Emilien (Frederic Diefenthal), who’s never managed to pass his own driving test. In order to avoid losing his licence, Daniel agrees to be Emilien’s chauffeur while the latter chases a group of German bank robbers who are terrorising the city.

This mismatched buddy movie, written and produced by Luc Besson, has taken France by storm a sequel is already in motion. Alas, Besson's swiftly knocked-out screenplay is notable only for its inanity. Leaving aside the casual sexism and racism and the threadbare characterisations, the film even fails to offer memorable action sequences, deSpite its procession of high speed car chases, pile-ups and shoot- outs.

'Although director Gerard Pires would argue otherwise, Taxi should perhaps be interpreted as a parody of brainless action films. Hence the ceaseless bunglings of

Hackneyed cab: Taxi

the hapless authorities (Keystone Cops?), the constant bickering between the two.

male protagonists and the cartoon violence. The occasional one-liner hits its mark, yet it’s hard to see such hackneyed material captivating British audiences. (Tom Dawson)

I Glasgow Film Theatre and Edinburgh Filmhouse from Fri 26 Nov. See preview

18 Nov—2 Dec 1999 THE “ST 29