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FILM new releases

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Couple of dopes: Kate Beckinsale and Claire Danes in Brokedown Palace

Brokedown Palace (12) IOOmins * it

Travelling in Thailand, Darlene (Kate Beckinsale) and Alice (Claire Danes) fall victim to a conman and find themselves facing 33—year sentences for drug smuggling. Avenue after avenue closes off to them, despite the efforts of maverick ex-pat lawyer ’Hank The Yank’ (Bill Pullman).

If there is an intended critique here of affluent, ignorant Westerners abroad, the film is hoisted by its own petard. In the prison scenes, we’re expressly required to care only about our two protagonists, as the mass of other, mostly Asian prisoners do not bother camera or narrative. The jailers and Thai officials are cartoon baddies more suited to a Bond film and, while the fact that Hank has a Thai wife seems an effort to duck allegations of race

Random Hearts (15)132 mins shirt

In this glossy romantic drama, former

carpenter Harrison Ford salutes his old

trade with a performance of such woodenness that he cries out for a coat of varnish. It's a shame because, opposite him, Kristin Scott Thomas delivers a nuanced and moving study of a woman who keeps her emotions to herself.

Ford and Scott Thomas play a Washington DC cop and a New Hampshire congresswoman whose paths unexpectedly cross after their respective spouses are killed in an air crash. A second blow soon follows: the dead man and woman were lovers. The survivors react to their grief and betrayal in different ways. Scott

.30 "IE LIST 18 Nov—2 Dec 1999

Passionless affair: Kristin Scott Thomas and Harrison Ford in Random Hearts

bias, she is peripheral and blankly played.

The film avoids pitting 'corrupt Thailand’ against 'democratic America’ (Hank is a loner whose heart of gold is an accrdental by-product of his opportunistic ambulance-chasing), but this seems more like vague non- commitment than a brave anti- imperialist stance. The corruption of the Thai system is almost a footnote, and hints about the class difference between the two American women never really go anywhere, because -- typically for Hollywood the final struggle occurs within the self. In the end, the women’s predicament acts, unconvincingly, as a quasi-mythic test of friendship and integrity. No social or political comment could withstand the overwhelming individualist ethos that finally prevails. (Hannah McGill)

I General release from Fri 26 Nov.


Thomas’s politician, Kay Chandler, bites her stiff upper lip and briskly carries on with her campaign for re-election. But Ford’s cop, Dutch Van Den Broeck, won't let the dead lie. He can’t help trying to unravel the pair's adultery, desperate to know for how long his marriage had been a lie. He badgers Kate into sharing his quest and, inevitably, they become lovers.

It's a familiar role for Scott Thomas: glacial dignity melting with passion. Ford, meanwhile, wears his usual expression of constipated worry. He does, however, bring an unexpected new trait to his part: an earring that the actor has recently taken to wearing in real life. It doesn't make him any less of a plank. (Jason Best)

I General release from Fri 79 Nov.

Post-coitum, Animal Triste (18) 97 mins t t t *

Would director Catherine Breillat's Romance have been more powerful if she had taken the lead role herself? This is not such an idle hypothesis as one might think, for that's exactly what Brigitte Roi'ian has done in this explicit story of a woman coming apart at the seams.

Married with two kids to lawyer Patrick Chesnais, with a good job in publishing and an attractive Parisian flat, Diane has it all. Or has she? Problems with a writer (Nils Tavernier) struggling to produce his second novel and more especially an affair with a younger man (Boris Terral) toss her into an emotional abyss, and nothing less than a full self-examination is likely to bring her out of it.

Rann bolsters her film with a counterpointing narrative that echoes aspects of her own character's dilemma: Diane's lawyer husband defends a woman who murdered her serial adulterer hubby. Roiian’s film may at first have all the hallmarks of a vanity project, but in constantly broadening the context of the passionate affair, the director turns this into one of the most exacting and challenging takes on sex, ageing and self-confidence in years. And also one of the funniest. (Tony McKibbin)

I Glasgow Film Theatre, Wed 24 & Thu 25 Nov; Edinburgh Filmhouse, Fri 26 Nov.

Object of desire: Boris Terral in Post- coitum. Animal Triste

Let's Get Lost (15) 96 mins **** Festen, The Idiots and Mifune may be the Danish films everybody’s talking about, but try checking out this low budget black and white first feature playing in the New Danish Cinema season at Edinburgh’s Filmhouse.

Jonas Elmer’s film is a mellifluous look at unemployment in Copenhagen. For

Elmer the dole in Denmark seems more like an easy-going lifestyle choice rather

than a gritty and desperate one. In fact, the most pressing financial worry facing his characters is to raise money for a big football game. With neither great things

to worry about, nor the sort of heists and bloodshed we might expect from more .

urgent poverty-stricken characters, Elmer settles for studying the milieu.

Central to it is the melancholy Julie (Sidse Babett Knudsen), whose ex-boyfriend (Bjarne Henriksen) has left her for pastures new, leaving her with the grazing buddies who hang out on her sitting-room couch watching football. With its tight close-ups, minimum establishing shots and slangy, intimate dialogue, Let’s Get Lost presents characters who really seem to live in their own world.

(Tony McKibbin) I Edinburgh Filmhouse, Thu 78 Nov.. See Film Listings.

The Other Sister (PG) 131 mins it

Ever since Forrest Gump, Hollywood has been hung up on the misguided belief that the mentally handicapped are morally superior innocents. This patronising notion is taken to an extreme in Garry Marshall’s simple- minded romantic comedy. The two mentally-challenged twentysome- things at its centre are portrayed as being both better than and the same as the 'normal people' around them. But Marshall and co-writer Bob Brunner fail to convince.

Juliette Lewis never lets you forget she's acting as Carla, a backward 24- year-old from a wealthy family, who falls for an equally handicapped working-class boy (Giovanni Ribisi). When they try'to make a life for themselves, they find other people - in particular, Carla’s mother (Diane Keaton) getting in the way of their happiness.

Ultimately, the film uses the couple’s problems merely as a gimmick. It is not really about the issues associated with being mentally handicapped, but rather about the prejudices and the short-sightedness of middle-class Americans. If we could all the see the world through a child's eyes, the film seems to be saying, how much more accepting, and therefore happier, we would be. What we really learn is that sophistication is a dirty word in Hollywood. (Stephen Applebaum)

I Selected release from Fri 19 Nov.

Sentimental handicap: Juliette Lewis and Giovanni Ribisi in The Other Sister


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