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The long arm of the law: Matthew Broderick in Inspector Gadget

Inspector Gadget

(U) 79 mins e er

The ever-amiable Matthew Broderick stars in Disney's take on the French krds’ cartoon, about a crime fighter who's part geeky human, part collection of handy gizmos. It follows Gadget's guest to become a proper, respected cop and find out who murdered the father of his beloved Dr Brenda Bradford (Joely Fisher). Unfortunately, the dastardly Claw (Rupert Everett) has a scheme for world domination, whrc h includes creating an evil doppelganger of the trenc‘hcoated wonder helpfully differentiated from the real Gadget by dodgy teeth and an old skool gangster demeanour. A new addition to the basic: premise, presumably to lend some street cred to the proceedings, is the Gadgetmobile, a smartass, talking car (kind of like a

The Iron Giant (U)86mins autumn:

Prevrously in children’s fiction, young boys have befriended big friendly grants, snowmen and cute aliens. Ted Hughes' classic children’s story, The Iron Man, instead gives the young character more of a t0ugh contender to knock about Wlll) A 50ft tall metal killrng machine to be more specific.

In this animated frlm adaptation, writer/director, Brad Bird, has transported the action from rural England to small-town America in the late 1950s, a time when every young boy’s fantasy involved alien invaders arrrvrng on earth. When fantasy becomes reality for Hogarth Hughes and he finds a grant robot in hrs back yard, he qurte rightly declares himself

kid-friendly versron of KITT from Knightrider). It wrsecracks its way thr0ugh the film and althOugh rt has a few good one-lrners, tends to grate on the nerves,

It's the usual Drsney fare, colourful, vrsually arresting and fast-paced. The Inspector's many contraptrons, which include a helrcopter hat and a cigarette lighter finger, wrll delight younger vrewers, and older members of the audrence wrll be amused by the plentiful self-referential moments. All the performances are spot on. Broderick’s perfectly cast as the hapless hero and Everett camps rt up as the urbane, Brrtrsh baddre. The only minus pOrnt is the half-baked, far from convrncrng love story, which ensues between Gadget and the Doctor. (Dawn Kofre)

I General release from Fri 77 Dec.

Heavy metal: The Iron Giant

to be the luckrest kid in America. Keeping hrs new pal a secret from his protective mother and evrl government agent Kent Mansley, proves qurte an adventure. The reSUlting frlm is a fast- movrng thrrllfest featuring bongo- playing beatnrks, a great rockabilly soundtrack and explosive destruction on a grand scale.

Thrs being a kids’ frlm, rt rs violence with a conscrence; the killrng machine is persuaded by childhood rnnocence to negate the instinct for destruction and discover another side to itself. If this is too tame for you, you can always console yourself with the Black Sabbath version: ’Heavy boots of lead fills his victims full of dread. Run as fast as they can Iron Man lrves again.’ (Catherine Bromley)

I General release from Fri 77 Dec.

new releases FILM

Cotton Mary (15) 124 mins * t at: Better known as the producer half of the Merchant-Ivory frlmmaking team, Ismail Merchant makes hrs third frlm as a director. This drama, set in the post- colonral Indra of the 19505, rs about an Anglo-Indian nurse caught uneasily between two cultures.

The eponymous Cotton Mary (Madhur Jaffrey) identifies herself wholeheartedly With the departed Brrtrsh Ra]. She looks down on the 'Jungly’ locals in the southern Indian town of Cochin, but IS herself patronrsed by the expatriate Brrtrsh However, she sees a way of increasrng her standing when Lily Macintosh (Greta Scacchi), the neglected wife of a BBC correspondent (James Wilby), finds herself unable to breast-feed her prematurely born baby. Mary secretly takes the (l)|l(l to be wet- nursed by her crippled sister and rnsrnuates her way into trlv’s home as the baby’s Ayah. Little by little, Mary takes over the household, adoptrng ever more grotesque airs and graces until her self-delusions finally shatter

Mary’s warped psychology IS clearly a product of colonialism, but she rs so malevolent and connivrng that she fails to earn our sympathy Not that Jaffrev's performance Isn't excellent (as is Scacchi's), but the scripts occasional clumsrness and Merchant’s hesrtant direction, prevent the frlm from wringing the pathos the subject deserves. (Jason Best)

I Selected release from Fri 77 Dec.

Cat People

(PG) 71 mins * at at: at

The Curse Of The Cat

Peo Ie

(U) 7 mins ‘k ‘k a:

They did vampires, mummys, wolfmen, zombies and man-made mutants wrth bolts in their necks. So, why shouldn't the classic B-movie moguls want to conjure up a piece of spooky cat business? Writer/producer Val Lewton’s Cat People and its sequel, The Curse Of . . . showed that horror was as much a matter of the mind as it was showmg the gory event or savage conflict wrth supernatural beings.

Jacques Tourneur directed the 1943 orrgrnal which sees Serbian Simone Simon haunted by legends of her homeland, leading her to believe that she rs about to metamorphose into a slavering panther at any moment In the Robert Wise/Gunter V. Fritsch's co-directed follow-up, Simon's spectre returns to take control of a young girl.

Most of the best bits of both films take place in the semr-dark, With the shadows of the mind stalking, haunting and chasing a love rival (Alice Moore) in the first and the offspring of the rival's union (Ann Carter) in the second You could read a misogynist subtext into all of this, but for all the uber-melodrama and shaky dialogue, there is a dark intelligence and restraint about it which marks them out as superior B-movie nonsense. (Brian Donaldson)

I Edinburgh: Fi/mhouse from Sun 2 Jan.


(U) 86 mins * *‘k‘k Not the original, but probably the best screen adaptation of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. The stOry - for those living in oblivion when it comes to Victoriana concerns the overly- prudent businessman Ebeneezer Scrooge (Alastair Sim), whose sense of c . humanity rs stunted by the death which , - \ surrounds him during his formative < - years. Growing bitter and hardened towards the desperate needs of others, Scrooge becomes the most hated man in London, cursed by people who are usually incapable of the mildest of insults. As another mrserly Christmas comes Scrooge's way, the ghost of his former colleague vrsrts on Christmas Eve to warn that other spectres Will be sent in a bid to haunt hrm out of hrs worldVIew. And, sure enough, as the reality of the hostility towards hrm becomes apparent, old Ebeneezer mends his ways and becomes a saint overnight.

Of course, in among all this heartwarming fireSIdeness, Dickens was never afraid to tackle the big issues; in Scrooge the threat to children's lives, whether they are privileged or poverty-stricken is one of the main themes Still, none of the darkness gets in the way of a cracking tale and the drsapporntment of not seerng Sim once more in drag. (Brian Donaldson)

I Glasgow: GFT,‘ Edinburgh: Fi/mhouse from Fri 77 Dec.

Anglo-Indian relations: Madhur Jaffrey and Greta Scacchi in Cotton Mary

Fur pity's sake: Simone Simon in Cat People

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A humbug's life: Scrooge

)6 Dec l999~6 Jan 2000 THE lIST 31