new releases

The Bone Collector

(18) 118 mins t t it

An identikit serial killer movie that lifts its set-up from Copycat and its taunting murderer’s modus operandi from David Fincher's Seven. In Copycat, Sigourney Weaver’s traumatised psychological profiler was trapped in her room by agoraphobia, leaving Holly Hunter's street cop to do the leg-work. Here, Denzel Washington's paraplegic forensics expert is confined to his bed, leaving rookie cop Angelina Jolie to be his legs, eyes and ears. In Seven, Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman tracked a serial killer through scuzzy locations dripping with gloomy atmosphere, trying to unravel the insane pattern that would give a clue to his next victim. Here, Jolie stays in contact with Washington on her police radio headset as she combs through subterranean tunnels and cellars, hunting for forensic evidence that will allow them to predict the identity of potential victims. The trail of cryptic clues left by the killer includes dates and times that are, literally, deadlines. If the cops don't

Rear window: Denzel Washington in The Bone Collector

get to the abducted parties in time, they will die. Although much of the action is confined to Washington's airy apartment, Phillip (Dead Calm) Noyce’s functional, entertaining adaptation of Jeffrey Deaver’s eponymous novel keeps things moving along nicely. By cutting between Washington's extraordinarily subtle portrayal of the paralysed forensic expert and Jolie's gruesome encounters with the killer’s mutilated victims, the film is able to convey something seen all too rarely in cinema the sense of two intelligent minds at work. Although Jolie is far too glamorous to persuade as a blue collar rookie cop, she still manages to convince us that her character’s development from initial trepidation, through understandable crises of confidence to fearless determination is that of a living,

Sadly, despite Noyce's efficient direction and a bunch of fine performances, it all goes horribly pear- shaped about three-quarters of the way through, as screenwriter Jeremy Iacone resorts to a Joe Eszterhas- style revelation. (Remember the incriminating typewriter Jeff Bridges left conveniently in the wardrobe in Jagged Edge?) It's so insulting to one’s intelligence that all credibility and suspense instantaneously evaporate. Other crippling narrative weaknesses include an elaborate red herring involving one of the key characters, together with a Sea Of Love-type minor character whose sole purpose can only be to pop up at the end as the 'surprise’ killer. Dumb, derivative and disappointing. (Nigel Floyd)

breathing human being.

I General release from Fri 74 Jan.

Crane in the neck: Johnny Depp in Sleepy Hollow

Sleepy Hollow

(15) 105 mins * t t at

As we slip into a new century, Tim Burton carries us back to the final days of 1799 ~ a time when soence clashed with Witchcraft, reason With


Ambitious young policeman lchabod

Crane (Johnny Depp) is sent to the fog-

shrouded Village of Sleepy Hollow to investigate a series of decapitations.

3 Convinced that a flesh—and-blood villain is afoot, Ichabod's beliefs are

shaken when he comes face to space

24 THE “81’ 7—20 Jan 2000

With the Headless Horseman. But this VlCIOUS phantom’s attacks are not as random as they first appear, and so the eccentric cop suspects that the human world and the realm of the dead are somehow conspiring together.

The key to the success of Sleepy Hollow can be found in the mix of influences and inspirations Of course, it’s obvious that America’s master of the big screen Gothic folktale would be perfectly at home With America’s best on-the-page Gothic folktale. Burton then gives his source material a

distinctly British colouring, as he borrows merrily from the Hammer films of the 50s and 605 an enclosed community; its odd, grotesque inhabitants; the moonlit horse-and- carriage dashes through sets that are clearly not real but constructed.

In Washington Irving's original, Ichabod Crane was a schoolteacher;

Three Seasons (12) 108 mins * *

Billed as 'the first American film shot in Vietnam srnce the war, and the first to be acted in Vietnamese by Vietnamese actors', Three Seasons was garlanded With several awards at the 1999 Sundance Festival The feature debut of Tony Bur, a Vietnamese-born and American-raised writer-director, the film consists of a series of intersecting stories, set against the backdrop of contemporary Vietnamese sooety.

Kien An (Nguyen Ngoc Hiep) is a girl who has been hired to pick flowers for recluswe Teacher Dao (Tran Manh Cuong). The latter, a leprosy sufferer

With a writer's block, is inspired by the

girl’s singing and asks her to write

down his poems. Meanwhile, in the

centre of Saigon, a cyclo driver Hai (Don Duong) becomes smitten With a

y0ung prostitute, Lan (Zoe Bur) who

wsrts clients in upmarket hotels Hai becomes her personal chauffeur, pedalling her between appomtments. Elsewhere, a boy, Woody (Nguyen Huu Duoc) wanders the streets attempting to sell his various trinkets and memorabilia. At the Apocalypse Now

bar he enc0unters James, a world- 1 3 weary former G.|. (Harvey Keitel), who

is searching for the daughter he left behind at the end of the war

Three Seasons offers up a portrait of r

a country in a process of transition, Where Western values hold sway, but where economic ’progress’ and modernisation have come at a

substantial price for many of the

inhabitants. It's exquisitely

photographed by cinematographer :

Liza Rinzler, and yet as a piece of

drama it’s curiously unfulfilling. The ;

pacing veers towards sluggish, while the structure feels overly schematic,

with each character compromised by

having to represent a certain aspect of the new Vietnam the boy symbolises the country’s uncertain future, the soldier a reminder of its war-torn past. None of the individual story-lines are particularly compelling, and one suspects that beneath the attractive surface images there's a lack of real

r thematic and emotional depth. A well-

intentioned film, no question, yet

somnolent in its execution. (Tom


I Edinburgh: Fi/mhouse from Fri 7 4 Jan.

screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker

(whose off-With-their-heads obsession first surfaced in Seven) makes him a policeman with a fancy for ’modern- day’ detection methods. Detective

fiction and Gothic fiction are not ,

unfamiliar bedfellows in American

literature Edgar Allen Poe broke I

ground in both and here they fuse

seamlessly, as the cop’s cold logic is

buffetted by visions of the undead.

Depp brings the right note of comedy to the dark proceedings, creating, as .

only he can, an awkward yet romantic lead, opposite which the casting of Christina Rico is inspired. Around them, the solid character actors never put a foot wrong, while Burton wraps the whole thing up in beautiful, steely blue-gray landscapes and ominous forests. (Alan Morrison)

I General release from Fri 7 Jan.

GI James: Harvey Keitel in Three Seasons

STAR RATINGS *‘kttt Unmissable *tit Very ood * t * Wort a shot i 1: Below average at You've been warned