new releases

.' Limbo (15) 128 mins t ii. 1: ,4.»

You’re more likely to find a John Sayles film admirable than inspired. But Sayles isn’t a man to toe the line, so when he goes to Alaska to shoot a film in which three individuals become marooned in the wilderness, it's unsurprising that what he comes up with is a well-crafted, solidly told tale that's less action adventure and more psychological/sociological study of people and place. And Sayles takes his time, easing us into the environment and the lives of the principal characters, before the forces of nature give the plot its dramatic twist.

In the opening scene of Limbo, fat cat property developers swan about a garden party bragging about their plans to transform the small fishing community of Port Henry into a theme park. But the lives of the locals have already been irrevocably transformed by economics; veteran fishermen no longer take their boats out to sea, instead they work in the salmon cannery. Joe Gastineau (very fine Sayles regular David Strathairn) is one such local. Similarly down on her luck is singer Donna De Angelo (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, who proves to be as

talented a vocalist as she is an actress), whose run of bad relationships with men has reduced her to working bars to support her unhappy teenage daughter, Noelle (Vanessa Martinez). Lonely and weighed down with baggage from their respective pasts, Joe and Donna find themselves to be kindred spirits and soon they are in love. Disgust with her mother's history with men makes Noelle wary of Joe, but his easy-going demeanour wins over the teenager during a boat trip the three take into

the Alaskan wilderness.

Typically, Sayles takes time to fill in the details of the local community. The boat that Joe takes Donna and

: Double Jeopardy (1S)105 mins it

Double Jeopardy is The Fugitive With a female lead. Not only does it rip off the 5 earlier film’s basic premise innocent hero(ine) gets wrongly convicted for

murdering a spouse and goes on the

run, pursued by a dogged officer of

the law it even boasts the same co-

? star (Tommy Lee Jones) and a set-piece

scene that recalls Harrison Ford's

24 THE “ST 20 Jan—3 Feb 2000

Fugitive: Ashley Judd in Double Jeopardy

{ 1‘9 $2

a v’

Northern exposure: David Strathairn in Limbo

Noelle out on belongs to a lesbian couple - new to Port Henry where they are starting over who have taken ownership in lieu of a debt owed them by a local fisherman, a drunk who's lost his livelihood. It's Sayles’s concern with all the elements of his story, major and minor, that makes for filmmaking with real depth. Throughout his career, this maverick filmmaker's integrity has consistently enabled him to transform potentially cliched material into honest, passionate, intelligent

cinema. Limbo is all this and more. (Miles Fielder)


,J r- R;

spectacular leap from the dam. But while The Fugitive was gripping and well-crafted, Double Jeopardy is formulaic pap.

Director Bruce Beresford telegraphs the reversals in the story so blatantly that the Viewer can see what’s coming a mile away. Ashley Judd’s trusting Wife Libby Parsons, however, is blind to the fact that her weaselly husband is clearly a Villain. Waking up on board their yacht during a romantic sailing

ll Glasgow: GFT,‘ Edinburgh: Fi/mhouse from Fri 27 Jan. See

Lovers Of The Arctic Circle (15) 104 mins tutti

Love stories often centre on a chance meeting, however fleeting or

contrived. Julio Medem's fourth film is

driven by a succeSSion of these fateful encounters, but the Spanish director creates such a rich and imaginative world that even the most ImpOSSIble

coinCidences don't seem ridiculous

they're like blessings bestowed by destiny itself.

When eight-year-old Otto spots Ana outSIde the school gates, it's love at first sight. His father (separated) and her mother (Widowed) move in

together; but it’s only when the

children are in their teens that Ana realises she loves Otto more than just as a brother. Life's tragedies intervene, however, and the pair are set apart ~- until both are drawn, irrepressibly, to a Finnish cottage just inside the Arctic Circle.

Medem, whose expressive style was honed in Vacas, The Red Squirrel and Tierra, shifts the film's narrative back and forth between Otto and Ana, using each character’s particular emotional and psychological perspective to reconSIder a preViously Viewed scene. Otto, the pure romantic, lives in a dreamy world, Ana is more pragmatic and lively, although she runs from tragedy and tries to give fate a nudge when it comes to creating the circumstances she’d like life to bring her way.

Metaphors are woven through the

story and written onto the screen With Medem’s bold and beautiful cinematic

signature. Early on, Otto's father

describes his crumbling relationship as like a car running out of petrol. Immediately, Otto turns these words into the visual image of his father heading off, petrol can in hand, in another woman’s red mini. LikeWIse,

E the Arctic Circle setting turns the

weekend, she finds her nightgown bloodstained, a knife on the deck and no sign of her spouse. Charged with his murder, conVicted and imprisoned, she urges her best friend (Annabeth Gish) to adopt her five-year-old son. Pal and sprog promptly vanish, but Libby tracks them down from jail by phone to San Francisco and discovers shock! that her scheming husband is still alive. Fortunately, the prison is the cosiest residence this side of a sorority dorm, and one of Libby’s chummy fellow cons gives her a lesson in the law: she can't be tried for the same crime twice. Six years later she gets out of jail, breaks her parole and goes gunning for her ex . . .

Ashley Judd does her best to redeem Double Jeopardy. While Jones, as her parole officer, gives a lazy reprise of the other cynical, jaded law enforcers he has played, she conveys such belief in

her character that she almost reprieves -

the plot’s inanities. Her best moment - and the film's comes when, in a desperate bid to escape, she drives a car off a ferry into the sea while still handcuffed to the door. Now that takes balls. (Jason Best)

I General release from Fri 28 Jan.

metaphorical into the metaphysical: in a land where the midnight sun crosses a white night sky, the day never ends and time stands still. When time ceases to exist, Otto might be able to prove that love never dies.

This beguiling love story as strange and original as it is romantic surely places Medem in the top rank of European directors. (Alan Morrison)

I Edinburgh: Fi/mhouse from Fri 21 Jan.

Beguiling: Najwa Nimri in Lovers Of The Arctic Circle