FILM new releases


(18) 102 mins ** it

An unlikely chain of events propels the plot of this religious-themed supernatural thriller that rips off the obvrous genre classics: The Exorcist and The Omen. Pittsburgh hairdresser Frankie Paige (Patricia Arquette) acquires a rosary, previously belonging to a now dead priest, from her mother on return from vacation in South America. Soon after Frankie is afflicted wrth wounds that resemble those suffered by Christ on the cross. It's a condition found in stigmatics, deeply religious souls such as St. Francis of Assisi. Except Frankie is an athiest so how could she . . . Duh! Of course, the dead priest.

Frankie’s increasingly torturous condition comes to the attention of the Vatican, where devious Cardinal

Soul searching: Patricia Arquette in Stl


3' '

Houseman (Jonathan Pryce) despatches investigator Andrew Kiernan (Gabriel Byrne, doing his best impersonation of agent Mulder with starched collar) to check on the validity of Paige’s case. But nothing is what it seems: more than mere showy levitation and pyrotechnics, Frankie's possession serves a higher purpose, one that Houseman seems intent on silencing.

Although attractively shot, Rupert Wainwright's direction and Tom Lazarus's script is portentious in the sense of heavy going without the pressure of being laden with meaning. Arquette looks nice (as ever) playing her second religious icon in a row (see her Mary figure in Bringing Out The Dead), while Byrne sleepwalks through his part, inverting his appearance as the Devil in End Of Days. (Miles Fielder) I General release from Fri 27 Jan. See Front/ines.

Simpatico (15) 106 mins tit

Successful Kentucky racehorse breeder Carter (Jeff Bridges) receives a panicky phone call from boozy Vinnie (Nick Nolte), who claims to have been arrested for harassment. Despite being in the middle of negotiations to sell his prize stallion, Simpatico, Carter drops everything and flies to Southern California. It transpires that, for the last twenty years, Carter has been paying Vinnie to keep very quiet about a horse-racing scam they perpetrated, which ruined the career of a local racing commissioner (Albert Finney). Carter went on to become a millionaire and to marry Vinnie's girlfriend, Rosie (Sharon Stone), while his former friend turned into a dishevelled recluse. Now, however, Vinnie feels it’s time for revenge . . .

Another acclaimed British theatre

26 THE US'I' 20 Jan—3 Feb 2000

t; :5. a '_,. .

Thoroughbred: Sharon Stone in Simpatico

director, Matthew Warchus (see also Sam Mendes and American Beauty) makes his cinematic debut, here with a respectable adaptation of Sam Shepard’s play, and manages to keep at bay the theatricality that often mars stage-to-screen transfers. Cutting backwards and forwards in time, Simpatico is most intriguing in the initial stages, when various clues must be deciphered in order to understand the connections between the characters. Unfortunately, any sense of mystery is dissipated by a series of underwhelming revelations. While this rueful tale of the inescapability of one's past lacks the requisite emotional punch, the thoroughbred cast give accomplished performances, with Finney's portrait of a man calmly accepting his lot first across the finishing line. (Tom Dawson)

I Selected release from Fri 28 Jan

! family has taken delivery of their new

Bicentennial Man

(PG) 130 mins **

It’s the first decade of the 21st century, and the wealthy Martin

robot-servant Andrew (Robin Williams), who is programmed to perform an array of household tasks. But over time this sophisticated piece of technology begins to display a number of human attributes, like creativity, curiosity and a yearning for friendship. After the death of his master (Sam Neill), Andrew embarks on a life-changing Journey After

We have the technology: Robin Williams in Bicentennial Man

having been physically 'upgraded' by a mawii k ii wit.- .' i. l‘ .l’i', he fats in love with the flesh-and-blood Portia (Emberh has

Based on an Isaac ASImOV story \i‘.ri‘ilt"i .2‘ {iii 'I‘r: ii'W‘ i\iiitéii(an bicentennial, this is billed as a science—fictioi. i1)lf arti. air: .li1t3lts pith/t" to

be highly infrequent. There are some potentiillv i'itia'ris,‘ 'i'I t i".t”(‘, not least the acceptance of mortality, but the storytelling ri‘ tum! 1' t 'l' i. i' i iallllbti‘) and writer Nicholas Kazan is both earnest and ‘,t‘l‘7.i'.'ii"iiir aim, onto he‘s

emerged from his metal-casrng, produces lll\ ilti(ii""il'i Y‘Tl’ii'..ii"l i, (it"iUflllrllKe, whilst the other actors seem muted by the tilartii ms. ii‘ f'm' :‘Miiai translations. Despite spanning some 200 years, BlCGfllt'3/i‘llliii .'.in in» . l)i an epic sweep: indeed as a vision of the future it's [)i'ti‘uilt ai-il titan-Ii.” Ilr‘ri- nag-isoni

I General release from Fri 27 jan.

Fast Food (18) 95 mins it): Produced on the kind of budget usually spent looking after some superstar's dog in your average Hollywood blockbuster, Fast Food spends a measly {48,736.17 and, in places, plays like something costing many, many times that. . , .. , Douglas Henshall stars as Benny, sf who returns to London after many years to find the girl he once loved and the friends he left behind. His four scallywag pals are housed in a Trainspotting (‘Jl‘lf‘ minim

Junk culture: Douglas Henshall in Fast Food

imiiii on stolen

pizza and any chemicals at hand. The quarter. (lunar a nan f.» up off a local gangster, freeing him of his ill-gotten gains Tim-a: only ilii'h} lilriti’. the combination to the safe, the one thing that Bonny ( in mini, i-lu‘. Bonny wants no part in any of it.

This is a genuine and more than competent (“fril'lll't‘ (,2 llilt’lllilil lllll‘ill‘iditllig,

cramming in all manner of stylish set pieces and li()l. i-, l.'ii.~:<- than iust a sum of its parts, Fast Food stumbles along furrow; 'li"iii'lt' a ‘ifliflt’l'Illg stair like an agitated drunk racing for a bus, and skilfully Huerta rm! it‘fltlf‘fflt'SS when appropriate. The script is hardly an innovation, not. rln'i'tl’ctl strictly: Sugq has applied black humour where substance is latiiiig (illtl h i‘s lllt'i mu: wasonable success. (Mark Robertson)

I Selected release from Fri 28 Jan.


Rancid Aluminium ‘-‘ (18) 98 mins

There's been ongoing trumpeting of the renaissance of the British film industry ever since that Scottish Movie back in 1996. More recently, commentators have been critical of how the industry spends its money - on producing films rather than developing scripts and distributing the finished products. What that means is that there are a lot of films lying around on shelves unlikely to see the light of the inside of a cinema, and a lot of films that do reach the big screen that are just plain awful.

Bankrupt: Rhys lfans in Rancid

. . , Aum' '

Those in the know, know, ' "'""“ according to Rancid Aluminium’s strap liriF“ i/lll'lf. That a final cut of director/writer team Edward Thomas and James lira-we", il'l'llt-I' was unavailable

shortly before its release date doesn’t bode «.ve'l fr)’ r'irirai i‘VrilllIlllfm Rancid Aluminium does, however, sport a fine cast of young isms JUSF‘lNl Fiennes, Rhys lfans, Tara Fitzgerald, Sadie Frost and Nick Moran So, ‘.‘.'lia‘i'<i it at about7 Well, after the death of his father, Pete Thompson llfans) take-s out-i the running of the family business. To rescue it from the brink of baiikigiptiy, l‘u" does lJUSlflCSS wrth the Russian Mafia. As you do. Of course, things do not go to piar. (Miles Fielder) I Selected release from Fri 27 Jan.