new releases

r The Beach

(15) 119 mins *1“:

After the lukewarm reception for A Life Less Ordinary, and with Trainspotting having become a wearyingly familiar 90$ reference point, Boyle, Hodge and Macdonald have something to prove. Certainly, the contemporary relevance of The Beach is obvious; if Trainspotting pointed up the pervasion of drugs into modern youth culture, so The Beach is a paean to the backpacking odyssey of the sp0ilt young adult, with an implied, though easily ignored, subtext about environmental irresponsibility (which may or may not be terribly ironic).

Like its source novel, The Beach has a sort of breathless, late- adolescent, ‘What I Did On My Holidays' quality with book and film sharing the ability to capture the exhilaration and chaos of travel. They also share, however, an essential vagueness of purpose. Though protagonist Richard's (Leonardo DiCaprio) experiences come loaded with portentuous implications, it's still not really clear what has been gained or lost by the end. Like any rambling monologue about revelatory travel experiences, it leaves you with a sense that perhaps you had to be there.

Screenwriter John Hodge's adaptation replaces creeping paranoia and discontent with straight-ahead sexual jealousy as a catalyst for disaster. The narrative thus progresses with a far greater degree of Hollywood logic, but gender relations are thrust to the fore with the result that the island matriarch Sal (Tilda Swinton) is demonised, and Francoise (Virginie Ledoyen) is not just Garland's characterless emblem of desire, but a jealous, weepy victim.

That said, Richard is a refreshingly unsympathetic hero whose attempts to cover his misdeeds serve as a reminder of just how infrequently Hollywood allows its heroes to tell lies onscreen. DiCaprio follows his

' V. 0' la

Water sports: Guillaume Canet, Leonardo DiCaprio and Virginie Ledoyen

g away: oody and Buzz in Toy Story 2

contemplate The Beach

cringeworthy Titanic turn with a likable portrait of youthful uncertainty and swagger, whilst Robert Carlyle hams up his cameo unforgivably and Tilda Swinton adds an icy touch of class. The slapstick touches that 80er and Hodge seem unable to resist are intact. The scene where fellow beach-dwellers besiege Richard with requests for provisions from the mainland is the same trick used in Shallow Grave's flatmate-hunting sequence, and Richard's brief transformation into a computer game character is gimmicky decoration in the Trainspotting tradition.

Although the film looks handsome and holds the attention, it fails to convince entirely. It finally seems a little hollow and unconvinced of its own purpose, without sufficient drama or meaning to justify its scale. (Hannah McGill)

I General release from Fri' 7 7 Feb.

Lasseter and his team have focused on the small to platform their talents. Pixar’s films (which include A Bug’s Life) are epic adventures set in a microverse; humanistic (if not human) stories. The new film expands on the original settings and themes: when Woody is not taken to Cowboy Camp by his owner Andy, he begins to question the meaning of his 'life’. When he’s subsequently stolen by Al who plans to sell him to a Japanese toy museum as part of a complete set along with new characters Jessie the cowgirl doll, Stinky Pete the prospector and Bullseye the horse Buzz and the gang travel across town to rescue their pal.

As with the best 'kid’s films’ there’s

Toy Story 2 (U) 95 mins *****

Once you get over the sheer thrill factor of Toy Story 2, one of the first things the film impresses upon you is how very far computer generated image technology has come in just four years since the 1996 original, the first full length CGI film. The opening sequence, in which Buzz Lightyear flies to Emperor Zurg's home planet to do battle with his nemesis, is more

awesome than any of the top of the range computer games. But later, when Woody crawls across the chest of a sleeping giant greedy toy collector Al lvchhiggin you begin to realise the real scope of CGI technology. With double chins, mottled cheeks and stubble, the close up of Al looks very, very real. In fact, he looks a lot like Wayne Knight, the actor who provides AI with his voice.

Since Pixar Animation Studios’s first CGI film, 1986's Luxo Jr, director John

much here for adults: a toy redundancy theme, toy nostalgia, and the film references: Superman, Jurassic Park, Star Wars. The human cast Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Kelsey Grammer do justice to their screen alter egos, but the emotive range of the animated images is extraordinary. They say that computer generated images will never replace the real thing, but Toy Story 2 makes you wonder. (Miles Fielder)

I General release from M 7 7 Feb.

new releases FILM

House On Haunted Hill (18) 92 mins * ‘lr *

After the remakes of Psycho and The Haunting, to (1((ldllll this as the best horror film remake of recent months is a little like giVing out the \X’orld‘s Tallest Dwarf Awaid All the same, it is superior to its lt‘((’lii toieiunneis and, although it reathes no great heights, it does have a kind of gusto that holds the audience's interest and a (heap and cheerful aura that ietalls the original by William Castle, he or the 1950s Exploitation gimmit ks

Geoffrey Rush mugs and leeis outrageously as Stephen Piite, a tWIsted amusement pail. tytooii, who inwtes a small group of guests to his Wife's birthday (elehration at a derelitt lunatic asylum, the stene of mass slaughter two generations before lhis bUIIdan has plans of its own and, instead of the expected gioup, five complete strangeis show up, t‘d(ll of Whom has been offered $1 million to stay the night No (ash prizes, though, for guessing what happens after they find themselves |o( ked iii

Famke Janssen is slinky, eVil and downright trr‘iusei-wainiirig as Rush's incorrigibly adulterous spouse, while Chris Kattan does a nire line in sweaty as the ineVItable bloke who knows more than he lets on These two, \Vllll Rush, take the ovei'atting honours, as they desperately attempt to out-(amp each other, while the rest of the (ast remain pretty well inert

There's plenty of Visteral grotesguerie in the Reanimator tradition (even the opening credits remind us of Stuart Gordon’s film), some borrowed spe(ia| effects from endless other moVies and camera trickery from jacohs Ladder, But we can't fault director William Malone for this, Castle was known to be a bit of a technical magpie lillTlSOlf. The film also hints at an impending interraCIal relationship between its rather wooden goodie-two-shoes figures, Taye Diggs and Ali Larter In a genre noted for its (onservatism (Stephen King called the horror film ’the republican in pin striped suit' of Cinema genres), this is something of a departure. (Steve Cramerl I Genera/ release from Fri 4 Feb.

Playing the Price: Geoffrey Rush in The On Haunted Hill

MM'""§1A'R' RATINGS ' ' " " '

tannin: Unmissable

t * 1r ir Very ood

st sir * Wort a shot

t at Below average

it You’ve been warned “-

3—17 Feb 2000 THE “ST 19