FILM new releases
Winona Ryder plays second fiddle to Angelina Jolie's looney tunes
f Girl, Interrupted
(15) 127 mins *irir
Poor Winona — always the onlooker, the passive, pensive diarist, the wide- eyed observer of other, more charismatic types. Here she plays Susanna Kaysen, whose memorrs of her time spent in a mental institution in the late 605 provided the basis for this film. After a suicide attempt, Kaysen’s parents pack her away to a chi-chi hospital, largely, it seems, to save face among their classy friends. Susanna swiftly becomes dependent upon the hospital environment and other inmates, sinking into her illness instead of fighting it.
The star of the show is Lisa (Angelina Jolie), a gorgeous, unpredictable SOCiopath who establishes herself as Susanna’s best friend and worst enemy. Jolie earns her Oscar nomination with a truly mesmerising turn — a lesser actress
would have drowned the character in Method screaming and twitching, but Jolie’s performance is subtle and funny, and all the more affecting for it.
The film does veer too far into tissue territory, piling on the sentiment particularly in the final sequence. It's better at its most brutal — when Susanna snaps out of her introspection and becomes brattish and unbearable, when the frightening flipsrde of Lisa's magnetism reveals itself. Next to these harrowing sequences, the soft-focus crazy-girls-just-wanna-have-fun sequences seem like a waste of screen time. Still, with Winona as reliably luminous as ever and Angelina well on the road to proper stardom, this is a sensitive and persuasive piece of work. (Hannah McGill)
I General release from Fri 24 Mar See feature, page 74 and competition page
The third Martin Cahill film. pitched somewhere between cartoon caper and
Ordina Crimina (15) 93 mins * it Since Irish gangster Martin Cahill’s life and crimes have been filmed twice already, as John Boorman’s The General and David Blair's superior TV movie Vicious Circle, this third version is at best belated and at worst superfluous. Especially since Brendan Gleeson and Ken Stott, respectively, were both more comfortable and more credible in the lead role than the self- regarding Kevin Spacey, ludicrously miscast here as he struggles with both the Irish character and the local lingo. Pitched somewhere between a cartoon caper and a knockabout farce, the chronically uneven tone of Thaddeus O’Sullivan’s film is compounded by Damon Albarn’s relentlessly jaunty soundtrack.
Pointlessly re-named Michael Lynch, the Cahill character goes through the
28 THE [181' 16—30 Mar 2000
same motions as before, dividing his affections between his wife and her sister, robbing banks with skill an panache, and relishing his status as public irritant number one. But his decision to taunt the police with his theft of and unsellable Carravagio painting is an act of hubris that undermines his Robin Hood persona, alienates his loyal gang members, and stresses him out big-time.
Linda Fiorentino flounders in the thinly written role of Lynch's wife, leaving supporting players such as Helen Baxendale (as her sister) and Peter Mullan (as the gangster’s increasmgly disenchanted henchman) to anchor the centrifugal action. Quite what Gui/trip director Gerry Stembridge’s erratic script and Thaddeus O’Sullivan’s helter-skelter direction were seeking to achieve is hard to fathom. (Nigel Floyd)
I Selected release from Fri 77 Mar
i (PG) 118 mins *‘k‘k‘k
i select a sin le memor and see it Y
; A Matter Of Life And Death, Frank
In a SOrt of civil servrce bureau for the dead, 22 people have one week to
recreated on film. They will take this one memory/movie with them when they leave the way station of the afterlife.
Though it's hardly an original concept (see Powell and Pressburger’s a
’A curate's egg of a movie - wonderful
Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life, and . and deeply rewarding'
Ernst Lubitsch’s and Warren Beatty's versions of Heaven Can Wait, which have all toyed Wllh similar ideas) Kore-eda Hirokazu’s beautiful film reaches way beyond ethereal whimsy. Structured along docudrama lines, the film slowly gravitates to being a meditation on life, death, loss, memory and Cinema. And that’s Just scratching the surface; this film is so unquontifiable it's difficult to summarise. Even the melodrama that ensues between way station staff members Kawashima and Satonaka is strange, stilted and arch. It's more reminiscent of early Ozu and the late, great, and finally senile Kurosawa than the new breed Japanese cinema of Kitano and ltarni.
Where the film really impresses is in the way Hirokazu (a former documentary film maker) allows the talking head testimonies of his largely unprofessional cast to subtly underline universal themes and truths. A curate's egg of a movie, but wonderful and deeply rewarding. (Paul Dale) I Edinburgh: Fi/mhouse Tue 2 7—Sat 25 Mar
The Cider House Rules
(12) 126 mins it be
At last! John Irving is happy Wlih a film adaptation of one of his novels. Fair enough, when you consider that the previous one was retitled (from A Prayer For Owen Meany to Simon Birch) and send straight-to-video in the UK. Still, The World According To Garp and The Hotel New Hampshire weren’t that bad. Nevertheless, in an .. effort to get it right, lrvmg adapted In adapting his own book, John Irving's this one himself, overdoses on sentimentality
Tobey Maguire takes the lead as Homer Wells, an orphan who grows up to continue the worthy work of his mentor and surrogate father, Dr Larch (Michael Caine). On route to manhood, Homer undertakes a small-scale odyssey around 1940s Maine, during which time he works on an apple farm With Mr Rose (Delroy Lindo) and his gang and has an affair With farm owner Candy Kendall (Charlize Theron).
Irvrng’s done a good 10b of condensing around 500 pages of his own Dickensian plotting and characterisation into a two hour film, and the performances are engaging enough (except for Oscar nominee Caine's awful American accent). But somewhere between lrvrng's screenplav and Lasse Hallstrbm’s direction — and perhaps Rachel Portman's musical score — there’s an overabundance of sentimentality which undermines lrvrng’s brand of tragi-comedy. (Miles Fielder)
I General release from Fri 24 Mar. See preview
The Loss Of Sexual
Innocence (18) 105 mins it it v: ‘k
Mike Figgis’s low-budget art mowe will divide those who admire its experimental audacity from those who think it merely pretentious. Relying more on mood and texture than on linear plotting and naturalistic dialogue, it presents episodes from the life of a Jaded, middle-aged documentary film-maker, Nic (Julian Sands).
Interwoven With pivotal moments from Nic’s life is a stylised representation of the Garden Of Eden myth. Naked and unashamed, a black man and a white woman (Hanne Klimtoe and Femi Ogumbanio) emerge from a shimmering golden lake, marvelling iriiiOcently at their own bodies and the abundant beauty all ar0und them. A melancholy meditation on lost innocence, this then parallels the myth of the Fall with childhood iiiCidents, adolescent episodes and middle- aged c‘lisappointmeiits from Nic’s life.
At a time when commercial cinema has abandoned the ciorripleXIties of metaphor, symbolism and mythology iii favour of simplistic plots and meaningless spectacle, Figgis reminds us that the medium can also deal with Big Themes. Elliptical and demanding, this may be, but if you surrender yourself to the super- saturated colours of Benoit Delhomme’s cinematography, and the expressive soundtrack featuring mainly solo piano pieces, this lingers in the imagination for days afterwards. (Nigel Floyd)
I Edinburgh: Film/rouse from Mon 20 Mar.
Bold art house innovation or merely pretentious spectacle?