American Psycho (18) 101 mins t i: * it t
When American Psycho was published in 1991, memories of the 805 lingered on in the world like a particularly bad cocaine comedown. The designer-suited, money- obsessed decade was only a few months in its grave, close enough in time to give Bret Easton Ellis's prose a particularly vicious edge; and ensure that the book met with a blazing reaction.
By the time Mary Harron’s film version hits the screens, we’ve gone through the whole of the 905. We can now, supposedly, see behind the labels on the clothes and the zeros on the paychecks that defined the age of the yuppie. Harron does away with Ellis’s outward excesses - the gory murders, the torture scenes, the sickening misogyny of the central character, Patrick Bateman — and serves up the essence of the novel in a more palatable form.
That doesn’t mean her film is soft; it certainly isn't. But where Ellis pushed his readers away from the material by using unflinching detail in his descriptions of the violence, the director draws the audience in by encouraging us to collude with her satiric standpoint. Bateman might have the axe, the nailgun and the knives, but Harron has humour and, ultimately, that's the sharpest weapon of them all.
The story plays out in the workplace — some would argue purely in the mind — of Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), who's into 'acquisitions and mergers' (or is that ‘executions and murders’?) for a large Wall Street firm. During the day, Bateman shuffles the papers on his desk, listens to his Walkman and makes restaurant reservations. By night he's a murderous psychopath whose delusions threaten to push him completely over the edge. When he takes an axe to the skull of one of his colleagues (Jared Leto), his cool begins to crack
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Mission To Mars
‘At his film‘s climax you will think: “So what?“
Bateman might have an axe, but director Harron has humor, the sharpest weapon of all
when cross-examined by a private detective (Willem Dafoe).
Bale is excellent as Bateman, with buffed-up muscles and blank eyes emphasising the character's ‘all surface, no feeling' attitude to life. As the movie is essentially Bateman's arrogant fantasy of himself as a Bonfire Of The Vanities-style ’master of the universe', it makes sense that Bale is the focus of every scene.
However, Harron doesn't let him dominate, but instead uses him as one of the many elements with which to ridicule the era; its music, its furniture, its nouvelle cuisine. For a film whose subject is excess and mental breakdown, American Psycho is remarkable for its cool, sharp control.
(Alan Morrison) ii General release from Fri 27 Apr. See feature, pagelO
accent to moan: ’The engines cannae take anymore, Captain.’ At best this provokes unintentional laughter, lacking as it does knowing humour and bulging wrth gun-ho patriotism. The characters merely enable the mechanics of the plot and once we’ve lost interest in these ZD Ciphers, what’s left is a weak story and an expensrve but unimaginative spectacle in spite of a high level of cooperation from the real NASA. Mission To Mars is a mongrel movre; each of its component parts has been handled better elsewhere. Its trippy quasi-religious climactic revelation was handled better in 2007: A Space Odyssey, ditto the space race patriotism
(PG) 116 min i: k
The year is 20.. .1 and NASA has laiiuetl men and a woman on Mars But no sooner has l/llSSIUII (‘oiiiinantlei' Luke Graham (Don Clit-atlle) l()llli(l a Sign of life on the apparently (lead rt-(l planet than sciiietliing Wicked his way comes and Wipes his team out. Cue fellow Commanders Woody Bla' e (Tim Robbins) and lim l.r’lc( oimell (Cary Sinese), who man a recovery mission in the company of Blake's ‘.‘.'|l(’, Dr Terri Fisher (Connie NOIl'stflrl, and science officer Phil Oliliiiyer (Jerry
23 THE usr l3 2/ Apr gorio
O'Conneili A six month Journey later and the four astioiiaiints find tliei- ,elves lacing the same mysterious lil‘t "ioiiienon (iiaiiain (iitl
However, the film's lengthy r oening S~t’llt,‘, which SPF/(‘8 to sketch In riiaiat ters and lt'ldllUllSlIlQS, alerts us to the forthcoming prioritisation of melodrama over science fiction thrills and Brian De Palma's film is double (llt't‘st'lHlHlt‘l inelotliaiiia. Much of the l)ldlll(’ lies in the sc i‘ipt, ‘.‘.“lllLll overflows with dialogue along the lines of. 'let's go to Mars, Jim ' Indeed, you half extititt stiriieont} ‘.‘.’lll| an Oll Scottish
in The Right Stuff, and the sCience fact of a space disaster in Apollo 73. These other films share a purity of intention Mission To Mars lacks. Kubrick, for example, chose to explain little in his space odyssey, which lets him off the hook. De Palma opts for stunningly obwous exposition. At his films climax you Wlll think: '50 what?’ As any scr-fi fan knows, extrapolation beats exposition hands down, because while the former seems clever, the latter is often laughable. Go ask a Trekkie. De Palma didn’t. (Miles Fielder)
H General release from Fri 14 Apr.
Pokemon - The First Movie (PG)
(PG) 96 mins * t t t at (kids) ** (adults)
In the usual run of things the film comes first, followed by a load of small expensive items to flog to kids who want to maintain their credibility in the playground. Rather than being based around a single product, the Pokemon phenomenon comprises many things: collecting cards, television cartoon, computer game, CD, figures and now film, which are being released in three phases after which it’s expected to die out. In the UK, as opposed to Japan
' and America, we’re Pokemon infants
only just reaching the end of our first year. Word is kids get it, adults don’t. In the film, bad humans are predictably the creators of a big problem in the shape of a cloned Pokemon (pocket monster) called Mewtwo. Mewtwo, not happy at being a mere laboratory experiment, then embarks on world dominance, adopting the role of World Pokemon Master (a position only humans are allowed to occupy) and starts cloning his own Super Pokemon. In true Scooby 000 style, our heroes and pesky kids, Ash, Brock and Misty, accompanied by their Pokemon set out to make him see the error of his ways.
. They succeed after a great deal of
gratuit0us fighting and an interlude in
which it’s explained that fighting is had
and that differences have to be accepted (7!). And it ends \Nllll a promise of further adventures.
My co-reViewers, aged seven, five and three, stayed to the end of the closing titles. The eldest and most dedicated follower, who supplied a running commentary throughout on the characters and capabilities of the cast, mesmerised. He thought the film was ’really well animated’, ’had a good plot’ and ’was better than The Iron Grant’, His sister was almost in tears when Ash appeared to have died and thought it
3 was much better than Toy Story 2.
Interestingly, the films they chose to
compare Pokemon With both had
some substance for adults. The stupor induced by viewing this film as an adult, convrncingly confirmed that it’s a kid thing, good or bad. (Betty Offerman, Sam & Mercy Eden, Harvey Alexander, researcher Ele Erskine)
I General release from Fri 74 Apr.
'Word is kids get it, adults don't'
* it * ‘k at Unmissable
* i it * Very ood
* k t Wort a shot
it it Below average ‘k You’ve been warned