Eye Of The Beholder (18) 109 mins * it it

After creating The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert, Stephan Elliott has turned his directorial attention to darker stuff. Ewan McGregor is The Eye, a man with no name and a character which boils down to three things: loneliness, obsession and high-tech surveillance eqUipment. The Eye is a British intelligence agent tracking a woman across America, hooked on her because he has nothing else and because he believes that her experience has something in common with his own. But she is a ruthless killer, slipping between disguises and towns without need for human contact. What could they possibly share?

It’s a bit of a tired old set-up, and

Never shakes itself free of cliches

despite a lot of emphasis placed on the psychological dimension (The Eye even keeps company with a hallucination of his missing daughter), the film never shakes itself free of cliches. Ashley Judd does a good job as the alluring woman who kills, but there’s no real light shed on this most repetitious of roles, and by the time the film ends the story-line too has taken a turn beyond comprehensibility. Even the film's director seems at a loss as to how to end it, and the titles roll where you long-sufferineg expect the next scene. Eye Of The Beholder is engrossing enough for the most part, but it hasn’t got the togetherness and originality of Priscilla. In hindsight Elliott’s bold generic departure doesn’t do his portfolio any big favours.

(Hannah Fries)

I Selected release from Fri 9 Jun.

An intriguing concept opens up fascinating possibilities

Frequency (15) 118 mins 1* * i

A film of two innings: first, the sentimental story of a long-dead, baseball-Iovmg Queens fireman and his 36-year-old cop son, who due to freak weather conditions are somehow able to communicate via ham radio across a time-span of 30 years; second, an over- heated murder mystery invo|Ving the brutal slayings of young women in 1969. Problems occur when John Sullivan (Jim CaViezel), who has pined for his father Frank (Dennis Quaid) Since losing him at the age of six, gets the chance to re-write history telling his Dad how to escape from the warehouse fire that killed him. The consequences are both confusing and horrifying, since the knock-on effect embrOils John's father in the 30-year-

old murder mystery. In trying to prevent the killings before they happen, Frank becomes the prime suspect. With me so far?

Scriptwriter Toby Emmerich’s intrigumg concept opens up all sorts of fascmating possibilities, then plumps for the least interesting. So for all its complicated plotting and clever paralleling of two time frames, this soon stretches our credibility beyond breaking pOint. Director Gregory Hoblit (Primal Fear, Fallen) never makes up his mind whether to opt for a tear-jerking family melodrama or a nasty, frantic crime thriller with time-travel knobs on. Worst of all, the riSible reconciliatory ending strains for an emotional home run, but in fact skies a foul ball right out of the stadium. (Nigel Floyd)

I General release from Fri 76 Jun.

new releases FILM

The Barber Of Siberia (12) 179 mins it t t

This new mOVie from Nikita Mikhalkov is an absolute beast. The man who directed the sublime Urga and the Chekovian Burnt By The Sun has thrown up a lumbering, awkward and awe-inspiring movie.

Tsarist Russia 1885: American Jane Callahan (Julia Ormond) is travelling to Russia to meet up with mad inventor Douglas McCracken (Richard Harris). En route, she meets and falls in love with Andrey Tolstoy (Oleg Menshikov giving a superb performance), an elegant and senSitive young cadet.

Their relationship has personal ramifications on all those around them and eventually tears their worlds apart. USA 1905: a woman writes to her cadet son to tell him a family secret that goes back to White Russia.

Constructed like a historical whodunnit, Mikhalkov’s amateur plot deVice and final denouement is laughable and a little like being run over by a steamroller. There is, however, so much to enjoy in this mOVie it would be churlish to pull it up on its simplistic suppositions.

Like Serbian director Emir Kusturica (Black Cat White Cat) Mikhalkov has an ability to make every corner of his screen come alive. Especially during his breath- taking set pieces, this is controlled chaos par excellence. A hugely entertaining borscht belt epic. (Paul Dale)

I EdinburghFi/mhouse from Fri 9 Jun.

Lumbering, awkward and awe-inspiring

When The Sky Falls.

(15) 106 mins * it *

Dublin: it’s not all pissed Brits on stag weekends and wizened locals showing Visitors precisely where to find the craic. John Mackenzie's fact-based film paints a very different picture of eVil gangsters, maverick cops and crusading Journalists. The hack in question is Sinead Hamilton (to all intents and purposes a cellul0id incarnation of reporter Veronica Guerin), who wages a war of words against the City's drug barons, constantly upping the stakes despite being threatened, beaten and shot.

Joan Allen is excellent in a rare leading part, displaying the skills she brought to supporting roles in The Ice Storm and The Crucible. She’s equally credible whether worming information out of criminals, swapping banter With her editor or haVing a back garden kickabout with her football obsessed son. Though charismatic, Patrick Bergin is less well served by a) playing an over familiar, tough talking cop character, and b) bearing an uncanny resemblance to Coronation Street’s Jim McDonald.

Mackenzie neatly contrasts the suburban (Sinead’s lovmg family) With the urban (a horrific murder in a nightclub tOilet)and brings the two together when iourno confronts chief mobster. Ultimately, it’s the Scottish director’s gift for cinematic Violence and Allen’s compelling presence which elevate the film above TV mOVie status. (Rob Fraser)

' . l '1’ ». Joan Allen is excellent in a rare leading part

I General release from Fri 76 Jun. See preView.

U-n—e—Liaison Porno ra hi ue (15) 80 nginse *3

An anonymous man (Sergi Lopez) and an unnamed woman (Natalie Baye) separately rec0unt to an unseen interViewer the nature of their ’liaison pornographique’. In flashback, the Viewer learns of their initial contact Via an ad in a speCialist magazme and of their first meeting in a PariSian cafe. They retire to a hotel room, where they indulge in an undisclosed sexual fantasy, a routine repeated on a weekly basis.

Although they refuse to divulge personal or professional details there’s no mention of jobs, partners or families an emotional connection is gradually forged between them, which is magnified when they make love ’normally’ for the first time.

Don't expect a reprise of Last Tango ln Paris, for this two-hander is actually a discreet and tender love story. Carefully directed by Frederic Fonteyne and thoughtfully scripted by Philippe Blasland, Une Liaison Pornographique demonstrates the subjective memories of its protagonists towards events, each partner has a different verSion of how they met, of how long the affair lasted, of the feelings they experienced.

And the film, whilst retaining a sense of mystery around the couple’s erotic encounters, does achieve a meaSure of pOignancy through the subtle, credible performances of Lopez and Baye. (Tom Dawson)

I Glasgow: GFT,‘ Edinburgh: Fi/mhouse from Fri 76 Jun.

Erotic, tender, poignant

8—22 Jun 2000 THE LIST 35