The Perfect Storm (12) 129 mins w e
As the director of one of the best maritime movies of all-time, Das Boot, Wolfgang Petersen was an obvious choice to helm this adaptation of Sebastian Junger’s riveting factual book about a swordfishing boat caught up in the most ferocious North Atlantic storm ever recorded. So how did it all go so horribly wrong?
In trying to be true to the actual events, Bill Wittliff's pedestrian script suffers from chronic structural flaws, leading to an almost complete lack of suspense, tension and emotional undertow. During the calm before the storm, it fails to create any sense of community or character, leading to a problematic lack of involvement with the crew of the Andrea Gale and their long- suffering girlfriends and wives, who will later gather at the scuzzy Crow's Nest bar in Gloucester, Massachusetts to await news of their loved ones.
Even when the storm starts blowing with a vengeance, the fate of Billy Tyne (George Clooney) and his crew is inter-cut, distractingly,
with the nail-biting attempted rescue of three passengers clinging to a stricken 32-foot yacht. Here, the Coast Guard's helicopter crews and divers brave lashing winds and towering waves in an effort to pluck a man and two women from the raging sea. Also, whereas the plight of the fishermen is the direct result of their own greed and macho pride, the selfless actions of the Coast Guard’s fearless chopper pilots and swimmers are truly heroic and therefore far more involving than the central story. The bearded Clooney struggles to convince as the grizzled captain, whose determination to end his recent run of poor catches leads him directly into the path of a maelstrom caused by three converging weather fronts. Like him, co-stars Mark Wahlberg and William Fichtner
George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg are caught up in a quite literal disaster movie
have to shout to get themselves heard. Thankfully, most of the trite dialogue is drowned out by an artificial, computer-generated storm sound and fury that signifies absolutely nothing.
An insult to the real-life fishermen and their families, this $140 million marine disaster movie is as simplistic and tedious as that other quite literal disaster movie, Twister, but not that much fun. The only surprising thing about The Perfect Storm is that it did not sink without trace at the US box-office, because if ever a film deserved to sleep with the fishes, then this is it.
(Nigel Floyd) General release from Fri 28 Jul
(15) 113 mins s a i:
What a bloody cheek! 'lhat Yank John Cusack has only gone and relocated Nick Hornby's best-selling novel set in London's Holloway Road to Chicago. The story of Rob, a Vinyl Junkie who's more interested in his music collection than his relationships wrth women, is practically a British institution. Yet, star, co-writer and co-producer Cusack says, ’I knew the American Rob’. It's true, these sad men exrst everywhere, which is why Cusack and co-writer/ producer pals D V DeVincentis and
42 THE LIST 20 J..! if \00
As funny and profound as Hornby’s book
Steve Pink — have been able to draw on their own pasts to make a film that's as funny and profound as Hornby's book.
Other liberties have been taken For a start the cast is cool and gorgeous. Jorning Cusack's Rob (whom Hornby describes as ’spotty‘) is lben HJeJle (the Danish star of Mifune) who plays Laura, the girlfriend who kick-starts a self-pitying trawl through past failed relationships when she dumps him. Those exes are played by Catherine Zeta-Jones, Lisa Bonet and Lili Taylor. Other pals of Cusack's turn up too Tim
Robbins, sister Joan and even Bruce Springsteen playing himself Thing is, everyone's great, especially Todd Louiso and the extraordinary Jack Black who play Rob's record shop pals
Then there’s the music, dl)l)f(7l)lldlely enough the single element most likely to get Hornby enthUSiasts all riled up Hornby's emphasis on soul classics has been toned down, making room for e\./erythiiic_; from The Thirteenth Floor Elevators to The Beta Band (not in the book, but in the film because they're Cusac‘k's favourite band) Travest you say? Well, as Cusack points out, Rob and his mates listen to exerytlnng from The Cramps to Mozart.
Though Cusack remains one of the most interesting American actors of this generation (go see Grosse Pornte Blank or Being john lVla/lcovrc'li if you’re not convinced), a word needs to be said about director Stephen Frears Havrng prewously \.‘.’()l'l<(‘d together on The Grifters, Cusack hired Frears for his pet proiect. But the great script, cast and music wouldn't have meant a thing mthout a filmmaker of Frears’ calibre taking charge (Miles Fielder)
:5: Selected release from Fri 27 Jul see sounclt/‘ac ks
Woody Allen once again revrsits the 30s svving sound for his latest film, Sweet And Lowdown (Sony ****). We are treated to very fine covers of the timeless tunes of Duke Ellington, Stephane Grappelli and Diango Reinhardt. This elegant sound is now synonymous wrth Allen’s work, his own playing speciality being New Orleans DiXieland Jazz. Many of these tracks will be familiar to non-Jazz enthusiasts and make for easy, if qurrky listening.
On a similarly retro, but less successful note we have Shaft (laFace t). Call it musical snobbery, but the re-recording of Isaac Hayes' seminal theme song lifts the grit and grime out of the vrnyl grooves, airbrushing the masterwork for the. digital age. It doesn’t sound like Hayes singing anymore, but Chef from South Park, if ain't broke, don't fix it. The rest is a motley collection of commercial rap. This is baaaad, but not in the way the makers hope.
Unsurprised that High Fidelity (Edel *‘k‘k‘kl IS a top-class collection of rock, pop and sool tracks? Well, consider there are 60 musical cues in the film and only room for fifteen on this Single disc. And conSIder the film broadens Nick Hornby’s emphasrs on soul to include everything from The Thirteenth Floor Elevators to The Beta Band (both appear here). So yOu can do your, ’Oh, but in the book’ and 'Ah, but in the film' till the cows come home to roost, but yoo can't argue wrth The Kinks' ’Everybody's Gonna Be Happy’, Stevre Wonder’s ‘I Believe' and actor and stand-up comic Jack Black’s Superb rendition of ’Let’s Get It On',
Burned-out metalhead Mike Schank’s soundtrack for the Michael Stipe-produced documentary in \‘Vl‘:l(.ll he also appears, American Movie (see prevrew and revrew), can only be described as ’guitar terrorism'. Songs I Know (tape only available at americ‘anmowe.com tutti) is Just that, on the B-side of tracks such as 'Hopping On lvlellow Stones' and ’My Heavy Metal Song', Schank covers ‘Mr 80 Jangles' in an enthusiastic, if shaky manner (Mark Robertson/Miles Fielder)
Not a patch on the original
~ “ N 1* Uni‘nissable . Very good '~ < Worth a shot « ‘ Below average You've been \\’dl'l‘.(‘(l