PERIOD DRAMA The Golden Bowl
(12) 135 mins ***
By arriving in the cinema a month after Terence Davies' brilliant screen version of Edith Wharton's The House Of Mirth, the Merchant-Ivory team's polished adaptation of Henry James' The Golden Bowl loses a little of its lustre.
James’ and Wharton's stories both pit innocence against experience. The naive heroine of The House Of Mirth meets a tragic fate, but the destinies of The Golden Bow/’s protagonists are far less predictable. The innocents are widowed American billionaire Adam Verver (Nick Nolte) and his daughter Maggie (Kate Beckinsale). Impoverished Italian aristocrat Prince Amerigo (Jeremy Northam) and Maggie's worldly friend Charlotte (Uma Thurman) are the sophisticates. The latter two have been lovers, but when
Elegant convolutions of betrayal and guilt
the Prince weds Maggie, he doesn’t reveal his past liaison. Nor does Charlotte come clean when she later marries her friend's father.
But who exactly is deceiving — and exploiting - whom? Are Northam’s sleek Prince and Thurman’s glittering Charlotte beguiling the artless American pair? Or are the Ververs simply trading their wealth for their spouses' breeding and beauty? If so, then who is getting the better deal? As ever with James, the answer is far from clear. But celluloid is a far more literal medium than prose; lvory’s direction and Ruth Prawer Jhabvala's script can’t avoid smoothing out the teasing, irreducible ambiguity of James’s writing. Enough remains, however, of the book's elegant convolutions of betrayal and guilt, jealousy and suspicion to make this a cut above the average frock flick. (Jason Best)
I GFT, Glasgow & Fi/mhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 70 Nov.
CRIME DRAMA The Yards
(15) 116 mins **** At only 24, writer/director James Gray won a top prize at the Venice Film Festival and made numerous critical top ten lists with his debut, Little Odessa. That was six years ago Now Gray’s back with his eagerly anticipated second feature, another top class thriller set in a New York borough (Queens) for which he has secured a formidable cast of young and old stars. Leo (Mark Wahlberg) is just out of prison after taking a fall for his pals. He’s welcomed back into the fold by longtime friend Willie (Joaquin Phoenix), Willie’s girlfriend Erica (Charlize Theron), Leo's aunt Kitty (Faye Dunaway) and uncle Frank (James Caan) and his long-suffering single parent mother (Ellen Burstyn). Willie gets uncle Frank, who wields influence
Top class thriller with a formidable cast
in the New York City subway yards, to get Leo a job, but business ain’t what it used to be. Business is pay-offs, sabotage and murder, and when Leo don't play ball this time round he incurs the wrath of his powerful and corrupt family.
Less about chases and shoot-outs, The Yards draws its thrills and suspense from the shifting allegiances within Leo's family. Caan, who's enjoying a fine career revival (see the forthcoming The Way Of The Gun), dominates as the helpful patriarch who reveals himself to be a ruthless businessman when the chips are down, while Phoenix continues to dazzle with another performance that’s by turns affable, menacing and full of pathos. And the rest of the cast acquit themselves admirably in Gray’s talented hands. (Miles Fielder)
I Selected release from Fri 10 Nov.
new releases FILM
COMEDY” ’ Some Like It Hot
(U) 121 mins *****
Billy Wilder’s classic cross-dressing comedy (without this there would have been no Tootsie and no Mrs Doubtfire) is justifiably considered one of the funniest films of all time. Indeed, this month's Total Film rates the audaciously amusing, roaring late 20$ romp as high as no. 8 in its 50 greatest comedies ever, and considering just how many priceless moments the film contains, it’s surprising that it doesn’t score higher.
Tony Curtis (as Joe/Josephine) and Jack Lemmon (as Gerry/Daphne) deliver comic performances par excellence as the down-and-out musicians who find themselves on the run from the mob. Hiding out in drag as members of an all-girl band seems the most effective escape route and initially one that's quite appealing, bearing in mind the ample rhythm section of its down-at-heart Ukulele player Marilyn Monroe. All manner of farcical escapades ensue though as Lemmon decides he can now marry a playboy millionaire and Curtis gets carried away with posing as a playboy (with spot-on Cary Grant impersonation) to win over Monroe.
The gender confusion is peppered throughout with some of the most innuendo- laden dialogue you’re likely to hear and Monroe herself is a delight to watch, with the irony of her saying she's 'not too bright’ not lost on the audience.
(Catherine Bromley) I Fi/mhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 3 Nov.
COMEDY Chuck And Buck
(15) 95 mins ** H
* .- i The funniest film of all time?
You’ll find Chuck And Buck either irritating or endearing, but it's an American indie movie that makes a truth of those much overused adjectives: quirky, offbeat and oddball.
Chuck (Chris Weitz, co-originator of American Pie) and Buck (White, also writer whose credits also include Dawson’s Creek) used to suck and fuck each other, when they were kids. As the years pass, their innocent sucking and fucking has fallen by the wayside, along with their childhood friendship. Chuck left their small town home for college, moved to Los Angeles and has become a successful music industry executive engaged to a beautiful woman. Buck, by contrast, stayed at home with his mother, living in a state of perpetual childhood at 27 years of age, sucking lollipops and playing with toy cars. But the death of Buck’s mom brings the boys back together, much to Buck's delight and Chuck’s chagrin.
How this film works is that Buck wins you over. Seen through cynical adult eyes — ie Chuck’s — his behaviour is obsessive, verging on stalking. But shed that cynicism and Buck‘s semi-autistic view of the world is refreshingly simple and direct. And director Miguel Arteta places wonderfully ironic emphasis on this with candy coloured sets and a sickly sweet soundtrack that features the likes of Jonathan Richman and the Penguin Cafe Orchestra. A gem. (Miles Fielder)
I GFT, Glasgow from Fri 10 Nov; Cameo, Edinburgh from Fri 7 7 Nov. See Front/ines.
THRlLLER Harry, He's Here To
Help (18) 17 mins ****
Harry was the talk of this year's Cannes Film Festival, where all manner of luminaries were mentioned in the same breath as Dominik Moll's film: Patricia Highsmith, the Coen brothers and Hitchcock. Fair enough as it turns out; Moll's well crafted blend of suspense and mischievous humour, assured pacing and fine set pieces (not to mention an opening credit sequence Saul Bass would be proud of) places the film up there with Mr Ripley, Blood Simple and The Trouble With Harry (a coincidental confluence of Harrys?).
Without giving anything away (it's best to know as little, plot-wise, as possible about this film), harassed young married couple Michel (Laurent Lucas) and Claire (Mathilde Seigner) are en route to renovate their summer holiday home with their three demanding children when Michel bumps into Harry (Sergi Lopez), an old school acquaintance who’s driving to Switzerland with his new girlfriend, Plum (Sophie Guillemin). Having invited himself to dinner, Harry reveals his motto — a solution to every problem — and promptly goes to work.
Moll and Gilles Marchand's script remains intriguing until the last satisfying frame in a film with a title that's both ironic and uncannin accurate. And you'll laugh when you find out how eggs figure prominently in the plot. (Miles Fielder)
They suck and fuck
Hitchcockian suspense (and eggs)
I GET Glasgow & Fi/mhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 70 Nov.