FILM new releases
SCIENCE FICTION Pitch Black
(15) 110 mins hurt
A smart, mid-budget sci-fi movie that recalls the creative heyday of John Carpenter, circa Escape From New York. Their spaceship damaged by a meteor shower, the members of an inter-stellar mission awake from cryo- sleep to find their captain dead and their craft out of control. Inexperienced docking pilot Fry (Radha Mitchell) crash-lands it onto a parched, inhospitable planet, lit by three suns that 'never set. This is bad news for psycho prisoner Riddick (Vin Diesel), whose eyes have been surgically altered to give him night vision. With some help from Fry, tough-talking lawman Johns (Cole Hauser) tries to rally the survivors, including an effeminate antiques collector, a
Smart no-nonsense sci-fi B-movie
Moslem cleric and a young boy.
Shortly afterwards, they discover an abandoned human settlement and learn that the land of the midnight suns is due for a periodic eclipse, one that unleashes thousands of voracious flying creatures, which navigate by radar and eat everything they hear. The sun-baked planet and hammer-headed predators are strikingly visualised, but it is the internal group dynamics that engage one's attention. Director David Twohy (The Arrival) cleverly exploits the relative anonymity of his cast members, subverting our expectations about which of them will survrve. Those you think you can trust turn out to be the last ones you can rely on, and vice versa. Don't be put off by its twice- delayed release, this was worth waiting for. (Nigel Floyd)
I General release from Fri 70 Nov.
Unremarkable rom-com saved by likeable leads. almost
ROMANTIC COMEDY Loser
(12) 95 mins ***
Another American rom-com about another unlikely romance between another couple of young college grads, which is almost saved by its likeable leads. Almost.
American Pie's Jason Biggs (the cherry pie shagger) plays another dork (hence the title), here small town scholarship student Paul Tannek who's overwhelmed by college life in New York. His dad's (Dan Ackroyd) homespun philosophy about how to get on in life ('interested is interesting') doesn't serve him well in the unfriendly big city, and because he's so not cool his roommates victimise him. Meanwhile, fellow student Dora Diamond (American Beauty's Mena Suvari) finds college life equally unmanageable: she loses her job, has nowhere to live and is manipulated by
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her sleazy English Lit. professor (the marvellous Greg Kinnear). Then Paul and Dora meet and the rest is history, because no one will be surprised by the hard won but inevitable romance that blossoms between these two ’losers'.
Writer-director Amy Heckerling scored high with her previous teen flicks Fast Times At Ridgemont High and Clueless, but Loser brings her grade average down. Like Paul, Heckerling's film is well-meaning but dull, interested in its characters but uninteresting and not all that funny. This is a shame because Biggs brings an admirable honesty to his part, though Suvari is less impressive, playing Dora at 2D emotional extremes: angst and rapture.
That said, look out for Biggs' unwitting but uncannily accurate impersonation of Robert De Niro circa Mean Streets. (Miles Fielder)
I General release from Fri 3 Nov.
V Also OPENING
Grey Owl (PG) 18mins
Back in 1937, when septuagenarian Oscar-winning actor, director and peer of the realm Richard Attenborough was just a wee laddy in shorts, he queued with his brother David outside his local town hall in Leicester to see a wildlife lecture given by a half Scottish, half native Canadian Indian man named Archibald S. Belaney, aka Archie Grey Owl. Such was the impression that this charismatic trapper-tumed-environmentalist made on the young boy — and audiences thr0ughout Britain and Canada, where he lived in the wilderness — 63 years later Attenborough made an adventure film about Belaney.
Pierce Brosnan files away his 007 license to play Belaney, a sound piece of casting bearing in mind this early eco warrior was a star attraction in his time — he was billed as the modern Hiawatha and had a pet moose named Charlie. And conveniently enough for the filmmakers, history provides them with romantic interest. What brought about Belaney’s change of heart towards the environment was his love for a part Mohawk woman named Anahareo (played in the film by Annie Galipeau), who found hunting and trapping abhorrent.
Attenborough's back on his favoured, if well trod ground — biographical films about heroic men, see also Gandhi and Cry Freedom — with another handsomely filmed, solidly told tale. (Miles Fielder)
I General release from Fri 3 Nov.
Purely Belter (15) 98 mins ﬁr at 32 a
Brosnan plays Attenborough hero
Following in the footsteps of Mark Herman’s previous two feature films, Brassed Off and Little Voice, Pure/y Belter is another wonderful mix of poignant comedy and social comment with superb performances from a relatively unknown cast. Based on Jonathan Tulloch’s novel The Season Ticket, the story concerns two broke Geordie teenagers, Gerry (Chris Beattie) and Sewell (Greg McLane), who attempt to scrape together enough cash for two season tickets to their beloved Newcastle United’s St James Park. Their increasingly hair-brained schemes create a number of hilarious set pieces, but the film also has more than its fair share of bittersweet realism.
The thing that really makes this film, however, is the excellent cast. The performances from the two unknown kids, Beattie and McLane, are exceptional if a little rough around the edges, and there are a handful of delightful showings from the supporting cast. Kevin Whatley (Sergeant Lewis in Inspector Morse) is the lads’ strict teacher, Tim Healy (Auf Weidersehen Pet, Common As Muck) plays Gerry’s bastard of a dad with obvious relish and Roy Hudd (yes, that Roy Hudd) turns in an astonishingly moving performance as Sewell’s senile dad. All in all a hugely entertaining film and another great British comedy. (Doug Johnstone)
I General release from Fri 3 Nov. See preview
L'Humanité (18) 148 mins at at J: a» at
Poignant comedy and social comment
After debuting with the enigmatically theological La Vie de Jesus, Bruno Dumont returns with a film that pushes the spiritual issues even further from immediate Epiphany.
Centring once again on a small town homebody, Dumont observes police officer Pharon de Winter (mesmerising non-professional performer Emmannuel Schotté) with a scrupulous eye, but refuses to offer information that would allow us to condemn or condone. For as Pharon half- heartedly investigates a child abuse murder we might suspect that it is he who is responsible for the crime. But then again we could just as easily arrive at the conclusion that it’s his insistent humanity that leaves him more interested in his Own sense of dismay over logistical detective work.
Clearly influenced by Bresson but by no means beholden to the master's
aesthetic, Dumont often uses long takes to maximise the ’viewer's observational potential. What are we to make of Pharon’s lengthy cycle trip into the countryside, or the moment where he sniffs around a drug dealer’s sweaty neck?
Booed at Cannes yet awarded the Grand Jury Prize, hammered by Time Out and, .
initially, Sight And Sound, but adored by The New Yorker and Film Comment, the film has divided critics. Will it now, equally, divide the paying public?
I Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 70 Nov. See Front/ines.