FILM new releases


Flawless (15) 106 mins it hr

The best thing about Flawless are the

leads. Despite having made a lot of

duff mowes, when a new Robert De

Niro film comes out, good or bad,

Casino or Marvin’s Room, you go and see it. Same now goes for Philip f Seymour Hoffman, who after superb . character turns in Boogie Nights, Happiness and The Talented Mr Ripley, is likely to make even the worst film

watchable. Flawless isn't a 'worst film', but it’s not great either.

De Niro plays bigoted ex-cop Walt Koontz, Hoffman is drag queen Rusty.

' They share the same apartment

building and mutual hatred of each

other, but when Koontz suffers a - debilitating stroke while attempting to ? help a neighbour, the odd couple are thrown together as patient and carer.

Character study or cop thriller?

Writer-director Joel Schumacher is a bit of a Hollywood anomaly: he reduced the Batman series to parodies of the cheesy TV show, but took a stab at dark and disturbing material in the snuff mowe thriller 8 Millimeter, he churned out the naff brat pack fantasies The Lost Boys and F/at/iners, then extracted a great performance from Michael Douglas in Falling Down. Schumacher's a filmmaker firmly entrenched in the mainstream who periodically attempts to dig himself out with potentially more interesting films. Flawless falls into the latter category, but he undermines his own efforts. Why is De Niro’s character a cop? Why does a fouled-up drug deal go down in his apartment building? So that we get a bit of action in, that’s why. This is a two-header character piece; had Schumacher left it that way it might have lived up to its title. (Miles Fielder) I General release from Fri 24 Nov.


5 (15) 114 mins ***

On paper, Duets has all the potential to be a dud movie. This screenplay, about

3 the American karaoke scene (jeez), has

been kicking around Hollywood since the early 1970s, and the only plau5ible explanation as to why it has now been made is that the writer~director's daughter blossomed into Gwyneth Paltrow. But as with nights in karaoke bars, where the expectation of the singing standards is low, Duets surprises like the occasional singers who can actually hit a note.

Bruce Paltrow's film follows six people who pair up and head for the $5000 Grand Prize Karaoke Contest in

g Omaha. They are Suzi (Maria Bello), a small town girl who dreams of stardom

30 THE LIST 16-30 Nov 2000

Hits a note. surprisingly

but survives by offering sexual favours in return for services rendered, who pairs up with a theologically inclined cab driver (Scott Speedman). Playing the buddy-buddy pairing is an ex-con (Andre-Bruagher), who regrets his life wasted in prison cells, and an ex- salesman (Paul Giambiati), who is sickened by the ease with which he was suckered into the American dream.

The final pairing is a seasoned karaoke hustler (Huey Lewis spearheading in the 805 comeback groan) and his long lost daughter Paltrow, who proves to be the weak link in the film. Ironic that, srnce if it was not for her this insight into the underbelly of the karaoke culture in America would never have been made. (Kaleem Aftab)

I General release from Fri 77 Nov.


The Skulls (15) 107 mins a:

True, there actually is a long-standing secret society at Yale universny called the Skull And Bones, among whose inVited members have numbered former CIA men, busmess tycoons and Current presidential hopeful George Bush Jr. This little fact-ette, however, is more intriguing, exciting and thought-provoking than anything else in Rob Cohen’s pulpy thriller, which blends po-faced seriousness With knuckle-headed incompetence to ultimately laughable effect. Dawson’s Creek regular Joshua Jackson is the varsity rowmg star from humble beginnings who gets the call from 'The Skulls', even though most of his fellow inductees are blue-blooded mom of old money. Havmg passed the initiation rites (a touch of hairy steeplejacking), Jackson's presented With a wad of money and a new sports car, so he can live with the stringent secrecy regime. Yup, The Skulls is such a secret organisation they have their own building on campus With their logo on top, and various high-powered movers and shakers interrupting their busy schedules to usher through the new intake. And the stoopid-factor rises even higher when Jackson's college reporter pal pays the price for too much snOOping around, and our perky protagonist deCides it's time to battle for truth and justice after all; money and power go hang. ConnOisseurs of dumb Hollywood plotting Will have a ball. (Trevor Johnston) I General release from Fri 24 Nov

Dumb pulpy thriller

GANGSTER FILM Goin Off, Big Time

(18) 8 mins ***

News of another British gangster film made on the back of the success of Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels is about as enticmg as a BSE infested beef burger. In Going Off, Big Time the location has been moved from London’s East End to Liverpool and the protagonists are more endearing. The location change highlights the film’s central theme that anybody can become a gangster and that chance and circumstance plays a major role.

However, the premise implodes with the realisation that criminal Mark Clayton (played by Neil Fitzmaurice) is about as threatening as a lullaby baby. Clayton tells his story to his lawyer Stacey Bannerman (Sarah Alexander). Cue flashback to how his life of crime began When his girlfriend would not go to the cinema. This indirectly led to Clayton going to jail where he meets his mentor Murray (Bernard Hill) who explains the virtues of looking after number one.

It’s a good thing that the film places a lot of emphasis on the comic element of the lives of these wannabe gangsters. This is very amusing in parts and punctuated with sharp dialogue that makes the otherWise lacklustre Going Off, Big Time worth a look. (Kaleem Aftab)

, I General release from Fri 24 Nov.


Black And White (18) 100 mins * air it

The diva Lil Kim once asked, ’Can you be ghetto without livrng in the ghetto?’, and this question is at the heart of the latest feature from maverick writer-director James Toback (Fingers ,Two Girls And A Guy), an ambitious exploration of white teenage America’s fascination With black hip hop culture.

Beginning with a provocative interracial menage a trois in New York’s Central Park, the film darts between a series of interlocking storylines, Which provide a mosaic of meal, sexual and cultural hybridity in present-day Manhattan. The eclectic cast is drawn from various fields: alongside traditional film actors like Ben Stiller, there are icons from sport (Mike Tyson), music (Power of the Wu-Tang Clan, playing a gangster attempting to become a rap producer), and fashion (supermodel Claudia Schiffer, cast as a duplicitous social anthropology student).

The script is not without its melodramatic contrivances, particularly in the final third, but the edgy, fast-talking Black And White does see Toback’s highly improvised approach pay dividends. The must-see scene occurs where a lisping Mike Tyson is cruised first by a gay Robert Downey Jnr ('in the dream you were holding me’), and then by Brooke Shields's dreadlocked documentary-maker. Ragged, but entertaining. (Tom Dawson)

I General release from Fri 77 Nov. See Preview

Exploration of hip hop culture