FILM reviews

SCIENCE FICTION Red Planet (12) 106 mins * r t

, 1;). ,_

SFX dwarf the human element

With Brian De Palma’s risible Mission To Mars still fresh in the memory, the portentous opening v0ice-over by Matrix star Carrie-Anne Moss, about


The Exorcist: The Director's Cut (18) 132 mins ‘k t ‘k

Writer William Peter Blatty has always griped that in eXCising twenty minutes from The Exorcist, director William Friedkin removed its moral centre and obscured its theological message. To Blatty's horror, some peOpIe thought the DeVil won.

Twenty-seven years later, Friedkin has reinstated eleven minutes of footage. Whatever the reason for this apparent U-turn, the re-editing JOb is done so lovmgly that fans are unlikely to feel cynically eprOited. Even so, Friedkin’s cuts have mostly been Vindicated by this new release, The him now feels too long, though this might not be so apparent to anyone who has not seen the original mowe, while the infamous ’spider walk’ scene merely adds a

28 THE “ST 30 Nov—1:1 Dec 2000

an ecologically-ravaged Earth and the terrafOrming colonisation of Mars With Oxygen-producing algae, does not bode well Neither does the interminable JOurney to the planet, during .i‘Jthh we learn little about Moss’ coolly professional mission commander and her motley crew: pragmatic systems engineer Val Kilmer, arrogant geneticist Tom SizemOre, truth-seeking philosopher Terence Stamp, macho fly-boy Benjamin Bratt and terraforming expert Simon Baker. But once their exploration module Crash-lands on Mars, Wiping out all their hi-tech eduipment, we’re on familiar ground Alone aboard their orbiting, damaged spaceship, Moss strips down to the essentials, makes repairs and finally re-establishes radio contact With her stranded crew. Thrown back on surVival instinct, Kilmer and company struggle to surVive blistering heat, Violent ice storms and pursUit by exploration robot, AMEE, damaged in the crash and now in aggresswe military mode. First-time director Antony Hoffman handles the impressive, if familiar- looking Visual effects well, but his steering of the human elements and underlying Big Ideas is shakier. Here, he is hamstrung by Chuck Pfarrer and Jonathan Lemkin’s pedestrian script, which lurches from dull exposition to large-scale action and low-key exchanges of dialogue. The B-movre herOics never quite match the A-movre production values. One for die-hard genre fans in a forgiVing mood. (Nigel Floyd) I General release from Fri 7 Dec.

An interesting take on an old favourite

cheap and redundant shock.

On the plus Side, there is an unsettling new scene of Regan undergomg additional medical tests that fills a hole in the plot, and a poignant moment where Father Karras listens to a tape of the girl’s voice, before she was possessed. The Oscar- wrnning soundtrack has been brilliantly re-mixed and new music added to some scenes, making the film more consistently creepy. However, Blatty’s preferred ’upbeat’ ending and some new ’subliminal’ shots of the demon face effectively dumbs the film down by making it ambrgurty-free. Nonetheless, this is an interesting take on an old favourite. Fans Will be diVided over which verSion is best, though both are several notches above what generally passes for horror these days. (Stephen Applebaum)

I Selected release from Fri 8 Dec. See Front/ines.

THRILLER The Escort (Mauvaise

Passe) (18)106mins It it t

After getting down and dirty a couple of years ago in the London-set paedophile tale, The Lost Son, Daniel AuteUiI returns to the big smoke and gets embroiled in drugs and male prostitution. This time out though he’s less avenging angel than deViI may care, as his 45-year-old Parisian literature professor goes looking for an alternative lifestyle, and can’t get enough of the hedonism London offers

Teaming up With 25-year-old Tom IStuart Townsendi, Auteuil's Pierre spends his days working in Tom’s Soho cafe, his nights prodding upmarket crumpet for cash, and dreams of writing the great novel that Will come out of his new found experiences. There's plenty here that stretches plausibility, and half the scenes offer stock decline and fall narrative deVices that play like diluted debts to GoodFe/las and Boogie Nights. Pierre promptly ensconces himself in an upmarket apartment that reflects his enlarged ego, and develops that obligatory drug habit But veteran Blier and Leconte actor-turned-director Michel Blanc relies on Loach cameraman Barry Ackroyd to give the film a bit of edge, and Blanc eschews the sort of mu5ica| accompaniment that W0uld lead us by the nose (TOny McKibbin) I Selected release from Fri 8 Dec.

MUSICAL ' The Man Who Cried

(12) 99 mins t t 1%

Hedonism in the big smoke

Sally Potter’s first narrative film since 1992’s Orlando displays similar historical and geographical sweep and is likeWise underpinned With a rigorous intellectual approach. It’s the story of an orphan (Christina RICCI), a Russian Jew adrift in Europe at the outbreak of World War II, attempting to get to America to be re-united With her long lost father. But it's also about language, how the spoken word is fallible and how music and song is universal. Oh, and it’s a mUSICal.

Not in the Golden Age Hollywood sense where the action stops for the songs. Here, the songs and action are intertWined. In Paris, where the maiority of the film is set, we meet chorus line girls (RICCI and Cate Blanchett), an Italian tenor (John Turturro) and a band of gypsies (lead by Johnny Depp). In one scene RICCI is serenaded by gypsy fiddlers, in another Turturro is forced to sing for the invading NaZIS.

The casting is canny and the performances impress, but Potter isn’t quite able to condense all of her ideas into the film's running time nor blend them into the narrative smoothly enOugh. That said, the conceit of a 99 minute fade in from the bleached out opening in Russia to the almost Technicolor finale in America works a treat. (Miles Fielder)

I Fi/mhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 8 Dec. See preview.


Cecil B. Demented (18) 88 mins * t a:

Redefining the Hollywood musical

With fifteen films under his belt since his 1964 debut Hag /n A Black Leather Jacket John Waters, now a seasoned veteran of trash filmmakirig, seems to be amusmg himself by taking pot shots at both his peers and his CrlthS. In his preVious film, Pecker, it was the pretentious New York art world. Here he shoots down the film industry, both Hollywood and independent.

To do this Waters re-enacts the Patty Hearst story, supplanting Hearst (who has a cameo role in the film) With film star Honey Whitlock (the game Melanie Griffith). Whitlock is kidnapped by the eponymous renegade auteur, played by Stephen Dorff, and his crew and forced to appear in one of his trashy films, but before Demented can yell ’cut and wrap’ she Sides With her director, fighting for the independent cause, participating in guerrilla raids on multiplex Cinemas and white collar industry lunches.

Waters employs the scattergun approach, peppering the film With in Jokes, some of which raise laughs, some of which fall lame. IneVitably, accusations of ’gOing soft' are being levelled at Waters. No one eats shit in this film (as DiVine infamoust did in Pink Flamingos), though Demented diSCiple, porn queen Cherish (AIiCia Witt) does do something filthy With a gerbil (off camera). (Miles Fielder)

I GET, Glasgow; Edinburgh, Fi/mhouse from Fri 8 Dec. See feature.

Waters targets the film industry