Films screening this fortnight are listed below with certificate, star rating, credits. brief review and venue details. Film index compiled by Miles Fielder.

The Adventures Of Elmo In Grouchland (U) iii (Gary Halvorson, US, 2000) Mandy Patinkin, Vanessa L. Williams, Kevin Clash. 72 mins. The pre-school, educational appeal of Sesame Street's cute furry red stalwart doesn't really transfer to cinema as well as his spiritual cousins, The Muppets. Elmo loses his security blanket down Oscar the Grouch‘s trashcan. Once inside, he is transported to the hellish Grouchland, where he must retrieve it from the hands of the land's most abhorrent resident Huxley (Patinkin). Despite sturdy support from all the Street regulars: Big Bird, Oscar. Cookie Monster, Bert and Ernie, this is strictly for the littlest family members. Odeon, Dunfermline.

The Age Of Innocence (U) *itti (Martin Scorsese, US, 1993) Daniel Day- Lcwis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Winona Ryder. 138 mins. Up-and-coming lawyer Newland Archer risks the wrath of 18705 New York society when he falls in love with the scandal-shrouded Countess Olenska, despite being already engaged. Scorsese is magnificently faithful to Edith Wharton's novel, while painting its troubled emotions with an eloquent camera. Opulent and richly detailed, with no release from the internalised pain of passion. FTH Cinema, Falkirk.

All About Eve (PG) **** (Joseph L Mankiewicz, US, 1950) Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders, Marilyn Monroe. 138 mins. Davis and Baxter are on top form in this tale of back-stage back-biting and conniving and a young Marilyn makes a big entrance in a small part. A witty and intelligent film. MacRobert, Stirling.

An Autumn Afternoon (PG) *hht (Yasujiro Ozu, Japan, 1962) Chishu Ryu, Shima Iwashita, Shinichiro Mikami.

l 13mins. A widower arranges for his beloved daughter to be wed and subsequently takes to drink to overcome his sorrow. Ozu‘s final film, during the making of which the great director's wife passed away. It's sad, sweet and beautifully observed. Edinburgh Film Guild at The Filmhouse.

The Art Of War (18) ** (Christian Duguay, US, 2000) Wesley Snipes, Michael Biehn, Marie Matiko. 117 mins. For all its hi-tech trimmings, this is a routine thriller in which undercover agent Snipes tries to unravel a conspiracy designed to scupper a US/Chinese trade agreement. The key to the mystery may lie in the writings of Japanese military strategist Sun Tsu, whose ancient book, The Art Of War, advocated destroying one's enemies from within. Duguay's hell- for-leather direction is exhausting and ineffective, the tone and pacing are erratic to the point of incoherence and the talented cast are wasted. UGC Cinemas, Edinburgh. Asterix And The Big Fight (U) *ti (Keith lngham. UK, 1989) With the voices of Bill Oddie, Michael Elphick, Andrew Sachs. 82 mins. Asterix celebrates his 30th anniversary with this new animated feature in which he and his band of plucky Gallic mates take on the might of the Roman army. GF'T. Glasgow.

The Big Sleep (PG) ***** (Howard Hawks, US, 1946) Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, John Ridgely, Martha Vickers. 114 mins. Philip Marlowe gets caught up in the peccadilloes of the Sternwood family as he tries to stop a spot of blackmail. Needless to say, the broad knows more than she lets on. Witty, sultry, atmospheric, mainstream film noir with Bogey and Bacall doing their excellent double act. Grosvenor, Glasgow.

Billy Elliot (15) **** (Stephen Daldry. Uk, 2000) Jamie Bell, Julie Walters, Gary Lewis. 111 mins. Billy (superb newcomer Bell) finds release from life’s daily drudgery, and ultimately self-fulfilment, through ballet dancing. As unlikely a leisure pursuit as that might be for a teenage boy growing up in the recession-hit Yorkshire of

A case of demonic obsession In Bless The Child, a supernatural thriller which draws heavily on far better examples of the genre to no great effect

the 805 (and that’s the point), it becomes young Billy's ticket out of hard times. Making his film debut, theatre director Daldry handles the political backdrop and dramatic foreground with equal assurance. The dance routines provide much of the film's humour and quite overwhelming feelgood factor. General release. Blackboards (PG) *tit (Samira Makhmalbaf, Iran, 2000) Saeed Mohamadi, Behnaz Jafari, Baham Ghobadi. 84 mins. A boldly uncompromising portrait of life on the margins of Iranian society. Unfolding in the mountainous region between Iran and Iraq, Blackboards follows a group of impoverished, itinerant teachers who are looking for pupils. Partly an allegory about national identity and statelessness, Blackboards also considers whether education is a luxury for those engaged in a primitive battle for survival. Makhmalbaf creates moments of acute tension alongside the dark humour. Furthermore, the non- professional cast acquit themselves admirably, whilst the striking cinematography demands to be experienced on the big-screen. Filmhouse, Edinburgh. Bless The Child (15) * (Chuck Russell, US, 2000) Kim Basinger, Rufus Sewell, Jimmy Smits. 110 mins. Basinger’s respectable career nurse Maggie is visited after a long absence by her homeless junkie sister, who swiftly disappears leaving her to bring up the apparently autistic child. By the time baby Cody's six, there’s a crowd of satanic cult followers abducting and killing children born on the day of her birth. lnevitably their leader (Sewell) claims Cody for some fell purpose to do with the devil. The knee-jerk phobias about the jobless and homeless which lies beneath the text is obvious and boring, while the film borrows endlessly and unimaginatively from better, and less immediately political examples of its kind. See review. General release.

Blue Planet (U) An awesome trip around, above and beyond our planet on the IMAX giant screen which prompted the li'ashington Post to write: ‘If a picture is worth a thousand words, one image from Blue Planet is worth a zillion'. IMAX Theatre, Glasgow.

Blues Brothers 2000 (PG) it (John Landis, US, 1998) Dam Aykroyd, John Goodman, Joe Monon. 124 mins. Eighteen years have passed since the boys brought good music back into the souls of the

masses. Jake Blues is gone to the big gig in the sky, but Elwood embarks on a crusade to re-form the original band. Now his Sidekicks are Mighty Mack McTeer, his black stepbrother and a ten-year-old orphan. On one hand, there's inept staging, stilted dialogue and rotten acting. On the other are the silly gags, car crashes - and great music. Vikingar Cinema, Largs.

Breathless (18) *‘ki‘k (Jim McBride, US, 1983) Richard Gere, Valerie Kaprisky. 101 mins. Handsome Streetwise hustler on the run from the LA police attempts to escape to Mexico with his girlfriend, a French student. Forget the fact that this is a remake of the sacred 1959 Godard classic and enjoy it on its own terms, for it's a fine, American love- on-the-run movie. Cameo, Edinburgh. Buena Vista Social Club (U) *‘hhk (Wim Wenders, Cuba, 1999) Ry Cooder, Ibrahim Ferrer, Rube'n Gonzalez. 104 mins. Cuba looks a little like the land that time forgot. A theme Wenders brings out both in the over-exposed images of Havana and also in the musical brilliance of these octogenarian and nonagenarian musicians who have for so long been neglected. And it's ironically thanks to an American, Wenders’ regular musical collaborator Ry Cooder, that their careers have been resurrected. Edinburgh Film Guild at The Filmhouse.

Cast Away (12) *1” (Robert Zemeckis, US, 2000) Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt, Christopher North. 143 mins. In this solidly told tale of a modem-day Robinson Crusoe Hanks’ FedEx systems engineer Chuck Noland, a flag-bearer for US capitalism and can do kinda guy, is marooned on a deserted island in the South Pacific after his Christmas Eve flight crashes during a ferocious storm. At a stroke, he's stripped of all the accoutrements of modern civilisation and returned to the Stone Age. But like Defoe's hero, Chuck is an Everyman who embodies the values of his age, here: energy, resourcefulness and consummate problem solving. See review. General release.

Cecil B Demented (18) the (John Waters, US, 2000) Melanie Griffith, Stephen Dorff, Alicia Witt. 88 mins. The veteran of trash filmmaking shoots down the film industry - both Hollywood and independent - in a re-enactment of the Patty Hearst story. Hearst (who has a cameo role in the film) is supplanted with film star Honey Whitlock (the game Griffith), who is kidnapped by the

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eponymous renegade auteur (Dorff) 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. Waters employs the scattergun approach, peppering the film with in jokes, some of which raise laughs. some of which fall lame. UGC Cinemas, Edinburgh.

Charlie's Angels (15) hit (McG, US, 2000) Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore. Lucy Liu. 90 mins. This update of the TV series has three chief attractions which are so pleasing on the eye it almost gets away with everything else: the gorgeous trio of Diaz, Barrymore and Liu, the outfits and action sequences. There's nothing believable about these three crime fighters and that’s why girls needn't get excited about this being a rare action film lead by women - but the lack of realism is also one of the film's strengths; its thrills and spills have a cartoonish, laws of nature-defying brilliance. On the other side of the coin, the plot is pants, the characters are wafer-thin and the jokes aren’t half as funny as they ought to be. General release.

Chicken Run (U) *ttt (Nick Park/Peter Lord, UK, 2000) Voices of Mel Gibson, Julia Sawalha, Miranda Richardson. 85 mins. For their first feature Aardman studios have re-written the World War II P.O.W. experience as an Orwellian satire, albeit with laughs. So, Stalag 17 becomes a battery farm and the camp commandant farmer 'I\veedy’s domineering wife, while in the hutches, Ginger rallies her fellow hens to fly their coop. Though the characters aren't as established as Wallace and Gromit and the feature length running time slows the action, Aardman continue to work real wonders with their familiar Plasticine animation. Odeon, Ayr.

The Children Are Watching Us (l Bamblnl ci guardano) (PG) tint (Vittorio De Sica, Italy, 1942) Ernesto Calindri, Emilio Cigoli, Giovanna Cigoli. 85 mins. When Nina leaves her husband for her lover Roberto, her son, Prico, is sent to his aunt and then his grandmother. De Sica’s film follows the anguish of the four-year-old and the eventual family reunion during a holiday on the Italian Riviera. Edinburgh Film Guild at The Filmhouse.

The Courage 0f Lassie (U) ***(Fred Wilcox, US, 1942) Elizabeth Taylor. 92 mins. In MGM's third canine adventure, everyone's favourite collie becomes a war hero. After which Wee young Liz Taylor manages to turn the scamp into a good domestic pet. Ah. The Lumiere, Edinburgh. Coyote Ugly (12) ** (David McNally, US, 2000) Maria Bello, Piper Perabo, John Goodman. 101 mins. Presumably the high concept pitch for this latest slice of wish fulfilment was ‘Flashdance meets Cocktail’. The title refers to a New York drinking spot, where the drop-dead gorgeous (female) bartenders dance suggestiver on the bar and pour shots down the customers' throats. The latest recruit to this ‘lively‘ environment is young Violet (Perabo), a girl from New Jersey who dreams of making it in the Big Apple as a singer-songwriter. Ignore the claims that this is a tale of female empowerment: the film is a tease, titillating its male viewers with its images of midriff- baring babes in halter tops and tight leather trousers, before retreating behind its 12 certificate. Selected release.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (12) ***** (Ang Lee, China/US, 2000) Michelle Yeoh, Chow Yun-Fat, Zhang Ziyi, Chang Chen. 120 mins. Jane Austen meets Bruce Lee in Ang ‘Sense And Sensibiliry’ Lee's astonishing martial arts period drama. In a fictionalised version of early 19th century China, a world of heroic warriors and deep philosophical values, Lee seamlessly interweaves the stories of two sets of lovers, and a revenge tale with a feminist twist. The fight scenes are groundbreaking, as choreographed by expert Yuen Wo Ping. At once breathtaking and beautiful, Crouching Tiger's also a cinematic landmark: it's fusion of the best elements from East and West cinema has created something wholly new. See feature and review. Selected release.

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