The only possible reason to see this film is for use as a benchmark for Cinematic awfulness. ‘Goodness'. you'll be able to say. ‘that was almost as bad as Valentine. iAiirl. amusingly-enough, it's directed by one Jamie Blank, who's certainly firing . . . ). The hopeless slasher-flick opens '.’/llll a bevy of teenage beauties being inexcusany mean to a goofy classmate at a Valentines ball, Culminating in one of the popular gang falsely accusing him of sexual : ssault. Understandably, the guy's a bit miffed and returns to hack the lot of them to bits while wearing a mildly scary mask. after sending them mildly scary Valentines cards. Unfortunately. he's not the most imaginative serial loony. so the set pieces involve indiscriminate chOpping rather than the Currently de rigeur Wisecracking and hilariously apt despatch methods. The main hitch, though, is that it's impossible to feel the slightest bit of sympathy for the stalked heroines. since they have grown up to be utterly vile, spoilt and stupid women. to the extent that one could almost sympathise with their one—time whipping boy, if only he had the nouse to off them With a bit of style. Add to that a typically woeful performance from Denise Richards and a disappointing turn from Angel's moody hunk DaVid Boreanaz, and you have a bit of celluloid fluff that should never have made it past the studio exec's in-tray. (Jack Mottram) I General release from Fri 73 Apr.

Benchmark for cinematic awfulness


Packs a powerhouse punch

[)H/«Wl/‘x GIRLFIGHT (15) 113 mins 0...

Karyn Krisaiia's ‘3Il'lklllg debut feature sports. executive ()llnlllt‘mf) b3. .John Sayles who also makes a cameo £l()()ft£tldl‘.l e. is set to follow Bovs Don't Cry as this year's /\iiw:i'iraii indie success story.

l’ueizo Hican American teenager Diana (astonishing new contender lvlichelle Rodngucv) is rebelling without a cause. both at school and at home in her run—down Brooklyn. New York neighl>ourhood. But when she takes over her Wimpy. loving brother's boXing lessons at a local gym Diana finds something she never had before: self-worth. Of course. boxrng being traditionally a man's world she encounters resistance from, variously, other fighters. coaches. [)r()lll()l(2lf3 and. most challenging of all. her drunken father.

Cir/light follows the grand tradition of American boXing films. But where. say. Paul Newman's slugger in Somebody Up There I IAOS Me and Robert De Niro's beast in Raging Bull were hell-bent on selfdestruction, Within the ring and Without, Rodigue/s Diana fights her way out of her own personal hell. This is Gir/figlit's strength: what Kusama's film shares with the best sport films is that it's about more than the sport itself. The fight scenes are tough. tense and dynamic. but from the get go this raw low-budget film packs a powerhouse punch that's more to do with what's going on inside the protagonist '5; head than what she does in the ring. A remarkable debut for both Kusaina and Rorliigiie/. (Miles Fielder) I (El-T. ( 3/asgow; Cameo, Edinburgh from Fri 20 Apr. See prey/ow.

MALENA (15) 92 mins 0.

Two years ago, Monica Bellucci blazed briefly across UK cinema screens as a mute, gun-toting, leather-clad gangster’s moll in the flashy French action thriller Dobermann. She has little more to say in Giuseppe ‘Cinema Paradiso’ Tornatore’s glossy period film - but this time, sadly, we don’t get to see her coolly blow open a bank doorway with a giant rocket Iaunchen

Bellucci's role in Malena is almost entirely passive. An outsider in a small Sicilian town during World War Two, she is regarded by the locals with a mix of lust, envy and suspicion. We first see her - along with the film’s 12-year-old narrator, Renato - on the day Mussolini’s Italy joins the war. Renato and his horny school friends sit on the sea wall outside her home and watch her stately, hip—swaying progress into town. Renato gets his first erection. So does Tornatore’s camera. He is so in love with

26 THE LIST 12—26 Apr 2001

Malena’s voluptuous beauty that he repeats this shot again and again. Malena promenades into town: the men all leer; she strolls back again: the women cluck disapprovingly.

In the meantime, we learn next to nothing about Malena save that her absent husband is in the army and her deaf father is the town’s new Latin teacher. She is a blank screen on which the town projects its desires and fears. We see her, however, through Renato’s devoted eyes, as he spies voyeuristically on her and turns her into the co-star of his masturbatory fantasies. He himself features in these movie-like dreams as detective, cowboy and vine-swinging Tarzan. In waking life, he wishes he were big enough to be her protector. All he can do, though, is spit in the drink or pee in the handbag of two of her detractors. He is powerless to prevent her increasing degradation as the war wears on.

There is something offensive about the way Tornatore uses Malena’s fate to provide his young protagonist with a lesson in the

Whimsical and offensive

realities of the adult world. He tries to have it two ways: to objectify Malena and treat her as a victim. But his film’s mix of whimsical coming-of—age comedy and finger- wagging moral fable leaves the viewer feeling queasy.

(Jason Best)

I GFF Glasgow; Fi'lmhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 73 Apr.



(15) 93 mins .0

A .‘rirr‘it‘ film 'ioir of forced laughs aim: uiilikeabie oliarar‘te“ Nt‘ii".'."ill.tli director Harald .".'..irt's llll‘.‘ follows three 'rten ensiiared l‘. the» sarrre feiiriiie tatale. ‘.'.'.'~.o, relate their ‘olletitixe st it» :39 in, tron: tllllt‘lt‘lll ()(rliilif'l‘il‘.i‘fl, li‘a:;'\>'rm'> style.

late one niririt, bartender Hand, it\.l.itt [)illon, playing lllt e but (llll‘. for the uinpteeiitn tiinei helps out sexi. \,()llll().'.I)ll1{lllJCT/(llili. lyleri aft-J she is attacked l)‘, a ‘.'lr)ir?lll boyfriend. ll) tact. she's iii on a burglai‘. ‘;r1.llll Wllll her supposed (ssailarit. but ends up cohabiting with Randy after she unexpectedl‘y shoots the thief l’aul Heisei' as Raridr, 's sf ~lf important attorney cousin and John Goodman as a sweet

Half-baked film noir

natured detective are also instantly smitten 'with Jewel, who manipulates their drooling desire for her iii ruthless pursuit of a nice little place to call her own.

Despite a few inventive comic touches la Village People gag, Michael Douglas' bouffanted cameo appearance). the movie can't drag itself away from Tyler's over— pneurnatic pouting act. which is supposedly intended to be ironic but Just comes across as half-baked. Unlike. say. Linda Fiorentino lll The Last Seduction. this film offers no furti‘xe pleasure in watching an intelligent. amoral woman have her Wicked way. and becomes increasingly improbable as the one—note Tyler gives the sad trio what they deseme.

(Simon Wardell) I General release form Fri 20 Apr.