THRILLEP THE MEXICAN (15) 123 mins 0...

Though it pairs two of Hollywood’s most bankable and attractive stars, Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts, The Mexican plays like a low budget indie film. It’s a road movie crime drama full of double crosses and unfortunate accidents that twist and turn the story in a constantly amusing manner.

Pitt plays Jerry Welbach, a vacant West Coast dude who's reluctantly fallen in with the mob. Jerry’s sent to Mexico by Bernie Nayman (Bob Balaban), who’s covering for his

3' ‘V' “WITH/fr: M-fianwmgrw..p

0.... Excellent 0... Good 0..

An entertaining detour from the standard Hollywood thriller

imprisoned mob boss Arnold Margolese, to recover the eponymous cursed antique pistol. Of course, this supposedly simple task turns out to be anything but, not least because Jerry’s having ‘relationship issues’ with his girlfriend, the uptight Samantha (Roberts). They’re making progress through group therapy, but when Jerry leaves for Mexico, Samantha leaves Jerry for good. Except, the mob hire professional hitman Leroy (James Gandolfini) to kidnap Samantha to ensure Jerry delivers the gun, and so the warring couple are threatened with reunion. Meanwhile, down Me-hi-co way Jerry is having trouble with both the local lingo and the local small time criminals.

J.H. Wyman’s script writes Jerry and Samantha as dumb young lovers, but there’s no getting away from the fact that the characters are one dimensional. In lieu of sinking their perfect white teeth into the parts, Pitt and Roberts turn in a couple of charismatic if monotone performances - Pitt’s all flaying arms and exasperated looks; Roberts alternates hysterical ranting with cutie pie looks. So it’ll come as no surprise that James ‘Tony Soprano’ Gandolfini steals the show. His killer with a heart dominates every scene he’s in, which are mostly with Roberts. The film’s also shored up with at least two other superb supporting parts, namely Balaban’s weasily, but dangerous Nayman and J.K. Simmons’ mob heavy who’s even dumber than dumb Jerry.

Director Gore Verbinski, who had a lot of fun with the kid’s movie, Mousehunt, keeps things moving, with the action cutting between Jerry and Samantha, on the road on opposite sides of the border. It’s plot, plot, plot that drives the film forward, while offbeat set-pieces - Jerry befriending a mangey hound, Leroy revealing a personal secret to Samantha - provide the entertaining diversions.

Originally envisioned as a modest film, The Mexican rocketed towards blockbuster status when producer Lawrence Bender (Quentin Tarantino’s main man) spotted a good prospect and got Pitt and Roberts onboard. Pitt was involved in a similar scenario with Harrison Ford on The Devil’s Own, but where that film lost the integrity of its original premise once the A-list stars signed on, The Mexican retains its plot and quirky character-driven playfulness. Even at a lengthy two hours plus, it’s an immensely entertaining detour from standard Hollywood thriller. (Miles Fielder)

I General release from Fri 27 Apr.



(15) 120 mins 0..

Unfaithful to the book, but fine eye candy

With what at first glance appears to be a Hollywood summer b(ol)lockbuster. John Madden (Mrs Brown, Shakespeare ln Love) returns post-Oscar success with this adaptation of Louis de Bernieres' bestseller. Such was the book’s success that one in twenty households in Britain reputedly own it. So we can assume the pressure was on Madden and scriptwriter Shawn Slovo to faithfully recreate the text. However. as readers of de Bernieres‘ BOO—page opus will attest. it‘s a sprawling piece of non-linear. heavily descriptive prose with multiple narrators. Though he hasn‘t remained faithful to the novel, in a peculiar way, Madden has done it justice. During World War II. Greece is taken by the Italian Army. who get the short shift. being depicted as Sun, music and lady-loving fun- seekers pretending there's not actually a war on. Captain Corelli leads a squad who enjoy the opera of Verdi and Pucini over global domination. When the Italians arrive on the island of Cephallonia. the Captain is billeted to Dr Iannis' (John Hurt) house. and Corelli and the Doctor's beautiful daughter.

Pelagia (Penelope Cruz). fall in forbidden love. But war inevitably gets in the way.

The same could be said for leading lady Penelope Cru7: she may be the Spanish beauty of the moment. but her equine grace and minimal (read poor) acting style make her an uncornpelling lead. Meanwhile. Cage. like Messrs Willis and Connery. is now such a huge star it's impOSSible to suspend imagination long enough to believe his Corelli. That said. though his Italian accent is a little patchy. his larger-than-life performance drives the narrative along when it sags. John Hurt. however, is the real star as the good doctor. philosophising. grumping and generally bringing a sheen of quality to the proceedings.

Madden has stuck to his guns and made a movie at once distinctly European - in pacmg. style and direction - and likely to appeal to American audiences. Commercial. unfaithful to the book. but still head and shoulders above any of the eye candy Hollywood has to offer.

(Mark Robertson) I General release from Fri 4 May. See feature, page 26


Average 0. Flawed O POOr Wain L ESE: ANTITRUST

(12) 120 mins 0..

The class compute” geek only had the iur‘ction at school to ensure that it was nexer too who was the ‘.‘.0ISl at sport, or most incompetent \‘.’llll the opposite sex. \'.'e should hate known that one dai. the. 'd be cashing in on all that stored ur‘ karma. But who ‘.'.’ouid haw guessed that llleu'tl haw become staple l-loilttaoutl heroes or \.il|ains'.‘

The smarmi, bad gu\ ol Armin/sf is digital pioneer Gan, Winston il'iii: Robbihsi. a t‘oia-oualting. dressed down CEO ‘.".llll the global reach ot a Gates and the morals of a prelapsarian snake. He hand picks computer genius Milo illxan Phillippei to help launch hit; nev.’ satellite ct)mmunication network. Milo is at first delighted With his challenging Work, nev. house and theme park ollii‘ir narhose t‘t?llllt3()l(?tit? is not the broken photocopier most ol us are used to, but a giant rubber chessboard.

All is not well in Silicone Valley however. Winston is already under investigation from the Department ol Justice let his monopolistic practices ino danger ol such evils from the film, Wllll product placements; for both Coke and Pepsi). When one of Mllo's old friends is killed in what looks like a racist attack. the young programmer begins to have his doubts about Winston's unfortunately named NURV corporation.

Milo soon uncovers NURV's nasty side. which features such above» board strategies as covert surveillance. intellectual theft and l.)|~bat diplomacy. As he delves deeper, he begins to doubt the motives of his colleagues and the

Hackneyed hi-tech fun

trustwortlirriess of his friends. lt soon transpires that the only way he can oppose Winston's plan to dominate the comniunicatiori industry is to use his own technology against him.

It makes for hackneyed but habitually stirring stuff. and director Peter HOV/Ill (Sliding Doorsi ensures that the early enthusrasm of Milo and friends is elating rather than irritating. But any serious message is lost in the race against time. and hardly reinstated by the film's glib concluSion that information should be free for all. Which presumably means that 20th Century Fox wont mind if this film is pirated by Napster-loving techy geeks. WOuld be damn public-spirited of them. (James Smarti I General release from Fri 4 May.

26 Apr—19 Ma, 2001 THE LIST 29