BIOPIC BEFORE NIGHT FALLS (15) 130 mins .00.

Javier Bardem as gay Cuban author Reinaldo Arenas

Julian Schnabel’s biopic of the gay Cuban author Reinaldo Arenas arrives garlanded with praise and awards, including the Grand Jury Prize at last year’s Venice Film Festival and a deserved Oscar nomination for leading actor Javier Bardem. It’s gained more recognition than its subject achieved in his lifetime, an irony the persecuted Arenas might have found wryly amusing.

Born in Cuba’s Oriente province in 1943, Arenas embraced Castro’s revolution to overthrow dictator

HORROR DRACULA 2001 (15) 99 mins CD.

It was only a matter of time before the most famous horror villain of all time was given the Scream treatment and updated for an audience fed on a diet of self-mocking horror yarns. But these ingredients fail to deliver; Dracula 2007 feels more like a Hammer era B-movie.

Producer Wes Craven (creator of the Scream trilogy) and director Patrick Lussier (formerly Craven's editor) have located this Dracula tale in a contemporary setting. Abraham van Helsing (Christopher Plummer) has kept Dracula locked up in a vault for the past 100 years. during which time he has amassed a fine collection of antique memorabilia. The secrecy with which van Helsing guards the tomb. in tact draws it to the attention of robbers and their tomb raiding succeeds in releasing the prince of darkness (Glasgow-born actor Gerald Butler).

Thereafter the action transfers to New Orleans. There van Helsing's assistant. Simon Sheppard (Johnny Lee Millar). decides to investigate the mystery surrounding his boss's reluctance to discuss the myth of Dracula: is it more than

Fulgencio Batista while still a teenager. At the University of Havana in the early 605, he plunged into the city’s vibrant gay subculture and published his first novel at the age of twenty. In the early days of the revolution, to Arenas’ delight, Havana remained decadent and cosmopolitan. But by the late 605, the communist regime began cracking down on subversive elements. As a writer and a homosexual, Arenas was doubly suspect. Relentlessly harried by the authorities, he served two years in the notorious El Morro prison, before leaving Cuba for Florida in 1980 when Castro decided to offload such undesirables as criminals and gays in the Mariel boatlift.

Schnabel’s film is based on the memoirs Arenas dictated in exile in New York, terminally ill with Aids, before his suicide in 1990. The painter turned director finds a style in keeping with the man and his work, mixing truth, poetic hyperbole and magic realism to dizzying effect. The film conflates the real and the imagined, whether in scenes of Arenas’ lush, tropical


GET OVER IT (12) 90 mins .0.

childhood or of him cruising Havana in an open-topped car that supposedly belonged to Errol Flynn. Later, in the hellish El Morro prison, his encounters with a strict lieutenant and a flamboyant transvestite (both played by Johnny Depp) have a teasing, hallucinatory quality. Even more surreal is the sequence when Arenas becomes involved in an attempt to escape Cuba in a hot-air balloon hidden in a magnificent ruined Baroque church.

As a painter, Schnabel was self- important and bombastic (his smashed-crockery paintings were hyped to the skies during New York’s 805 art boom), but since his directing debut with 1996’s Basquiat, he has proved a sympathetic, compassionate biographer of fellow artists. He deserves much of the credit for Before Night Falls, but it is Bardem’s complex, moving performance as Arenas which anchors the film’s shifting registers and is its greatest triumph.

(Jason Best) I Cameo. Edinburgh from Fri 75 Jun; GFT. Glasgow from Fri 22 Jun.

just a story by Bram Stoker? Yep it's that type of genre- referential smart ass movie.

Simon links up with Mary Heller (Justine Waddell). who seems to have a mysterious pull for Dracula. Together they battle through a battalion of cliched jokes and set pieces laid out in Lussier and Joel Soisson's uninspired script. And yet Dracula 2001 has its moments. comic and heart-in-the- mouth, especially when Butler's Dracula is allowed to strut his stuff. (Kaleem Aftab)

I Dracula opens on Fri 75 Jun. See preview, page 26.

Has its moments

28 THE LIST 7—21 Jun 2001

Picks up where most teen dramas leave off

Ever get the feeling most couples who get it together in teen dramas will be lucky to stay together for fifteen minutes after the film ends? Well. Get Over It picks up where most of those flicks tail off. Berke Landers (newcomer Ben Fosters) is dumped by high school sweetheart Allison at the start of the film. and is walking down the road with a look of shock on his face when the opening credits roll.

That night. Allison is swept off her feet by cheesy ex-boy band member Striker. and the two enter the school production of A MidSunimer Night's Dream. Berke decides the only way to get her back is to audition himself. The play within a play allows all sorts of obvious parallels to be drawn guess who end up playing the leads? But when Berke falls for the charms of his best friend's young and exceedingly beautiful sister Kelly (Kirsten Dunst) things are set up for a chaotic. comic scramble through the first night's performance.

Get Over It isn't going to surprise anyone. but it goes through the teen rom-com motions ably en0ugh. Much of the entertainment comes from Berke's trendy parents. who think his play is ‘fly'. and Martin ShOrt. who looks like he's having the time of his life playing the school's camp drama teacher. (James Smart)

I General release from Fri 8 Jun.

COMED\ DRAMA VERY ANNIE MARY (15) 104 mins 00..

Kooky Welsh fairytale

Very Annie Marv is better. funnier and Wiser then Sara Sugarrnan's prewous comedy. Mad Cows —- MUCH better. Real depth of Character and emotion are reached here. the performances are subtle and warm. and the central character. Annie Mary (Rachel Griffiths). is a real distinctive one-off. The story exrsts in a strange world that is part Welsh Valleys- realist and part kooky fairytale. and if at first this seems bizarre then the strength of the characterisation soon allows us to suspend disbelief. We even, towards the end. laugh rapturously at the absurd spectacle of an inflated Griffiths floating around a packed theatre. and that we do so is certainly tribute to the power of the more serious elements of the film.

Annie Mary is the unlucky daughter of a mean bully (Jonathan Pryce) also known as The V0ice of the Valleys. Though in her late twenties Annie Mary's father keeps her as his house slave and denies her the chance to grow up. It IS Annie Mary's awkward journey to freedom and to reclaiming her own Singing voice that provides the poignant. romantic story for this film. Griffith's performance is memorable and heart-warming. and take note of the fact that Pryce performs his own musical numbers.

(Hannah Fries) I General release from Fri 8 Jun.