(15) 118 mins 00.
1973. Rock music was marinating in its own juices, Altamont had capped the hippie dream and progressive and glam were knocking on the door. The brilliant music journalist Lester Bangs (played here with jaundiced aplomb by Philip Seymour Hoffman) was already in semi-retirement and sex, drugs and groupies had long since bypassed the necessity to play decent music.
Into this world steps the very green William (Patrick Fugit), a gifted fifteen- year—old who wants to write about music. His psychotic, over-protective mother’s mantra ‘Don’t take drugs!’ has not prepared William for the world he is about to inhabit. He wins a
surprise commission from Rolling Stone magazine to follow up-and- coming band Stillwater on tour. Stillwater are like a second-rate Eagles with a bit of Foghat thrown in and are destined to become lorry drivers’ favourites. Pretty boy guitarist Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup) bonds with William, but is in love with uber groupie Penny Lane (Kate Hudson) who, of course, little William has a huge adolescent crush on.
Cameron Crowe is an instinctive and clever screenplay writer, here delving into his own personal history. He has learnt at the altar of Billy Wilder and in terms of conveying the subtleties of human interaction, and making his audience really care for the characters, Crowe excels. If only he wouldn’t direct. Like his debut Singles and the overrated Jerry Maguire, this feels like an odd hybrid of bad TV movie and overblown Hollywood weepie - a decent tone or balance is never quite struck. There are, however, some hilarious set pieces and the first two thirds of the movie really bubbles along nicely. Sadly, though, that ain’t enough. (Paul Dale)
I Available to rent on VHS and DVD from Mon IO Sep through Columbia Tristar.
COMEDY BEST IN SHOW (12) 87 mins 00..
Spinal Tap star Christopher Guest returns to that film's mock- documentary format directing and appearing in this semi-improvised comedy about dog lovers. The action centres around the Mayflower Dog Show. in which various eccentric couples enter their beloved pooches. From Michael McKean (another Tap alumni) and John Michael Higgins gloriously camp gay couple to Parker Posey and Michael Hitchcock's hideously dysfunctional yuppies. the contestants are a hoot. It's difficult to single out stars of the show. but honourable mention must go to Eugene Levy (also co-writer) man with two left feet and Fred Willard's show commentator who has the best lines: ‘To think, in some counties they eat these dogs.‘ Hilarious. (Warner VHS and DVD retail)
THE GIFT (15) 107 mins 00.
Clairvoyant Cate Blanchett supplements her welfare checks
doing card readings for the inhabitants of a small American backwater township. She starts to have terrifying visions aﬂernch.and promlSCLlOUS society girl Katie Holmes goes missing and the finger is pointed at violent redneck Keanu Reeves. Billy Bob Thornton's script provides an excellent snap-shot of life in the deep south whilst never degenerating to stereotypes. and offering a Sufficiently twisting plot to keep you guessing till the end. Directed at a leisurely pace. too leisurer at times. by Sam Raimi this is far superior to other Sixth Sense wannabes doing the rounds. (Warner VHS and DVD rental)
SS CONGENIALITY (12) 106 mins 00.
Sandra Bullock is a rough. tough FBI agent who don't take no shit. She also doesn't even know what a comb looks like. A beauty pageant comes under threat and guess who is the best The Bureau can come up with to go under cover as a
108 THE LIST (3 Sop-’20 Sep 2001
contestant? Bullock is primped and primed by retired beauty consultant Michael Caine. and what a surprise. she turns Out to be gorgeous. Of course. she learns to respect beauty pageant entrants. saves the day and finds love along the way. The cast all look like they are having a real laugh. particularly a wonderfully camp Caine. and this rubs off making for a fun but totally inconseguential ride. (Warner VHS and DVD rental) (Henry Northmore)
THRILLER 1 3 DAYS (12) 145 mins 0...
1962. Russia starts placing missile sites in Cuba aimed at America. The US military want immediate retaliation: the Kennedy brothers and their trusted right hand man Kevin O'Donnell (Kevin Costner) want to avoid war at all costs. An intricate game of diplomacy is set in place in the corridors of power over the next thirteen days during which the world teetered on the edge of catastrophe. This is fascir‘rating stuff. well plotted and immaculately performed by all. Though
horrendously overlong and a little loose with the facts (why no mention of the Kennedy sanctioned Operation Mongoose plan to assassinate Castro) this is compelling apocalypse revisionism. (Buena Vista VHS and DVD rental) (Paul Dale)
WHAT LIES BENEATH (15) 124 mins 0...
Robert Zemeckis ruthlessly — but lovingly too - plunders Hitchcock's box of suspense tricks with this tale of murder with a supernatural twist. Harrison Ford's Dr Norman Spencer is the penecthusbandto Michelle Pfieffer's model housewife Claire. But Claire begins hearing vcices and seeing the ghostly apparition of a young woman, all of which points to the one mistake the Doc made a year ago. Zemeckis piles red herring upon herring,
- twisting and turning the
plot in a most agreeable manner. and despite his cribbing from Hitch, ratches up the suspense to almost unbearable levels. Nice performances from the leads too. (Fox VHS and DVD retail) (Miles Fielder)
ALSO RELEASED Blood: The Last Vampire (Manga VHS and DVD retail) Japanese animie sci-ti fantasy. highly regarded by westerners such as James Cameron and Andy ‘The Matrix‘ Wachowski.
Born Romantic (Fox Pathe VHS and DVD rental) David Kane‘s London rom-com follow- up to This Year's Love. The Green Hornet - The Movie (Revelation Film VHS retail) Double episode of the pulp action TV show from the 608 which first introduced the western world to Bruce Lee. The Watcher (Universal VHS and DVD rental) Serial killer thriller starring James Spader and Keanu Reeves as his evil nemesis.
The Wedding Planer (Fox Pathe VHS and DVD rental) Rom-corn with Jennifer Lopez as the professional planner who can't get her own love life sorted.
DOCUMENTARY SIX WIVES OF HENRY VIII Channel 4, Mon 10 Sep, 9pm 0000
Many women make the mistake of marrying a man in the hope that he'll change. But it's hard to imagine quite what wives three—six were expecting when they walked up the aisle with fat Henry. We can excuse Catherine of Aragon who. being the first. had no idea what she was letting herself in for. Even Anne Boleyn. the second. thought divorce was the worst that could happen. But after her beheading. surely any sane woman would realise Henry was never going to make it to a Ruby anniversary. Which is what makes David Starkey's series so fascinating: what were these women thinking? As it turns out. all kinds of things. In part one. we learn that Catherine of Aragon had a razor sharp mind. capable of running the country in Henry's absence. Her inability to produce a male heir however. meant she had to go. But there were plenty more where she came from . . . (Kelly Apter)
LOST HIGHWAY Channel 4, Tue 11 Sep, 1am .0000
Bill Pullman's sax player Fred Madison answers his Los Angeles home intercom and a disembodied voice says. ‘Dick Laurent is dead'. Thus begins Madison's descent into murder and madness. Of course. this being a David Lynch film noir. nothings that straight forward. Around the halfway mark Madison's stery takes a wild detour and logic goes right out the window. replaced by bewildering nightmare. Originated by Lynch and novelist Barry Gifford from a single phrase that became the
film's title. Lost Highway alternates between wry humour and electrifying terror. It's a delirious experience boosted by magnetic performances from Pullman, Patricia Arguette. Robert Loggia and Balthazar Getty and a mesmerising soundtrack featuring the fake cocktail lounge jazz of Barry Adamson and the buzzsaw thrash metal of Rammstein. And. in one of the
weirdest scenes ever
committed to celluloid. the actor currently under suspicion for murdering his wife. Robert Blake. makes a chilling appearance as the Mystery Man.
GAS ATTACK Channel 4, Tue 18 Sep, 10pm 0000
When this made-for- television film about a terrorist attack on Kurdish asylum seekers in a run-down Glasgow estate premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival just days after a Kurdish man living in Sighthill was murdered. Glasgow City COuncil considered a ban while the Edinburgh screening drew outraged protestors. But this scarifying film dramatises the plight of the aSylum seekers. through the experiences of a father and daughter. That it's fiction became horrifying fact underscores the shameful state of the UK government's immigration policy.
And the fact that Gas Attack was made on a tiny budget using non- professional actors effectively adds to its terrible sense of urgency. Production values are minimal. but the film's message is maximised. This should be required viewing, not just for the public but figures of authority. Gas Attack deservedly won