PRISON DRAMA MEAN MACHINE (18) mins tbc O
Piss-poor parochial awfulneaa
Try to imagine a film about a prison football team, starring Vinnie Jones, featuring stereotyped characters left over from the TV sitcom Porridge and blessed with the vintage grainy visuals, cod-Cockney dialogue and macho posturing of The Sweeney. Not easy, is it? Even when you know that the producers of Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels are behind it. In short, this is of the same level of piss-poor, parochial awfulness as Lucky Break
and High Heels, Low Lifes.
The set-up couldn’t be simpler; the execution couldn’t be more ham- fisted. Ex-footballing hero turned match-fixer and washed-up drunk Danny Meehan (Vinnie Jones) is banged up for assaulting a copper. The guards and the prisoners all resent him, because he once had everything they ever dreamed of and he threw it all away. Even so, the governor wants Danny to coach the prison guards’ football team. Danny refuses, but suggests a ‘friendly’ match between the guards and the prisoners, as a pre-season warm up. Complex political manoeuvring, side bets and the settling of old scores all come together as the game goes into injury time at 2-2.
Since most punters will be blissfully unaware of the film that ‘inspired’ this insulting remake - Robert Aldrich’s bruising, fiercely anti-authoritarian American football movie, The Longest Yard - they won’t be making any invidious comparisons. However, if this encourages just one of them to hunt out the 1974 original, then some good may come of it. (Nigel Floyd)
EXPERIMENTAL DRAMA THIS FILTHY EARTH (15) 110 mins COO.
Andrew Kotting's follow-up to his brilliantly eccentric British Isles road movie Gal/ivant is one of three low budget films funded by FilmFour's Lab scheme (the other two are reviewed below). Kotting's new film shares with Gal/ivant and his visual art output a preoccupation with the landscape. In fact. landscape informs the very texture of This Filthy Earth. which is dense with muck and mire at the expense of plot.
The stOry as such is loosely adapted from Emile Zola's novel La Terre. It concerns two sisters Francine (Rebecca R. Palmer) and Kath (Demelza Randall) who live on a rainy. windswept Yorkshire farm with their decaying parents. Two men. local troublemaker Buto (Shane Attwooll) and immigrant worker Lek (Xavier Tchili). enter their lives. bodies and home. which turns a mildly dysfunctional family into a fully dysfunctional one.
As the film unspools. the drama becomes increasingly claustrophobic. and by its rain-soaked climax you feel like you're in a downpoor yourself.
Not easy viewing, but rewarding
This is the strength of Kbtting‘s film. entering his bizarre rural world (which even has its own language). It's not easy viewing. but if you‘re prepared to get your hands mucky. it's a rewarding experience. (Miles Fielder)
I Cameo, Edinburgh from Fri 28 Dec. See preview.
THE PRINCESS DIARIES (PG) 115 mins 0
Oh boy. this film is really horrible. from sappy wish-fulfilment premise to sugar- coated execution. Shy teenager Mia Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway) lives with her boho artist other in San Francisco. Mia's a clumsy goofball, so her only friend at school is another goofball, Lilly (Heather Matarazzo from Welcome To The Dollhouse). But though Mia gets the grades rather than the boys. she breezes happily thr0ugh life. Until her paternal grandmother Queen Clarisse (Julie Andrews) arrives at her doorstep and tells Mia she‘s actually the heir to the throne of the European principality of Genovia. Thereafter. Mia suffers under the tutelage of her stern royal
granny as she is transformed from ugly duckling into a charming princess.
This critic accepts that as a thirtysomething male who. when he's not watching films reads comic books. probably doesn't have any business reviewing a film that's aimed squarely at adolescent girls who want to be Princess Diana. But what this hack has on his side is the fact that The Princess Diaries is just crap cinema. There's one joke in the film - gawky Mia falls over a lot - and there's a truly insincere Hollywood message: just being yourself is better than owning a country and being beautiful. Perhaps we'll be unlucky encugh to get a sequel. The Prince Diaries. about a St Andrews teenager who . . . (Miles Fielder)
I General release from Fri 27 Dec.
DRAMA MY BROTHER TOM (18) 111 mins 00..
There are a pair of outstanding performances at the heart of this tale of childhood friendship set in the middle- class suburban south of England. Jenna Harrison and Ben Wishaw are utterly compelling as Jessica and her non- bioligical but blood-bonded brother Tom. They are all important to the success of debuting director Dom Rotheroe's film. which he co-wrote with Alison Beeton- Hilder for FilmFour Lab's low budget filmmaking initiative.
Jessica and Tom first meet in the local forest when he falls out of a burning tree set alight by local school bullies. Jessica is intrigued by this loner and Tom seems happy to have found a friend. A powerful bond swiftly develops between them. but as Jessica discovers the reality of Tom's disturbing domestic life their friendship is pushed beyond limits.
It reads like the stuff of children's television programming. but My Brother Tom is a dark. mature piece of drama. Wholly free of cliche and trite messages and full of heart and soul. this is exactly the kind of film British cinema should be producing at its low-budget end.(Miles Fielder)
I Cameo, Edinburgh from Fri 28 Dec.
COMEDY DRAMA JUMP TOMORROW (PG) 97 mins 00.
The third of FilmFour's Lab films has an American setting and the tone of its indie films of the 80s. those which gave rise to the now much overused term 'offbeat'. En route to an arranged ». marriage at Niagara Falls, young i. Nigerian-American George (T undi Offbeat, American indie-style Adebimpe) hooks up with love-lorn
Frenchman Girard (Hyppolite Girardot) and kooky Spanish woman Alicia (Natalia Verbeke). Eventually, George and Alicia end up in a phone booth sheltering from
' the rain where they smile shyly at each other because they have fallen in love.
That director Joel Hopkins is English-born. but received his film education at New York University goes some way to explaining why Jump Tomorrow has all the offbeat hallmarks of a Hal Hartley film: bare bones script. minimal emphasis
. on performances and use of abandoned-looking locations. There's even a crazy
dance sequence. a la Hartley. Not that this makes Hopkins' film unlikeable; this reviewer for one is waiting
impatiently for more Hartley magic. It's just that it's Hartley's magic this reviewer is
waiting for. not Hopkins' homage to it. (Miles Fielder) I Cameo, Edinburgh from Fri 28 Dec.
13 Dec 2001—3 Jan 2002 THE LIST 31