WAR BEHIND ENEMY LINES (12) 105 mins 0.
Bludgeonlng American patriotism
This film may be just what the United States wants to see at the moment. a flag- waving action adventure in which a serviceman in enemy territory single-handedly evades foreign troops while his colleagues risk everything to save him. Whether audiences on this side of the pond care for such nationalistic fare is more debatable.
Director John Moore's hardware-packed drama is loosely based on the story of US air force captain Scott O'Grady. who was shot down by Bosnian Serbs in 1995 and survived for six days in hostile territory. Here. he becomes cocky navigator Chris 'Longhorn' Burnett (Owen Wilson). forced. along with his pilot. to parachute into a demilitarised zone in Bosnia after a missile hits their plane. When a Serb army marksman kills his injured colleague. Burnett flees for his life. while his superior (Gene Hackman) organises a rescue mission.
The bravura sequence leading up to the plane crash is an exhilarating collision of fast-paced editing and airborne camera-work. but the rest of the film fails to emulate the set-up. Despite Wilson and Hackman's believable performances. there is precious little else that engages. from Burnett's hide-and-seek in the woods to some heavy-handed symbolism involving a statue of an angel. And a bludgeoning patriotism subdues any attempt to get to grips with the Bosnian conflict and NATO's involvement. the latter dishonestly personified in a French admiral who would rather let the American die than jeopardise the diplomatic status quo. (Simon Wardell)
ALSO OPENING EVIL WOMAN (15) 90 mins
You've a right to be suspicious of any director who has got where he is by making Adam Sandler comedies. Dennis Dugan is your man and his crimes against comedy include Sandler turkeys Happy Gilmore and Big Daddy. And yet in Evil Woman (aka Saving Silverman in the US) Dugan directs two of America's funniest screen actors. If you've seen Steve Zahn's hilarious turn as a stoner ex-con in Out Of Sight and Jack Black playing John Cusack's music snob record store buddy in High Fidelity. you'll know what I'm getting at.
Comedy men of the moment
In Evil Woman Zahn and Black play a pair of dim former high school pals. Wayne and JD, who attempt to keep their friend Darren (Jason Biggs) from marrying a domineering psychologist (Amanda Peet) by kidnapping her. Wayne and JD. also have this crazy idea they can improve Darren's life by engineering a marriage with his one true love. Sandy (Amanda Detmer). who is about to become a nun.
Sounds like it should be crap. but i say again: Steve Zahn and Jack Black. comedy men of the moment. One more item to note: Neil Diamond appears as himself. (Miles Fielder)
I General release from Fri 7 7 Jan.
DRAMA LOVELY RITA (15) 80 mins 0...
Austria has always been a country with a powerful sense of self-hatred. That's typified in the films of Michael Haneke (The Piano Teacher) and exemplified by it being the first
western European c0untry to vote in a
fascist coalition government since the Second World War. And Jessica Hausner's Lovely Rita is a grim.
The perfect antidote to Harry Potter
dyspeptic tale of teenage angst — a little gem of displaced therapy.
I General release from Fri 4 Jan.
THRILLER DOMESTIC DISTURBANCE (12) 89mins O.
Domestic Disturbance gives a contemporary spin to the cautionary tale of ‘the boy who cried wolf'. Twelve-year- old Danny (Matt O'Leary) has already had several run-ins with the police in the small Maryland town where he lives. But his lies and delinquency are seen as a cry for help. He's unhappy that his dad (John Travolta) has left home and that his mum (Teri Polo) is about to marry millionaire newcomer Rick (Vince Vaughn). So when Danny says he saw his hated stepfather murder a man and dispose of the body in an incinerator. nobody believes him save his devoted dad.
32 TH. LIST 4—1 7 Jan 2002
Director Harold Becker made the taut. well-acted thriller Sea Of Love. in which c0p Al Pacino anxiously dated murder suspect Ellen Barkin. but his latest genre offering fails to exploit the potential for unease and suspense in its set-up. Travolta does what he can with his underwritten part (we can tell his boat-builder character is a good guy because he builds in wood and has nothing to do with plastic) and Steve Buscemi turns in an enjoyable cameo as a weasely ex-con. But Polo is bland and Vaughn not menacing enough. and the film as a whole stumbles towards a conclusion that is both implausible and predictable. (Jason Best)
I General release from Fri 1 7 Jan.
Implaueible and predictable
Rita lives on the outskirts of Vienna. goes to a nice Catholic school and is suffocating under the pressures of wild hormones, bullying. dull parents (who do. however. have a strange penchant for keeping firearms in the basement) and the fact that her best friend. Fexi. an eleven-year-old asthmatic. seems to be dying. This grinding. Dogme-esque slice of modern misery perfectly encapsulates the feelings of nihilism and anger that accompany us all in early puberty.
The film really belongs to Barbara Osika. who plays the sour faced Rita. Hausner and DOP Martin Gschlacht manage to create a world at once privileged and full of raw, painful unspoken emotions. Anything but magical. this is the perfect antidote to Harry Potter. (Paul Dale)
I GF7I Glasgow from Fri 77 Jan; Fi/mhouse. Edinburgh from Fri 25 Jan.
COMEDY VA SAVOIR (PG) 154 mins 00..
After a three year absence. the French actress Camille (Jeanne Balibar) has returned to Paris to take the lead role in a version of Pirandello's As You Desire Me. but deSpite being married to director and co-star Ugo (Sergio Castellitto). she decides to look up her ex-boyfriend Pierre (Jacques Bonnaffe). Ugo. though. is spending his spare time away from the troubled production hunting down a forgotten theatrical manuscript. in the process encountering flirtatious research student Do (Helen de Fougerolles). whose mysterious half-brother is attempting to seduce Pierre’s ballet-teacher wife ( Marianne Basler) . . .
Va Savoir is a graceful and charming comedy of manners from veteran French New Wave director Jacques Rivette. It's backstage setting and the parallels between art and life might seem predictable. yet the filmmaker magically guides the viewer through the French capital. always alert to the romantic possibilities that connect his characters. And the casual mastery of Rivette's direction. which effortlessly weaves together the various plot strands. is matched by some sparkling ensemble performances. (T om Dawson)
I Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 4 Jan; GFf, Glasgow from Fri 7 Feb.
Graceful and charming