WAR MOVIE BLACK HAWK DOWN (15 tbc) 144 mins 00
Back in 1993 American and UN soldiers were posted in Somalia, where the starving locals were at the mercy of the renegade warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid. Acting on an intelligence report, a small force of American troops entered the city of Mogadishu to capture two of Aidid’s lieutenants. What was supposed to be a precision in/out mission turned into a protracted overnight battle. At the outset two Black Hawk helicopter gunships were shot down by Aidid’s heavy- armed forces, following which the Americans fought a fifteen hour ground battle which left eighteen of
DRAMA IN THE BEDROOM (15) 130 mins 00..
Inspired by the short stOry Killings from the American writer Andre Dubus. In The Bedroom is an exceptional debut feature from actor-turned-filmmaker Todd Field. It examines. with great sensitivity and insight. the aftermath of an unexpected bereavement.
In the opening half-hour. writer- director Field establishes a powerful sense of time (summer) and place (a fishing community in Maine. New England). There. doctor Matt Fowler (Tom Wilkinson) and his music teacher wife Ruth (Sissy Spacek) are enjoying spending time with their only son Nick (Nick Stahl). who's on vacation from
their 120 dead and 73 wounded.
Over 1000 Somalis were killed or
Ridley Scott’s war movie, based on the book by Mark Bowden, recasts what was essentially a military
Politically and morally suspect
disaster as a tale of American heroism under extraordinary circumstances. Although military objectives were not met, the honour of the soldiers remains intact. Fair enough, looking out for your fellow man while under fire from rocket launchers for the better part of a day deserves some recognition.
Drafted in to dramatise these real-life heroes are a cast of handsome youngsters including Ewan McGregor, fellow Scott Ewen Bremner and teen heartthrob Josh Hartnett, as well as old warhorse Tom Sizemore and Australian Chopper star Eric Bana. Time is taken during the first 30 minutes of the film to detail around as many American characters.
The same, however, cannot be said of their Somali opponents. Recalling old diehard ‘classics’ such as Zulu and The Alamo, the dark-skinned enemy remain for the most part mute aggressive foreigners. There are three (brief) Somali speaking parts - a slimy politician, a brutal warrior and a scheming one.
Of course, this results in a one-sided view of the events, leaving many questions unanswered: just why did what seemed like the whole of Mogadishu rise up against the Americans? Why are UN forces represented as cowardly Pakistanis? Nevertheless, charges of jingosim might not stick so in the throat
were it not for the fact that Black Hawk Down’s release date has been brought forward to join a barrage
of patriotic war films currently playing to an still traumatised American public in the wake of September 11. Scott completed his film last August, and it’s since been commandeered for the propaganda war.
Technically, it’s a remarkable reenactment of modern urban warfare - bloody, messy and chaotic. Like
the opening salvo of Saving Private Ryan, Scott goes for intensive hyper-realism. Yet, although we’re clearly expected to be appalled by what we see - limbs and guts exploding everywhere - two full hours of orchestrated carnage ultimately comes across as fetishistic. Especially when the camera lingers on
helicopter gunships ejaculating thousands of rounds of steaming ammo. This is a politically and morally
suspect piece of filmmaking. (Miles Fielder)
I General release from Fri 78 Jan.
ROMANTIC THRILLER VANILLA SKY (15) 136 mins .0.
Being Tom Cruise
‘A cover of a favoorite album' is how Cameron Crowe (Jerry Maguire. Almost Farrier/3) has described his glossy Hollywood remake of the Spanish psychological thriller Open Your Eyes (Abre Les 0103). That film was originally directed by Alejandro Amenabar. who's since sought American money to make the acclaimed The Others. The publicity tag-line for Vanilla Sky is
the unwieldy 'LoveHateDreamsLifeWorkPlayFri endshipSex': a crisper alternative might be ‘Being Tom Cruise'. for it brazenly blurs the bOundaries between fictional character and real-life actor to become an inquiry into contemporary movie stardom.
Cruise's gleaming smile. his elegantly ruffled coiffure and his rippling abs are put to formidable narcissistic use in his portrayal of David Ames. a handsome and fabulously wealthy Manhattan publishing executive/playboy. He's 'Iiving the dream', enjoying casual sex with a blonde model .Julie (Cameron Diaz) and throwing lavish parties at his Upper East Side penthouse. where his private art collections includes items by Rothko. Matisse and Monet. (The latter's painting of a vanilla sky provides the film's title).
But over the c0urse of just one evening. David falls in love with the Spanish dancer Sofia (Penelope Cruz. reprising her role from Open Your EyeS). thereby incurring the morbid jealousy of Julie. A dream becomes a nightmare and our Lothario finds
himself in a prison cell accused of murder. With his mutilated face hidden behind a prosthetic shield. babbling to the psychiatrist (Kurt Russell) about a cryogenic life- extension programme.
Those familiar with Open Your Eyes will be pleased to learn that Vanilla Sky, in terms of narrative structure. has remained faithful to the vertiginous twists and turns of the original, constantly shifting between the ‘real' and the imagined. Yet the star casting in some senses backfires. stripping away much of the dark mysteriousness and unease that lay at the core of Amenabar's vision. while for all the adoration that John Toll's camera bestows on the faces and bodies of these beautiful peOple. it's a curioust unerotic picture (an instructive contrast here might be with Lynch's far more potent Mil/holland Drive). Still. Crowe is at his strongest visually in the surface details. suggesting how Our lives and imaginations are profoundly influenced by our immersion in pop-Culture.
(Tom Dawson) I General release from Fri 25 Jan.
college and who's romantically involved with a divorced mother of two. Natalie (Marisa Tomei). But the comfortable existence of the Fowlers is shattered when Nick is murdered by Natalie's-ex husband Richard (William Mapother), who at the initial c0urt hearing is released on bail. The lawyer to the Fowlers warns the couple that. even if convicted. their son's killer may only serve five years . . .
The bulk of this pOignant film explores the emotional impact of the child's tragic death on his parents. Matt attempts to follow his old routines. returning to work and busying himself in physical tasks. while Ruth retreats into herself. chain-smoking in front of the television. Both blame and resent the other for their shared loss. yet both
Sensitive and insightful
experience troubling emotions of anger. despair and the desire for retribution. DeSpite the qumtessentially American setting. and Fields alertness to the rhythms and language of a working community. this feels closer in tone and execution to similarly-themed European films such as Under The Sand and The Son's Room. Photographed in widescreen by cinematographer Antonio Calvache With an unhurried. meaSured assurance. in which stylistic indulgences are prudently kept at bay. it‘s also blessed with a series of expertly calibrated performances. not least from Wilkinson and Spacek. Fittineg for a work that always maintains a degree of ambiguity about its characters‘ motivations (did Matt. for example. enc0urage Nick's romantic relationship Out of a sense of his own desire for Natalie?) In The Bedroom provides no clear-cut clOSure or cheap redemption. Just the sense that the pain and the grief of the married couple will continue long after their act of reprisal. (Tom Dawson) I General release from Fri 25 Jan. See preview. page 20.
17—31 Jan 2002 THE LIST 21