Kitsch and camp whodunit/who-sung-it

MUSICAL 8 WOMEN (1 t3) 103min ’00.

Things have a tendency to turn very friggin’ weird in the features of French filmmaker Francois Ozon. Like in his first film, Sitcom: the patriarch of a quiet suburban family brings home a pet rat, a seemingly innocent act that instead results in the daughter crippling herself and becoming a sick sadomasochist, the son fucking his mother and then going gay and the father - well, he turns into a giant rat and eats the whole family. You’d be forgiven, then, for approaching his latest, 8 Women, with not a little trepidation.

Again, the action is predominantly set in one house - here, it’s a quiet country pile in rural France in the mid-19505. The elder of two siblings, young Suzon (Virginie Ledoyen), arrives home for the Christmas holidays to find her father murdered. Her mother (Catherine Deneuve), grandmother (Danielle Darrieux), sister (Ludivine Sagnier), nanny (Firmine Richard), maid (Emmanuelle Béart) and aunts (Fanny Ardant and Isabelle Huppert) are all suspects, each with their own dirty secret to tell and each with their song to sing.

For 8 Women is a musical, and a very kitsch and camp one at that. Shot in glorious Technicolor and featuring some stunning Dior-inspired costumes, the whodunit/who-sung-it format is captivating to watch, not least because the action is performed by some of France’s most famous and most beautiful actresses. Because it’s an Ozon film, the revelations given by each character are of a decidedly dark nature and while this could nonetheless be read as good clean fun, the implication that all women are dirty, cheating minxes may be considered misogynistic by some. (Catherine Bromley)

I Selected release from Fri 29 Nov. See preview. page 20.


John Malkovich's first film as a director comes as something of a surprise. Far from being the intense chamber work some might have predicted. it's a gripping political thriller based on British journalist Nicholas Shakespeare‘s acclaimed 1995 novel. The story takes place in an unnamed Latin American country where honest. underpaid police investigator Augustin Rejas (Javier Bardem) is trying to track down the shadowy leader of a ruthless terrorist organisation (clearly modelled on Peru's Maoist guerrillas the Shining Path). He has little to go on. The rebels have issued no manifesto but their actions are marked by sadistic cruelty dead dogs strung up from lampposts bearing enigmatic placards in the name of El Presidente Ezequiel. children as suicide bombers and schoolgirl assassins. The state strikes back with ferocity of its own. but Pejas strives to remain uncorrupted. his only solace a developing romantic friendship with his daughter's ballet

a Gripping political thriller

teacher (Laura Morante).

Its portrait oI Violent fanatiCism all too timely. The Dancer Upstairs is chilling. morally complex. psychologically astute and sometimes mordantly funny. As yOu'd expect. it's also superbly acted. above all by the magnificent Bardem. (Jason Best)

I Selected release from Fri 6 Dec.

22 THE LIST 28 Nov—i2 Dec 2002



(PG) 108min I.

It is London in the Blitz. 1940. Two high- Spirited beautiful girls fall in love With two Canadian soldiers and promptly marry them. Lily (Anna Friel) gets up the duff and has a baby girl. Life is hard; she is a single parent with help from her friend Sophie (Julie Cox) making ends meet in bomb-saturated London. Then the pair get transportation notices to stay in Canada with their sweethearts families. while the boys are away fighting. When they get there. Sophie is welcomed with mink-clad friendly arms and Lily is greeted with scorn and disgust by Charlie's penniless and bitter farming family comprising mother (Brenda Fricker) and crippled sister (Molly Parker).

The film is baSically Lily's struggle against adversity. a cheeky cockney with a heart of gold bringing her 'city ways to simple country folk'. Friel plays the part faultlessly: it's just that the script is


Faultless performance, awful script

bloody awful. The Cinematography and costume desrgn. entailing Vibrant contrasts and nicely framed shots. are almost the film's saying graces. But overall The War Bride is like a boring episode of The Waltons set in Canada. (Caroline Mason)

I Selected release from Fri 29 Nov.

Flexing vocal cords


(12A) 76min (unable to review at time of going to press)

He's not exactly going from strength to strength. but Adam Sandler certainly ain't work shy. Having just taken a shot at remaking Capra with Mr Deeds and soon to be seen (and apparently pretty good) in Paul Thomas Anderson's Punch Drunk Love. Sandler here flexes his vocal cords to play the lead parts in this animated

comedy musical with a festive flavour.

Davey Stone is a regular Joe whose party animal behaviour gets him in trouble with the law and sees the fella forced to undertake community service over the holiday period. Said service involves playing assistant to youth basketball referee Whitey Duvall (also Sandler). a good-hearted eccentric who unwavering optimism works at odds with Davey's trouble-making. Crazy nights ensue. (Miles Fielder)

I General release frOm Fri 6 Dec.


Making a habit of starring in films that have '2' in their title probably isn't a good move. Tim Allen. after his long and Successful career in Home Improvements has graced Toy Story 2. Jungle 2 Jung/e and now Santa Clause 2. That's qune a few 2's he's notching up and so it only seemed fair to give his latest the Winning number.

Not that it's completely dreadful. But

Be warned

the orgasm of all-American cutesy ‘San'a. San'a - you're the best' is hard to S‘.‘/LIIIO‘.'J. In case you're wondering. Santa's not getting fatter this time. in fact he's shedding weight faster than Nigel Lawson. It's all part of the de-Santafrcation process. set off because chief elf didn't read the small print of Santa's Clause igeddit’h. He needs to find a Mrs Clause Quick before Tim Allen's real features en‘erge fron‘ behind the beard

and podge. This is an emergency.

What's truly disturbing is that in order to do this they make an extra Santa tarnich has Allen (the guy loves it) in a plastic and rubber incarnation. Scary Kids WI“ probably love it. but you have been warned. (Ruth Hedgesi

I General release from Fri 29 Nov.