ANTHOLOGY 1 1’ 09” 01 - SEPTEMBER 1 1 (12A) 135min O...
In the best traditions of French conceptual bullshit, producer Alain Brigand decided to approach eleven renowned international film directors with the offer of $400,000 to make a film that lasts 11 minutes, 9 seconds and 1 frame and would reflect their feelings about the Twin Towers tragedy. What this group of directors have to say is both powerful and in most cases dismissive of the party line.
That said the Samira Makhmalbaf (Blackboards) and Claude Lelouch (Les Uns et les Autres) segments are fairly muted cries of exasperation. Things begin to get interesting with the Egyptian director Youssef Chahine’s (AI Massir) whimsical take on how we sanctify certain dead above others. Danis Tanovic (No Man ’5 Land) breaks the polemic with his moving validation of the Srebrnica female protesters.
From Burkina Faso, Idrissa Oudraogo’s (Yaaba) episode is the most light-hearted and enjoyable. From the UK Ken Loach punches above his weight with a documentary detailing the events of 11 September 1970 when America helped remove the democratically
elected socialist Chilean government by bankrolling the Pinochet led coup. One can only hope Henry Kissinger will rot in hell. Alejandro Gonzalez Iﬁarritu (Amores Perros) takes the avant-garde route with a tantalising soundscape punctuated by the occasional image. From Israel Amos Gitai’s (Esther) film is a clever and funny condemnation of the media. Mira Nair grounds everything with a depressingly true story of post 9/11 Islamaphobia in NYC.
It’s good to see Ernest Borgnine
Dismissive of the party line
in Sean Penn’s opaque, slightly obscure section as a gurning, grieving widower encased in his own madness, but it is 77 year old Shohei Imamura’s (The Eel) short adaptation of a poem by the great Japanese poet Tou Fou that steals the show. This tale of a returning WW2 hero who believes he is a snake is bonkers and yet strangely relevant. The final word goes to a real snake who hisses the words: ‘There is no such thing as a holy war’. Damn right. (Paul Dale)
I Cameo, Edinburgh from Fri IO Jan.
DRAMA THE GOOD GIRL (15) 93min
Worried about forever being cast as Rachel Green. Jennifer Aniston has chosen to break away from her safe image as ‘that kooky actress from Friends“. And the film to achieve this break is cleverly chosen. The writer-director partnership behind The Good Girl. helmer Miguel Arteta and scribe Mike White. first made their mark in 2000 courting controversy with the marvellously edgy Chuck and Buck.
Here. Arteta and White have cast Aniston as dowdy supermarket girl Justine Last. a prom queen who's lost her crown. whose painter hubby Phil (the great John C Reilly) seems to spend more time with his best friend Bubba (Tim Blake Nelson) than he does with her. Her chance for a little excitement and a great escape comes in the shape Holden (Jake Gyllenhaal. so good as Donnie Darko). the Salinger- obsessed checkout boy who falls for her.
With less focus on her image. Aniston gives a vulnerable and accomplished performance. with the magnificent supporting cast bringing characters to life. Th0ugh The Good Girl lacks the anarchic energy of Chuck and Buck. it is nevertheless indie filmmaking at its best. Over and above the superb writing. acting and direction, The Good Girl has a dignity and class that really sets it apart. (Nick Dawson) I General release from Fri 70 Jan.
Aniston breaks with Friends
28 THE LIST 2—16 Jan 2003
SCIENCE FICTION AVALON (12) 106min 00
Japanese anime wiz Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the She/I) makes a foray into the live action arena with this sci-ti thriller about a virtual reality game named Ava/on. Set in an unnamed eastern European country (and filmed in Polish) at an unspecified future date. the action revolves around a group of young peeple who are addicted to the game in which they don body armour and hi- tech weaponry to do battle with automated opponents. Top gamer Ash (Malgorzata Formniak), who's played lone wolf ever since losing a comrade in battle (death in the game can also be death in real life, see), hears about an advanced level hidden within Ava/on, and begrudgingly teams up with a small group of players to access it.
As you'd expect. Oshii engineers some pretty stunning visuals. mixing retro communist eastern Europe sets and props with contemporary digital-effect innovations. The combination of the film‘s sepia tone and computer enhanced action is at times a thing of quite stunning beauty.
However, the story is as old as Marshall Tito's father‘s grandad. As Ava/en's players become increasingly addicted to the game. what is reality and what is virtual becomes less and less clear. David Cronenberg has explored the territory time and again. from Videodroriie to eXistenZ. Worse. thOugh, is the film's geek factor: from references to role playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons through muddled Arthurian legends to soulless goth heroes and heroines. Ava/on (the movie) is decidedly adolescent. So there.
(Miles Fielder) I Selected release from Fri 3 Jan.
CRIME DRAMA CITY BY THE SEA (15) 108min 00
City by the Sea is a stinker that manages. amazingly to play to every weakness in Robert De Niro's latter-day repertoire of iconic grins and flawed machismo. De Niro plays New York homiCide detective Vincent LaMarca. LaMarca lives a life of solitude and dedication to his work. He keeps his girlfriend. Michelle (Frances Dormand. absolutely wasted here), at arm's length until one day he has to confront his past when he returns to his old stomping ground. the deCrepit streets of Long Island. to investigate what he
Plays to every weakness in De Niro’s latter day repertoire
thinks is a drugs gangbanger murder. The main suspect turns out to be his long forgotten, abandoned son ‘Joey' Nova (James Franco).
It's a great story — it should be: it's true. based on a newspaper article written by Journalist Mike McAlary in the 19703 — but this is pedestrian stuff that limps towards its compromised and predictable conclusion.
Director Michael Caton- Jones must take most of the blame. A great theatrical director. Catch-Jones has nevertheless conSistently proved his proficiency in dull- arsed dramas (Memphis Bel/e. This Boy's Life. Rob Roy. The Jackal). He's great at dialogue but short on decent plot development and Subtlety.
There are a few compensations; it‘s nice to the gifted character actors William Forsythe and George Dzundza back in gainful employment and Karl Walter Lindenlaub's murky shit- stained Cinematography is reminiscent of Arthur J Ornitz's work on Sidney Lumet’s claSSic 70$ cop thriller Serp/co. Otherwise. hold yOur breath for De Niro's next appearance in Meet the Parents 2. And then maybe hold yOur breath a bit longer. (Paul Dale)
I General release from Fri 70 Jan. See Front.