THE fauna ABOUT CHARLIE (12) 104mm 0

Who would you cast as a latter- day Cary Grant? George Clooney? Certainly. Pierce Brosnan? At a pinch. Mark Wahlberg? You must be joking. Well, Jonathan Demme is the humourist who has lined up one-time rapper Marky Mark opposite Thandie Newton in a remake of Stanley Donen‘s classic 1963 romantic thriller Charade.

In his defence, Demme has radically reshaped the story's male lead: Grant‘s dapper, urbane Peter Joshua, the enigmatic stranger who offers a helping hand to bewildered widow Regina Lambert (a radiant Audrey Hepburn) has been turned inside out to become Wahlberg's supposedly edgy, street-smart Joshua Peters. P

The plot is basically the same. In the aftermath of her art-dealer husband Charlie's murder, Newton’s Regina finds herself besieged both by the police (who have her down as a suspect) and by a multi-ethnic trio of menacing types who are seeking a missing 86m fortune secreted by her late spouse. Who can she turn to but the ever-solicitous Joshua? But is he to be trusted? Not according to Tim Robbins‘ buttoned-down embassy official Mr Bartholomew (the role originally played by Walter Matthau).

So far, Charlie is more or less the same as Charade. And the setting remains Paris. But Demme, who also co-wrote the screenplay, has updated the film to the present. He pays tribute to the original film's epoch, however, by filming his version in the style of the French New Wave, replacing Donen's measured classicism with off-kilter angles and hand-held camera trickery. When Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut used (and in some cases invented) these stylistic flourishes, they did so partly as a way of circumventing their minuscule budgets. Put to the service of a big-budget Hollywood film, the same tricks appear empty and meretricious.

Back in 1986 Demme breathed new life into the comedy thriller genre with the genuinely offbeat and brilliantly realised Something Wild. A graduate of the Roger Corman school of low-budget filmmaking, his movies have, since the 805, become increasingly mainstream. Charlie is clearly an attempt to return to his roots, but his touch has completely deserted him.

Buffs may derive pleasure from seeing cameos by former Nouvelle Vague icon Anna Karina (Godard's former muse and wife), singer Charles Aznavour (star of Truffaut’s Shoot the Pianist) and cult director Agnes Varda. Newton, too, is worth watching -— Hepburn is irreplaceable, of course, but Newton has something of her predecessor’s chic grace. Partnered with the charmless Wahlberg, however, she can‘t save this dismal, misguided folly. (Jason Best)

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o‘L'IS‘sCHOOL (15) 90min .0.

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Moments of inspired hilarity

lhe film's ace card rs really iii the casting though. In Wilson, Vaughn and Ferrell the filth has; three Superb pain-faced comedians; who have the Skill and talent to build up the sometimes very lacklustre laughs, into moments of inspired hilarity. Vaughn in particular chews through lllS lines With a fury and sense of timing the material sorrretrmes loesn't deserve. This may Just be the best frat house cornedy since Arr/rrra/ House. John Belusm (God rest his soul) would have approved. (Paul Dale) I General re/ease from Frr 9 May.

11*22 Mo, [/13 VNE LIST 23