llISlOlllCAl DRAMAWE Sl'l llN THE ALAMO (12A) 136min O.

A protracted strangely bloodless affair

Remember the Alamo? Nothing to do with car rentals. American history teaches us that the Alamo was a mission-house held by a couple of hundred brave Texans against the several thousand-strong hordes of nasty Mexican dictator Santa Anna, way back in 1836. Given that their schoolbooks don’t reach too far beyond that point, the siege is an event fondly recalled by rednecks, historians and John Wayne fans, and probably re-enacted by combinations of them at yearly yee-haw conventions.

If you don’t belong to any of the above groups, then the hundred million dollar plus budget that Disney invested in John Lee Hancock’s vision of the story, plus the astonishing 50 acre set constructed, will probably all be in vain. The Alamo, in both military and entertainment terms, is a complete wipe-out. Saddled with a low-wattage star cast after original star Russell Crowe and director Ron Howard pulled out, Hancock battled on with depleted forces. Dennis Quaid plays a pensive Sam Houston, staring into space with such monotonous regularity it’s a wonder his soldiers don’t buy him a telescope.

Jason Patric is, to put is bluntly, dull as Jim Bowie. Even if the filmmaker’s goal is historical accuracy, a drunken knife-thrower should be more fun to watch than this. The only real entertainment comes from Billy Bob Thornton as frontier legend Davy Crockett; he appears to have modelled his self-mocking performance on much-loved law-giving cartoon canine Deputy Dawg, right down to the big black, permanently raised eyebrows. It’s in the millinery department, however, that The Alamo comes up with the goods. Aiming for authenticity rather than looking good, costume designer Daniel Orlandi has come up with a wide range of surprising headgear, including a three-cornered number for Quaid that’s worth the ticket price alone, and keeps you smiling throughout the protracted bloodless massacres.

The Alamo could be enjoyed as a trashy historical epic if it wasn’t for an unpleasant undercurrent of racism that taints the production. Much like Black Hawk Down, this film’s entertainment value depends on watching a small group of heroes pulling more than their weight when it comes to blowing away faceless foreigners. A third consecutive disaster for Disney, which passed on Fahrenheit 9/11 in order to back such ultra-conservative flops like this, The Village and Home On the Range, The Alamo is an immediately forgettable experience. (Eddie Harrison)

I Genera/ release from Fri 27 Aug.


Are you a stage beauty?

Richard Eyre. where have yOu been? No doubt picking up more plaudits for the charity work you do for the thespian community. Which is all fair and fine. as yOu are hardly the most instinctive of

14 THE LIST 26 Aug—9 Sep goo:

filmmakers but once in a while you do manage to deliver up a little gem iT/ie Plough/hair's Lunch, Irisi.

Eyre's big screen take on Jeffrey Hatcher's likeable play about the change that took place in British theatre during the reign of Charles II is that rare thing a portrait of a preCious world underlined yet made accessible by an insider's tOLich.

London in the 1660s and there is no bigger stage actor than Ned Kynaston (Bllly Crudupl. England's most celebrated leading lady. At the time women vere not allowed to play themselves on stage by law. but when little Nell Gmnn iZoe Tapperi. a frustrated actress herself, starts whispering proto feminists declarations in the ear of her oner King Charles II things change very quickly and Kynaston‘s career starts to go

down the pan, while that of his ex—dresser turned actress Maria iClaire Danesi goes in to orbit. But the world hasn’t seen the last of Ned Kynaston.

Eyre certainly knows how to attract talent to his projects lTom WHkInson. Hugh Bonnewlle. Ben Chaplin and Fenella Woolgar all do sterling work here» -- and get the best out of them Clearly using John Madden‘s Shakespeare i’li Love as a template here. Ey re Surpasses that films meagre achievements by setting his Sights on a total ifactually quite ridiculousi re-evaluation of the birth of the modern method form of acting. Eyre manages to sneak a piece of Brando-esgue indulgence past his audience b3. disguiSing it as lush. detail rich romantic period drama. Well done that man, iPaul Dalei I General release from Fri 3 Sep. See feature.

so'uL' PLANE (18) 86min 0

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The world’s first ‘black airline’

Rapper Snoop Dory). who ‘.tar‘. as a l'()€:l(:f-f;lll()l‘.lll(} pilot who learnt how to fly '.‘.’|iil ‘iiiy’ nigga/ lie the Taliban; in prison. hit back at Spike Lee. Dogg argued that the riio‘ne l') a parody in the JOIN of Air‘p/arir; and the Way/ans; brothers, filing. He", right that It is fine to laugh at oneself and the concept behind Sou/ P/arie has much comic potential, but this movie is" about as funny as being in a plane crash. The Jokes. .‘JlllCll are generall, of the ‘blaek riier‘. ha/e big dicks' variety. are tired and formulaic. “l/ithout humour, a parod/ of stereotypes Sllllpl/ becomes a reinforcement of stereot/pes. Lee may be right: this dross is demeaning. has no soul and is plane boring. lKaleerii Aftabi I Genera/ re/ease from Fri 27 Aug.