MYSTERYV’CRIME/DRAMA CRASH (15) 113min 000.
Told in the portmanteau style of Robert Altman’s Nashville and Short Cuts, Crash is an intriguing look at modern day racial tension in Los Angeles. As with Amores Perros, the big incident that makes the lives of the whites, blacks, Latinos and Koreans cross paths is a car crash. Directed by Thirtysomething creator and Million Dollar Baby scribe Paul Haggis, this film depicts LA as an enigmatic city that houses a hotchpotch of characters sharing one common flaw - a predilection for racial stereotyping and prejudice. Haggis’ unnerving viewpoint is that racism is not just confined to racist cops but will surface in times of crisis and - in this example - equally afflict African American politicians and Iranian shopkeepers. For the first two acts Crash is a brilliant treatise supported by some fine acting, notably from Matt Dillon, Terrence Howard and Shaun Toub. It’s told with a searing panache that comes to a boil as characters are forced to confront their own prejudices. Commendable in it’s own way despite falling apart in it’s final act when it becomes too black and white. Haggis, in trying to turn the initial impression of every character on its head, over-eggs the pudding and slightly undermines this otherwise bold, unnerving and insightful work, which is already getting early Oscar buzz Stateside. Film of the week without a doubt. (Kaleem Aftab)
I General release from Fri 72 Aug.
The Perfect Catch might be scripted by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel (who preViously collaborated on Robots). but the east coast jock and nerd culture and the sporting milieu are personal to the co-directors. In a way. Hornby's tragi-comic tale about a sad bloke so in love with the beautiful
ROM-COM THE PERFECT CATCH (PG) 103min «0
Bobby and Peter Farrelly's transatlantic take on Fever Pitch. Nick Hornby's book about an obsessive footy fan. arrives retitled. with the action relocated from London to Boston and football replaced by baseball. Purists may balk at the substitution of the Red SOX for Arsenal FC. but just as Stephen Frears' Americanisation of Hornby's High Fidelity was painless (and pleaSingly personalised) so too do the Farrelly brothers successfully retain the essence of the original while introduCing elements of their own.
18 THE LIST I I 18 Aug 200:3
game he can't hold on to a girl is perfect material for the Farrellys. Their gross-out comedies. from Dumb and Dumber to Stuck on You. have unerringly (and surprisingly charmingly) championed the underdogs. nerds. nuts. freaks et al.
Here. Saturday Night Live luminary Jimmy Fallon plays schoolteacher and closet Sox obsessive Ben as a Jekyll and Hyde personality. He woos Drew Barrymore's high-flying exec Lindsey swiftly enough. but before long his geeky brand of fandom (and her workaholic ways. as it turns Out) threaten to sink what could be a beautiful relationship. Unsurprisingly, the Farrellys' film has also retooled the romance. focusing on it more than Hornby did. But Fallon and Barrymore make for a likeable and funny couple. even if this reasonably amusing film doesn't quite hit a home run.
(Miles Fielder) I General release from Fri 5 Aug
ACTION-ADVENTURE THE ISLAND (12A) 136min 00
For once. US audiences have shown some critical acumen by staying away from Michael Bay‘s preposterous 8125m clone story. The first time since Pearl Harbour. Bay (The Rock. Armageddon) has seen one of his films tank, proving there is some justice — even in Hollywood. To be fair. the film (written by Caspian Tredwell-Owen) starts with an interesting idea. Pacified by the thought of heading to the titular paradise. a group of clones are being engineered (by evil tycoon Sean Bean) to supply rich human ‘sponsors' with anything from a new heart to a skin graft.
But after Ewan McGregor's rogue clone makes some inquiries. he and fellow fake Scarlett Johansson escape their underground prison and head for the real world. pursued by Djimon Hounsou‘s bounty hunter as they try to prove that clones have feelings too. Unable to resist. Bay presses the ‘action' button here — and as the hardware rolls in, the credibility ships out. While there is a nice line in self- referential humour when the clones encounter their human equivalents (McGregor's is a speed-freak; Johansson's is a Calvin Klein model. with the film even using footage from the actress' real CK commercial). this is as good as it gets. Two movies rolled into one. the dumb one wins hands down. (James Mottram).
I General release from Fri 72 Aug.
HISTORICAL MELODRAMA THE RISING (12A) 135min 0..
Released to coincide with Indian independence day on 15 August. The Rising is set during India's First War of
Independence between 1857 and 1858. The story focuses on the freedom fighter Mangal Panday IAamir Khan). a soldier in the army of the British East India Company. During the First War of Independence. the company introduced new rifles that used the fat of cows and pigs to grease the cartridges. contrary to the religious practices of the Muslim and Hindu troops. Panday led a mutiny against his former employees.
This verSion of Ketan Metha's huge
epic has been conSiderany shortened to make it more amenable to British tastes and some of the most melodramatic moments have been culled. Unfortunately, this does not paper over all of the cracks. The British members of the cast. led by Toby Stephens — playing a friendly British commander — are posmvely uncomfonable With the still showy method of acting. The obligat0ry Bollywood songs are of poor quality and are out of kilter With the tenSion of the narrative. It's a shame because the central stOry and the dynamics of power explored by The Rising are first class and in keeping With the traditions of the 50s golden age of Indian cinema. (Kaleem Aftab)
I Selected release from Fri 72 Aug. See prewew. page 17.
(U) 103min 0000
A homage from Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien to the great Japanese filmmaker YaSLljlfO Ozu. the luminously shot Cafe Lumiere meanders through contemporary Tokyo in the company of a pregnant twentysomething writer Yoko (Japanese pop star Yo Hitoto). who has no intention of marrying her future child's father. and her shy bookselling friend Haiime (ZatOichi's Tadanobu Asano). The plot may be almost non- eXIstent. but who cares when a film is both this serenely beautiful and dtiietly insightful.
Cafe Lumiere concentrates on the minutiae of everyday life — the preparing and eating of food. drinking coffee in cafes. and travelling around on public transpon. Yoko is researching a book on the Taiwanese- born composer Jiang Wenye and is trying to track down the latter's 1930 haunts. Hajime is happy to help in this quest. while continuing to pursue his pet project of recording the sounds of