new releases

End Of Days (18) 122 mins * air

At the end of this apocalyptic action movie, Arnold Schwarzenegger assailed by seemingly insuperable

forces of evil raises his eyes to heaven and prays, ‘Please God, help me.‘ Earlier in the film, Arnold told

Rod Steiger‘s priest: ‘Between your faith and my Glock

i 9mm, I‘ll take my Glock.’ But now he lays down his ; lethal weaponry and throws himself on God‘s mercy. There's no doubting that Schwarzenegger is trying to do something different with his screen persona here but ' given that this single moment of humility comes after ; more than two hours of wholesale killing and mayhem,

it's a little hard to take. Boringly directed by Peter Hyams (Time Cop, The Relic) and scripted with Sledgehammer subtlety by Air Force One writer Andrew

j W. Marlowe, this is a wildly inconsistent mish-mash of

705 devil movies, 805 action pics and 905 computer-

i generated sfx.

One has to feel sorry for Robin Tunney (The Craft). She makes what little she can of her role as Christine York, a young woman destined from birth to become the mother of Satan‘s child, if he succeeds in shagging her

1 during the unholy hour from 11pm to midnight on 1 December 31st, 1999. (‘Is that Eastern Standard Time?‘

Reluctant believer: Arnold Schwarzenegger in End Of Days

asks Arnold‘s cynical ex-cop). Gabriel Byrne is the

handsome human host for the dark angel whose procreative lust must be thwarted by a conflicting rag-

saviours that includes Vatican-sanctioned terminator

Schwarzenegger‘s vodka-sodden, rocket-launcher-toting non-believer.

There are reams of exposition, including one of the clunkiest verbal clues ever: crucified priest Thomas Aquinas (sic) uses his last breath to utter the words, ‘Christ in New York‘, from which Arnold deduces that perhaps he meant ‘Chris in New York‘, or ‘Christine in New York‘, or maybe . . . ‘Christine York‘. Plus, of course,

of dynamite at, and some very nasty violence. Arnold tries hard to instil his conversion from reluctant sceptic to humble believer with some credibility, but in the context of such an empty, stupid, head-banging movie, he‘s on a hiding to nothing. It‘s hard to say which feels more old fashioned: the religious struggle between Good and Evil, Arnold‘s Action Man persona, or sfx wizard Stan Winston's sadly dated CGI effects. (Nigel Floyd)

I General release from Fri 10 Dec.

October Sky

(PG) 108 mins * **


Rocket science: Chris Cooper in

22 THE UST 2—16 Dec 1999

October Sky

It’s 1957 and the Russians are leading the Space Race with the launch of their Sputnik satellite into the heavens. Meanwhile, down on ground level in the West Virginian town of Coalwood, Homer (newcomer Jake Gyllenhaal) looks destined to follow in his father’s footsteps by working in the local mine. However, the teenager can't help looking to the skies and becomes obsessed with the work of rocket pioneer Dr Werner Von Braun. Enlisting the help of three high school pals, Homer begins to build home-made rockets, which he launches from a nearby slag dune. Thereafter, kindly teacher Miss Riley (Laura Dern) encourages the group to enter a state science fair, which might lead to a college scholarship. However, Homer's father, John (Chris Cooper) has no truck with his offspring's scientific experiments.

Based on the autobiography, Rocket Boys by NASA engineer Homer H. Hickham Jnr, October Sky is one of those heroic, true-life stories that Americans find so irresistible. Such tales come equipped with a triumph- against-the-odds narrative arc, demonstrating how even the most

unlikely of childhood dreams can come true. Certainly, October Sky offers some potent dramatic contrasts, not least between the cramped and dangerous conditions of the coalpit and the allure of the final frontier of space. And director Joe Johnston (The Racketeer, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids) convincingly recreates a 19505 American smalltown, where the livelihood of the whole community depends on coal and where youngsters are expected to know their place. Unfortunately, the Oedipal confrontations between father and son are off-puttineg melodramatic. ’The coalmine is your life, not mine!’ thunders Jake, and yet there is little doubt that their tempestuous relationship will be satisfactorily resolved. Elsewhere, the audience's heart-strings are further tugged by Miss Riley developing a terminal illness. Nevertheless, in the key roles, Gyllenhaal and Cooper contribute engaging, sympathetic performances. The latter, a criminally underrated Sayles regular soon to be seen in American Beauty, invests his patriarch with real gravitas. (Tom Dawson) I General release from Fri 10 Dec.

Alice Et Martin

(15) 124 mins * *tt

Directed by Andre Techine (J’Embrasse Pas, Les Roseaux Sauvages, Les Vo/eurs) this romantic French drama deals With the complex and fascinating subject of indiwduals inheriting the

unenviable legacy of a dysfunctional

family psychology.

Set mainly in France, it tells the story of two emotionally unhealthy people who meet and fall in love. Returning to society after a period of self-eXile brought on by the death of his father, Martin (AIeXis Loret) arrives at a pokey Paris apartment shared by his homosexual half-brother Bernamin (Mathieu Amalric) and his friend Alice (Juliette Binoche). Not long after

accepting their offer to stay, Martin has the frosty and suspicious Alice l

succumbing to his sexual advances and the couple enjoy a short period of

uncluttered happiness before Alice ;

becomes pregnant. On hearing the 1

news of his forthcoming fatherhood,

Martin faints and becomes self-absorbed before finally

revealing to Alice the dark mystery of bag of zealous, faithful and downright reluctant

his past; one which is linked to his

relationship with a tyrannical father. priests, the local clergy led by Rod Steiger and 3

Like Techine’s prewous films, Alice Et

Martin is character-driven, drawrng on the ch0ices made by the protagonists for its plot development. Consequently, Loret and Binoche, With their strong and rounded performances, are perfectly cast. Combining hostility with concealed neediness, Binoche presents

Alice as a fascinating woman, although more stunts and explosions than you could shake a stick

it's slightly frustrating that her

character doesn’t develop further.

Meanwhile, newcomer Loret is perfect as Martin, both in looks and in his portrayal of a confused and complex individual.

Equally admirable is the use of Simple but visually memorable, scenes, which support the film's family inheritance theme: Alice preparing to eat an egg in her small kitchen, Alice's pregnant belly, and Alice's meeting with Martin’s stepmother in a cemetery. In fact, the film is strong in all areas. Even its length is appropriate, since the tight structure and employment of flashbacks unravel the mystery of Martin's past, making the story evolve at a suitably engaging pace.

(Beth Williams) I Edinburgh Fi/mhouse from Fri 3 Dec. Fascinating dysfunction: Juliette Binoche in Alice Et Martin


ti * * 1r Unmissable

*‘k‘k‘k Very ood

1: H Wort a shot

at * Below average

1: You’ve been warned