new releases Fllm


Interesting idea, shame about the film

In the 1992 Belgian film, Man Bites Dog, a film crew followed a serial killer documenting his crimes in order to achieve fame and notoriety. This theme was picked up Stateside in Natural Born Killers, in which a TV journalist followed two murderers in order to boost ratings for his show. Fifteen Minutes continues this trend, but fails to match the daring or imagination of the earlier films. The new addition to the melting pot plot is that law enforcers are also becoming more media savvy.

Robert De Niro’s superstar cop Eddie Flemming appears on the cover of People magazine. He’s heading the investigation of a case involving a couple of East European criminals who have brutally murdered a partner in crime who ran off with the booty while they served tlme. The crazed killer, Emil (Karel Roden), is filmed by his partner, Oleg (Oleg Taktarov), who is

obsessed with American movies, and Emil attempts to use the tape to avoid

conviction for murder by way of pleading insanity. Cops and killers alike attempt to exploit ratings-hungry TV reporter Robert Hawkins (Kelsey Grammer). Only arson investigator Jody Warsaw (Ed Burns) - teamed up with De Niro - is indifferent to media hype.

John Herzfeld’s first shot at directing since the impressive 2 Days In The Valley is an interesting, not to say timely, twist on Andy Warhol’s fifteen minutes of fame theory. Unfortunately, the execution of the thrills doesn’t live up to the film's conceit. (Kaleem Aftab)

I General release from Fri 23 Mar.

DRAMA YOU CAN COUNT ON ME (15) 111 mins 00..

Single mother Sammy (Laura Linney) enjoys an orderly exrstence in the the upstate-New York town of Scottsville. She works at the local bank. devotedly brings up her kid Rudy (Rory Culkin). and attends the local church. However. the arrival of her brother and fellow orphan Terry (Mark Ruffalo) turns her cosy world upside down. He's a drifter, in and out of trouble wrth the law. and invariably short of money. Simultaneously exasperating and charming. he strikes up a bond with Rudy. but can Sammy rely on him not to let the child and her down?

Written and directed by New York playwright Kenneth Lonergan. You Can Count on Me is a touchingly perceptive pOrtrayal of a sibling relationship. Accompanied by an elegant chamber music score. and filmed with quiet. naturalistic asswance. Lonergan's Oscar- contender debut is particularly notable

Rich writing and greet acting

for the depth of the writing and the impressively modulated performances of Linney and Ruffalo (Matthew Broderick also contributes a fine turn). There are no heroes and villains here. no simplistic resolutions. just recognisany flawed human Characters. struggling to come to terms with the muddle of everyday life. And how refreshing to see a film in which a representative of the church is neither lampooned nor venerated. (Tom Dawson)

I GFI'. Glasgow; Cameo, Edinburgh from Fri 23 Mar. See preview, page 27 .


MISS CONGENIALITY (12) 110 mins 0 What happened to Sandra Bullock? Behind the wheel of Speed's runaway bus. she almost drove away with the movie. Six years later. her latest vehicle. a comedy about a tombOyish FBI agent who goes undercover at a beauty contest. sees her running on empty.

Bullock's Gracie Hart considers herself just one of the guys in the Bureau. So she's none too thrilled when she is chosen to infiltrate the ranks of ‘bikini stuffers' in the Miss United States Pageant in a bid to catch a Unabomber-like terrorist. The galumphing. charmless Gracie needs a makeover. Cue Michael Caine's defrocked pageant guru Victor Melling to attempt the most miraculous transformation since Henry Higgins got hold of Eliza Doolittle. Of course. Gracie. now renamed Gracie Lou Freebush. Miss New Jersey. spruces up beautifully much to the surprise of her swaggering FBI colleague Eric Matthews (Benjamin Bratt). And although Gracie initially considers her

fellow contestants a bunch of airheads. before the pageant is over. there are hugs. kisses and moist-eyed bonding all round.

Meanwhile. old troopers Caine. as the camp. acid-tongued Melling. Candice Bergen. as the pageant's manic queen bee organiser. and William Shatner. as the contest's over- the-hill master of ceremonies. go through the motions without much enthusiasm. But Bullock throws herself whole-heartedly into the proceedings. submitting her character to a series of undignified pratfalls. As the movie's producer. she only has herself to blame. (Jason Best)

I Genera/ release from Fri 23 Mar.

Bullock takes an undignified pratfall


Known locally as 'the unknown genius of cinema'. Swedish director Roy Andersson's first feature film in over 25 years won the Special Jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival last year. Centring around Karl. a guilt-ridden furniture salesman who burns down his own business while contending with the distress of visiting his son in a mental institution. Songs From The Second Floor is a series of beautifully composed vignettes. with each scene shot in a single long take. Unscripted and using first time actors. the film offers a snapshot of the lives of various characters. A long serving employee clings desperately to his boss's leg. pleading for his job back. a man with the wrong skin colour falls victim to a racist attack. while a magician unintentionally saws an unsuspecting volunteer in half.

With an original soundtrack composed by Abba's Benny Andersson. the sequences are as meticulously constructed within the frame as a painter would approach his canvas. A witty observation on the ab5urdity and vulnerability of the human condition, Songs From The Second Floor is at its best intelligent. moving and funny. But what starts off as an engaging tale too quickly develops into an increasingly dark and puzzling commentary. (Helen Monaghan)

I Fi/mhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 16 Mar. Supported by Tracey Emin's short film, Sometimes The Dress Is Worth More Money Than The Money

HORROR AUDITION (18) 115 mins .00

“Where have all the good girls gone.“ asks the chauvinistic Yoshikawa of his widowed. middle-aged business partner Aoyama (Ryo lshibashi). The latter. however. thinks he's found one. when he sets up a series of auditions to select a new wife. She's a former ballerina named Asami (fashion model Eihi Shiina). who's young. beautiful and submissive. But where have the scars on her legs come from, why have so many of her acquaintances and associates mysteriously disappeared. and what is the nature of her interest in pain?

After a deliberately measured build-up. with a preponderance of static long shots and slow-zooms. director Miike Takashi assaults the viewer's senses with a truly nightmarish finale. It's an unquestionably ambiguous film - Takashi plays around with different levels of reality, so that we're unsure whether we're watching ‘reality'. a hallucination. or perhaps the projection of Aoyama's fantasies. Some have detected in Audition a critique of male Japanese attitudes to women. although the sadistic. not to say voyeuristic relish with which the filmmaker approaches the final sequence suggests that shocking the audience takes

Audition’s crazy woman

precedence over any social comment. See for yourselves and be shocked. be very shocked. (Tom Dawson)

I GFT, Glasgow; Cameo. Edinburgh from Fri 16 Mar See preview, page 27. 15-29 Mar 2001 TNI LIST 29