FANTASY SPIDER-MAN 2 (12A) 127min coco

Witty, energetic and playfully aware of its own inconsequential transience, the crowd-pleasing spectacle of Spider-Man 2 could serve as a textbook example of blockbuster filmmaking. Indeed, it’s difficult to think of any superhero movie since Superman (1978) that’s so effortlesst assured of its role as a comic book brought to life. Picking up where the original left off, with a series of sketches recapping the story so far, director Sam Raimi’s $200m dollar extravaganza delivers more of the same. And then some. ‘With great power comes great responsibility,’ intoned the first outing. Here nerdy Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) discovers the truth behind such pop-philosophising as he struggles to pay the bills, keep hero. his job, get through college and woo sweetheart Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst). With so much stress, it’s no wonder his spider skills are vanishing: crippled by performance

hang up his red and blue gimp suit for good. Meanwhile, scientist Dr Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina, who


The co-directors of The Story of the Weeping Camel. Munich Film School students ByambaSuren Davaa and Luigi Falorni. have described their film as a ‘narrative dOCumentary'. which is a clinical label for a work with a fairytale sensibility. Unfolding in springtime in the Gobi desert. it tells of a multigenerational family of nomadic shepherds who are preparing for their camels“ birthing season. After a two-day labOur. a mother dromedary lngen Temme delivers a snow-white calf Botok. But worryingly. the parent seems to reject her offspring. refusing to let the newborn drink her milk. prompting the tribespeople to send off two of their own yOungsters. Dude and Ogna. on an important quest. They must return With a Violinist. who at a special ‘hoos’ ceremony. will play music to heal the rift between mother and baby camel.

There's no voice-over and no overbearing musical score in The Story of the Weeping Camel. as Davaa and Falorni immerse the viewer in their chosen world. Their patient. observational approach pays dividends. allowing us to appreCiate the resilience. cheerfulness and the resourcefulness of the nomads. who live in harmony with their animals in such an inhospitable enVironment and who. according to one of their number. ‘have to remember that we are not the last generation on earth'. The trip to a ‘ciViIised' Village shows how the tribe's way of life may be under threat. while the camels themselves prove to be accomplished performers. not least in the climactic teary-eyed ritual. (Tom Dawson)

I Selected release from Fri 9 Jul.

Across the desert with a camel herding man

30 THE LIST 8—22 Jul 2004

grand tragedy) has turned into rampaging eight-limbed freak ‘Doc Ock’. New York desperately needs 3 America. Bruised and beaten by Doc

Lacking the portent of a certain Antipodean fantasy blockbuster, Raimi’s film delivers a carefully balanced mix of warm-hearted sentiment and exhilarating anxiety, the poor lad’s about ready to spectacle. Darkening the tone, but never straying very close to the edge, this is feel-good fantasy. As 06! Spidey webslings his way sows a limited role with the seeds of through the skyscraper valleys of

Webslinger Part Deux New York, one wonders if it’s also a form of post 9/11 therapy for

Ock, reluctant hero Spidey finds the courage to crucify himself in order to stop a transit train of civilians from crashing, then flies off to defeat his nemesis (The Passion of the Spider, perhaps?). ‘Go get ‘em tiger,’ whispers adoring MJ. If only real life were as simple as this adolescent fantasy; but then, that’s the appeal. (Jamie Russell)

I General release from Thu 15 Jul.

Virgins, executioners and ambiguity


It has to be said. the enjoyment of this film is severely impeded by the unavoidable technical problems; With the image. caused by the deciSion of the Iranian authorities to withhold its original negative.

This does not provide an excuse for the film not being as accessible or as good as either of director Babak Payami's two previous efforts. One Fine Day and the inesinerising Secret Ballot.

An executioner (Kamalan Narouli) is told not to execute a condemned woman (Maryain Moqadaml because she is a virgin. Controversially he is told that all Virgins go to heaven. come what may. and he becomes embroiled in a power struggle between the local political and religious heads after being told to marry the virgin so she can be deflowered and ripe for exeCLition.

Fascinated by the perplexing role of women in modern day Iran. much of Payai’ni's new film is too ambiguous. For example. we never find out what crime the Virgin perpetrated. and the film suffers as a consequence. especially as it often breaches the thin line between the vague and the confused. A valiant blip in the oeuvre in the promising. frequently masterful filmmaker. (Kaleem Aftabl I Fl/Ill/lOt/SO. Edinburgh from Fri l6 Jul. See lntervrew. page 2 l.

DRAMA NATHALIE (15) 105min .00

At the outset. Nathalie appears to confirm the cliche of the bourgeois French marriage. with the introduction of a functionally dysfunctional couple: a serial adulterer husband and a resignedly cuckolded wife. And when Fanny Ardant's career woman Catherine hires Emmanuelle Beart's working girl hostess Marlene to spy on her husband. Bernard (Gerard Depardieu). co- writerldirector Anne Fontaine’s film smacks of ugly ClaSSISrn.

But Fontaine and co- writer Jacques Fieschi have set out to undermine expectations. firstly by

Ugly classism

never showing the sexual encounters between Marlene/Nathalie and Bernard. and secondly via a plot revelation which overturns the central cliche (but which is telegraphed rather too early on).

Nevertheless. Nathalie remains Curiously unden'vhelming. Although the film focuses on the liaisons between the women. their uneasy alliance isn't particularly well established. Catherine's big Sister rOutine With Marlene at the older woman's mother's house feels out of place. Instead. the film titillates with Marlene's lurid descriptions of her rOinps with Bernard. and Wllh Beart's body seen in action in the sex club where Catherine meets her.

Thus. despite Fontaine and Fieschi's best intentions. Nathalie ultimately plays as the kind of film it purports to deconstruct. That's a shame, given the quality of the me‘mage a trios of leads. (Miles Fielderi I Selected release from Fri 76 Jul.