Yes, Britain's Michael Caton-Jones directed two of this week's films, and, on the face of it, they're so different that you'd think he chose them to win a bet. One is a silly erotic thriller, the other is a drama about the massacre in Rwanda (you can probably guess which is which).
But Basic Instinct 2 and Shooting Dogs do have something in common, in that they're both solid efforts which seem like lower-budget, workmanlike remakes of other films.
The film that Basic Instinct 2 replicates is, of course, Basic Instinct. Fourteen years after Paul Verhoeven's Hitchcock pastiche made a star of Sharon Stone, she's back as Catherine Trammell, a writer who may well research her bonkbuster novels a tad too deeply. Her latest boyfriend - former footballer Stan Collymore, believe it or not - ends up at the bottom of the Thames following a drug-fuelled romp in a sportscar, but somehow Trammell is allowed to walk free, and she signs up for therapy with a psychiatrist (David Morrissey) who has a cavernous suite of offices in the Gherkin.
The new film is basically Basic Instinct except with cloudy London filling in for sunny San Francisco, Morrissey showing off his bum instead of Michael Douglas, and a femme fatale in her late forties instead of one in her early thirties. Stone's nude scenes are so fleeting they're almost subliminal. Even though Caton-Jones takes hilariously full advantage of the Gherkin's Freudian potential, his film can't help but appear flaccid compared to its predecessor.
Shooting Dogs, meanwhile, suffers in comparison to Hotel Rwanda. Like that film, it recreates the days leading up to the Hutus' mass-murder of the Tutsis, and then the carnage itself. And like that film its setting is an enclosure that becomes a refugee camp, in this case a Catholic school run by John Hurt's priest and Hugh Dancy's gap-year teacher. But unlike Hotel Rwanda, Shooting Dogs portrays the tragedy in a flatly educational manner, its characters merely explaining the situation and asking why the West is doing nothing to help. It may be an upsetting indictment of UN-sanctioned apartheid, but the end-credit photos are far more powerful than the film itself.Reuse content