In Scream 3, Wes Craven does everything you'd expect of the final instalment in a comedy-horror trilogy. In his new incarnation as the king of post-innocence, Craven gets his characters not only to tell you what to expect, but to complain about it just before it happens - so the heroine moans that horror flicks always feature "big-breasted girls running up the stairs instead of out the front door" and then she and her breasts bubble up the stairs. Having unpacked for us every clichÃ© he propagated with Nightmare on Elm Street, Craven is now officially an intellectual. But when you're telling jokes about a franchise and your own joke becomes an even bigger franchise, you're less likely to be thought of as someone feverishly pacing the boundaries of post-modern, post-objective serialised formalisation. You're just rich.
Scream 3 follows a movie being made of the murders featured in the first film. So we have the original cast members (Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox Arquette, David Arquette) being played by actors (Emily Mortimer, Parker Posey, Matt Keesler), who are picked off and murdered, one by one. All the action takes place on a Hollywood set in which special effects cry all night. We know they're special effects because we're the "desensitised target audience" they were always talking about in Scream 2.
It's hard to imagine a director more narcissistic than Craven. Making three films devoted to taking the mickey out of the genre that made your name is pretty smug. Besides, we've seen it all before. Since the 1970s, few horror films have been made that haven't winked all over with you-know-what's-coming-nextness. An American Werewolf in London, for example, is a terrific combination of the explicit and implicit, of something self-knowing but not primarily self-referential. And, interestingly, more than the comedy, you remember the bit on the moor, when the creature comes closer (its noise flat and grim and regular) and Griffin Dunne says, "Sh--, David. What is that?" There is nothing memorably frightening about Scream 3.
Craven has been camping it up for years. His most famous creation, Freddy Krueger, never stopped playing up to the audience in a wholly pantomimic way - pulling out telephone wires with a cackle and looking at knickers all the time.
Galaxy Quest is a sketch stretched to a film. But the idea is fun. The cast of a cult telly sci-fi show, pulled in 1982, now spend their days in costume signing autographs at weird conventions. James Nesmith (Tim Allen) Gwen DeMarco (Sigourney Weaver plus caramel wig and plunge bra, but still that drawn-on little mouth) and Alexander Dane (Alan Rickman) are a pretty wretched lot, and can't seem to find work elsewhere. Until they are approached by a race of aliens from the Klatu Nebula and coaxed into a real-life mission.
After 20 minutes, Galaxy Quest becomes heavy with earth-bound stodginess - abundant detail here, absolutely none there, ideas left dangling, the finale a maze of misconnections. And we don't get to see nearly enough of Rickman. His almost-Mongolian eyes sit perfectly under a half-reptilian toupÃ©e.
Sunshine is mini-series long, and mini-series foggy - by the close, we have forgotten the start. Istvan Szabo's film takes us from the turn of the last century to the 1960s. It follows the lives of grandfather, father and son in a middle-class Jewish family in Hungary. Ralph Fiennes plays all three men - a judge of the Empire; a converted Catholic in the New Republic; and a devoutly vengeful Auschwitz survivor turned Stalinist interrogator.
Szabo's interest in life in a closed world, about roots that damn you socially but rally you privately, about seeking both security and freedom, are clear, but not well-phrased. The film feels more of an educational tool than anything else - the voice-over persistent and hurried, the relationships perfunctory, either surly or weepy. Fiennes delivers the worst performance of his career - intractable, more polite than can be endured, as though this material were too hot, too huge to handle, touch even.
The Million Dollar Hotel is plain odd. The hotel itself is full of misfits - give us your lonely, your misunderstood, your ex-models, your hair-gel, your tics, your stubborn urban dreamers, seems to be its policy. One of the residents is killed, and a psychotic policeman (Mel Gibson) vows to winkle the murderer out. The plot has been half-written by Bono, the U2 front man, and is as impenetrable and flummoxed as some of his lyrics (one of the guys thinks he's John Lennon - very Theatre Studies homework.)
But plot schmot. The German director Wenders's skill is with showing us people stealing affection from each other, burying communication and then talking and talking and almost falling out of a window, and then down and onto the street, onto the paving stones, and look at the beautiful paving stones in the afternoon sun. Or rain. Or dark. Wenders adores America. This makes a change. It's hardly de rigeur.
The French film In All Innocence gets a release thanks to its star - Virginie Ledoyen, the girl in The Beach who, however pretty she was, did not manage to make Leonardo di Caprio seem convincingly sexually interested (no one has yet). She plays a rough Parisian who has an affair with a wealthy lawyer who is not only 20 years her senior but husband to an aristocrat, played by Carole Bouquet - the kind of terrifying Frenchwoman with straight, implacable hair who was born to hang Picassos. If this were an ITV drama premiÃ¿re it would be called something eye-rollingly stolid like "Illegal Passion", and would feature Trevor Eve in a bomber jacket. Cheat and lose seemed to be the message.Reuse content