Nearly 20 years since the HR Geiger-inspired creepy crawly chewed its way through the crew of the Nostromo, the Alien series is finally beginning to warm to the franchise status its various sequels have earned it. That's to say, its original ethos has been diluted by new proprietors who proffer half-baked fare that looks nothing like the one on the poster.
As was noted in 1979, Ridley Scott's original was really a space-bound haunted house movie. Since then, James Cameron, David Fincher and now Jean-Pierre Jeunet have attempted to restore the series to ropey sci-fi realms which had never been its home in the first place. Fourth time round, Sigourney Weaver's Ripley has been genetically cloned in a misguided attempt to breed the toothsome predators. Needless to say, the special effects are clinically impressive, as is the thought that's obviously gone into extending the series: the script is at pains to compare a Ripley who seems to have acquired certain of her foe's characteristics and a half-human, half-alien nasty that appears towards the close. Jeunet, too, is hit and miss in keeping Ripley, Winona Ryder (why?) and a band of smugglers one step ahead of the mandibles. There's the odd gag but, for the most part, Jeunet's penchant for the indulgent set-piece dissipates the only quality that Scott successfully passed on to his successors: claustrophobia. 2/5
Ma Vie En Rose (12), Blue Light (available to buy now)
Ludovic is a cross-dressing seven-year-old Belgian boy. A dab hand with the lippy and stubbornly attached to his Jeanne d'Arc bob, Ludo is not quite the hit he'd hoped to be at his parent's house-warming party. His parents pass the performance off as a party prank, but the neighbourhood has got the whiff of subversion in its nose and soon shuns the family.
Alain Berliner's delightful film punishes the middle managers and their families for their isolation of the harmless Ludo. But behind their prejudices, Berliner hints at mitigating circumstances. Neither are Ludo's parents assigned the traditional roles that a lazier film would have doled out. Yes, Ludo's mother is sympathetic initially, but, as she admits, only on the strength of a Marie Claire article. The astonishingly unaffected Georges du Fresne as the befrocked Ludovic doesn't wipe out your sympathy for his parents and their vacillating moods. The predicament is by turns comic and pitiful, but Berliner never lets us forget how strangely the child is acting: he does, after all, pledge to marry his friend Jerome, and fantasizes about life with a Barbie-like TV star. It's a fable about family life rather than pre-pubescent drag queens, and maybe that's why Berliner is so enjoyably off-hand with the fate of his most colourful character. 5/5Reuse content