There is a lot to hate in American movies. Gratuitous nudity. Needless violence. Too many guns. Big bold statements. No subtlety. Telegraphed opinions. Blatant emotions. Easy sentiments. But don't make the American cinema into something it isn't. It isn't about thinking: it's about action.

I'm always shocked when a groovy young thing hates American movies. I always expect Brits to be eternally all-encompassing when it comes to cinema, especially now the London Film Festival has hoved into view.

"I can't see any movie without sub-titles," they say, fumbling with their lounge look jacket. "I dunno. European movies are rather like life."

What? Incomprehensible and impoverished? Ever seen anyone in a French movie pay an electric bill? Me neither, so don't go telling me French movies are like life. Not mine, pal.

Okay. I could be wrong. But I remember travelling all the way to Chicago to see Dernier Metro and feeling really cheesed when big ol' Depardieu flattened Deneuve with his bulk. All she could say was, "Oui, oui, oui..." Isn't that what the little pig said all the way home?

There is a lot to hate in American movies. Gratuitous nudity. Needless violence. Too many guns. Big bold statements. No subtlety. Telegraphed opinions. Blatant emotions. Easy sentiments. No irony and - if you saw Sonny in The Godfather - fistbiting. Yow.

But don't make the American cinema into something it isn't. It isn't about thinking: it's about action. It's about doing. So let me crow about two no-brainers I saw this week - U-Turn by Oliver Stone and Devil's Advocate, a simple-minded but immensely fun cautionary tale by Taylor Hackford.

Both movies are entertainment, not out to emotionally inform us or morally shape us. This is the Celluloid Escapism, the Cinema of So What? Even so, U-Turn, a wry look at the nature of criminality, wins the prize as one of the most visually arresting films I have ever seen: Stone rivalling Bertolucci but on a much more intimate scale. A long music video without music? Maybe, but it sticks in my normally sieve-like mind.

Devil's Advocate was a rousing old-fashioned tale of good and evil - acting that is. Al Pacino lets it all hang out as the super-rich Milton, the high-living boss of Keanu Reeves, a hotshot southern lawyer transplanted to New York. The story is gothic: Taylor Mackford thinks he's doing Don Giovanni, Pacino thinks he's going for a walk in the park (with a little scenery chewing for good measure) and Reeves thinks he's acting. Poor baby! All in all, it's a creepy, spooky, sensational, mindless 2 hours 20 at the pictures.

But hey, you can see this film in a few months' time. For now, why don't ya'all go sit through the three hours of L'Appartement for the fifth time.

God knows the Curzon needs people like you.

Comments