VIDEO; Crime doesn't pay with this lot.
This is a real chiller thriller - and not just because action takes place at 20 degrees below.
Joel and Ethan Cohen's film starts with a horrific kidnapping and ends with a human leg being fed into a woodchipper.
But with the Cohens in charge, you know it will be drenched with black humour.
Set in the snowy wastes of North Dakota and the brothers' native Minnesota, it has the same small town-big crime theme as their brilliant debut effort, Blood Simple.
The movie's plot centres on one of the most ill-conceived abductions in film history.
Jerry Lundegaard (William H Macy) is a downtrodden car salesman whose favourite phrase is "darn tootin."
But things are far from "darn tootin" in Jerry's life when we catch up with him.
Somehow or other, he's managed to rack up monster debts.
He needs money so badly that he arranges to have his wife kidnapped, so that he can cream the ransom loot from her rich dad.
But bungling Jerry has entrusted the job to a pair of thick thugs - played by Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare.
They make a real mess of the job and leave a trail of death across the wilds.
The funniest scene is also the bloodiest, when Buscemi's character brings back the booty - but manages to lose half of his face in the process.
He says:"You should seen the other guy."
As you'd expect, the film has an unlikely heroine in Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand).
She is a pregnant police chief who can't allow a bad dose of morning sickness get in the way of her job as a crimebuster. She says: "There's more to life than a little money."
Darn tootin', there is.
DOWN PERISCOPE (PG)
Once again, Hollywood has taken a top telly talent, fed it some limp lines and fired it out of a torpedo tube.
As a result, Frasier star Kelsey Grammer's movie career has taken a dive before its begun.
The sardonic wit we know and love from the sitcom sinks without trace in this crummy comedy set on board a submarine. Grammer plays a maverick naval commander whose rickety, diesel-driven vessel is required to compete in war games against state-of-the-art nuclear subs.
His "crew from hell" comprise the usual suspects, including a wireless operator who keeps electrocuting himself.
The producers went to the trouble of borrowing sets from Sean Connery's The Hunt For Red October, only to fill them with flatulence gags.
There's decent support from Bruce Dern, Harry Dean Stanton and Rip Torn. But Grammer's role really should have gone to Leslie Nielsen.
MY VIDEO TOP 10
It may not have been a vintage year for video releases, but 1996 has still produced a gems. So here's my Christmas Top 10 ...
1 BRAVEHEART (15). Mel Gibson dons a big wig to gub the Sassenachs. Not just the best video of the year, but the best film of all time.
2 TRAINSPOTTING (18). The saga of Spud, Sick Boy, Begbie and Rents which gave the British film industry a shot in the arm.
3 TOY STORY (PG). It Disney matter what age you are, you'll love the cartoon adventures of Buzz Lightyear, left, and chums in this brilliant movie.
4 OASIS: THERE AND THEN (E) The Brothers Gallagher storm through all of their classic hits.
5 SYDNEY DEVINE'S NEW LINE DANCE PARTY (E). Currently outselling Oasis in the charts, Syd shows you how to do the Scooch, the Swamp Thang and the Boot' Scootin' Boogie.
6 RIVERDANCE: THE NEW SHOW (E). Great numbers and numerous sturdy hurdies, filmed this year at New York's famous Radio City Music Hall.
7 USUAL SUSPECTS (18). Oscar-winner Kevin Spacey nicks the devil's best lines in this heist thriller, more what-the-heck's-going-on than whodunnit.
8 SHOOTING STARS (15). Ritual humiliation, Reeves & Mortimer-style, with rude bits included. For real addicts, there's also a book and CD, featuring Vic singing 47 songs in the "club style."
9 ONLY AN EXCUSE - OUT OF ITS BOX (12). Jonathan Watson and the rest of the boys done good in this special, from last Hogmanay.
10 GROUNDHOG DAY (PG). Bill Murray as a weatherman trapped in his own timewarp on the worst day of his life. Not new, but at pounds 4.99, this cracking comedy is great value.
EXECUTIVE DECISION (15)
KURT RUSSELL HALLE BERRY
Farcical but fun thriller with Russell trying to save a jumbo jet booby- trapped with nerve gas, with the help of plucky stewardess Berry.
SIGOURNEY WEAVER HOLLY HUNTER
Shrink Sigourney Weaver and cop Hunter team up to track down a serial killer - played by a very plooky Harry Connick Jr.
12 MONKEYS (15)
BRUCE WILLIS MADELEINE STOWE
Time-traveller Bruce Willis lands in big trouble when he's sent back from the future to save the world with the help of Madeleine Stowe.
MONEY TRAIN (18)
WESLEY SNIPES WOODY HARRELSON
The duo from White Men Can't Jump are reunited in a dud about a couple of cops who want to be great train robbers.
BROKEN ARROW (15)
JOHN TRAVOLTA CHRISTIAN SLATER
Air Force loose cannon Travolta is stealing nuclear weapons. His ex- chum Slater has the tough job of getting them back again.
WOODY HARRELSON BILL MURRAY
Bad-taste bonanza with more jokes about one-armed bowlers than you can shake a fist at. Laugh-a-minute stuff
Robin Williams camps it up as the owner of a gay night club whose son wants to marry the daughter of a senator, played by Gene Hackman.
PRIMAL FEAR (18)
Courtroom drama with Gere perfectly cast as an arrogant lawyer defending the alleged killer of a prominent archbishop.
THE JUROR (18)
Cliched courtroom drama with Baldwin sweet-talking Mafia trial juror Moore into swaying her colleagues to acquit.
GET SHORTY (15)
Mr Mean Travolta is a cuddly gangster in a cracking comedy boasting the best jokes about Hollywood since The Player.
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|Publication:||Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)|
|Date:||Dec 12, 1996|
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