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Defence of the Realm (PG) (David Drury. f UK, 1985) Gabriel Byrne, Denholm i Elliott, Greta Scacchi, Bill Paterson. 96

mins. Gabriel 8yrne plays an ambitious

3 Fleet Street hack whose scandal story , linking the KGB, a call girl and a former Defence Minister forces the latter's

resignation amid juicy headlines and much mutual back-slapping at the circulation-boosting success of what our dogged scribe has achieved. One man who remains sceptical is senior reporter Denholm Elliott, a friend ofthe

. disgraced MP. ‘Anothertawdry § front-page underyour belt’ is his

cynical jibe, apparentlythe result of too much alcohol and sour grapes.

However, when Elliott is found dead in 1 mysterious circumstances Byrne is

altered to a larger story simmering beneath the false front of his hollow triumph. He has inadvertently

stumbled onto a far-reaching , conspiracy of murder and deceit that

stretches to the heart of the Government. Firmly in the mould of liberal thrillers

like 3 Days of the Condor, Defence of

the Realm achieves a rare feat by British standards of combining the compulsiver entertaining narrative expected of a thrillerwith a chilling scenario that raised a number of

. incisive queries about the state of the

famed 1940s horror film. A family curse prevents a normal lifestyle for

brother and sister McDowell and Kinski as sex literally brings out the

. beast in them. causing a transformation into a black panther.

When virginal Kinski falls for a zoo curator. . .

Glasgoszrosvenor 0 Catholic Boys ( 15) (Michael


Dinner. US. 1984) Donald Sutherland. John Heard. Andrew McCarthy. 104 mins. Brooklyn. 1965 and a sixteen year-old transfers to St

l Basil's Catholic School for Boys, ! unknowingly enrolling in the great

school of life as he is befriended by an assortment of fellow pupils. goes joyriding. dancing. dating and hijinking for the first time.

The potential for a Porky's-style bawdy romp is thankfully eschewed in favour of a sympathetic. carefully observed rites of passage tale. Glasgow: ABC (Sauchiehall Street)

Orwell held tor1984 come to fruition in ways more subtle and sinister than he could ever have anticipated. In the light of the Ponting case and the miners’ strike the film holds a disturbing relevance as it leads the audience to question the conservatism ol the fourth estate, the all-pervasive powers of the state, the increasing politicisation of those services designed to guarantee certain freedoms and other issues that reveal the hypocrisy of the western world’s phoney interest in liberty, equality and fraternity.

The film is provocative entertainment and an eloquent testimony to the talents of all those involved. If it has a fault it is one of underestimating its audience by providing a story that is too 5 neatly rounded, too clearly slgnposting the way ahead. A few more rough

Of a fine, somewhat wasted, cast Denholm Elliott’s old warhorse is magnificent and co-producer Lynda g Myles is to be congratulated for bringing that versatile actor Gabriel Byrne into the limelight. It’s been a

graced by such a saturnine,

i charismatic presence. There is star quality in every move he makes. (Allan

E Hunter)

; Street) Strathclyde1ABC

I (Greenock). ABC (Kilmarnock)

; o Charlotte's Web (U) (Charles A.

Nichols. IwaoTakamoto. US. 1972)

i Withthe voicesof Debbie Reynolds. i

Henry Gibson and Paul Lyndc. 96 j

; mins. Animated version ofthe E. B.

White novel in which a barnyard spider called Charlotte literally saves , the bacon ofshy piglet Wilber by

weaving magic messages in her webs. 1

A charming children‘s cartoon. Edinburgh: Filmhouse

C Colonel Redl (15) (Istvan Szabo. Hungary-West Germany-Austria. 1984) Szabo's fastidioust

l constructed epic captures a

: multifaceted portrait ofa man who forces himself to live a life based on untruth. The head ofMilitary Intelligence in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Redl has denied his roots. betrayed his friends and repressed his homosexuality in his rise to the top. However, his

edges would have been welcome. . ..

long time since the British cinema was 5 I

carefully controlled public facade strains to conceal an inner core of frail. human vulnerability. Meticulous storytelling is topped by Brandauer‘s performance. a discreet tour de force that acknowledges the self-deceit ofa man driven to destruction. Edinburgh; Filmhouse o Defence of the Realm (PG) (David Drury. UK. 1985) Gabriel Byrne. Greta Scacchi, Denholm Elliott. 96 mins. See Caption review. Edinburgh; Odeon

o Desperately Seeking Susan ( 15) (Susan Seidelman. US. 1985) Rosanna Arquette. Madonna. Aidan Quinn. 103 mins. Bored suburban housewife Roberta. looking for escape from her humdrum existence through the personal columns. becomes fascinated with a series of ads ‘desperately seeking Susan‘ and plucks up the courage to spy on the next rendezvous. By a sequence of coincidences she unwittingly swops identity with Susan and her life is changed forever.

Much more than‘the Madonna

Plenty (15) (Fred Schepisi, US, 1985) Meryl Streep, Sam Neill, Charles

Dance, John Gielgud, Tracey Ullman, Sting. 124 mins. Susan Traherne is an

upper-class Englishwoman haunted by

her brief but intense experience working forthe SDE in wartime France.

| Her memories of a fleeting love affair

with an officer known only by his

, codename Lazar(Neil|), the

intoxication of danger, and her sense of

movie‘ this is a delightful feminist fantasy that can be enjoyed by all. Quirky observation conspires with an offbeat humour to create an unexpected treat. Meaningful screwball farce. Glasgow: Grosvenor

0 Diary of a Shiniuku Thief ( i8) (Nagisa Oshima. Japan. 1969) 94 mins. Director ()shima offers a characteristically obsessive story of sex and death in this heady drama about a ‘boy and girl searching for their rightful moment ofsexual ectasy amid the corruption of present day Japan.‘ Glasgow: G Fl' 0 Dim Sum (U) (Wayne Wang. US. 1985) Laureen and Kim Chew. Victor Wong. 87 mins. A young

j Chinese-American woman is torn between moving out to get married.

or staying with her possessive mother. who is convinced that she is going to die after it has been foretold

by a fortune-teller. A tale rendered . all the more touching because it

: draws on elements ofthe

, relationship between the real-life

involvement in creating a better future,

progressively unfit her for life in a

' disillusioning post-warBritain.

Her affair and eventual marriage with the diplomat Brock (Dance) is prefaced by an unsuccessful attempt to first become pregnant by, then to shoot, a working-class splv (Sting). Her

inability to adjust to the demands of her '

new life come to a head during that great index of the betrayed promise of the decade, the Suez crisis; she so disgraces her husband at a dinner-party that he is transferred to Jordan. Encouraged by the bohemian



mother and daughter who play the leading roles. With a title that can

Alice (Ullman) to return to London, she confronts her husband’s superior, precipitating the breakdown of her uneasy marriage. Later, in a final desperate effort, she makes a doomed attempt to recover that romanticised past with the rediscovered Lazar.

The theme of national decline in a class-bound, inarticulately repressed England is a familiar one in writer David Hare’s work. Australian director Schepisi brings an expected visual flair to the screen, and the cast deliver performances commensurate with theirconsiderable reputations (although Ullman and Sting seem a sop to the youth market). The characters, however, are made to carry too overtly emblematic a burden of historical decline (in a way Hare largely avoided in directing his own Wetherby last year). If the film allows the play's epic qualities to emerge, it does not, in the end, quite achieve the sum of its parts.

, (Kenny Mathieson)

The List 10- 23 January 23