— CHILDREN OF A LESSER GOD m
Children Ol A Lesser God (15) (Randa Haines, US, 1986) William Hurt, Marlee Matlin, Philip Bosco, Piper Laurie. 119 mins. There’s something indelatigably pro-conceived about this sort of thing. The ‘physical problem' picture, you see them almost every Tuesday night on Channel 4, leatures an Individual with a selected disability allirming their heroism by pluckily lighting against or overcoming their handicap (be itblindness, multiple sclerosis, leukaemia, etc). At the risk at sounding callous, the genre which has proved itsell touchingly etlective in the past (see Mandy or The Miracle Worker, lor example) is now beginning to show obvious signs at patterning. This is very much the case with Children Ol A Lesser God, which basically retreads the same ground as The Miracle Worker but changes the brilliant-but-unconventional teacher role into a man (Mr Hurt) and the intelligent-but-willul (deal) pupil (Ms Matlin) into an attractive young woman so that the couple can end up in bed together—this is known as ‘the angle’, and every ‘physical problem' picture has one. A plethora ol well-worn sub-plots include the doubling head at the educational establishment (Bosco), the estranged mother (Laurie) who reveals a not unexpected childhood trauma explaining the disability, and the apathetic class whipped into shape (brilliantly-but-unconventionally) by
the admirable teacher. Given these raw materials, anyone should be able to construct the plot-line.
It's a three S movie, to be sure— combining Seriousness with Sensitivity and, last but not least, Sentimentality- and ellortlessly capable in all departments. Director Randa llaines handles the material with the reliable elticiency ot a TV graduate; Marlee Matlin executes her role as the deal student with all the courage and determination at any partially-hearing actress getting the biggest break ol her career; and Hurt, well Hurt is as brilliant-but-unconventional as we have come to expect.
(3 LG‘ '
These are very cynical things to say. But how much more cynical is the calculated commercial exploitation at any painlul and unlortunate human trailty? One thing remains almost certain; the ‘physical problem’ picture always linds an audience which will willingly lap up the ‘heartwarming’ material on cue. Children Ol A Lesser God is adeptly tailored to a proven lormula. The posters boast of several Oscar nominations and sport a number at euologistic comments lrom middle-ol-the-road newspapers. The Hollywood machine grinds remorselessly onwards. (TrevorJohnston)
Edwall. 149 mins. Set on a remote island and focusing on a twenty-four hour period of action, Tarkovsky’s last film and testament concerns itselfwith one man‘s response to the oncoming apocalypse. The title refers to the deal Josephson conducts with the divine, wherein he offers up himself as a supreme act of atonement in order that the world be restored. An overwhelming, although inevitably underrated, serious. deeply poetic experience. Edinburgh; Filmhouse o The Secret Policeman's Other Ball (15) (Julien Temploe. UK 1982) 99 mins. More ideologically sound giggles with the inexpurgated 1982 Amnesty International Gala. Glasgow; Grosvenor 0 Sid and Nancy ( 18) (Alex Cox. UK, 1986) Gary Oldman. Chloe Webb. David Hayman. 110 mins. For the most part a breathlessly enjoyable biopic of the Sex Pistols‘ bassist and his girlfriend before getting bogged down in an interminable last half hour as the gruesome twosome battle with the big H. the film is most notable for the excellent central performances. Glasgow; Grosvenor 0 Soul Man (PG) (Steve Miner. US. 1986) C. Thomas Howell. Ayre Gross. Rae Dawn Chong. 104 mins. Howell wins a place at Harvard Law School but is denied financial assistance by his wealthy father. Undeterred. he gets out the fast tanning tablets and pinches a scholarship specially set aside to help disadvantaged black students. The stage is then set for a simple-minded. frequently embarrassing but
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