SEVEN YEAR HITCH?
Allan Hunter points out the highlights of the offerings from the Film Festival. ' I
Film Festival Director must rate alongside toilet cleaner and rat catcher in the pantheon of all~time least desirable occupations. After months ofnail-biting. hair-tearing frustration you finally announce an inevitably compromised programme and the world blames your incompetence. indecisiveness. indolence and lack of vision for the absence of a longed-for gem that has failed to matcrialise. The tendency. of course. is to overlook the paucity of financial resources. the competitive lure of rival events or the sheer possibility of misfortune.
Edinburgh this year has fallen foul of a particularly virulent attack of some filmic equivalent to Murphy‘s Law: many of the films they most wanted to show were unavailable. most of the films that rushed to complete production have fallen behind schedule and the cream of the current American crop have set their sights on Venice or Deauville. Thus. the notable list of absentees includes the latest from Bill Forsyth. Wim Wenders. Bill Douglas. Brian De Palma. Stephen Frears. Federico Fellini. John Boorman and Stanley Kubrick. A sad state of affairs for a Festival of Edinburgh‘s past repute.
However. rather than whingeing on about what might have been and the need for Edinburgh to swiftly reassert its supremacy. let‘s take solace in what is on offer; two weeks ofcinema magic from
GUILT EDCED SUCCESS
Allan Hunter talks to Peter Capaldi The Love Child is an engagineg unusual. well-written comedy-drama about one young man's struggle for sociability. sex and self-assurance. Set in Brixton it tells of Dillon. the orphaned son of two peripheral swingers from the Sixties. who now lives with his retired grandmother Edith and has glided into a dullard‘s routine of mostly work and little play. In the course ofa few days he falls in love. meets two irrepressibly resilient anarchists. loses his job and finds himself.
Dillon is played by Peter Capaldi in his first leading role for the cinema. Once a stand-up comic and member of bands like Bastardsfrom Hell and The Dreamboys. Capaldi made his film debut in Local Hero. the kind ofdream beginning that any inexperienced youngster could have spent the rest of his career trying to emulate. ‘I wouldn‘t have done anything without Local Hero or Bill Forsyth. who I have on a pedestal, but when I‘d done that film I was crippled by a terrible guilt because I wasn‘t in the theatre. I wasn‘t in the business and I felt I hadn‘t paid my dues. Scotland has got a little bit ofa roundabout of actors who aren‘t always too happy when people achieve a certain status. That’s fair enough because when people have been working away for years to get somewhere they do deserve to have certain breaks. Unfortunately. life doesn‘t happen like that but I decided to take all
ON THE SILVER SCREEN
around the globe.
In terms ofdirectors and films the British presence is notably strong this year with a new feature to be screened almost every day.
The most eagerly-awaited entrant in
the British stakes is Derek Jarman‘s The Lastof England. a project shrouded in great secrecy reporting with style and vision on the continuing decline ofour land. Jarman is also one ofthe contributors to the opera potpourri spectacular Aria.
The British films of note range from the modest dark humour of Love Child to an impassioned attack on sexual discrimination in Business as Usual with (ilcnda Jackson. from Peter Greenaway‘s cool and clinical dissection of jealousy and physical decay The Belly ofan Architect to the latest indulgences of the Comic Strip team in Eat The Rich. Bruce Robinson‘s 1960s” buddy comedy Withnail and I has been winning widespread enthusiasm and The List can put the weight ofits recommendation behind David Leland‘s wonderfully engaging 1‘)5()s‘ seaside character comedy-drama Wish You Were Here and Alan Clarke's scabrous comedy of contemporary sexual manners Rita. Sue and Bob Too.
Britisher Alan Parker is at the helm ofthe opening night attraction Angel Heart. a stylish but excessively unsatisfying l‘)5()s‘ detective yarn blending elements of the Faust story. voodoo and murder most foul. Angel Heart is just one of several American box-office flops that Edinburgh hopes to re-assess alongside Walter Hill‘s macho adventure lz'xtreme Prejudice and Michael Mann‘s thriller .l'lanhanter. Greater interest and enjoyment should be derived from the independent features like Tim Hunter‘s gripping account of California’s disaffected youth River's Edge. Wayne Wang‘s glossily seductive thriller Slam [)ance and Jonathan Demme‘s
that on me. Maybe it‘s because I‘m a Catholic that I decided to punish myselfor carry around all that guilt but I couldn‘t get anywhere in the business in Scotland: nobody wanted to give me a job and it wasn't a good feeling. The film is fabulous ofcourse but that was the only negative residue from it.‘
Capaldi's solution was to move to the less conspicuous. bigger pond of London and begin to learn his craft. He has spent four years working ‘pretty much steadily doing low-profile things.‘ His curriculum vitae now encompasses theatrical experience from Shakespeare to Willy Russell. television work in Crown Court. CA TS Eyes and Upline films like Living Apart Together and Turtle Diary and a writing flair exposed as the co-author of last year‘s Tron panto. Now a more experienced and resourceful all-rounder he is ready to face the limelight once more with The Love Child and a lead in the BBC film The Story of a Recluse.
The Love Child was filmed on a parsimonious budget during nine weeks of last winter. The glamour of the movies was far removed from the reality of this production with Capaldi obliged to make his own way to work each morning on the first tube to locations in Brixton. ‘I don‘t know Brixton and l was slightly apprehensive about it but I live in Tottenham and I‘m quite happy here so I think it was quite an object lesson in not assuming. because one is given a certain image of the place. that it is an extremely violent or an extremely dangerous place. I found it to be extremely colourful and rich which I think is one of the reasons why they wanted to shoot it there. There was also a lot of typical urban deprivation as there is here in Tottenham. There are a bunch of us from Glasgow who live around here and we
Swimming to Cambodia with Spaulding Gray recounting his experiences during the making of The Killing Fields.
One of the hallmarks ofdirector Jim Hickey‘s seven years in office has been his devotion to the cinema of the Far East. This year there are films from Taiwan. China and Japan with Hickey keen for us to sample Robinson 's Garden. in which a young girl drops out to create an alternative life style. the big screen epic The Horse Thiefand the bizarre Tampopo a little delicacy exploring the eroticism of food as rival noodle emporia slog it out for a position as top dog.
With glasnost in the air and a major Russian theme in the pipeline for a future date. Edinburgh also screens a number of the Soviet features now moving into western circulation. including the nuclear drama Lettersfrom a Dead Man and the enjoyable satire Blue Mountains. The net of the Festival spreads far and wide and one would like to see the House Full signs beside the following. some of The List‘s choicest tips: Soulemann Cesse's engrossing. exhilarating Mali prize-winner Brightness. Peter Watkins' massive nuclear dossier The Journey. the wistful Canadian comedy I've Heard the Mermaids .S'inging. new French meteoric talent Leos (‘arax’s The .\'ight is Young. Jim McBride‘s abrasive tale of police corruption and gang warfare The Big Easy and the Eurythmics’ concert film Brand New Day.
The Festival runs until 23 August and closes with a premiere of Mary Lambert‘s terrifying mystery Siesta featuring Ellen Barkin. Isabella Rossellini. (irace Jones. Martin Sheen and Alexei Sayle.
Many filmmakers will be in attendance and the unfussy accessibility of Edinburgh has always been one of the Festival‘s strongest attractions. Tickets for all films and a souvenir programme are now available at the Filmhouse box office.