Prolific director Jonathan Demme has always seemed one oi the more undervalued oi American talents, consistently overshadowed by more heavyweight comtemporaries like Martin Scorsese and Brian De Palma. It is a particular pleasure then, to welcome a comprehensive retrospective oi his work that unreels at Filmhouse in Edinburgh over the coming month.
A iormertilm critic and publicist, Demme made the move to the other side oi the camera under the auspices of Roger Corman, sewing as an assistant on the production oi Von Hichthoien And Brown in Ireland. The lessons that Demme learned trom Connan’s low-budget, unashamedly exploitational finishing school are evident throughout a career that is peppered with last-paced, tightly-edited genre pieces that have a palpable ieel lor the highways and byways of his native land and the eccentricities of human nature.
The Filmhouse season begins with Demme’s latest leature Swimming To Cambodia (Nov 4—7), a record at Spalding Gray’s monologue about his experiences during the lilming oi The Killing Fields. Nov 11 brings exposure ior two oi Demme's TV iilms, Who Am I This Time? (1982) and Survivial Guides (1984), the latter ieaturing Talking Heads irontman David Byrne in a rare acting assignment. Demme has enjoyed a iruitiul relationship with Byme and, oi course, directed that most acclaimed of all concert iilms Stop Making Sense (1984) which returns for another bow on 23 and 24 Nov accompanied by the video lor New Order's Periect Kiss.
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Demme has directed pop promos ior artists like 0840 and Chrissie Hynde and regards popular music as an integral part of his iilms, a fact borne out by the eclectic soundtrack oi Something Wild (1986)(12—18 Nov) and the best at the recent rash of yuppie-in-peril dramas.
Demme’s iilms are unpredictable, unconventional and always appealing, although an inability to cast him in any readily deiinable mould has perhaps denied him the attention he has clearly merited. Two double-bills serve to underline the range and versatility oi his work. His directional debut Caged Heat (1973), a women’s prison exploitationer that cleverly subverts your worst expectations, is teamed with the Oscar-winning Melvin And Howard (1980)(2 and 3 Dec), a comedy
man who gave a lift to Howard Hughes and was named as a beneficiary in one oi the eccentric millionaire’s various wills. Crazy Mama (1975) is a wild and wonderiul 19508’ black comedy-road lilm, whilst Citizen’s Band (1977)(16 and 17 Nov), is a Frank Capra-like story at the little man and his obsessions, in this case CB radio.
The season also includes the much-troubled but still likeable Goldie Hawn vehicle Swing Shift (1984)(12 Nov), but sadly iinds no room lor the criminally underrated Hitchcockian thrillerThe Last Embrace (1979).
A man ior all genres, with a quirky talent to explore the vast recesses of Americana, Demme makes spirited films that entertain and provoke, as any number at visits to this laudable season will readily contirm.
with a real heart and soul about the (Allan Hunter)
only Woody knows how.
Edinburgh; EUFS. Strathclyde: Haldane Film Society
0 Hellraiser ( 18) (Clive Barker, UK, 1987) Andy Robinson, Claire Higgins, Ashley Laurence. 92 mins. Gory, stomach-churning superior chiller from author turned accomplished filmmaker Barker. Glasgow; Cannon Clarkston Road
0 The Hidden Fortress (15) (Akira Kurosawa, Japan, 1958) Toshiro Mifune, Misa Uehara. 123 mins. In Medieval Japan, samurai Roshiro Mifune saves a young heiress from the hands of an unscrupulous bandit. The Ford and Wayne of the Japanese cinema strike again in this rousing action adventure Edinburgh; EUFS o The Hitcher (18) (Robert Mandel, US, 1986) Rutger Hauer, C. Thomas Howell, Jennifer Jason Leigh. 98 mins. Drowsy driver Howell gets more than he bargains for when he picks up psycho-hitcher Hauer in this genuine edge-of-the-seat suspenser. Edinburgh; Cameo, Filmhouse
o Highlander ( 15) (Russell Mulcahy, US, 1986) Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery, Beatie Edney. 116 mins. A handful of immortals battle through the centuries to win a mythical prize. Edinburgh; Cameo
0 Hope and Glory (15) (John Boorman, UK, 1987) Sarah Miles,
David Hayman, [an Bannen. 112 mins. A warm, witty and affectionate autobiographical portrait ofthe Second World War as seen through the eyes of the child who grew up to be John Boorman. Well-crafted, sharp-eyed nostalgia Glasgow; Odeon. Edinburgh; Dominion
o The Horse Thiet (15) (Tian Zhuangzhuang, China, 1986) Tseshang Rigzin, Dan Jiji. 88 mins. Tibet, 1923. To provide for his poverty-stricken family Norbu steals horses from wandering nomads and offerings reserved for the Gods. His actions earn him the contempt of his village and, ultimately, expulsion from his tribe.
An episodic narrative, The Horse Theiflingers on the rites and rituals of the tribe with anthropological longing Edinburgh; Filmhouse 0 Jean De Florette (PG) (Claude Berri, France, 1986) Gerard Depardieu, Yves Montand, Daniel Auteuil. 121 mins. First part ofa magnificent two-film epic set in Provence during the 19205 In part one Depardieu’s indmitable hunchback struggles against impossible odds to make a success of his inherited farmland unaware that his apparently friendly neighbours are secretly planning to
Beautifully photographed with ﬂawless performances, a towering tribute to the highest aspirations of traditional Frenchy storytelling. Edinburgh; Filmhouse o The Journey oi Natty Gann (PG) (Jeremy Paul Kagan, US, 1985) Meredith Salenger, John Cusack, Scatman Crothers. 101 mins. Disney family adventure ofa young girl traversing the country to join her father and the numerous adventures that befall her en route Edinburgh; Filmhouse
0 Le Jour Se Leve (PG) (Marcel Carné, France, 1939) Jean Gabin, Jules Berry. 93 mins. Classic evocation of doomed romanticism and fatalistic concerns in this story of a murderer cornered in a Parisian tenement. Edinburgh; EUFS
o The Killing Fields ( 15) (Roland Joffé, UK, 1984) Sam Waterston, Haing S. Ngor. 142 mins. Powerful, Oscar-winning true life story ofa deep friendship that endures the horrors of war and its aftermath in Cambodia. Edinburgh; Filmhouse
0 La Bamba (15) (Luis Valdez, US, 1987) Lou Diamond Phillips, Esai Morales. 110 mins. Conventional but winning biography of migrant fruitpicker Ricardo Valenzuela who strapped on a guitar and found brief
drive him from his (and rock ’n’ roll fame as Ritchie Valens.
Events appear to have been romanticised but the conviction of the enterprise is unmistakeable and the Los Lobos soundtrack is stunning. Edinburgh; Odeon. Strathclyde; Odeon Ayr
0 Latino (18) (Haskell Wexler, US. 1985) Robert Beltran, Ennette Cardona. 106 mins. A documentary-style expose of the contradictions of American foreign policy. Wexler‘s emotive film follows the fortunes of a lieutenant in the Marines, who is detached to train the Contra forces in Honduras and lead them in strikes against their native Nicaraguans. A more politically motivated companion piece to Salvador. Edinburgh; EUFS 0 Let’s Go With Pancho Villa (PG) (Fernando De Fuentes, Mexico, 1935) 92 mins. Regarded by critics as one of the best films ever made in Mexico, this final instalment in Fuentes‘ revolution trilogy is also one of the most spectacular. The story of a group of ranchers who join Panco Villa’s army contains a number ofeyecatching battle sequences on the way to a tragic climax. Edinburgh; Filmhouse
o The Love Child ( 15) (Robert Smith, UK, 1987) Sheila Hancock, Peter Capaldi. Percy Herbert. 100 mins. See panel. Glasgow; OFF
0 Love in the Afternoon (L ’Amour de L’Aprés-Midi) (18) (Eric Rohmer, France, 1972) Bernard Verley, Zouzou, Francoise Verley. 97 mins. The final delight in Rohmer‘s Six Moral Tales recounts a married man’s after lunch infatuation with a young girl. Glasgow; French Cine-Club
0 Mad Max II (18) (George Miller, Australia, 1981) Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence. 94 mins. Exhilarating, post~Apocalypse adventure. Pure cinema and the high point of the series. Edinburgh; Cameo 0 Manhattan (15) (Woody Allen, US. 1979) Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep. 96 mins. Woody wanders through the female jungle of New York in search of a perfect soulmate after the demise of his marriage. Edinburgh; EUFS o The Morning Alter (15) (Sidney Lumet, US, 1986) Jane Fonda, Jeff Bridges. 104 mins. Fading, alcoholic actress wakes up one morning with a corpse beside her. Did she do it? Traditional mystery thriller with sound performances from the stars. Glasgow; OFF 0 The Night Is Young (15) (Leos Carax, France, 1986) Denis Lavant, Juliette Binoche, Michel Piccoli. 109 mins. Never mind the rather silly plot (rival gangs in pursuit of the serum to an AIDS-like virus) but delight in the young director’s exuberant sense ofcinema. His feeling for colour and movement, affection for his ragamuffin characters and sheer belief in the power of visual imagery to captivate the audience are both exhilarating and intoxicating. Glasgow; GFT o A Nightmare on Elm Street, Part 111: Dream Warriors (18) or (Chuck Russell, US, 1987) Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, Craig Wasson. 97 mins. See panel. Edinburgh; Odeon
The List 30 Oct — 12 Nov 11