I’VE HEARD THE MERMAIDS SINGING
I've Heard The Mermaids Singing (15) (Patricia Bozema, Canada, 1987). Shiela McCarthy, Paula Baillargeon, Ann-Marie McDonald. 81 mins. If a low-budget feminist film from a Canadian independent film-maker doesn’t sound like the kind of thing that you must absolutely rush to see, then prepare to think again. Mermaids was the big hit on the festival circuit last year, a delightfullyfresh, intelligent, and unusual comedy which won plaudits and prizes everywhere it played.
The plot is very simple— Polly (McCarthy) is a very ordinary, slightly scatty, unsuccessful but quietly determined career-woman who lands a secretarial job in a fashionable art gallery. She falls into a kind of platonic crush on her employer, the beautiful and very successful Gabrielle (Baillargeon), whose light paintings she sees as works of genius, in contrast to Gabrielle's dismissal of Polly's own (rather good) anonymously presented photographs. The final reversal, which lwon't give away, results in a quiet triumph for Polly’s own sense of her worth, and ends the film on an engaging moment of resolution.
The strength ofthe film, though, lies
Bemberg. Argentina L'S. 198())Julie (’hristie. lililmins. Argentina. 1938;: prim linglish governess comes to take charge of the children at a large country estate. The repression of the female members of the family and the corrupt double standards of the autocratic patriarch mark out the household as a microcosm for the wider domainsof sexuality and political authority. lidinburgh; Filmhouse
I Missing ( 15) ((‘osta-(iavras. LS. 1981) Jack Lemmon. Sissy Spacek. John Shea. 132 mins. Based on the experiences oflid Horman in (bile. this toweringly intelligent entertainment features l.emmon as an all-American dad who journeys to a Latin~American country in search of his missing radical son. lidinburgh: Filmhouse
I Moon in the Gutter(18)(Jean-Jacques
Beineix. France. 1983)Gerard
: Depardieu. Nastassja Kinski. 137 mins. A - brooding film noir about a stevedore. his
obsession with his dead sister. and the
. mysterious and alluring femme fatale who bears an uncanny resemblance to her.
3 I Mysteries of the Surreal (PG) 80 mins.
The detailed examination of the work of
Jan Svankmajer continues with this
programme featuring two of his 1969 creations ~ the blackly-humorous surreal live-action Garden and the bizarre A Quiet Week in a Home about a man in adesc rtcd building. (‘omplementing the show are films by Rene (‘lair. Maya Deren and Benita Raphin. Edinburgh; Filmhouse
I The Name of the Rose ( 18) (Jean-Jacques Annaud. W. Germany France Italy. 1986) Sean Connery. F. Murray Abraham. 131 mitts. Marvellousmedieval mystery with the masterful (‘onnery as a Sherlock Holmes-like sleuth on the trail of the murderer in the monastery. Glasgow; (irosvenor
I Near Dark ( 18) (Katherine Bigelow. US. 1987) Adrian l’asdar. Jenny Wright. Lance llenriksen. 98 mins. A chance sexual encounter for a young Texas lad leads to his abduction by a groupof marauding bloodsuckers and his difficult transformation to their parasitic mode of existence. As vampire-biker westerns go.
in Shiela McCarthy’s performance. Polly comes to us as a wholly untypical screen heroine, totally bereft of glamour or charisma, although her ordinariness has a touch of heroic eccentricity to it. McCarthy plays her with total conviction, never allowing herto seem anything less than the decisive locus of the film, with no trace of pathos. It is funny and touching, and another example of the way in which
this is a pretty good one. Strathclyde; (‘annon I The Neverending Story ( t3) (Wolfgang Petersen. I'K W. Germany. 1984) Noah Hathaway. Patricia Hayes. Barrett Oliver. 92 mins. lingaging but obvious children’s fantasy with the message that reading is good for you. Strathclyde; Riallo I A Night on the Town (P(i)((‘hris ('olumbus. IS. 1987) lilisabeth Shuc. Maia Brewton. Keith (‘oogan 96mins. unremarkable but personable teenage variant on the yuppie-in-peril genre. 17 year-old babysitter Shue is asked todrive into (‘hicago to help a stranded friend. Reluctantly she takes her two charges and their cynical chum with her. When thecar breaks down and she discovers the absence of her purse the evening‘s fun has only just begun . . . lidinburgh;()deon I The Nighl Porter( 18) ( Liliana ('avani. Italy. 1973) Dirk Bogardc. (‘harlottc Rampling. 118 mins. In a seedy hotela former SS man and a concentration camp survivor renew their perverse relationship of years before. Rather distasteful sexual melodrama. Edinburgh; EUFS I No Way Out ( 15) (Roger Donaldson. US. 1987) Kevin (‘ostner. Sean Young. Gene IIackman. 114 mins. Resourceful naval hero (‘ostncr. now a liaison officer between Secretary of Defense IIackman and the (‘IA. is asked to lead an investigation into the murder ofa Washington socialite. However. he knows that Hackman was the accidental killer and that the finger ofsuspicion is being falsely pointed towards another man who shared the girl'sbed. namely himself. .. Beautifully paced conspiracy yarn with fine performances all round Recommended. Glasgow; Salon. Edinburgh: ()deon I NUTS ( 18) (Martin Ritt. LS. 1987) Barbra Streisand. Richard Dreyfuss. Karl Malden. 111 mins. Streisand. out to prove her dramatic worth. is a high-class hooker on charge of manslaughter who must first prove her mental competence to stand trial. The makers seem convinced that this is a daring piece of adult drama but the reality is an antiquated courtroom melodrama’star vehicle Glasgow:
good writing, wit, and imagination can make up for lack of finance. Like previous festival raves such as Strangers In Paradise or She‘s Gotta Have It, it bodes well for the future, but Rozema has made a more completely rounded film than either of those, and it deserves to find an audience who will not be deterred by its lack of mainstream gloss on screen.
(‘annon Sauchiehall Street. Edinburgh: (‘annon
I Obsession ( 15) (Brian De I’alma. US. 1975) (‘liff Robertson. Genevieve Bujold. 98 mins. Industrialist Robertson refusesto play ball with some unscrupulous kidnappers and loses both his wife and child. Years later he encounters the exact double of his deceased love and is helplessly infatuated once more.
De l’alma's swonning rehash of Vertigo is one of his most ingenious and compelling tributes to the masteryof Hitchcock complete with a wonderful Bernard Herrman score. Glasgow; GFT I The Official Version ( 15) (Luis Puenzo. Argentina. 1985) Hector Alterio. Norma Aleandro. Guillermo Battaglia. 112 mins. ()ne woman's politicization amid the ruins ofthe military regime in Argentina. A staggering. deeply felt piece ofstorytelling that won the ()scar as Best Foreign Film. Well worth seeing. Edinburgh; Filmhouse
I Pandora’s BOX ( l’U) ((i.\N. Pabst. Germany. 1928) Louise Brooks. 12(lmins. A prostitute wanders through the decadent high society of the Weimar Republic before leaving under dubious circumstances for the deprivation ofthe London docklands. Typically dark German expressionism with a performance of remarkable sexual vitality from the star. Edinburgh; Edinburgh Film Guild
I Picnic at Hanging Rock (PG ) (Peter Weir. Australia. 1975) Rachel Roberts. Dominic Guard. Helen Morse. 115 mins. St Valentine‘s Day. 1900. A school tripto the towering local landmark Hanging Rock ends in inexplicable tragedy when three of the girls and one teachcrare reported missing and their disappearance is never solved.
Tantalising speculative recreation of true events that becomes a hauntingly eerie daylight ghost story Glasgow; GFT I I.e Plaislr (Max Ophuls. France. 1952) 97 mins. Elegant and richly atmospheric ()phuls offering of three Maupassant stories about the search for pleasure. Edinburgh; Edinburgh Film Guild
I Rear Window (PG) (Alfred Hitchcock. US. 1954) James Stewart. Grace Kelly. Raymond Burr. 112 mins. Confined to his
Manhattan apartment with his leg in plaster.photojournalistStewarttakes an insatiable interest in the lives ofhis neighbours and slowly realises that the man opposite has murdered his wife.
A superny crafted . tense thriller with a fecund subtext on voyeurism and eroticism. Glasgow; GFT I Reds ( 15) (Warren Beatty. US. 1982) Warren Beatty. Diane Keaton.Jack Nicholson. 20(1mins. The romance of
journalist Jack Reed and writer Louise Bryant is set against the backdrop ofthe early trade union movement in the US and revolution in the USSR. Splendid stuff it is too. Edinburgh: Cameo I River's Edge (18) (Tim Hunter. US. 1986) Crispin Glover. Keanu Reeves. Dennis Hopper. 99 mins. A motiveless killing is the catalyst for a moral crisis amongst a group of teenage buddies
Challenging exploration ofalienated youth and their attempts to forge a value system in a society of numbing moral blankness. Edinburgh; (‘ameo I nobocop ( 18) (Paul Verhoeven. US. 1987) Peter Weller. Nancy Allen. Daniel ()‘Herlihy. 103 mins. Slick and
stomach-churningly violent futuristic thriller. blending elements of Dirty Harry. Frankenstein and Six Million Dollar Man. When diligent policeman Murphy is shot to pieces by vicious thugs his remainsare mechanically re-constructed into a hi-tech law enforement officer. However. beneath his tin exterior the human desire for vengeance beats on.
A predictable but imaginative slab of pulp mayhem with a redeeming sense of humourand socialcritique Glasgow: ()deon. Edinburgh; ()deon
I Roxanne (PG) (Fred Schepisi. US. 1987) Steve Martin. Daryl Hannah. Shelley Duvall. 107 mins. Witty. tender and charming reworking of ( ‘yrano (1e Bergerac. deploying a range ofcomedy techniques as smalltown fire chief Martin of the enormous proboscis copes with the slings and arrows of life's insulters and unexpected romance. Glasgow; GF'I‘ I The Sacrifice ( 15) (Andrei Tarkovsky. Sweden. 1986) Erland Josephson. Susan Fleetwood. Allan [idwall 149 mins. Set on a remote island and focusing on a twenty-four hour period of action. Tarkovsky‘s last film and testament concerns itself with one man's response to the oncoming apocalypse. The title refers to the deal Josephson conducts with the divine whereon he offers himself up as a supreme act of atonement in order that the world be restored. An overwhelmingly poetic experience although inevitably overrated. Edinburgh; Edinburgh Film Guild I Salvador ( 18) (Oliver Stone. US. 1986) James Woods. Jim Belushi. John Savage. 122 mins. Raw. abrasive reportingof journalists under fire as sleazy ‘war junkie‘ photojournalist Woods travels to Salvador and finds his senses assaulted by the fear and corruption perpetrated by the ruling élitc. Exceptionally well acted. angry. bravura filmmaking that not only demands your attention but deserves it. Glasgow; GFI‘ I Sammy and Rosie Get Laid ( 18) (Stephen Frears. UK. 1987) Shashi Kapoor. Frances Barber. Ayub Khan Dim. 100 mins. Over-ambitious. provocative Canterbury Tales for the 1980s as a pragmatic Indian politican returns to his beloved England and son Sammy to find his sensibilities and fanciful images confronted by rioting in the streets and the nightmare of inner-city life in Thatcher‘s Britain.
Blunt. bittersweet comedy that explodes across the screen in a dazzlineg undisciplined exploration ofsexual politics. self-justifying expediency and the bankruptcy of moral or personal commitment. Undeniably challenging, well acted and sickenineg relevant, it is difﬁcult to ignore but equally hard to like.
“The List 4— 17 March 1988