Empire at the Sun (PG) (Steven Spielberg, US, 1987) Christian Bale, John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson, Nigel Havers. 152 mins. The more Steven Spielberg strives to cloak his work with the seal 01 literary respectability, the more tlawed his lilms become. The Color Purple was an undeniably tear-jerking but inevitably diluted version of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize winner, Empire of the Sun is a long-winded and mawkish incarnation oi the J.G. Ballard bestseller, dogged throughout by the invisible hand on the shoulder or Spielberg's avowed idol David Lean who once managed the intimate epic with so much more finesse and rigour.
In the Shanghai ot1941, eleven year-old James Graham lives a cosseted and pampered Iitestyle among the British set. However, when the Japanese invade he is separated lrom his parents and ultimately winds up in the Soochow Creek prison camp. A bright lad of quick wit, good manners and native cunning, he adapts and survives, assisted by the pragmatic camp scavenger Basie (Malkovich). His traumatic teenage years are one of death, tear and hunger but, to him, even the most leartul horrors add to his unquenchable thirst lor experiences of lite. By war's end, he is a young man who witnesses the lallout oi the atom bomb with the same sense of awe that he once reserved for the gliders lloating through the air of the family's Shanghai grounds.
Technically, Spielberg‘s mastery of his craft remains in no doubt; he marshals his human and mechanical resources with admirable ease. The slightly overexposed photography by
EMPIRE OF THE SUN
Alien Daviau takes the breath away time and time again and imbues the proceedings with a permanent sense 01 otherworldliness. John Williams' musical score isthe one disappointment here; an unvarying crescendo ol heavenly choruses that bludgeons the ear at every opportunity. The problems however arise in the storytelling and perlormance which are, respectively surprisingly banal and severely undernourished. The events portrayed have gone through the blenderot Spielberg’s cinematic consciousness, via an uneven Tom Stoppard script, and now seems determined to eschew the deep, dark despair inherent in their untolding. An essentially innocent young lamb has his whole childhood torn from under his comfortably shod feet and suffers the appalling conditions at four years internment yet it seems to be the equivalent of having a ticket for all the
rides in a neverending amusement park. War as a positive, all-rules- suspended playground seemed beguiling in John Boorman’s Hope And Glory, here it is unconvincing and in mildly poortaste.
The lilm is ponderously paced and lacks an emotional heart to captivate the viewer; the characters seem like a dramatists amalgam of familiar stereotypes lrom POW movies rather than llesh and blood people and therefore actors like Richardson, Havers and Malkovich populate the scenery but don't really connect with reality.
The film is well-crafted, sentimental, sweeping and reasonably engrossing tare that may well impress Academy
Award voters, but the lingering
impression is of opportunities squandered and ambitions unrealised. (Allan Hunter)
Lane. llflmins. Hotshot dice player Dillon leaves his small town roots to chance his arm at the tables of big. bad Chicago.
Formula stuff with cliched characters. an antique script and a certain lack ofstar charisma. Edinburgh; Cameo I Blade Bunner(15) (Ridley Scott. US. 1982) Harrison Ford. Rutger Hauer. Sean Young. 117 mins. A tough cop tracks down a group of malfunctioningandroids in this imaginatively gritty. futuristic hi-tech retread of Raymond Chandler. Glasgow; Grosvenor. Edinburgh; Cameo I Blue Velvet ( 18) (David Lynch. US. 1986) Kyle MacLachlan. Dennis Hopper. Isabella Rossellini. 120 mins. Lumberton. middle-America. Would—be boy detective Jeffrey Beaumont finds a severed car on some waste ground and when the police Shoo him away he decides to do some investigating of his own.
A singular fusion of the cosy and the terrifying which blends kitsch and nightmare. B-movie detection and brutal sexual perversion Glasgow; G FI‘. Edinburgh; Cameo
I Bonnie and Clyde (18) (Arthur Penn. US, 1966) Faye Dunaway. Warren Beatty, Michael J. Pollard. Gene Hackman, Estelle Parsons. 111 mins. 1n the Thirties, Mr Clyde Barrell and Ms Bonnie Parker become America's most notorious bank robbers. Marvellously atmospheric gangster ﬂick with iconic performances from the central duo. exhilarating violence and that wonderful banjo music. Edinburgh; Cameo
I Breathless ( 18) (Jim McBride. US.
1983) Richard Gere. Valerie Kaprisky. 101 mins. Handsome streetwise hustleron the run from the LA police attemptsto escape to Mexico with his girlfriend. a French student. Edinburgh; Filmhouse I Captain Hemo and the Underwater City (U) (James Hill. UK. 1969) Robert Ryan. Nanette Newman. Chuck Connors. 105 mins. Standard family-orientated fantasy in which six shipwrecked passengers are resuced by the Nautilus and taken to Nemo‘s underwater fortress where his ability to create gold arouses the expected jealousies and greed. Edinburgh; Filmhouse
I Cat People (Paul Schrader. US. 1982) Nastassja Kinski. Malcolm McDowell, John Heard. 118 mins. Gory remake of the subtle 4(ls‘ shocker with the Virgina] Kinski falling in love with the local zoo keeper whilst trying to restrain the family curse that brings out the beast in her. Glasgow; Grosvenor
I The Courier (15) (Frank Deasy. Joe Lee. Eire. 1987) Gabriel Byrne. lan Bannen. Padraig O‘Loingsigh. 86 mins. 1n the fair city of Dublin. motorbike messengers are the unwitting transport network for an intricate drugs ring.
Although a little too predictable and run-of-the-mill. The Courier is a passable thriller that gives its young team a chance to suggest their promise. Glasgow; Cannon Sauchiehall Street
I Cry Freedom (PG) (Richard Attenborough. US. 1987) Denzel Washington. Kevin Kline, Penelope Wilton. 158 mins. Although not without its flaws. Attenborough‘s biographical
re-creation of the friendship between black civil rights activist Steve Biko and white liberal newspaperman Donald Woods is his best film to date; an epic. moving drama that also stands as a vigorous condemnation of the obsceniton apartheid. Edinburgh; Dominion. Strathclyde; Cannon
I D.A.H.Y.L. (U) (Simon Wincer. US. 1985) Mary Beth Hurt. Michael McKean. JosefSommer. 1(X1mins. Interesting premise of a family who adopt a seemingly normal youngster only to discover that he‘s a sophisticated robot Edinburgh;
I Desert Bloom (15) (Eugene Corr. US. 1985) Annabeth Gish. Ellen Barkin.Jon Voight. 106 mins. 1950. in Las Vegas. near the Nevada nuclear test area. family tensions run high when the visit ofa viviacious aunt for a 42-day quickie divorce settlement sparks off further confrontation between a 13 year-old girl and her disturbed war veteran father. Solid domestic drama with fine performances from the young Miss Gish and the impressively curmudgeonly Voight. Honest and satisfying but never worthy. Edinburgh; Filmhouse I Les Diaboliques(18)(lienri-(‘icorgcs Clouzot, France. 1955) Simone Signoret. Vera Clouzot. Paul Meurisse. 107 mins. Fiendishly clever and frequently imitated (most recently by Fatal A (traction) thriller-chiller in which a tyrannical schoolmaster is murdered by his wife and mistress, but did he really die'.’ Edinburgh; Cameo I Dirty Dancing ( 15) (Emile Ardolino, US.
1987) Jennifer Grey. Patrick Swayze. Jerry Orbach. 100 mins. Remarkably ordinary but staggeringly popular girl meets boy musical set in an American summer camp in the year 1963. Strathclyde; ()deon Ayr
I La Dolce Vita ( 18) (Federico Fellini. Italy/France. 196(1) Marcello Mastroianni. Anita Ekberg. Anouk Aimee. 173 mins. Paparazzi journo-type Mastroianni mixes with the beautiful people of rich Roman society and is ambivalently shocked and fascinated by the vigour of their excessive decadence.
Everything you ever wanted from a Fellini movie — black humour. grotesque sexuality. inspired visual imagination and the wonderful Marcello. See it. Glasgow; GFT I Dragnet (PG) (Tom Mankiewicz. US. 1987) Dan Aykroyd, Tom 1 lanks. Christopher Plummer. lilomins. Contemporary spoofofthe cult 50s'TV series that begins with some promise but soon degenerates into an all too predictable mix of car chases and juvenile American humour. Edinburgh; Cannon. Strathclyde; Kelburne. Rialto I Eat the Rich (15) (Peter Richardson. UK, 1987) Nosher Powell. Ronald Allen. Robbie Coltrane. 90 mins. Comic Strip feature that's an improvement on The Supergrass; an all-star black comedy that lives up to its title. Glasgow; Grosvenor I Empire of the Sun (PG) 3‘1 (Steven Spielberg. US. 1987) Christian Bale.John Malkovich. Nigel Havers. Miranda Richardson. 152 mins. See panel. Glasgow; Cannon Sauchiehall Street. Edinburgh; Cannon I Fatal Attraction ( 18) (Adrian Lyne. US. 1987) Michael Douglas. Glenn Close. Anne Archer. 119 mins. Happilymarried lawyer Douglas discovers the high price of infidelity when his casual one night stand turns out to be a dangerously psychotic woman who will stop at nothing to gain her man's affection. Glossy, well-acted misogynistic Hitchcock-style thriller attracting more fuss and ()scar nominations than it merits.
Glasgow; Cannon Clarkston Road. Cannon Sauchiehall Street. Grosvenor. Edinburgh; Canon. Dominion. Strathclyde; Kelburne. ()deon Hamilton I The POX and "18 Hound ( U) (Frank Thomas. ()llie Johnston. Cliff Nordberg. US, 1981) Voices: Mickey Rooney. Kurt Russell. Pearl Bailey. 83 mins. Sluggish, unimatinative Disney cartoon in which an orphaned fox cub and a lovable hunting hound puppy spend an idyllic childhood together until their traditional roles and enmity are reawakened. Cute in a very familiar fashion. Glasgow; Cannon Clarkston Road. Cinema. Grosvenor. ()deon. Edinburgh; ()deon. Strathclyde; Kelburne. ()deon Ayr. Rialto
I Hope and Glory ( 15) (John Boorman. (IR. 1987) Sarah Miles. David Hayman. lan Bannen. 112 mins. A deceptively simple but perfectly crafted slice of wartime nostalgia that paints a warm and witty portrait of the childhood of the boy who would be John Boorman. Nowa leading BAFI'A and ()scar contender. Edinburgh; Filmhouse
I I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing ( 15) (Patricia Rozema. Canada. 1987) Sheila McCarthy. Paula Baillargeon. Ann-Marie McDonald. 81 mins. The slightly scatterbrained. socially maladroit Polly lands a secretarial job in a fashionable art gallery and tumbles into a platonic crush on her employer Gabrielle. Although intimidated by the woman and her surroundings. Polly eventually is made to see that judging yourselfby other people‘s standards is worthless.
Funny and touching feminist fantasy which admirably displays the way in which good writing, wit and imagination can make up for the lack of finance. Glasgow; GITI’. Edinburgh; Filmhouse
I Jagged Edge (18) (Richard Marquand. US. 1985) Glenn Close. JeffBridges,
12 The List 18—31 March 1988