FOURTH EDINBURGHFRINGE FILM FESTIVAL
Over seventy films in four days. I should doubt that any but the most devoted got close to seeing all of the festival. Several programmes were run each day in Cinema 2 of the Edinburgh Filmhouse, more could be seen on the row of televisions and headphones in the cafe. If nothing else, it showed how much independent film and video is quietly put together by determined groups and individuals around the world, all year round. Determined because the entire funding oi all the films on view would be lost without trace in the accounts of the lowest budget film Hollywood bothers to make. You had to admire some of these people’s nerve.
A large part of the diverse array was what would really be called community film. Protesting about conditions, passing on valuable lessons from group to group, the subjects ranged from the long struggles it can take to force action over bad housing, to the difficulties women football teams face. Particularly good, and exceptionally well made, was Bringing ltAll Back Home by the Sheffield Film Co-op, a worrying view of the appearance of Third World working conditions in declined industrial areas of Britain. Many of these films are far more interesting than television documentaries, for what was sometimes lost for lack of professional
experience was more than made up for by the tangible feel of the closeness of these subjects to the film-makers’ lives. They would probably be accused of bias on TV.
One that was. as it was originally commissioned for Channel 4, was 20th-Century Vixen’s view of Arthur ‘Bomber' Harris, Fireraiser. To be frank, I thought it strayed dangerously from side to side of the border between fact and fiction. The momentous events of Dresden were too terrifyineg serious forthat.
But much of the Festival was fun, or
moving, or both. From the macabre animation of Belling The Cat, to the hilarious surprise lurking Up The Garden Path, from the flawed but imaginative translation of Joyce to Edinburgh in Dreamtown, to the Italian meditations on sculpture, no one could quite predict what they would see next. My personal favourite was the Italian video Nome Di Battaglia: Bruno, piecing together the life of a Red Army guerrilla from his mother’s reminiscences. l was left with a lump in my throat. Where else would lever
i have seen it? (Graham Henderson)
love at first sight when they meet : she undergoes a Cinderella-like transformation and is torn between the conflicting demands of her head and heart. Meanwhile. other members of her closeknit Italian-American family are similarly thrown into amorous turmoil by
the influence of a mischievous moon. (‘ombining humour and poignancy with a charming eccentricity. .‘lloonsrruck is a delightful story. engagingly told. ()scars also went to Dukakis and John Patrick Shanley's rich. tutti-frutti script. Edinburgh:Dominion.
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“The List 24 June — 7 July 1088
I My Life As A Dog ( P( i l ( l.asse l lalstrom. Sweden. 1985) Anton (ilan/clitls. Manfred Server. Anki I.iden. llll mins. Wholly captivating rite of passage tale set in Sweden during the 1950s. Twelve year-old lngemar copes with his mother's terminal illness and his family's general indifference to his boisterous spirits by indulging in a high fantasy life. including
the pretence that he is a dog. 'l'errible title.
wonderful. unmissable film. lidinburgh:
‘ Cameo. ,
I Noir Bl Blanc ( 18) 21'? ((‘Iaire Devers. France. 1986) Francis Frappat . Jacques Martial. Josephine l’resson. till mins. A mild-mannered accountant secures temporary employment at a health club where he forms a bizarre and increasingly hazardous sado-masochistic relationship with a burly masseur.
Devers original aim was to make a documentary about health centres. Finding that her researches provokedonly distaste she decides to amalgamate the idea with the basic premise of a short story by Tennessee Williams entitled Desircund the Black .‘liuss‘z’ur. The result is asparc. claustrophobically intense study ofpain and pleasure. desire and brutalization. Uncomfortable and disturbing. Edinburgh: l’ilmhouse I No Way 0uf( 15) (Roger Donaldson. US. 1987) Kevin Costner. Sean Young. (iene Hackman. 114 mins. Resourceful naval hero (‘ostner. now a liaison officer between Secretary of Defense l lackman and the (IA. is asked to lead an investigation into the murder of a Washington socialite. However. he knows that Hackman was the accidental killer and that the finger ofsuspicion isbeing falsely pointed towards another man who shared the girl's bed. namely himself. . .
Beautifully paced conspiracy yarn with fine performances all round. Highly recommended. (ilasgow: (if-'1‘.
I The Passionate Thief ( P( i ) ( Mario Monicelli. Italy. 1%“) Anna Magnani. Ben (iazzara. Toto. lired ('lark. lilomins. Little seen. offbeat comedy intertwining
the lives of two impecunious film extras and a smooth~talking con artist as they attempt to work the crowds of revellers and wealthy tourists during the New Year festivities. 'A minor tale of loy e and larceny". lidinburgh: l-"ilmhouse
I Planes. Trains and Automobilest 15) (John Hughes. LS. 1987) Steve Martin. John (‘andy . l.aila Robbins. 02 mins. Hughes relinquishes his position as the most pertinent commentator on teenage woes and graduates with honours in the side-splitting adult comedy stakes. Martin is a harrassed (‘hicago businessman desparate to return home from New York for the 'llianksgiving celebrations. Af‘tcra frenzied attempt to catch the last flight home he undergoes a series of increasingly fraught misady enturcs. Along the way he meets (‘andy's accident-prone shower curtain salesman and they inadvertently become travelling companions through treacherous snow . hell. high w ate rand mutual incompatibility.
Predictable and sentimental ()dd ('ouple on the road which is genuinely funny thanks to the script and the well-played clash of personalities between the two stars. (ilasgow : Gannon('larkston Rd. (‘annon Sauchichall Street. lidinburgh: Cannon. Strathclyde: Kelburne. Rialto.
I Playing Away( 15) ( l loi'acc ()ye. t'K. 198(3) Norman Beaton. Robert l'rquhart. Helen Lindsay. 102 mins. As part of its fund-raising week for the Third World. the Suffolk village of Sneddington iny ite a team of West lndians from Briston toplay a friendly cricket match. The personal clashes on and off the field reveal much about the state of play in contemporary multiracial Britain. (ilasgow : (il’I‘
I Prince of Darkness ( la) (John ('arpenter. LS. 1987) Donald Pleasencc. Jameson Parker. \‘ictor Wong. llll mins. A (‘atholic priest convenes a groupof scientists in an abandoned church to assist him in a race against time to discover the secret of a sinister cannister believed to contain the spirit ofSatan. As they fight against the purest form of evil. their numbers are systematically depleted and their mission becomes a simple one of survival.
Perfunctory. low-budget shocker with little of the imagination or sense of menace that the director once seemed adept at conjuring. (ilasgow': (‘annon ('larkston Rd. (‘annon Sauchiehall Street. Edinburgh: Cannon. (’entral: Cannon. Strathclyde: Cannon. ()deon Ayr. ()deon Hamilton.
I Radio days ( P( i) (\Yoody Allen. US. 1987) Mia Farrow . Seth (ireen. Diane Keaton. 8‘) mins. Amiably laidback family recollections of the early l‘orties and the golden age of the wireless. Potpourri of modest charm held together by an armful of reliable performances from old lags and the usual flashes of wit and wisdom. A pleasant time filler for both director and audience. (ilasgow : (if-'1‘.
I Bobocopt la) ( Paul Vcrhoeven. th. 1987) Peter Weller. Nancy Allen. Ronny ('ox. 103 mins. Slickand stomach-churningly violent futuristic thriller blending elements of Dirty Harry. Frankenstein and The Six .lli/lion Dollar Man. When diligent policeman Murphy is shot to pieces by vicious thugs. his remains are mechanically reconstructed into a hi-tech law enforcement officer but the human desire for revenge still beats beneath his mechanical exterior. Edinburgh: Filmhouse.
I Round Midnight ( 15) ( Bertrand 'l'avernier. l'S France. 1986) Dexter (iordon. Francois (lit/ct. Lonette McKee. 133 mins. l.ate 195(ls‘ Paris. and a young French jazz fan plays willing minder to bebop legend Dale 'l’urner. engagingly played by real life maestro (iordon. lest he drink his weary body into the grave.
Relentlesst touching character study with some fine music. Edinburgh: l-‘ilmhouse.