FROM EAST T0 WEST
Trevor Johnston reports on a host of impressive films from Britain. America and the Far East at this year‘s International Film Festi ’al.
A cursory glance at this year‘s Film Festival programme and already some are grumbling. No Hollywood blockbuster to rank with If. T. or Back To The Future is the theme of their mewling. and no sign of Who Framed Roger Rabbitf’. no (iood Morning Vietnam.
The petty minds who put up such cries completely fail to realise that there is a great deal more going on in the cinema than American megabucks. If proof was ever needed they would only have to scrutinise the impressively wide selection of striking films from all over the world that are just about to be offered up to them. Some people just don‘t know when they‘re well off.
We start with The [)ressmaker((‘ameo. 13 Aug. 8.30pm). Jim ()‘Bricn‘s filtn. from a John McGrath screenplay adaptation. which tells the story of three very different women's experiences in Liverpool during the war. (iood to see such an accomplished piece of film-making (which I have written about elsewhere in the magazine) directed. scripted and beautifully photographed (Bill Forsyth's cameraman Michael (‘oulter) by Scottish talent. As usual. Edinburgh is a showcase for new British cinema. and the ~12nd Film Festival hosts screenings of'I‘erence Davies‘ Distant Voices. Still Lives (Filmhouse. 1‘) Aug. 9pm). 21 remembrance of family life which is fast acquiring a reputation as one of the great British movies of the decade: cinematographer (‘hris Menges' debut feature A World Apart (Cameo. 26 Aug. 8.3llpm). focussing on the injustices of apartheid in 1963 South Africa: Peter Greenaway's disartningly enjoyable Home Counties mystery story Drowning By .N'umbers
(Cameo. 24 Aug. 8pm); and Track 29 (Filmhouse. 15 Aug. 7pm). an oedipal melodrama cooked up by Denis Potter and Nic Roeg. To close with. and tnost welcome too. another British picture. in Tlte Fruit Machine (Cannon. 28 Aug. 8.30pm). writer Frank
A Fish Called Wanda
(‘larke's successor to Letter To Brezhnev. which sees a pair of teenage boys on the run from the murderer of a local transvestite in a politically charged yet zestin entertaining thriller.
The premiere of a hectic and hilarious new British comedy A Fish called Wanda (Cannon. 20 Aug. 8.30pm). combining the transatlantic charisma ofJohn (‘leese. Michael Palin. Jamie Lee Curtis and Kevin Kline. will be accompanied by a retrospective of work by its veteran director Charles Chrichton. featuring Ealing classics such as The Lavender Hill Mob (Filmhouse. 18 Aug. 2.30pm). Mr Chrichton will be in attendance.
So too. it is hoped. will be notable Japanese director Scjun Suzuki. whom the Film Festival is honouring with a season ofthirteen of his films. each receiving a rare screening outside Japan. Suzuki was a studio contract for a studio in the Sixties. but films like Tokyo I)rifter(Filmhouse. 1‘) Aug. 2.30pm) were notable for the ﬂuidity of the cinematic style with which they managed to subvert the exploitation picture genre in which they were framed. The Film Festival programme contains a thorough analysis ofSuzuki‘s work and its place within the cultural context ofJapanese attitudes to violence and the depiction of sexuality.
Indeed. one of Edinburgh‘s great strengths is the way it has consistently pushed the best oriental film-making and this year is no different. From (‘hina comes (.‘hen Kaige‘s poetic King Of The (‘hildren (Filmhouse. 15 Aug. 9pm). and.by the photograher on Kaige's earlier triumph Yellow Earth. Zhang Yimou. the visually arresting rural saga Red Sorghum (Filmhouse. 27 Aug. 0pm). The 'l’aiwanese master Hou IIsiao-llsien (The Time To LiveAnd The Time To Die) a habitual favourite. brings another low-key. highly impressive film in Daughter 01' The Nile (Filmhouse. 21 Aug. 7pm): and Japanese humourist Juzo ( Tampopo) Itami is featured with his new comedy on the internal revenue system. A Taxing Woman (Filmhouse. 23 Aug. 9pm).
In the Seventies. the Edinburgh Film Festival gained a reputation with the work of Scorcese and DePalma as a home from home for new American cinema. and of late this has to some extent been upheld with early sreenings of films by Jim Jarmusch and Spike Lee. The current programme features the mouthwatering prospect of a season of films by masterly photographer Robert Frank. featuring his early collaboration with Jack Kerouac Pull My Daisy (Filmhouse. 16 Aug. 10.30pm). the notorious film ofthe 1972 Rolling Stones tour (‘ocksucker Blues (Filmhouse. 26 Aug. 11pm). and his latest film. Candy Mountain (Cameo. 22 Aug. 7pm), starring the inimitable Tom Waits. Waits indeed is expected to attend the British premiere of Big Time (Cameo. 23 Aug. 11.30pm), the screen version of his acclaimed Frank '5 Wild Years stage show. It‘s star time folks.
Speaking ofwhich. as well as Eastwood's Bird (Cannon. 21 Aug. 8pm). and Robert Redford‘s The Milagro Beanfield War (Filmhouse. 17 Aug.
1 Film Festival (see this and future issues).
9pm). (See feature elsewhere in this magazme). worthwhile new American movies include The Modems (Cameo. 23 Aug. 7pm). a kaleidoscope ofexpatriate Americans in the Paris of the 1920s from the masterly Alan Rudolph: Midnight Run (Filmhouse. 1-1 Aug. 9pm). a well-received road caper with Robert De Niro and Charles (irodin as incompetent hitmen: and renowned stillstnan Bruce Weber‘s gorgeous evocation of the fight game. Broken Noses (Filmhouse. 27 Aug. 10.30pm). once more backed by a tremendous jazz soundtrack.
Yet. the thing that one usually finds with Edinburgh is that the treasures of any years programme are found in the most unexpected places. and the forthcoming fortnight will probably prove the same. Even so. The List's hot tips for the more adventurous moviegoer would probably include the Aussie schlockfest Pandemonium (Filmhouse. 20 Aug. 1 1.3(Ipm). and a couple of movies by young European directors who have since been attracting attention from the Hollywood majors; Belgian Dominique Deruddere‘s sexually obsessive Bukowski adaptation Crazy Love ( Filmhouse. 22 Aug. 8pm). and the Spaniard Pedro Almovodar’s Law ()fl)esire (Cameo. 23 Aug. 9.30pm). a flamboyant exercise in sensual anarchy.
Somehow. when you add that lot to the plethora of material there simply isn‘t space to mention here. you may well find that this year‘s programme. larger than ever before. could well be one of the richest for some time. Will somebody please strike out that first paragraph! Ticket information and tlte full schedule will be contained in The List's Day By Day Diary to the
The List 12— 18 August 1988 31