The Dawning (PG) (Robert Knights, UK, 1988) Anthony Hopkins, Jean Simmons, Rebecca Pidgeon, 97 mins. Maybe its because the rest of the world keeps telling us it's what we do best but British cinema seems to display an unhealthy biastowardsthe well-heeled period piece, preferably adapted from a celebrated literary source.
A Room With A View, A Handful 0f Dust, A Summer Story and a dozen imitators have been flooding screens with idyllic pastoral scenes, mild critiques of the class system and venerable character actors rhubarbing around the croquet lawn.
The Dawning is no worse or better than many other examples of the genre and includes a few specks of grit on its otherwise smoothly genteel surface.
Adapted from Jennifer Johnston's Whitbread winner The Old Jest, the film is set near Dublin in 1920 and features an assured and auspicious debut from Edinburgh actress Bebecca Pidgeon as the 18 year-old Nancy who lives with her Aunt Mary (Jean Simmons) and near senile grandfather (Trevor Howard in a thankless final role).
In the summer before going to University the naive and curious Nancy is intrigued and charmed by the presence of an educated, cultivated stranger who has taken sanctuary in
She romantically conceives the man as an enigmatic fugitive who may even be her long lost father. In reality he is a former scion of the British gentry, now a disillusioned veteran of the Republican cause.
He is attracted to her innocence and vivacity, qualities that long ago deserted his truculent frame, and uses her as a go-between to pass messages to his colleagues. Her eager assistance implicates Nancy in the murder of twelve British soldiers and propels her into an adult world of bloodshed and moral complexity.
The grit in The Dawning comes from its mild skirmish with the age-old Irish problem but this is basically another pretty coming of age story with a mild political backdrop ratherthan an incisive tract. Slight and pleasant, the film lacks a compelling narrative but tastefully meanders along, brightened by the fresh playing of Miss Pidgeon and the subtly honed cynicism of a superb Anthony Hopkins as the gunman who asserts his authority with calm conviction.
An undeniable quality production but one of very modest virtues. (George Bailey)
even Philip Say ille‘s stylish direction can't help tlte separate thematic strands from pulling irt several directiorts at once. (ilasgow : (‘annon Sauchiehall Street. I The Glass Menagerie ( PU) ( Paul Newman. l'S. 1987) .loanne Woodward. John .‘ylalkoviclt. Karen Allen. 135 rttins. Definitive screen translation of one of Tennessee Williams’ most tender and acutely autobiographical plays. dealing with his love for a sister lost tomental illness and his ow n gttilty homosexuality. The intelligence of New rttan‘sguiding hand is evident througltout as he respects the text. adopts a fluid cinerttatie style and captures sortie outstanding performances forposter'ity. Edinburgh: Edinburgh L'niversity l‘ilm Society. I Good Morning Babylon ( l5) t l’aolo a VittorioTaviarti. ltaly liranc IS. 1986) \"invent Spano. (‘harles Dance. Greta Seaeci. l 17mins. A pair of Tuscany artisans emigrate to America. where they end tip workirtgirt Hollywood on the sets of I).W. (iriffiths' Intolerance. Fascinating episodic portrayal oftheclash of two cultures. with the hubbub ofearly Hollywood ertgagingly brougltt over. Stratltclyde: Haldane l‘ilm Society. I Good Morning Vietnam ( 15 i ( Barry Levinson. PS. 1987) Robin Williams. Forrest Whitaker. Tung Thanh Tran. 121 mins. At last getting the speciallytailored role his irnprovisatory comic talettt deserves. Robin Williartts giy es a dazzling performance as iconoclastic armed forces radio disc jockey Adrian ('ronauer. assigned to 1965 Saigon and soon creating headaches for the military top brass. While the more serious aspects of the filnt. its attempts to exarttine the clash of two cultures artd intimate the escalation of the Vietnam conﬂict. cart seem a little ﬂat. this is probably because Williams' stintsort the radio mike are so hilariously electrifying they leave the rest ofthe movie standing. Glasgow ; ()deon. Edinburgh: Dominion. ()deon. Strathclyde: AMC (‘lydebank If). I A Handful 0f Dust ( PU ) ((‘ltarles
Sturridge. l,'l\'. 1‘)S7) James Wilby. Kirstyn Scott-Thomas. Rupert (iraves. 118 mins. Living in splendour at the ancestral seat. ill-matched upper class couple Wilby artd Seott-‘I‘horttas find their already deteriorating relationship nudged further along the road to ruirt by the arrival of handsome ingettue Graves as a parasitical house guest.
Beautifully acted and crafted film version of the Evelyn Waugh noyel ('entral: Cannon. Strathclyde: (’annon. I High Plains Drifter( la) ((‘lint Eastwood. LS. 1973) (Jim Eastwood. Verna Bloont. 102 mins. A mysterious stranger ridesinto town. artd (literally) turns it into i fell. lntriguirtg stuff from Eastwood the star artd director. harnessing the Man With No Name forrttula to the demands of this enigmatic fable. Edinburgh: Edinburgh L'niversity Film Society.
I Hope and Glory ( 15) (.lohn Boorrttan. L'ls'. 1987) Sarah Miles. David l layman. lart Bartrten. Susan Wooldridge. 112 rttirts. A deceptively simple but perfectly crafted slice of wartime nostalgia that paittts a
w arm attd witty portrait ofthe adventurous childhood of the boy who would be John Boorman. Edinburgh: Filmhouse.
I Kings Of The Road ( 15) (Wirn \Venders. W. Germany. 1976) Rudiger \‘ogler. BrunoGanz. 170 mins. A businessman escaping frortt his domestic responsibilities joins up with a travelling cinertta equipment repairman in an odyssey round the rural rttoviehousesof Germany. Brilliant road movie more than bearing comparison with its American models. the episodic narrative and bleak monochrome cinematography emanating an almost palpable sense ofdespair. Higftly reeornrttertded. Edinburgh: Filmhouse.
I Labyrinth (PG ) (Terry Jones. LS. 1986) David Bowie. Jennifer (‘onnelly ltll rttins. Teenage girl has her baby brttv kidnapped by demon Dave. the KingOf The Goblins. and so has to enter the fiendish labyrinth to get him back. Not bad
lantin feature. w ith plenty of furry creatures to keep the kids happy . (ilasgtm': (irosvenor. I Law Of Desire ( IS) ( l’edro Almodoy ar. Spain. llll mins) litrsebio l’oncela. ('armen Maura. Antonio Baderas. llll mins. Notorious film-maker l’ablo moves through a decadent lifestyle of'sensual pleasure. his only real concern for his younger brother now tr'ansexualsister. Howey er. when he falls for governrttent minister‘s sort Antonio. a nightmare of manipulation and deceit is to follow.
l'lamboy ant Spanish iconoclast Almododyar has been acclaimed a ma (or new European talent. and while this exaggerated sexual farrago is interesting as a sort of overheated melodrama. the lack of narrative control near the end does let the film down. Still. a singular talent to watch. Izdinburgh: l-ilmliouse. I The Light Horsemen l t’( if ( Simon Wincer. Australia. 1987) Peter Phelps. Nick Waters. .loltn Lurking. 98mins. Based on actual events". this First World War drama follows the fortunes ofagroup of young cas'alryrtten iii the Australian Light Horse. as they take part iii the famous mission to take the strategically important Middle Last city of Beersheba.
While the battle scenes are undeniably well-rttotinted. there's an air of deja vu about this whole enterprise. stemming from the fact that w e'y e seen it all before irt TV mini-series or Peter Weir's very similar (iu/lrpuli. (ilasgow : ('annon Sauchiehall Street. I Long Live The Lady( IS) ( Iirmano ()lmi. Italy. 1‘)S7) Marco lisposito. Simona Brandalise. 106 mins. A groupof student waiters arrive at a large country house to assist in a dinner party given by a grand old lady. The guests turtt out to bea motley collection ofsuccessful scientists. bankers and industrialists. many of whom are ill-tttannered at the table. Yet asthe evening progressesone of theyoung students is to learn a good deal about loy e and life.
Extraordinary . dreamlike escapade.
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The List 11— 2-1 November 198813 U