Attention all Earthlingsl His Royal Highness Ming The Merciless, Emperor of All The Universe, gives notice that in recognition of ills ongoing special relationship with the people of Central Scotland, he has dispatched to them his appointed agent on your planet, Zorg ofThe Cine-People. He will henceforth be known to you as Trevor Johnston, and is hereby licensed to reveal the secrets of each tortnight’s forthcoming new film releases.
I CELIA (15) Splendid first feature from Australia’s Anne Turner interweaves its young heroine’s paranoid fantasies and cruel childhood games against a background of political intolerance amongst the parents to stunning eltect. Recommended. See leature. Glasgow Film Theatre Sun 18 to Tues 27 March with special preview on Sun 11 March.
I CONDUEST OF THE SOUTH POLE (15) Laudable low-budget Scottish feature adaptation of the acclaimed German play by Manfred Karge, relocated to a group of unemployed but unbowed Leithers, and directed with some panache by Gillies MacKinnon. See leature. Edinburgh Filmhouse Fri 9 March; Glasgow Film Theatre Wed 14 to Sat17 March.
I DAD (PG) Sentimental screen version of the William Wharton novel has Jack Lemmon as a plucky septuagenarian whose terminal cancer unites son Ted Danson and wife Olympia Dukakis around him. Sentimental, to say
the least. See mainteature.
Glasgow Cannon Sauchiehail Street from Fri 16 March.
I DANCIN' THRU THE DARK
(15) Meanwhile back in Willy Russell country, the
lads and lasses of Liverpool
converge on the local disco to find love, laughs, alcoholic oblivion and perhaps a glimpse of
escape to greener pastures.
See review. Odeons Glasgow and Edinburgh, UCls from Fri 16 March. I GLORY (15) Thirtysomething creator Edward Zwick goes big
screen in a big way with this lavish historical epic which
seeks to set the record straight by following the fortunes of an all-black
regiment in the Union army
and the courageous part they played in the very
bloody American Civil War.
See review. Cannons Glasgow and Edinburgh, UCls from Fri 16 March.
16The List 9— 22 March 1990
18 LISTINGS: WEEK ONE 25 WEEK TWO 26
A couple of years back, Lasse Hallstrom’s My Life As A Dog reminded audiences that they rather liked modest movies about the experience of being a child. flow from Australia comes a smashing debut feature in Anne Turner’s Celia, which takes similar material and works it into a far richer lilm. ’lt’s reminded people all overthe world of their own childhood,’ enthuses the affable Ms Turner, who’s brielly hitting the London leg of the global film festival circuit.
Set during the Fifties in Australian suburbia, the film’s protagonist is nine year-old Celia (the remarkable Rebecca Smart), whose bitter rites of passage include the deaths of both beloved granny and pet rabbit, and whose childhood games escalate from mere cruelty to much harsher violence,
as the ant-Communist prejudices of the parents against the neighbourhood’s new arrivals are passed on to the children. ‘The film came out of two separate historical moments in the Fifties,’ Turner explains, ‘when the Victoria government decreed that all rabbits were officially pests and were to be mustered and destroyed, and when there was terrible individual intimidation against anyone suspected of being a red. Basically the Communists were scapegoated in the same way as the pet rabbits. I thought the two formed a parallel, but the battle was to get them to mesh in a subtle way. Doing it through the eyes of a child seemed like it would work.’
The result is a haunting film that radiates humanity (‘people can look the same and live next to each other yet have completely different belief systems’) while at the same time evoking the deep fears and insecurities of our ore-pubescent years. Turner’s treatment of the imaginary goblins that haunt Celip’s sleeping hours is ample evidence of the film’s unique blend of childhood paranoia and political nous. ‘The Hobbiahs were these devilish foetal creatures from a famous storybook who carried away old women. In the original they were pink, but I made mine blue to tie in with the police.’ (TrevorJohnston)
Celia (15) plays the Glasgow Film Theatre from Sun 18 to Tue 27 March.
Sts of the A
Conquest of the South Pole is a remarkable film for three simple reasons. First, it was made in Scotland, a rare occurrence and achievement; second, it was shot in and around Lelth’s dockyards and warehouses; and finally, it wasn’t produced by the usual funding sources such as the BFI or British Screen, but llnanced independently by Gareth Wardell’s Jam Jar Films.
Director Gillies MacKinnon, a graduate of the National Film School, has created a raw energetic portrayal of desperate lrustration. Based on Manlred Karge’s acclaimed German play of the same name, it deals with the exploits of one Sloopianek (Steven Rimkus) and his gang of unemployed youths, who struggle against dole-queue boredom by undertaking a voyage ol the imagination to the South Pole. As MacKinnon puts it, ’these characters are exploring their experience, their thoughts, feelings,
attitudes and ideas. Their lives are being transformed, using this imaginary journey to explore themselves.’
The film is filled with humour, energy and optimism, but the fact, for example, that the ‘expedition’ is mounted to distract depressed Penguin (Ewan Bremner) from thoughts of suicide combines with the generally bleak atmosphere to move towards an angry political message. MacKinnon himself admits that he wasn’t initially aware of how the film would come across, but after seeing an early press screening recalls that, ‘I suddenly realised how angry the film was. There’s no polemical statement that I can see in the film personally, and actually I don’t want there to be one. What I do want is an understanding. I want people to see it and identify with it. i notice the strongest positive reactions it gets are from younger people.’
Bearing the traces of a ridiculously tight shooting schedule and filmed in the low-buget 16mm format, Conquest of the South Pole is hardly the most polished example of cinematic art you’ll see this year, but it remains a provocative achievement, and proof that Scottish filmic enterprise is still alive and kicking. (Dylan Matthew) Conquest Of The South Pole (12) plays Edinburgh Filmhouse on Fri 9 March only; and Glasgow Film Theatre from Wed 14to Sat17.
Director Bertrand Blier‘s new film Trap Belle Pour Toi has an innovative variation on the eternal triangle, as Trevor Johnston discovers.
With his egghead forehead and manicured heard. Bertrand Blier lights his pipe with the air ofa pensive redhrick academic. He‘s not quite what you expect from the man who‘s become known as the French film industry‘s most mischievous celluloid sprite. but he knows how to break the interview ice. ‘Often I don‘t know why I start to write something.‘ he gives a contemplative
puff. ‘I often tell things to journalists
that are not always true.‘
llis movies too are often about turning expectation on its head, chipping away at the conventional certitudes of truth and falsehood.