7 VIDEOS '
Time to polish up the VHS tape heads once more and delve into the pile of video releases cluttering up the List foyer.
I Mo' Better Blues ( 15) Spike Lee‘s jazz ﬁlm is both less focused and less provocative than his other works. It ambles along unimpressively, with little concrete to say. The normally excellent Denzel Washington is cool and aloof as the central character, but there is little to involve the viewer in this underdeveloped and overlong indulgence (CIC Rental).
I Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles (U) Hopefully on the wane, Turtlemania‘s latest incarnation on video offers more of the same sagas of martial arts and pizza. This is the distinctly inferior cartoon version, with poor animation, and little in the way of wit. Two cassettes are available: ‘Cowabunga Shredhead‘ and ‘April Fool', each containing two stories (Abbey Home Entertainment £9.99 each)
I Citizen Smith (PG) Remember this? Written by John Sullivan before he dreamt up Only Fools and Horses. it has dated fairly well. and Robert Lindsay is wonderful in the central role of Wolfie Smith. leader of the Tooting Popular Front, urban guerilla. and crusader for 24-hour pub opening. The language and situations stand as an enduring time-capsule from the right-on 70s. There are two tapes, each containing three episodes. (BBC Video £9.99 each)
IThe Bear (PG) Jean-Jacques Annaud‘s extraordinary film, part natural history documentary, part family-viewing saga, part drama, grossed over $150 million at the box-office. It‘s not quite the same spectacle on the small screen, but is still intensely involving. Annaud‘s remarkable achievements are presenting the story entirely from the animal‘s point of view. and getting an astonishing ‘performance‘ from Bart the bear. Not short on ‘Aah‘ moments but not too sloppy or romanticised either. (RCA/Columbia £9.99)
in the past, Scottish folk programmes seemed almost to be made exclusively to plug gaps in the schedules, when the rest of Britain would be watching something infinitely more exciting. The English newspaper listings would promise live coverage of Liverpool v Everton in the thtlewoods Cup Fifth Round, or some suggestive Cockney sitcom, but a glance at the regional variations would reveal that viewers in Scotland would be getting a ceilidh band live from the South Uist sheep-shearing championships, or something very similar.
BBC Scotland’s new music show, Push the Boat Out, comes as a welcome change. Recorded on the Renfrew Ferry at last year’s Mayfest, it presents acoustic music in an unusual and original setting, with a rather more contemporary feel than is oftered by endless ballads concerning medieval massacres. The series features live performances from acts as diverse as Andy White, John Martyn and Cami Laula. “i suppose ityou had to label it, you could call it folk,’ says producer/director Maureen White, ‘but ldon’t think it’s necessary to divide music up into little categories. There are all sorts of diflerent styles included on the shows.’White herseltwas more accustomed to working with rock acts, having previously been involved with Halfway to Paradise.
Aly Baln osts 'ush The Boat Out.
The shows are introduced by Aly Baln and Edinburgh multl-instrumentalist Phil Cunningham, who perform a couple of tunes in each show. Guests in the first programme are former Fairground Attraction Eddi Reader, performing with her new band, and singer/ songwriter John Martyn doing old favourites ‘May You Never’ and ‘Solld Alr’. Future attractions include Nonhumbrian piper and fiddle player Kathryn Tickell, Dylanesque protest singer Andy White, and American punk lolkie Tymon Dogg. Maureen White’s own highlight, Irish singer Mary Black, has been saved torthe final show. ‘She's astonishing,’ says White. ‘She has kept a low profile up to now, but I think she’s going to be a very big name. She's sort of folk-rockish, with a superb voice, and her performances on the programme are simply stunning.’ (Tom Lappin)
Push the Boat Out, BBC1, Saturdays 23 Feb, 9.25pm; 2 Mar, 11.10pm.
Priorities, priorities. . . Pitythe poor TV controllers in these times of recession, franchise bids and every other CZ family nailing up a satellite dish. The BBC in their wisdom have decided to spend a healthy chunk of licence-tee money on commissioning shiny new logos. The result is at first terrifying, then exhilarating, as psychedelic globes spin towards you with a peculiarly badly-drawn number stuck in the middle. Thousands of fills LSD casualties must be convinced they are experiencing acid flashbacks. Well worth the money, although it seems to have been taken directly from the news-reporting budget. Last Monday morning’s coverage of the British Rail bombings was along the lines of “There’s been a couple of bombs. Someone‘s dead. There’s about 30 injured. Here’s a film about how the recession’s hitting the high street shopsﬂ
it’s a relief to see the BBC can still do a decent kitchen-sink drama. With teenage pregnancies, armed robberies, school bullies and thriving pizza businesses, no one can accuse Grange Hill (BBCt) of avoiding the issues. The one children's programme adults can’t afford to ignore has gone from strength to strength in the new series, and made some telling points about the state of our education system in the process.
The appalling Mr Hargreaves, a sort of yuppie Kenneth Clarke, is the root of most of the problems. He has given his
shady pal the catering contract, resulting in the school canteen losing most of its customers to an enterprising bunch of third years flogging pizzas in the playground. Not content with this failure, he also seems to have embezzled most of the school’s advertising revenue (yes, they sell advertising space in the corridors), and is suggesting turning the sixth-formers into cleaning staff. A wonderful satire on post-Thatcher education policy, with satisfyineg grisly kids.
Darlene Conner in the new series of Roseanne (Channel 4) is equally obnoxious. The thirteen-year-old tomboy troublemaker specialises in baiting her elder sister (‘You’ve got a driving lesson? 80 some poor pedestrian’s gonna end up as pavement pina’), and returning her mother’s insults with interest. She’s also kind of ugly. That, for an American sitcom, is a major relief. Give the girl her own show.
Darlene could certainly teach Proust a thing ortwo about one-liners. Even with Alan Bennett writing his lines for him, old Marcel didn't exactly set the screen alight in the Screen Two film 102 Boulevard Haussmann (BBCZ). Subtle and tastefully underpiayed it certainly was, but a very slight plot and static direction gave the whole thing a dreary lifelessness that left the viewer desperately A La Recherche De L’Interet Perdu. Sad and lonely old misfits have always been Bennett’s stock in trade, but in this case, Proust could probably have benefited from a couple of Gallic Rab C. Hesbitts popping round and taking him out for a couple of plots and a game of darts. (Tom Lappin)
’ V VIDEOS
I Oliver Twist (PG)The sort ofthing the BBC do best, we smugly tell ourselves. It has to be admitted that this TV adaptation of Dickens‘ tale is beautifully made . following nearly every convolution of the original story faithfully. and with acting ofthe highest calibre. The question is though; isn‘t this rather better viewed as a six-part serial? With a running time of some five and a halfhours. few viewers will be begging for more. (BBC Video £9.99)
I Rumble Fish ( 18) The ﬁlm that spawned a huge Mickey Rourke cult. and incidentally gave a crap Edinburgh pop group its name. Rourke and Matt Dillon look very moody and stylish in Coppola‘s rites of passage parable. all about alienation and coming to terms with yourself. Neither manage to obscure the impression of Dennis Hopper who is as disturbed as ever. The film is actually much better than its subject matter might suggest, due to the exceptional expressionist visuals and feel for atmosphere. Rourke‘s been going downhill since. (CIC
‘ Video £9.99)
IThe Flash (PG) Barry Allen is quite content with his job as a police chemist. until one night his laboratory is struck by lightning, and . . .yes, you‘ve guessed it, Barry becomesa mutant superhero. His talent lies not, as the title might ' inclineyoutothinkin exposing himself. but in an ability to do things at phenomenal speed. . Unfortunatelywearenot i given insights into how this affects his personal life. Instead we are subjected to another superhero-fights-crime I tale.moderatelywell 5 done as these things go, but distinctly unimaginative. (Warner Rental) I El Diablo (PO) A would-be comedy Western, trying to hitch a ride on Blazing Saddles' , stirrup leathers. El Diablo strugglesto raise the mildest litter. Anthony Edwards plays mild- mannered schoolteacher Billy Ray Smith forced to emulate his fictional hero Kid Durango and strike out after the devilish outlaw ofthe title. Billy’s ineptitude makes for some obvious early gags. and the humour is forced a little further when a crowd of motley assistants offer their services. A tame. if cheerful. comedy. undemanding and unpretentious. Shame it's also unfunny. (Warner
68 The List 22 February — 7 March 1991