Another swatch at the batch olVHS-type entertainment heading tor your rental shops and sell-through shelves as we speak.
I Presumed Innocent ( 15) An intriguing courtroom drama starring Harrison Ford as an uptight state prosecutor. faced with the difficult task of proving himselfinnocent ofthe murder of his colleague (ireta Scacchi. RaulJulia is particularly impressive as Ford's defence lawyer. The film might suffer from the fact that the twist in the ending has been rather well publicised. but otherwise it's an interesting study of corruption and desperation amongst a closed legal community. (Warner Rental)
I Crimes And Misdemeanours ( 15) An acclaimed return to form for Woody Allen in his story of a successful opthalmologist (Martin Landau) tortured by guilt after commissioning a crime to save his reputation. Landau is so excellent. and the story so involving that Allen himselfis quite overshadowed. albeit still very amusing. as the unsuccessful documentary- maker. Alan Alda is another delight. for once shaking off his nice-guy image to play an egotistical TV producer. (MCEG Virgin Vision Rental)
I James Come Home James ofcourse are the Manchester band that made their best music while still relatively obscure. before realising. along with other indie losers (hello Farm). that there was serious money to be made by tagging a ragged dance beat onto their anthems for tortured youths. Commercial success followed swiftly. although at times it seemed their T-shirts were selling faster than the records. This live video captures both the heady warmth of older songs like ‘What's The World'.” and the sublime hit ‘Sit Down'. and the stodgier stuffof more recent material ‘Government Walls' and '(iod Only Knows‘. (PolyGram £12.99)
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For your eyes only
With broadcasters still in some confusion as to what they are allowed to show, Channel 4’s Banned season will be vital in testing the water. Philip Parr gets the uncut story from Channel 4’s John Willis.
Remember the ‘Red Triangle‘. Channel 4‘s experimental voyage into the realms of risque? The series was characterised by 70s fashions. a good few performances which would have embarrassed the cast of (.‘ru.ssr0ad.s‘ and about as much spice as you'd find in a suet pudding. Nevertheless. the media watchers came out in a tidal wave of indignation and the series ambled to a halt after having done about as much as John Major‘s tailor to challenge the system.
Several years on. and now forced to operate under the watchful eye of the Broadcasting Standards Council. Channel 4 is launching another dose of liberalism on a suspecting public under the banner Banned. ()n this occasion. however. Mary Whitehouse's National Viewers and Listeners‘ Association maybe able to make a better case. Several of the programmes to be broadcast have previously fallen victim to the censor‘s scissors and the argument will run ‘why should what was unacceptable ten years ago. he
' acceptable now‘." A tough one for
the brains behind the project. Channel 4‘s Deputy Director of Programmes. John Willis‘.’
‘We‘re able to show The Life of Brian now even though it has been available for five years. However. it has already been shown on Sky and has been available on video for years. I think that the increase in the number ofchannels and the development ofthe video market has definitely changed people‘s attitudes towards what‘s acceptable. People are more tolerant and the British public isn‘t particularly worried about what they see on TV. We‘re more likely to get complaints about an animal getting killed in a nature series than many ofthe programmes we‘ll show in Banned. But. of course. certain people will complain
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Tony Harrison‘s poem ‘V‘ uses rude words with abandon and thus qualities for Channel 4‘s Banned season
and will complain vocally.’
In the last few months. Willis has had to endure considerable battles with the Independent Television Commission and expects future run-ins with The Broadcasting Standards Council once the series gets underway. Emphasising the inconsistency of the censors. Brimstone and 'I‘reaele which features the rape ofa disabled woman will be shown while Dick. Jo Menell's film featuring lllllllstillsof penises. has been banned. Not surprisingly. John Willis believes that the lack of any kind of coherent policy from the censors provides a sound argument for their abolition.
‘I think that I would get rid ofthe censorship bodies ifl had the power to do so. Clearly people must be protected from libel. blasphemy. child pornography etc. But there are already laws covering the publication and production ofthat kind of thing and. as we are in the job of production. naturally we will abide by those laws. The BSC and [TC are bureaucratic devices and a waste of time and money. Time and money that should be spent on programmes. We wanted to show The Life ()fBrian at ll) o‘clock but the lTC said that they wouldn't allow it to be broadcast unless it started at 10.30. Those sort of rather random decisions are difficult to penetrate and it would be helpful iftherc was some kind of rationale behind the censors‘ decisions.’
Channel 4 have had fewer problems with politically sensitive films which. although often banned initially. can eventually permeate to the screen largely uncut. Death on The Rock. the controversial Thames documentary concerning the British army‘s shoot-to-kill policy in Gibraltar. Cabinet. a report by Duncan Campbell on the use of secret select committees and The
70 The List 5 — 18 April 1991
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