‘ RecollectionsoitheYellowHouse(18) (Joar Cesar Monteiro, Portugal, 1989)
Joar Cesar Monteiro, Manuela de Freitas, Teresa Calado. 122 mins. The ‘Yellow House‘, apparently, is a Portuguese expression tor a lunatic asylum, and indeed the protagonist oi the iilm, a scrawny middle-aged waster memorably embodied by the writer/director himseli, does at length end up in institutional care when he’s I apprehended brazenly impersonating a military otiicer. From such an outline you might reckon Monteiro’s curious Venice prize winner loosely emblematic oi a decaying society lapsing into sell-deluding memories at 1 an imperial past, but, by turns drily witty or moderately surreal, this Lisbon ‘ shaggy-dog story proves much more diiiicultto pin down.
Certainly it all makes a marked contrast to Alain Tanner’s In The White City, lorthe tone throughout is
: resolutely unilattering to both central
character and the Portuguese capital. Both are tinged with jaundice and look like they‘ve seen better days, and even Woody Allen would surely baulk at playing a role whose major character traits include impotence, narcissism, a problem with bedbugs and a painiul
RECOLLECTIONS OF THE YELLOW HOUSE *' ’ I ' sh: -’ ' .. Til», ae’-.'.' ’ ‘ g s k V. kw??? was“: i : ‘*\¥v2.- .. we V “New _ .J’ ‘
inilation oi the testicles. As the cadaverous Joao ineptly attempts to woo his Iandlady’s attractive teenage daughter- a clarinet player in the police cadets’ band—helps a iellow inmate oi the rooming house to have her poodle put down, or iirally adopts the Von Stroheim-inspired pose oi a monocled senior otticer, the raison d'etre oi the proceedings appears to be a mood at introspection so lugubrious that one can’t help but laugh. Imagine early Beckett meeting the Droopy cartoons in Lisbon, and you're some oi
g the way there.
The result, oi course, may not be to everyone's taste, but Monteiro's
' achievementinturning the
slow-moving metaphysical ierment oi many a European art movie to his own deiiantly inconsequential, unserious
and really rather odd purposes
V certainly deserves an audience.
Distributors Artitlctal Eye, who also released Joao Botelho's intriguing Portuguese version oi Hard Times a couple oi years back, deserve some thanks tor displaying the enterprise to at least make this possible. (Trevor Johnston)
Glasgow Film Theatre, Mon 7—Wed 9
('Iermont-Ir'errand Short Film Festival by Jayne I’illing of the Bl-‘I. Edinburgh: I‘iilmhouse. I In The Realm CI The Senses :IiNu (‘urrida ( IS) (Nagisa ()shima. Japan. 1970) Tatsuya Fuji. Iziko Matsuda. 105 mins. At last deemed lit for certification. ()shima's shockingly erotic film can now be publicly screened. In the militarist Japan of 10%. a couple enclose themselyes in their own sensual world. their passion escalating until only death can proyide the next orgasm. Masterly though necessarily extremely explicit look at the power of sexual arousal. which has attracted contrm ersy throughout the world. Edinburgh: (Tameo. (‘emralz Mac Robert Arts Centre. I Jacob‘s Ladderi 18) (Adrian Lyne. US. 1990) Tim Robbins. Izlizabeth Pena. Danny Aiello. l 13mins. Vietnamyet Jacob Singer is seeing some very strange things. like nurses with demons’ hornsand i people with faces straight out of a Francis Bacon painting. As his grip on the reality
of his present life begins to slip. he has recurring ﬂashbacks to the night his platoon was wiped out during the war. The director of Fatal Attraction and the writer of (iliusi combine to pull offone ofthe most terrifying. yet ultimately moving. paranoia thrillers of recent years. See prey-iew. Glasgow: Cannon The Forge. (‘annon Sauchiehall Street. Grosvenor. Iidinburgh: Cameo. UCI. Strathclyde: lf('l (‘Iydebank. L'Cl East Kilbride.
I Jungle Fever ( l8) (Spike Lee. US. 1991) Wesley Snipes. Annabella Sciorra. John Turturro. Spike Lee. Anthony Quinn. 13?. mins. Black yuppie Flipper Purify (Snipes) launches into an ill-fated affair with his Italian-American secretary (Sciorral and adds fuel to the fire of inter-racial tensions. Spike Lee's latest controyersial work also includes a major subplot on drug addiction. which leaves the audience wondering if he has tackled too many ‘big‘ issues at once. Still. it'sa stylish piece with some good performances. even if the director‘s
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The List 27 September— ll) October 1991 19