With his fourth feature, In The Soup, director Alexandre Rockwell remembers the halcyon days of scrabbling around and trying to find the money for his first movie. ‘lt's about the moment when I fell in love with filmmaking,‘ reckons the 36-year-old. a decade and a half on from the youthful misadventures his newest movie captures so vividly. ‘l'd moved to New

York for the first time. I was working in a restaurant and selling all my stuff to buy cans of film. The last thing I let go of was my sax, because that was the thing of most value. and that's when I met this kinda gangster guy named Joe. who helped me with the financing. 1 met up with him a few times, then I went over to his house and it was quite clear there were guns and bags of dope all over the place.‘

On celluloid, in the shape of a wonderfully charismatic performance by regular Cassavetes associate Seymour Cassel, Rockwell‘s Joe has become ‘much more of a cinematic character - the real guy was pretty mysterious. pretty seedy and pretty dangerous’. As such, however, he provides the perfect foil for innocent would-be auteur Adolpho. another fine turn from Reservoir Dogs‘ Mr Pink,


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h The Sum Steve Buscemi, that captures with warmth and self-deprecation the mixture of enthusiasm, naivety and pretentiousness that characterised Rockwell’s own younger self.

At 21 . Rockwell made his own debut feature. Lenz. a $15,000 version of a Georg Buchner story set in the contemporary Big Apple. and he concedes that it's not a million miles away from the po-faced magnum opus screenplay ‘Unconditional Surrender’ that alter-ego Adolpho is desperately trying to hawk around in In The Soup. ‘1 would be pitching the script to people and I'd see their eyes glassing over,‘ he recalls with a smile, ‘but I really learnt a lot from that experience. l'djust been living in Paris. going to the Cinematheque three times a day and reading every film criticism book I could lay my hands on. so I was very theoretical about film. Like a lot of intellectuals. l was suspicious of laughter. because I thought it was trivial or something. To some extent. In The Soup is about realising the value of lightening up a little. Laughter isn‘t trivial, it's human. It unifies people.‘

Laughs there are aplenty in In The Soup's affectionate black and white odyssey through no-budgetland. but the keynote of the film has to be the maturity of its affection towards its characters. ‘I don’t think I really realised it at the time. but this period was my real education in life.’ says the black-clad Bostonian as he looks back. ‘The thing about first-time directors is that they’re very clever and they stylistically catch your eye, yet at the same time a lot of them really don't begin to touch what's inside. Emotionally. it's taken me a few years to get to that place. and in some ways I feel fortunate that I haven’t had much success with my movies before In The Soup. because it gave me a chance to gain from them. My advice to young moviemakers is to embrace your mistakes, because that's your education. The only trouble is that our society doesn’t allow us the opportunity to do that. We're all judged so quickly and so harshly.‘ (Trevor Johnston)

In The Soup. Cameo I . Wed [8.


3" L _ ‘.

I Bhail on the Beach After her ground-breaking BFI short I'm British Bur . . ., Gurinder Chadha‘s debut feature is an equally breakthrough production. dealing with the same issues of cultural identity and confusion in Britain‘s Asian communities. This is explored through a motley group of women who set off up the M6 for a day-trip to Blackpool. pursued by a vengeful husband. a faithless boyfriend and assorted local paramours. Chadha is clearly at ease in her milieu, and her good-natured. earnest film can hardly fail to be of interest. (Andrew Pulver)

Bhaji on the Beach. Cameo I , Mon I 6. 8.30pm; Film/muse I . Fri 20, 6pm.

[0.45pm; Filmhouse I , Thurs I9. 2pm.

13'» C

Frlends After graduating together from university. Thoko (a black teacher), Aninka (an Afrikaans archaeologist) and Sophie (a white activist) find it hard to stay friends in modem-day South Africa. When Aninka manies a fellow Afrikaans. who moves into their house, and Sophie escalates her activities to violence. the strain on their friendship seems to bring it finally to breaking point. Contrived as this microcosm of South African life might appear. Friends bodyswerves polemic to bring atmosphere and tension to the decisions the three must make. A heartfelt examination ofa difficult subject which dares to invoke the misery and bitterness in South Africa while remaining gripping. (TD) Friends, Cameo I . Wed I 8, 8.30pm and Film/rouse I , Sat 2/, 6pm.

u: i

‘3 ' ‘A The Hawk A serial killer is savagely raping. eviscerating and gouging out the eyes of his victims in this chilling, psychological thriller set in Northern England. Turning the formula on its head, this is not about the killer. or even catching him. but the woman who might be harbouring him. Helen Mirren is utterly convincing as the distressed mother whose husband had the opportunity to kill, while George Costigan has the bug-eyes needed to make him the prime suspect. Abetted by Andrew Dunn's constantly circling camera. this BBC production. directed by David Hayman, deftly winds up the tension. One to be seen in the dark. (TD)

The Hawk. Cameo I. Tue I 7. 8.30pm and Film/rouse I . Sun 22. 6pm.

68 The List l3—l9 August I993