Well, well: according to The Firm, all lawyers aren’t the nice, honest, cuddly chaps we thought they were. Except, of course, for Tom Cruise. Here, The List reviews the films opening in Scotland over the next two weeks.
I The Baby 0f Macon (l8) More stylised. more controversial. more Greenaway. The story of a professed 'child saint‘ in l7th centry France is the vehicle by which the director picks apart exploitation ofchildren. particularly by the Catholic church. and notions ofchild abuse. images of rape and mutilation will undoubtedly appal most viewers. regardless of Greenaway‘s artistic intentions. See feature. I The Firm (l5) John Grisham’s best-selling novel undergoes a few changes to become a star- studded. but somewhat overlong thriller in the hands of Sydney Pollack.
Tom Cruise is well cast and convincing as the young graduate lawyer. seduced by a Memphis law ﬁrm who act as a legitimate facade for the
i maﬁa. The supporting
cast. featuring Ed Harris. Gene Hackman. Holly Hunter. Gary Busey and others. is uniformly
5 excellent. inevitably. however. the pace
ﬂuctuates over two and a half hours. and implausible narrative jumps are made in the name of compact plotting.
| Nevertheless. the stars and j a gripping i'lnal twenty i minutes will ensure a UK
hit to match its US mega box ofﬁce performance. (AM)
I Benny’s Video ( 18) Although initially linked. because of its concern with the relationship between images and acts of violence. with ﬁlms like Man Bites Dog and Henry: Portrait OfA Serial Killer. this cool anatomisation of what Swiss director Michael Haneke calls ‘the progressive emotional glaciation‘ of his country also has wider social concerns. True. there is an unblinking focus on lonely adolescent Benny and his unhealthy fascination with a video ﬁlm he has shot of a pig being killed with a slaughter pistol. However. it is also clear that Benny has been emotionally de- sensitised, not just by his avid watching of violent videos. but also by his parents' obsession with social conformity and their denial of human feelings. So when his
dangerous games with a young girl he meets in a video store spill over into almost casual violence. there is a sense not so much of cathartic release as of horrifying inevitability.
The gaze of Haneke's camera is cool and detached. as if we too are viewing the events at one remove: try to imagine watching an Atom Egoyan ﬁlm like The Adjuster while on valium and you’ll get some idea. The young Benny‘s actions therefore evoke a dispassionate response from us. the viewers. Yet without the violent spectacle that provides the problematic excitement in ﬁlms like Man Bites Dog, this strategy denies us the chance merely to passively consume the images. Also. the later part ofthe ﬁlm. which explores the social dimension more deeply, sharpens rather than blurs the distinction between the grain of the image and the texture of real life. A demanding ﬁlm. but one which rewards one‘s intellectual engagement with provocative images and telling insights. (Nigel Floyd)
Another predictable variation on the ‘home invasion’ plot familiar from films like The Hand That Rocks The Cradle and straight-to-vldeo titles like Poison Ivy. What this story of a teenage girl’s infatuation with an older magazine journalist needs is the voluptuous sexuality and precocious talent of the Iatter’s Drew Barrymore;
’ what it’s got is the nubile body and
vacant mind of podgy-faced ‘wannabe lolita’ Alicia Silverstone.
Having landed a new job in los Angeles, ambitious iourno Hick Eliot (Cary Elwes) moves into the guest house behind an elegant suburban home, where he suffers the flattering but intrusive attentions of the owners’ fourteen-year-old daughter Darian (Sliverstone). What starts out as an adolescent crush quickly develops into a deranged obsession, one which affects Hick’s work and ieopardises his growing relationship with the mag’s staff photographer. Despite constant reminders of Darian’s girlishness, the threat is very real, especially when - in a scene
, guaranteed to bring any hard-working
l iourno out in a cold sweat - she steals i a computer disk containing Hick’s
3 latest article, then wipes his hard disk 5 clean.
I This bears all the hallmarks of a
i writer/director’s debut feature: the
' ._ ,. , z I, \ l 69,. It .. mud“ " he i 1‘ a» 'i ' '4 "
The Crush: ‘a riff on an over-worked forntula' set-up is ludicrous, the treatment overwrought, the secondary roles poorly developed. And despite Alan Shapiro’s claim that the events are based on his own experiences, the ' storyline is merely a riff on an over- i worked formula. like the miniature l l l
children’s carousel which Darian’s protective father keeps in the loft, this gaudin painted, mechanical entertainment ultimately spins completely out of control. (Higel Floyd)
The Crush (15) (Alan Shapiro, us, 1993) Cary Elwes, Alicia Silverstone, Jennifer Rubin. 89 mins. From Fri 17. Glasgow: Odeon, MCM Parkhead. Edinburgh: Odeon. Strathclyde: Cdeon Ayr, Odeon Hamilton, WMH. All llCls.
NIGHT AND DAY
Newly arrived in Paris, youngsters Julie (Cuillaine londez) and Jack (Thomas Langmann) spend a summer of love in a tiny apartment, their time out of the sack broken only by his nightly taxi round. This leaves Julie free to wander the city streets and strike up an equally sexual relationship with Joseph (Francois Hegret), the guy who drives the same cab during the day. Without conscience - and apparently without sleep - Julie flits between her lovers, but the strictly personal morality she favours threatens the viability of both liaisons. What’s more, it leaves the film unsure quite where to go; while earlier passages recapture some of the gossamer sensuality of director Chantal Akerman’s atmospheric Toute line fluit, the final reel lapses into dreary chat and would-be home- making DIV, leaving the viewer to wonder at the import of it all. Certainly, the performers are
l their very lack of distinctiveness
i i | l l
I Video Access Centre: Edinburgh is to have its ﬁrst public access. non- commercial S-VHS edit suite. thanks to a £l2.773 grant awarded to the city's Video Access Centre from the Foundation for the Sports and Arts. The money will also be used to purchase a professional three chip camcorder and two switchable S-VHS camcorders. allowing members of the public access to equipment and
facilities for making near
broadcast quality productions.
VAC has also been successful in its application for an Urban Aid grant. and will soon
begin work on a project ' called ‘Young People
Speak Out‘. which will be aimed at young people in Urban Aid areas around Lothian Region. With a budget oi‘£121.()00. this was one of the largest new
. schemes approved this 3 year. and will see an ‘ expansion in equipment.
premises and staff. These developments
could not come at a more crucial time for VAC.
which was criticised by a
i recent report
, Edinburgh District
Council. whose Recreation Department is the Centre‘s main funder. The new equipment has. however. revitalised the Centre and should
, : encourage the Council to
i reasses VAC’s future as a
mom And Dayzi‘famlliar heterosexual . < do . trols’ f
attractive in an androgynous way, but
typifies the piece’s dispiriting anonymity.
Which perhaps explains, in part, why the film has sat on its distributor’s shelves for eighteen months. Night And Day seems far adrift from the formal stringency of Akerman’s back catalogue and ill at ease in its motions towards more conventionally . accessible fare. While Jeanne Dielmanl and les Rendezvous d’Anna productively confronted the bounds of cinematic tedlum in the quest for an individual aesthetic, this lyrical chronicle of a familiar heterosexual manage a trois simply looks banality straight in the face. (Trevor Johnston) flight And Day (15) (Chantal Akennan, France, 1991) Cuillalne londez, Thomas Langmann, Francois Hegret. 100 mins. From Thurs 9: Edinburgh Filmhouse.
l key provider of public : access training in video in
the Lothian area.
.‘ e I . _ ; I Off Your Trolley is a three-minute short made
by a team of ﬁve women
s from the Edinburgh area
using a £600 First Reels grant. Filmed over a weekend in a Safeway supermarket (hence the title) once the doors were
closed to the public. it will be shown on Scottish i Television in about four
weeks time. The crew hope to secure another First Reels grant next year for a larger project. but are currently looking for sponsorship in order to transfer Off Your Trolley to ﬁlm — contact Lesley Lawrie on 03l 558 3 l67. I Passion Fish is this month‘s List/Cameo preview screening. free to those taking this edition to the Catneo box ofﬁce at ll. 15am on Sat l8. with the ﬁlm showing at ll.30am. it received Oscar nominations earlier this year for its script (by director John Sayies) and for star Mary McDonnell. John Sayies interview in next issue.
The List lO—23 September 1993 17