We clear the VHS decks with a round-up of the video releases heading tor the shops this tortnight.
I Groundhog Day (PG) Old-fashioned screwball comedy makes a welcome comeback in this superior farce. Bill Murray is a cynical, wisecracking weatherman assigned, much against his will, to cover the annual Groundhog festivities in a down-home Midwest dead-end town. The eponymous rodent is blessed with an uncanny talent for predicting the nation’s weather. A Capra-esque twist condemns our Bill to repeat this hideous day repeatedly, but maybe there could be some advantages to this bleak situation . . . Relentlessly funny with a warm streak, blessed with a superb performance from Murray. (Columbia Tristar)
I Frozen Assets (15) Corbin Bernsen and Shelley Long star in a frankly creepy spoof comedy as the yuppy manager of a small-town sperm bank and his idealistic biologist assistant. He tries to increase the bank’s deposits by instigating a virility contest, and a spate of ejaculation gags ensues. Tacky to say the least. (20:20 Vision)
I Falling Tim (18) Michael Douglas is D
I FENS, the Everyman who ; ﬂips. in Joel
,1 Schumacher’s deliberately l controversial tale of
5 collapsing America.
Pissed off and sacked from his job. our anti-hero deals violently with victims who range from
' the deserving (a Nazi
’ shop-owner) to the mildly annoying (a Korean ditto with a rash pricing
depends on the degree to which you can empathise with Douglas’s performance as the frustrated loser trying to
' ﬁnd a way back to his
f estranged wife and their child. In any case. there is some neat baseball bat action, and an excellent performance from Robert Duvall as the harassed cop chasing Douglas and trying to face the fact that this is his last day on the force. (Warner)
I Map (it The lluman Heart (18) Vincent Ward's
stars Jason Scott Lee and
Anne Pan'llaud in a sweeping tale of love and loss in the frozen Arctic and wartime London. Lee plays Avik, an Inuit who helps Englishman Walter (Patrick Bergin) to map the frozen continent from the air. Brought to Montreal to be treated for tuberculosis, Avik meets and falls in love with the
I half-Indian Albertine
(Anne Parillaud), but their romance is blighted by the interference of the jealous - Walter and others.
I Swing Kids (15) Look out for Kenneth Branagh
I in an uncredited cameo
I Death In Small [loses (15) True story time again. with the tale of the poisoning of a wealthy Dallas architect. The mystery is. who administered the arsenic? Prime suspects include her adulterous husband. her drug-addict brother. and herself. (Odyssey)
I Cthulhu Mansion (18) A horror adaptation of an HP. Lovecraft story that throws in a healthy dose of camp with the routine Satanism. When hoodlums on the run from the police take refuge in the home of magician Chandu (Frank Finlay) the miffed warlock retaliates by summoning up ancient malevolent forces. Now I do not think he wanted to do that . . . (First Independent)
role as a Nazi. in an otherwise uncomfortable drama aboutjazz-loving ‘ Jerry kids defying Nazi authority in the 30s and ; 40s. (Buena Vista)
I Murder Between Friends (15) (Odyssey)
I The Cemetery Club (15) (Buena Vista)
I Fallen Angels (15) (Polygram)
I Torch Song (15) (Guild) I 12.01 (PG) (Guild)
I lucky luke (U) (First Independent)
I Ben Elton live (18) The workaholic motormouth zaps through 90 minutes or so of material from his
policy). The ﬁlm’s impact .
lush and unusual romance I
current tour. The emphasis has moved away from the political towards the personal, with plenty of scatological stuff thrown in. (VVL £12.99)
I Wild Palms: The Dream Concludes (15) The
1 second and concluding
2 half of the Oliver Stone/Bruce Wagner future soap stam'ng Jim Belushi, Angie Dickinson and Robert Loggia. A
3 chance to catch up on the | TV series that has bafﬂed i viewers this autumn.
! I Bon Jovi: Keep The
l Faith Soft metal with crap I
perms is the order of the
. day as Bon Jovi release an assortment of promo
' videos. You’ll wonder how this bunch of
i derivative chuggers
} managed to sell 35 million
, albums, and guffaw at the
; sheer niceness of ‘I Wish
, Everyday Could Be Like
1 Christmas’. (Polygram
I little Angels: Jam (in
i Film More head-shaking
action with the rather
; raunchier Little Angels ﬁlmed live at Leeds this
summer. A bonus is the ﬁlmed story of the making of their last album. Jam. (Polygram £12.99)
I The Avengers Vols H
3 (PG) More retromania
; with John Steed and
Emma Peel camping it up
, in a couple of episodes on
: each volume. (Lumiere
5 £10.99 each tape)
' I Doomed Megalopolis 3
(15) More Manga nonsense packed with demons, babes and cheek- boned heroes. for those of you who like your animation a tad spicier than Aladdin. (Manga
I Crying Freeman 3 (18 ) (Manga £8.99)
Hangin’ on the telephone
And on line one we have Catherine Fellows,'who has a few questions about radio phone-ins. All yours . . .
‘So you're a weed?’ ‘No...’ ‘Yes you are — you‘ve got glasses, spots, you’re ﬁve foot six tall and you weigh eight and a half stone! You’re just a puny little puke . . . she‘ll never fancy you. are you serious? Anyway, I’m going to call her up right now — just wait, she won’t even remember your name . . .’ That was tender Nick Abbott playing Fairy Godmother — or should I say Cilla Black — in his uniquely charming way. Remember" A couple of nights ago? Or maybe you are not fourteen- year-old Graham from Glasgow, or any of the other hundreds of masochistic Scots who keep this horrendous apology for a presenter in his Virgin 1215 hotseat.
What I want to know is why anyone puts up with him? As sweet N. A. himself said shortly before the thuggishness quoted above, ‘The problem with people in this country is that they just take all manner of crap from pe0ple, and just say, “Yes! May I have some more?" They just have people shovel crap right on them and come out smacking their lips and saying, “that was lovely . . .” You said it Nick.
Don‘t get me wrong, I don’t expect every phone-in host to be nice. There are exponents of the genre who manage to be clever and funny, who don’t have a whining, ﬁat voice or ovenalk callers with a contrived, high-pitched parody of indignation, and don’t play dated music like the Smiths and Pink Floyd and claim to be the only talk show on radio for young people.
The phone-in is a strange ﬁsh anyway, with or without Mr Abbott. At the other end ofthe scale from his late night free- for—all is Radio Four‘s Tuesday morning one-issue show hosted by his namesake. Nick Ross. Here, if there’s aggravation. it is not caused by the presenter but by the callers. Yes, I‘m sure it is very grim living in a damp. dilapidated council ﬂat. but is telling the nation going to help unearth solutions to the complex situation which is to blame for this sad tale? Oh. for a team of experts, or some razor sharp intellectuals to slice straight to the heart of the matter - oh, for The Moral Maze!
But it only takes a few words from a dedicated phone-in producer like Nick Utekin to chasten the holder of that particular view — this is radio for the people, by the people, after all. I could add that it’s worth knowing what people think, even if it is bon'ngly predictable, more so if it is ignorant and prejudiced.
This programme. being the most organised of phone-ins, involves a team of telephonists, who are busy receiving calls an hour before transmission. They
Vin motor-oath uteri Abbott
write a synopsis of the point each caller wishes to put, and indicate whether or not the person is articulate, animated, listens as well as talks. and so on. This information is passed on to a couple of producers who decide which callers to ring back, and in what order to put them on air.
In theory, this screening procedure produces the best quality calls, and the issue is dealt with in a thorough, balanced way -— and in practice, the range of contributions. and the numbers of them coming from people with direct, relevant experience, is often
impressive. But the down side is a lack of spontaneity — the programme becomes a tapestry of neatly-linked views rather than a progressive, organic argument. Having said that, passion is certainly not out of the question. and as one Scottish woman demonstrated last week, once on air, there is nothing to stop callers letting rip. When she had described (strangely enough) her damp. dilapidated council ﬁat, she told the guest Minister, ‘I didn‘t bloody work for 30 bloody years so that MPs could live in the lap of bloody luxury. They should take a slash in pay until this bloody situation is over!‘
A programme that falls somewhere between Nick Abbott and Nick Ross is Radio Scotland‘s Eddie Mair Show. In this, a number of subjects are proposed for discussion and there is an editorial prelude of some sort, often involving pre-recorded material and studio guests. This is usually pretty thorough, Eddie exposing, for example. the main points of contention in the views of the head of Scottish Watch. so that by the time callers ring in, they have already had the chance to assimilate quite a lot. As with the Nick Abbott show, the lines open as the programme begins, and there is no screening: it is ﬁrst come ﬁrst served, and neither presenter nor producer know what is coming up. As an example, in the Scottish Watch programme, almost all callers expressed contempt for the divisive. anti-English attitude of the organisation — it was a case of self-selecting unanimity. If there is a drawback to the Eddie Mair format, it is caused by the mix of serious issues and trivia: too often someone’s personal tragedy becomes part of a crass joke linking it with the next item. Usually, though. it works well: if the Eddie Mair show is anything to go by, Scots are a thoughtful, pretty well-informed. tolerant, fair-minded lot.
Nick Abbott is on Virgin 1215 Mon—Fri lOpm—midnight.
Call Nick Ross is on Radio 4 Tuesdays 9-100m.
Eddie Mair Live is on Radio Scotland Mon—Fri 8.30—IOam.
The List 3—16 December.1993 61