MAO John Turturro is Vito ‘Mac’ Vitelli, who vows to live up to his dear departed dad’s high standards oi craftsmanship, even at the expense oi driving everyone crazy with his periectlonism on the building site where he works. Eventually, there’s only one solution to end the constant squabbling, and he loins with his brothers in setting up his own iinn. liewa married (to real- liie partner Katherine Borowitz) and iinancially extended, he pits all the iarnily’s hopes on success with their iirst housing development, unaware oi the extent to which his rivals will go to obstruct his endeavours.
Although this is Turturro’s debut behind the movie camera, Mac represents material the actor has
been writing and workshopplng with his ensemble cast since around 1980. As a result, this tribute to his own hard-working lather stands as an assured and soundly constructed piece oi work which, it not overly ambitious, bears the satisiying ring oi a man who knows what he’s about. As ior his own perionnance, all the requisite tics are there - the intense stare, the sudden outburst - yet the iilm’s prime achievement is in giving all the characters a sense oi rounded psychological depth. We believe in the Vitellis, in their lives, and, uniashionable though it might seem, in the straight-laced dignity oi labour. (Til
Mac (18) (John Turturro, US, 1992) John Turturro, Michael 8adalucco, Katherine Borowitz. 117 mins. From Fri 18: Edinburgh Filmhouse.
THE NORTHEBNEBS Exploring the limits oi disiunctionaiity, The llortherners takes a long, strange and episodic A gallumph around the one, short street 5,; ito be built in an out-oi-town
: development beiore construction was abandoned. The isolated community - appears sane, but underneath that llutch stochsm runs a vein oi pure abnormality, just as the regimented trunks oi the mature iorest plantation surrounding the town harbour their own dark mystery.
Too convoluted to summarise succinctly, the plot concerns a butcher who wants nothing more than - to pork his wlie once a day - sadly,
The Immerse host-Pm "im’ (her Catholicism is becoming
Mac: ‘soundly constructed'
increasingly inclined towards devout celibacy and beatiiicatlon. Thomas, their twelve-year-old son, takes reiuge in the iorest, Agnes (a vagrant girl who lives there),and the radio reports oi Congolese rebel lumumbo. Over their lives peers a myopic, seilish Forest Banger, his insatiable wiie, and the town’s conscience - Simon the postie - who opens everyone’s mail.
Slightly overlong, this has ‘cuit TV serial’ written in huge, lynchian letters all over. Jungians will love its post-Peaks weirdness, as will anyone with a subtle sense oi irony ior the seriously strange. (Thom llibdin)
The llortherners (15) (Alex van Warnerdarn, Netherlands, 1992) leonard lucieer, Jack Wouterse, Alex van Wamerdan, 108 mins. From Fri 11: Glasgow Film Theatre, Edinburgh Filmhouse.
Running away irom a succession oi ioster parents, twelve-year-old Jesse teams up with a gang oi designer ruiiians, but is soon laced with Juvenile llall unless he agrees to a new set oi minders and some chores at a marine adventure park. Meanwhile, Willy the orca whale is netted by nasty humans, separated irom his iamin and stuck in an inadequate tank in the same park. Brought into close contact, these land and sea rebels become soul-mates betore setting out on an ‘ET’-like iinale.
Free Willy paints its narrative themes in bold, primary colours, with all the main points clearly underlined: wild animals aren’t business commodities, iriendships have great healing powers, lamilies provide solid support ior liie, etc, etc. And so it’s periectly accessible to a young audience seeking a well-produced adventure, but shamelessly manipulative and a little too simplistic ior the more sophisticated ilIm-goer. Then again, it’s the only chance you’ll ever get to see a 22-ioot-long Willy in a ‘ll’ certiilcate movie. (AM)
Free Willy (ll) (Simon Wincer, I18, 19%) Jason James Richter, lorl Petty,
Michael Madsen. 112 mins. From Fri
11. General release.
Free Willy: ‘well-prorkrced adventrn’
sponsored by BACARDI BLACK
JAcK 8E lllMBl
Jack Be llimble: “bleak modern iairytale'
Hollywood may have turned the ‘psychological thriller‘ into a tired. despised genre. but it’s
; unlikely to be rejuvenated
by this New Zealand effort. despite its original embellishments. Anyway. Jock Be Nimble doesn’t fall into the conventional revenge thriller. despite some marketing attempts: think of it more as a bleak modem fairytale with semi-supcmatural elements.
Abandoned at an early age by an unbalanced mother and philandering
i father. Jack (Arquette)
and Dora (Smuts- Kennedy) are adopted by very different families: he undergoes the hardships and barbed-wire beatings of life on a farm while she is safely ensconced in suburbia. Having hypnotised his new parents with a steam- powered flashing-lights device he made in metalwork classes. Jack leads them to their death before setting off to ﬁnd his sister. who has now developed psychic powers. But as the sinister siblings go looking for their real parents. they themselves are sought by Jack’s zombie-like step- sisters, a quartet of harpies wreaking revenge on his revenge.
Writer-director Maxwell takes time early on to lay the groundwork for the character traits that will emerge later. but as the film progresses, the atmosphere becomes more and more overwrought. even laughable. depending on the frame of mind of the viewer. Like all good fairytales. beneath the surface there’s a pull towards violence. darkness and a harsh morality. But it’s all let down by the over-cooked acting of this disturbed Hansel and Gretel pairing. Rosanna and Patricia don’t need to worry about baby brother Alexis stealing their glory. (AM) Jack Be Nimble (I8) (Garth Maxwell, NZ, I993) Alexis A rquerte, Sarah Smurs-Kenneclv, Bruno Lawrence. 93 mins. From Fri 18: Glasgow Film Theatre.
The List l l—24 February 1994 17