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Based on a Paul Auster novel, The

Music Of Chance brings an

understated twist to the buddy movie. Actor Mandy Patinkin talks

to Alan Morrison.

Not one of 1985‘s most memorable movies. lightweight comedy illuxie maybe caused a little confusion amongst audience members: the female lead was played by someone called Glenn. the male lead by a guy called Mandy. Tall. dark and undoubtedly masculine. Mandy l’atinkin may not be a name on everyone‘s lips. but his face has filled the frame of several movies with a much higher profile than that ill-fated Glenn Close vehicle. The object of Barbra Streisand‘s affections in Yenil. the latex- covered cop panner of James Caan in Alien Nation. the revenge-driven Spanish swordsman in The Princess Bride. the pianist tinkling Madonna's ivories in Dick Tracy all played to low-key

perfection by Patinkin.

In the States. he‘s better known for his Broadway musical appearances. including Che Guevera in the premiere of Evita. and for one-man shows in which he croons his way through a pack of old standards. A modern-day performer in the Yves Montand tradition. this 41~year-old son of a Chicago scrap- metal dealer made his first public appearance with

the local synagogue choir. before studying music and drama at Juilliard in New York. the city where he is

now based.

In The Music Of Chance. he stars as former fireman James Nashe. a divorcee drifting aitnlessly on the roads of America until a chance encounter with professional gambler Jack Pozzi (James Spader) loses him his cash. his car and temporarily his freedom. Paying off a poker debt to a perverser eccentric Laurel-and-Hardy duo (Charles Durning and Joel Grey). Nashe and l’ozzi are forced into the absurdist task of building a wall from the ruins of a lSIh century lrish castle. Cooped up together for weeks of physical slavery and mental tension. it‘s their yin-and-yang relationship never simply teacher/pupil or father/son that provides the foundation for the character-driven narrative and cements the movie‘s themes.

‘Nashe is incredibly honorable and very naive in some respects.‘ explains Patinkin. ‘but he is a truly hopeful man who believes in humanity. What he sees in l’ozzi is the complete opposite: someone who thinks people are liars and cheats and will stab you in the back. Neither of these men is totally wrong nor

Mandy Patinkin and James Spader in The Music Of Chance ' totally right . . . l‘m very much attracted to pieces that give you a lesson; and this film tells me that you

can‘t get back what you were not given. but you can


;. Fri 8.

learn to give what you didn‘t get. Pozzi teaches Nashe that his true gift in life is to be able to be a friend. and to be there for someone else. He finally meets someone who needs to be rescued by him.

physically and emotionally to a certain degree.‘

()ne future project which has caught Patinkin's interest is a film version of Info The Woods. by Stephen Sondheim, whose Broadway production of Sunday In The Park With George won him rave reviews in the lead role ofthe anist Seurat. ‘Yeah. I’ve read a script ofthat.‘ he adtnits. ‘but I hear they’re making it with the Muppets. some people and

Muppets. I'd really like to play the wolf. but l'd be shocked ifa Muppet didn’t get that part over me. Not that i won‘t try to compete with a Muppet. it'sjust l fear l‘ll lose.‘ Kermit, Fozzy. Gonzo, Mandy . . . name recognition may not be a problem this time

The Music ()fChunce opens a! the Edinburgh Film/louse on Fri 1 and Glasgow Film Theatre on

:— Latin lovers

Somehow, the muttonchop sideburns, frock coats and corsetted dresses of 1853 don’t look out of place against the heavy red velvet curtains and ornate cornicing of the observatory on Edinburgh’s Calton Hill. Today, however - almost 150 years on telescopes and space exploration are hidden away as the observatory stands in for the city’s original Camera Obscura. A meeting ground between Showmanship and the latest advances in optical science, the Camera Obscure was established in the early Victorian era by Maria Short, an Edinburgh-based optician, whose family house still stands on the west side of the same Calton Hill.

A visit to the new Camera Obscura near the Castle last August, combined with seeing the first trio of Tartan

Shorts at the Edinburgh Film Festival,

encouraged poet and playwright Liz

Lochhead to turn her hand to the short ;

film format. After several drafts, done

I in close consultation with director Joe E : Ahearne, the result is Latin For A Dark

l Room, the first of this year’s batch of

Tartan Shorts to begin production. The fictionalised story tells of Maria McKillop, an optician running a Camera Obscura, who finds release from her stilted marriage in the shape of a handsome English artist. There’s a dynamism about Lochhead’s approach to the historical period, in which discoveries of love merge with discoveries of science, that underlines the universality of the lovers’ ultimate disillusionment.

‘In some ways, for the way my imagination works, it can be easier to get archetypes out of Mary Queen of Scots, Dracula or Mary Shelley,’ Lochhead explains. ‘You try to make the factual and the ordinary into archetypes; and then, when I’m

dealing with archetypal material, I’m

Q g 2 >— U 3 Siobhan Redmond trying to get at the human bit underneath.’ The film, which completed its eight- day shoot ln Glasgow and Edinburgh

sponsored by BAC A oRDl BOLAC K

last week, stars Ileil Pearson and Siobhan Redmond, both familiar from their small-screen pairing in Between The Lines. Lochhead modestly described the piece as ‘just a wee love story’, but she has written a very accomplished script in which images, emotions and dialogue are pared down to essentials.

‘lt’s a beautifully poetic piece, beautifully precise,’ agrees Pearson. ‘It seems to me to be about the temptation to idealise during the hot passion of first attraction. It’s that all- or-nothing that gives the thing its bite. Basically, people are the same as they always have been. Obviously, they’ve been prescribed by the mores of their social period, but they’re fired by the same things - love and lust and loss and jealousy - and those things are fairly timeless. They just wear different clothes.’ (Alan Morrison) Latin For A Dark Room, a Coldstar Film production, will receive theatrical and television screenings later this summer.

The List 25 March—7 Apn'l 199411