Arms and the
Lynda La Plante takes no prisoners.
The biggest surprise in Lynda La Plante’s film In The Firing Line, is that the tough-as-nails director had never fired a gun before. Still, it didn’t take her long to get the feel of it: she hit a bullseye with her third shot.
It makes sense to open the Channel 4 Men Only season (looking at masculine pursuits from a female perspective) with an investigation of the appeal of firearms. La Plante, with her track record of ballsy dramas featuring plenty of shooters, was the right person to do it, eschewing the obvious and hackneyed jibes about phallic tools of power and oppression for an Intelligent, if disturbing report.
‘Cuns have always got to be pretty,’ says one mild-mannered collector. ‘A Smith and Wesson engineer said to me how important it was to make the gun look sexy.’ For others though it was the power and the technology that were impressive, rather than the aesthetics. A father and son mercenary team grinned broadly as they fitted a state-of-the-art silencer to a high-powered machine-gun. ‘What’s that for?’ asked La Plant innocently. ‘lt’s for when you want to kill someone, only silently,’ replied mercenary iunior with a worrying glint in his eye.
There’s a lot of nonsense talked about guns from men whose own personal traumas and fixations are only too apparent on screen. ‘Man is a predator,’ asserts a Falklands veteran, who was ‘happy to do the business’ at Goose Green. The film sensibly avoids painting all gun-addicts as unbalanced lunatics though. The appeal is subtler than that. La Plante handles her first pistol tensely, but by her third you can see she’s beginning to recognise the attraction. ‘By the third gun, I’d lost my fear of the weapon and was beginning to enjoy it,’ she confesses. ‘That’s dangerous.’ A particularly frightening former armed robber from South London confirms it. ‘A mate of mine said the rush from shooting a gun at somebody was higher than a cocaine rush.’ And as addictive. (Torn Lappin)
Men Only: In The Firing Line is on Channel 4 on Monday 23 at 9pm.
:— Shots from the lip
Sandra Bernhard: ‘sexual terrorist of American comedy’, ‘spokesperson for the modern woman’ or wide-assed chancer who struck lucky? There’s no shortage of contentious opinions on the American cabaret and TV star whose defiantly non-PC brand of lesbian chic has kept her profile high In every Stateside media outlet from Playboy to David Letterman. Confession Of A Pretty Lady, Kristlene Clark’s frankly rose-tinted profile of Madonna’s most famous ex- friend, accepts Bemhard’s somewhat off-centre opinions and self- )ustiflcations at face value. Her brand of feminism is eccentric to say the least, especially when you consider the Playboy nude spread of a couple of years ago. Bernhard has truck with the limiting rule-book of the contemporary women’s movement. ‘To address it like we did in the 70s is not appropriate,’ she insists. ‘To be didactic and single-minded about it Is not appropriate for women or the forward movement of women. It’s always a struggle, which I address in my work. There are different ways of being a feminist you know.’ llasurprislngly, Bernhard’s stage act, a mixture of camp show-tunes, surreal fantasies and painful monologues about her Midwest upbringing. ‘My father was a proctologist [doctor specialising In anal ailments], my mother was an abstract artist, that’s
how I view the world.’ Comedian Paul Mooney recalls her regularly dying at the LA Comedy Store. ‘She was just this skinny little girl with a lot of outrageous attitude,’ he recalls, ‘dolng all this weird stuff.’ It took an astute piece of repositioning, and a key role in Scorsese’s King Of Comedy before she attained the camp icon status where Camille Paglia gushes about her ‘reinterpretation of an enormous body of cultural experience in America.’
Bernhard meanwhile is still bitching about Madonna. ‘l’ve just put out my coffee-table book called Neurotica. It’s full of explicit tableaux of me rearranging knick-knacks, scrubbing the toilet bowl . . . it’s a shocking book.’ (Tom Lappin)
Arena: Confession Of A Pretty Lady is
on BBCZ on Friday 20 May at 11.15pm.
Arthur Smith: so when exactly did he stop
talking bollocks and drinking? ‘l‘m like everybody really in hating students. Used to be one myself. lay about talking bollocks and drinking. Then as soon as i stopped l couldn‘t stand ‘em.’ Arthur Smith is only
joshing (probably) which is quite fortuitous as he‘s going to be seeing rather a lot of this nation's seats of further education in the course of his Radio 5 series Arthur Smith ()n The Floor.
The series resurrects that old radio standby. the live debate. with the additional ingredient of having all the opinions voiced being those of students. today‘s layabouts. tomorrow’s leaders. The format is billed as being ‘a cross between Question 'IInre anti Oprah. ‘The topics are those close to students‘ hearts. things like drugs and soap operas.‘ says Smith. ‘so they'll be on familiar ground.‘
Smith ofcourse is best known as a sardonic stand-up comedian who coined it with hit plays like An [Evening With Gary Line/(er and Live Bed Show. As a debating host he‘s no Paxman. but does delight in putting down the clever- dicks with a pointed jibe. ‘l've done a lot of university gigs, so you can tell who‘re the smart-arses from the start.‘ The nightmare scenario. a takeover by SWP activists. hasn’t happened yet, but the live nature of the programme does involve an element of risk-taking. ‘Surprisingly we haven‘t had much swearing so far.‘ says Smith, ‘well, just a couple of "shits" and they were from me . . .‘ (Tom Lappin)
Arthur Smith On The Floor is on Radio 5 on Mondays at 9.05pm.
I Cup Final Super Scoreboard (Clyde 1 and 2. Sat 21. 2pm) Can‘t bear to watch the Cup Final. but need to keep up to date with what‘s happening? The Super .S't'orelmurd crew will keep you informed. with pitchside interviews. fan interviews and the usual chance to moan about the diabolical refereeing decisions on Open Line from 5.30pm.
I Switched On In Prague (Radio 3. Sat 21. 5pm) A whole week of programmes from the Czech capital includes this discussion of the burgeoning Czech media. John Tusa hosts a debate looking at the impact of the new commercial station, Nova.
I Storyline: City Of Biinns (Radio Scotland. from Mon 23, 12.03pm). Throughout the week top Edinburgh actor Andrew Wardlaw reads extracts from William Dalrymple’s detailed. humorous and affectionate portrayal of Delhi. a city struggling to come to terms with its modern status and its Moghul history.
I Cover Stories (Radio Scotland. Mon 23, 6. ISpm) lan Docherty hosts the literary discussion programme. with four Glasgow-based writers. Gurmeet Mattu. Ronald Frame. Marcella livaristi and Jack McLean talking about how the city is portrayed in fiction.
I The Story Of Pop (Radio 1. Tue 24. 9pm) I Know You Got Soul is the subtitle for the latest instalment. featuring contributions from everybody from Curtis Mayfield and Dionne Warwick to Dusty
Ivor Cutler: mad or what? Springfield and Mick Hucknall. I Beer (Radio 3, Tue 24, l()pm) An appealing and economic title for a tour of the Prague beer cellars. currently under threat from foreign buyouts of the legendary Budwar and Urquell breweries. I Big Bang (Radio 4. Wed 25. 8.15pm) A new series, hosted by Jez Nelson. offering a punchy look at developments in science and technology as well as lively studio discussions. I Top 100 Songs (Radio I. Mon 30. all day) We've already had the top singles and the top albums run-downs. Now listeners have been invited to submit their favourite songs of all time for an all-day special. Will ‘Bohemian Rhapsody' cling on to the top spot or are there enough hippies out there to push the claims of ‘Stairway To Heaven'. I A Stuggy Pren (Radio 3. Mon 30. 9.05pm) Several chips short of a haggis supper. Scotland‘s best-loved eccentric. lvor Cutler. begins a new series of stories, songs and poetry devoted to life in a Scottish sitting-room. I Arthur Smith (In The Floor (Radio 5. Mon 30, 9.05pm) Arthur Smith continues his tour of the student unions. debating issues of the day. See preview. I A View From The Moon (Radio 4. Thurs 2. 7.20pm) Britain‘s first woman astronaut. Helen Sharrnan. looks back at Neil Armstrong‘s first moon landing. 25 years ago.
The List 20 May—2 June 1994 81