lie-recruited advertising copy-writer Bill Rago (Danny DeVito) is out on the

street, on the dole and out of friends parody stage, they create the to give him a break. Trouble is, he just semblance of rounded isn’t a very nice guy, so the only folk characterisations.

who’ll hire him are the army - to teach basic English to a bunch of intellectually challenged recruits about to flunk their military training. But, of course, our Danny isn’t dispirited for long and soon he’s teaching the dweebs Hamlet: similes, oxymorons and all. And, hey, the gang even like it, lapping up the language, putting on a rap Hamlet, gaining self- respect and generally proving that, behind every supposedly dimwit face, there’s a budding intellect just waiting to be released. What’s more, Danny becomes a better man for it.

This is basically Dead Poets Society

in army fatigues, borrowing heavily from every last nuance of the plot. In some ways, it is even a reasonable borrow: lleVito has the energy to continually engage your attention and, once the six recruits have passed the

The trouble is that, added to the passion, is an unhealthy dose of self- indulgent morality playing, emotion- jerking palaver and establishment brown-nosing. And the blatant and needlessly obvious point-making makes the film excruciatineg lengthy. As they say in Hamlet, ‘lt offends me to the soul to hear a robustious periwig-pated fellow fear a passion to tatters’. (Thom Dibdin)

Renaissance Man (12) (Penny Marshall, US, 1994) Danny De Vito, Gregory Hines, Marky Mark. 129 mins. From Fri 15. All Odeons. All UGls.


Renaissance Man: ‘self~indulgent morality playing‘

Stalingrad: ‘convincingly hard-edged’

. thought.


Director/cinematographer Joseph Vilsmaier’s expansive World War II chronicle inevitably suffers in comparison with the Spielberg movie, Schindler’s List. Here is another

' convincingly hard-edged account,

contextualising subtitles to the fore, detailing the most fateful hours of the European conflict. Impressive in itself as a sheer monument of reconstruction, the German film crucially lacks the extra emotive dimension which would result in a genuinely heartfelt viewer response. Instead, surrounded by production values which suggest the Russian city has been demolished anew for the occasion, the sentiments are very much of the war-is-hell and all- officers-are-bastards school of

A group of German soldiers are whittled away, one by one, during the

ill-fated 1942 siege of Stalingrad - a battle which tolled over one and a half million casualties. Muddied in their uniforms or caked in snow, it often

proves difficult to keep tabs on just

who’s survived and who’s fallen prey to enemy fire or the brutal weather conditions.

While the screenplay merely hints at exorcising Nazi culpability in a single evasive exchange, the film’s most striking aspect is its enveloping veracity. You’ll certainly feel like you’ve been to the Russian front: a fact which, ironically perhaps, may endear it more to genre buffs and Sven Hassel readers than the youthful generations for whom its monolithic display of carnage is obviously intended as a bitter warning. (Trevor Johnston)

Stalingrad (15) (Joseph Vilsmaier, Germany, 1993) Thomas Kretshmann, Dominique Horwitz, Joachen Nickel, Sebastian Rudolph. 137 mins. From Fri 15. Glasgow: GFT.


The quirks of film distribution bring us Steven Soderbergh’s third feature many months after it died a quiet, but palpable death at the London box office - a great shame really, as this coming-of-age tale set in America during the Depression of the 305 is a real joy. Young Aaron has to fend for himself when his mother goes into a sanitorium, his travelling salesman father leaves on extended business and his younger brother is sent to live with relatives.

This is not the usual American childhood goo: miles away from the understated detachment of the director’s celebrated debut - sex, lies & videotape - Soderbergh presents such a lovingly re-created, glowing world that we easily slip alongside Aaron on his adventures and share in his plucky imagination. Pure enjoyment from beginning to end. (AM) King Of The Hill (12) (Steven Soderbergh, US, 1993) Jesse Bradford, Jeroen lirabbe, Spalding Gray. 103

mins. From Sat 16. Glasgow: GFT.

King Of The Hill: ‘a lovingly re-created, glowing world'

sponsored by BACARDI BLACK

NAPIER snowcnss

The Kettle People The eleven short films Lollct‘lc‘tl ltlgt‘tllcl‘ :Iiltl screenetl on Wetlnestlay (i June at the l‘itlinburgh l-iimhouse \\ as not a degree shovv. but a genuine retrospective. That the Napier l'niversity ‘s‘ Department ol Photography. l-ilm and 'l‘eley ision can already llHltl a retrospective when. as recently as I‘M]. only five stutlents \y ere ot‘t'icially studying lilm. is a vast achievement in itself.

liirst up u as one of those early \vorks Rotl Stein‘s imaginati‘. e cometly. '/'/.'<' [A'L'l'Ht/ ()fi Slide/wast. (‘entrmg on a scientist \vhosc e\perimentatron into brewer‘s tlroop has caused him to stumble upon a substance that unleashes the sexual animal in man. the film is a cheeky .lckyll—alitl-llytle clone that revels in its tabloitl sense ot' humour

In fact. several ot the stongest pieces on show were short Comctly dramas. Nat Sherman's The Return (If/he .l’hm/mutlt also betrays an engagineg lL‘l'l-llL‘ltl imagination as its retro- futuristic narrative takes an old-style Norfolk farmer from 2569M) and \v hisks him otl‘. hrs! on a trip to the moon. then back in time to track down his unliaithl‘ul \vif‘e. Martin .‘vlorrison‘s 'l‘lze Kellie l’r'op/e turns the tables on a trio of cops on a student flat drugs bust. while (iary Scott‘s .lvllt‘llllt’ltlllg’t'lll iv Rnhmwp plays with tact and fiction in a pseudo-documeutary on graphic artist (ieorge (‘oleman

As is fitting with the photography context ol the Napier course. many films show a strong and inventive visual flair. Liviu Tipurita's Reflections has .1 haunting. obsessive quality; Jo Roberts's Nut Yours has technology serve the thematic and visual effects. not vice \‘Ct‘s‘a, antl l’rn'xt Islam! beautifully captures the power of the elements as

nature brushes asitle

man‘s challenge. (Alan I Morrison)

The List IS .28 July l‘)94 21