While deservedly receiving the widest release accorded a native Welsh

feature to date, Endaf Emlyn’s winning . backwaters where the errant school

comedy still has to break down the barriers of many a mainstream movie- goer before it can be seen as more than just some strange-speaking novelty item, a ‘British’ film that doesn’t quite fit. Preconceptions aside, this is a deft, funny and fascinating portrait of a group of Welsh sixth-fonners accidently left to fend for themselves in St Petersburg, where the dissolution of all the old certainties has landed the local youth in pretty much the same position.

Detached from their accompanying teachers by the uncoupling halves of a train, these strangers in a strange land are suddenly charged with

defining their emotional independence

and, amid the emergent bohemia of a city in transition, crap boyfriends soon

come under reconsideration, while sexual orientation at length begins to

right itself.

Shot on the boot in the new Russia, Emlyn’s camera buzzes with an equal sense of discovery, negotiating leafy

staff face their own ideological and

, marital turmoil. Although the film essays a grandiose overview linking

artistic and personal freedoms, it

works best as a bitineg witty, yet

compassionate study of everyday

1 people facing extraordinary

circumstances. Performed with assurance all the way down the cast

list, it’s an unassuming, finely-crafted :

and consistently entertaining picture. Scotland’s Gaelic cinema please take note. (Trevor Johnston)

Leaving Lenin (12) (Endaf Emlyn,

Wales, 1993) Sharon Morgan, Wyn . Bowen Harris, Shelley Rees. 90 mins.

Subtitles. From Mon 12: Glasgow Film Theatre. From Tue 20: Edinburgh Filmhouse.

Leaving Lenl: ‘deft, funny and fascinating“

capital Taipei after WW2.


The Puppetmaster: ‘sombre masterpiece’


Taiwanese director llou llsaio llsien has won the admiration of an international audience for his complex, subtle evocations of life amongst the exiled Nationalist Chinese communities of his home island. Past work, like Summer At Grandpa’s and A Time To Live And A Time To Die, created sublimer languid epics out of the intimate details of family life; the later film, A City Of Sadness, took as its subject the political disturbances that shook the

The Puppetmaster consciously pitches itself between these two poles attempting a summing up of a county’s history through the story of ‘national treasure’ Li Tianlu, a practitioner of traditional puppetry and who, to a considerable extent, is made to represent the spirit of the

people. Being a puppeteer, Li (who speaks his own tale at intervals throughout the movie) drifts across all classes and battle-lines - born in 1909, he is captured by the Japanese when the island is invaded during the war.

In contrast with the dramatic events that form the meat of the film, llou’s style is reticent to the point of staticity, with long slow takes and an emphasis on pictorial composition that can make things seem heavy going if you’re not attuned to it, you’ll get itchy feet well before the two-and-a-half hours are up. But if you can stick with it, you’ll find a sombre masterpiece that, if it lacks the engaging qualities of llou’s earlier films, makes up for it in weighty considerations. (Andrew Pulver)

The Puppetmaster (15) (llou llsaio llsien, Taiwan/China, 1993) Li Tianlu, Lim Giong, Chen Kuizhong. 142 mins. Subtitles. From Sun 18: Edinburgh Filmhouse.


When a patient makes a lethal examination of the view from his surgery window, psychologist Dr Bill Capa (Bruce Willis) takes off to California and the practice of his old pal Bob. Against his better judgement, Blll sits in on Bob’s Monday Group - a self-help free-speaking therapy session for five patients - and learns that Bob suspects one of the group of sending him death threats. But before Bill has a chance to say ‘look behind you’, Bob gets bumped off. Surprise? lot. it has to be one of the Monday Group. Against his better judgement, Bill agrees with local cop Martinez (Ruben Blades) to hang around and try to find out which one. The question is, can he do so before he gets topped himself, and will he lose some body fluids to the sexy and mysterious Rose (.lane March)?

Who cares, is the answer: Color of light is a complete waste. As a thriller

it has a reasonable premise and twist. The casting of Jane March as Rose is

f even intelligent. But what appears on

screen is unremittineg clichéd drivel. The plot, dialogue, locations, supporting characters and chase sequences are a celebration of the

triumph of cliché over content.

As for the sex, the only positive note

soft pornographic rumpy-pumpy. But there again, most of Willis’s acting is

1 flaccid. This is not erotic cinema, it’s I 7 top-shelf stimulation using full-frontal

nudity in the sort of ‘sexy’ situation that results in automatic

engorgement. (Thom Dibdin)

; Color Of flight (18) (Richard Rush, US,

| 1994) Bruce Willis, Jane March, Ruben I Blades. 123 mins. From Fri 9. All

E Odeons. All UCls. Glasgow: MGM

1 Parkhead. Fife: Robins.

is confirmation that Bruce Willis has a : willy. Or at least his body double does. A very flaccid one under the circumstances: Jane has just Marched j . in, snogged him seriously, removed ' their kit and got them into the

swimming pool for a bit of underwater




Few film composers have as impressive a back catalogue as Ennio Morricone. and his latest work for Mike Nichols's movie Wo/f— ranks among his best. Bringing darker undertones to his typically romantic use of strings and brass. he introduces a sense of unease through an eerily chromatic descending scale. the frequent return of a jarring harpsicord. and occasional use of a howling trumpet or frenetic pizzicato strings. The film itself may find its love story/horror story elements at odds with each other. but they find a more unified level in Morricone's music as the power of nature and primal desires pulse through in the shape of insistent drums and percussion.

Some of the most beautiful original film music of the year was written by Debbie Wiseman for 7})": & Viv. Her primary melody pushes its tune and phrasing to one key note. before falling away and rising again in a way that recalls Mahler at his most accessible. The depth of \Viseman's arrangements may not rival the great composer's. but her use of solo piano for certain scenes reflects the delicacy and isolation of the film's main character Vivienne Haigh-Wood The album as a whole ultimately goes over the same ground. finding only limited variations on the two principal themes.

Variations. particularly Bach's ‘Goldberg Variations'. played an important role in the work of pianist Glenn Gould. and the soundtrack for inventive Canadian feature 32 Short I’ll/its About (Ilwm Gnu/(l begins appropriately with an aria from this piece. Bach features heavily. with excursions into Beethoven. Schoenberg. Richard Strauss and a handful of others. Whatever portrait of the man emerges from the film. the genius of his playing speaks for itself. (Alan Morrison)

Wolf; 'Iimi & Viv and 32 I’ll/try About (ilwm Gnu/d

are all released on the

Color Of flight: ‘complete waste' l Sum- [(lln'l,

sponsored by BACARDI BLACK .

The List 9—22 September [994 19