.\ - \, ,s q I Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (15) No film in the history of cinema has captured the story structure or thematic essence of Mary Shelley’s novel as perfectly and with such breathtaking splendour as Kenneth Branagh’s new adaptation. The book itself is flawed. with far too many coincidences and a main character whose Romantic ideals are too boorish and egotistical for a modern audience; and so when the Branagh film shifts from
A step up the big budget ladder for Kenneth Branagh, as he moves from William Shakespeare to Mary Shelley. The List asks if Frankenstein, or any of the other films opening this fortnight, will be a monster hit.
strict adherence to the text. it does so to clarify Shelley’s aims and strengthen her narrative.
Victor Frankenstein is no mad scientist: he is an over-ambitious student whose enthusiasm and knowledge lead him into dangerous moral terrain. Branagh is perhaps a little light in the part, but his direction is magnificent. as he ranges from huge period-costumed set pieces to intimate moments with a superb cast — Helena Bonham Carter’s feisty bride-to-be. Tom Hulce’s steadfast friend, Robert De Niro’s poignantly abandoned Creature. Only audiences expecting a typical film- world Frankenstein could be disappointed, for the wrong reasons. because time will show this is a rich. literate, meaningful piece of cinema that surpasses even its source material. See feature. (AM)
I Smoking/Ho Smoking (PG) it may come as something of a surprise to , discover this complementary pair of ﬁlms by Alain Resnais are based on a series of plays by Alan Ayckbourn. The master of elusive time and narrative meets the chronicler of the English chattering classes? Even though the domestic action, set in Yorkshire, is delivered in French by Sabine Azema and Pierre Arditi in numerous roles, the combination proves a very happy one indeed. The result is storytelling at its most innovative. See preview.
I Ruby Grierson: Be- shooting History (PG) Cinema and television screenings this fortnight for BBC Scotland’s ExS programme on documentarist Ruby Grierson. whose work has been unfairly overshadowed by that of her male colleagues. particularly her brother
John. During'the 1930s, Ruby was at the forefront of the documentary movement that favoured intimate portraits of working people without beating loudly on a propagandist’s drum. The ExS programme features interview footage with the likes of Roger Graef and Richard Leacock, who openly admit the inﬂuence she had upon them. and charts her life until her untimely death when the ship she and a group of evacuated children were on was torpedoed in the Atlantic.
The half-hour documentary will be broadcast on Tuesday 8 November, but the OFT event one week later also includes screenings of Grierson’s Give The Kids A Break and They Also Serve. as well as a discussion with the programme’s producer Kirsty Wark and director Fiona Adams.
18 The List 4—17 November 1994
Subtitled ‘An American Legend’, this is another of co-writer John Milius’s tough, romantic examinations of the indomitable individualism which he believes lies at the heart of the American spirit, this time embodied in the last of the Chiracahua Apache to surrender to the US Army in the year 1886. Wes Studi brings great presence and dignity to the role of the Native American leader who ‘once moved about like the wind’, but who, together with a tiny band of 34 men, women and children, was finally captured and exiled to the inhospitable swamps of Florida. With his surrender, the last vestiges of resistance to the white man’s inexorable westward movement came to an end; so too did one of the most shameful episodes of ‘ethnic cleansing’ in American history.
Like Milius, director Walter Hill sees Geronimo - whose given Apache name was Goyahkla - as a proud, fearless and dangerous rebel who was not only unwilling, but inherently unable to surrender to the formidable force of 5000 US Army troops and 3000 Mexican soldiers which pursued him throughout his five-year campaign. Striving for authenticity and imbued with an unsentimental respect for its subject matter, Hill’s film attains in less than two hours a wider sweep and deeper historical understanding than
Lawrence Kasdan and Kevin Costner’s otherwise impressive Wyatt Earp achieved in three hours plus.
The only question mark is why Milius and co-writer Larry Gross chose to show the events through the eyes of naive young cavalry officer Britton Davies (Matt Damon), a raw second lieutenant fresh out of West Point. Given a heavyweight cast that includes Jason Patric as the conciliatory cavalry lieutenant Charles Gatewood, Robert Duvall as the sympathetic chief of scouts Al Sieber and Gene Hackman as the fair but determined Brigadier General George Crook, little is gained by viewing the events from such an innocent perspective. (Nigel Floyd) Geronimo (12) (Walter Hill, US, 1993) Jason Patric, Wes Studi, Robert Duvall.
115 mins. From Fri 11. Edinburgh: Cameo.
‘Hill’s film attains in less than two hours a wider sweep and deeper historical understanding than Wyatt Earp achieved in three hours plus.’
_. A SHADDW or oouer
Where Ladybird, Ladybird approached the minefield subject of alleged child abuse in an emotionally aggressive and inflammatory manner, this French drama builds a slower, but just as devastating atmosphere. as it reaches for its elusive truth. Like Loach’s film, it opens several doors for debate; but, ultimately, it is the more healing experience of the two, as each complex individual comes to terms with their role in the events. Like life, there are no straightforward victims or perpetrators here.
Twelve-year-old Alexandrina sends ripples of shock through her family when she tells her teacher, then the police, that she is frequently molested at home by her father. He immediately refutes the allegations and Alexandrine recants. But when, one night, she overhears suspicious sounds from her four-year-old brother’s room, she takes her sibling and flees to the city of Bordeaux. There, with the help of a sensible and helpful social worker, a case is made against her father, and he is forbidden to live with Alexandrine while awaiting trial.
From the opening shots in a forest, with father voyeuristically watching daughter through a camcorder lens, through the discomforting silences and intense close-ups interspersed throughout, to the controlled unravelling of small truths that give the film a thriller edge, director Aline lssennan ensures that the mood remains unnerving while we, like the judge, assemble the evidence.
Alexandrine, played with assurance
by Sandrine Blancke, has created for
herself a rich fantasy world where children, no doubt afraid of the attention their developing bodies attract, starve themselves in order to be small again - ‘the badder you are, the more you grow,’ she says. As her father, Alain Dashung is always edgy and suspicious, but it is to his credit as an actor that, the more the character appears to be guilty, the
- more sympathetic he becomes.
Mireille Perrier’s performance as the mother is also remarkable: her strange disinterest in her daughter’s despair seems centred on a mixture of social embarrassment and desperate defence of her spouse. (Alan Morrison) A Shadow Of Doubt (15) (Aline Issennan, France, 1992) Alain Bashung, Sandrine Blancke, Mireille Perrier. 106 mins. Subtitles. From Fri
4: Edinburgh Filmhouse. Also available i
on video from Electric Pictures, priced £14.99. See Competitions page for a
. chance to win your own copy. l
‘From‘ the opening shots in a forest, through the discomforting silences
and intense close-ups interspersed throughout . . . director Aline lssennan ensures that the mood remains unnerving.’