DAYS OF BEING WILD
As far as the majority of UK filmgoers are concerned, a film from llong Kong equates with either a John Woo bulletfest or a flurry of karate kicks from the likes of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. In other words, if there’s a problem to consider, blow it up, shoot it or beat the crap out of it, but never sit around and contemplate it in an arty manner. However, Wong Kar Wai’s Days Of Being Wild does just that, taking the universal restlessness of youth back in time to a stylish and gorgeously moody 1960.
Denied knowledge oi his true parents by his desperately jealous foster mother, ice cool Yuddy (Leslie Chang) goes through life leaving a trail of broken hearts behind him. His latest girlfriend, Su Lizhen (Maggie Cheung) is quickly dropped for bar girl Leung (Carina Lau) when she talks of
marriage and, although she keeps hanging around, she can only find platonic solace in patrol cop Tide (Andy lau). Finally, Yuddy discards everyone, even his male friends, when he heads off to the Philippines on a search for his mother that will only end in disappointment.
If regular llong Kong features are all about surface excess, Days Of Being Wild plays on the underlying sexual tension in the dialogue and the minimal flickers of expression that cross the actors’ faces. Themes of betrayal and loyalty may be overabundant in Eastern cinema, but Wong’s film is a fresh, chic original that uses its period setting and : camera techniques to capture the present generation’s uncertainties about 1997. (Alan Morrison)
Days Of Being Wild (12) (Wong Kar- Wai, llong Kong, 1991) leslie Gheung, Maggie Gheung, Andy Lau. 93 mins. From Sun 11: Glasgow Film Theatre. From Sun 18: Edinburgh Filmhouse.
Above The him: ’he
‘Ntt.’ ~' ~
:— ABOVE THE RIM
Although no one could claim Jett Pollack’s writing and directing debut possesses the most original story in the world, it’s apparent enough that this heartfelt tale oi on-and-off court shenanigans comes at a time when basketball movies are likely to receive a warm welcome. Numbering Marlon Wayans (Damon’s little brother) and Tupac Shakur among its cast, Above The liim taps into the aspirational symbolism that pro-ball currently otters for Alro-Americans on the make. Baseball movies, after a golden period in the 803, seem to have had their day and, sparked off by Bull Durham director lion Shelton’s White Men Can’t Jump, Hollywood is turning to a New Jack slant on traditionally gladatorial inspirations.
The plot is standard stutt: best kid on the block, Kyle (Duane Martin), turns his back on the school team when tempted by local gang-boss Birdie
(Shakur). Birdle’s estranged brother Shep (leon), a former ball-star who has turned his back on a traumatic past, becomes the Iinchpin for Kyle’s restoration to decency and possibilities of a decent career.
The script’s platitudes are, however, offset by a relentless, rap-stuffed score and Pollack’s skill in conjuring up an alternatively seductive and menacing atmosphere for his protagonists. it’s curious that the masterly documentary Hoop Dreams - a success in America but unlikely to be seen here except in festivals - covers almost identical territory in both ideas and locations; in attempting to corral the large-scale topics into a normal-length feature, Pollack basically fails to do complete justice to a film that is evidence of a growing fascination with a new genre of sports movies. (Andrew Pulver) Above The llim (15) (Jeff Pollack, US, 1994) Duane Martin, Leon, Tupac Shakur. 98 mins. From Fri 9. Glasgow: MGM Film Centre. Edinburgh: UGl.
TRIAL BY JURY
Although the distributors seemed reluctant to let any press see this courtroom drama, it’s merely a mediocre movie rather than the turkey we’d been led to believe. The plot’s the kind of thing that might serve for any formula TV movie: Joanne Whalley-Kilmer, a single mum and businesswoman, does jury duty for the first time and treats it very conscientiously until the henchmen working for the mob kingpin (Armand Assante) on trial put severe pressure on her - death threats, the threatened abduction of her young son - to come up with a ‘not guilty’ verdict and, at the very least, hang the jury. Meanwhile, unaware of those behind- the-scenes shenanigans, state prosecutor Gabriel Byrne is putting his career on the line to secure a conviction.
Unsurprisingly, Whalley-Kllmer never quite musters the moral imprimatur to
; carry the movie; perhaps her painted-
: on eyebrows lack something in essential sincerity. Yet elsewhere, the performers do reasonably well in the face at a lumpen screenplay and little discernible drive from director Heywood Gould. Although Byrne can only plug away at his downhome DA routine, Assante turns his
Machiavellian mobster into a suaver terrifying creation, getting by on sheer physical presence, while perhaps the chief fascination of the entire enterprise is watching William llurt root around tor something, anything, interesting in his character (an ex- cop, turned Mafia gopher who facilitates the squeeze on Joanne) before obviously getting bored two- thirds of the way through the picture. It’ll look alright on video. (Trevor Johnston)
Trial By Jury (15) (Heywood Gould, US, 1994) Joanne Whalley-Kilmer, Gabriel Byrne, Armand Assante. 103 mins. From Fri 2. Glasgow: MGMs. Edinburgh: MGM, UGl. Strathclyde: Wis.
Trial By Jury: ‘medlocre’
V IN PRINT
Moving back in time from the period covered by the original Camera Obscura volume (1971—92). Camera Obscura 2 (Hollyweird Publishing £4.99) throws a spotlight on some classic. but mainly neglected. titles from 1940—70. As before. the emphasis is on horror and other genre cult items and. while the writing style may be that of the fanzine enthusiast, editor/publisher Alex J. Low deserves praise for unashamedly championing the cinematic underdog in this indispensible guide to obscure videos and late night TV oddities.
With over 200 new entries and substantial revision of the original text. David Thomson’s A Biographical Dictionaer OfFiIm (Andre Deutsch £25) is now undoubtedly established as one of the few truly vital ﬁlm reference volumes. Not only that. but Thomson's sparky. opinionated prose on the key players in the industry since the birth of cinema perfectly balances hard facts with an entertaining read.
On a more irreverent level comes Damien Bosa’s Opening Shots (Workman £7.99). which gleefully crawls through the archives to unearth the frequently embarrassing debuts by major film stars. Icon of cool James Dean in a Martin and Lewis movie? Denzel Washington as George Segal‘s illegitimate son? Read on in wonder and enjoy the liberal sprinkling of trivia snippets.
The cineaste’s Christmas stocking could be made more substantial with the inclusion of newly published screenplays by two of America's foremos‘ independent directors. who also happen to be among the country’s most distinctive film writers. Quentin Tarantino’s Resenwir Dogs (Faber & Faber £7.99) needs no introduction; Hal Hartley‘s Amateur (Faber & Faber £8.99) puts his patented abstract dialogue style to more traditionally plot-driven ends. (Alan Mom'son)
The List 2—15 December 1994 29