Long unavailable on video. Peckinpah's English-shot horror- western-melodrama finds itself reissued at an
opportune moment to catch the current wave of censorship debate. but the film itself proves a once- only experience as if beamed down from another era entirely. Certainly, it's hard to imagine contemporary Hollywood turning out something so relentlessly ill-tempered as this orgy ofdislocation: as meek mathematician hubby Dustin Hoffman and eminently incompatible Iocally-bom spouse Susan George confront assorted Cornish yokels threatening their farmhouse home. the preternatural gulfbetween men and women, city and country.
While the then- groundbreaking carnage has since been exceeded in ferocity and ingenuity. the treatment of the Susan George character definitely hails from a time long before the dawn of political correctness. Although the controversial rape sequence is made to seem properly traumatic, the suggestion of complicity on her part is surely worrying, while the overall trajectory of the narrative seeks to subdue her mercurial mischief- making and uncontrollable sexuality through the brute power of male domination.
Despite it all though. Peckinpah‘s enormous technical skill makes it a visceral experience that draws you in despite your betterjudgement. You may hate yourself in the morning, but we defy you not to cheer as Hoffman dispatches the villains invading his space: at its core the film still has a brooding don‘t-fuck-with- me eloquence that‘ll get you every time. You'll be talking about it for weeks afterwards. (Trevor Johnston)
Straw Dogs (/8) (Sam Peckinpah, GB, I 97]) Dustin Hoffman. Susan George, Peter Vaughan. 118 mins. From Mon 13. Glagsow: GFT.
Straw Dogs: “relentlessly
HERE!— THE rm DRUM
Having already shared the Cannes Palme D’Dr with Apocalypse Now and carried off the Best Foreign Film Oscar in its day, Vﬁlker Schlﬁndorff’s respectful adaptation of Gunter Grass’s Great German Novel hasn’t been around for a while on the repertory circuit, so this new print from the BFI should introduce the film to a whole new generation who know it only by name and reputation. Does it still stand up?
Well, the source material’s core narrative is, of course, remarkable indeed, with David Bennent giving one of the great children’s performances as little Dskar, the kid who refuses to grow up and witnesses the rise to power of the fascists in Nazi Germany to the constant beating of his own tin
drum, an awful warning against the horrors and hypocrisies to come. The question here, though, (underlined by Schliindorff’s subsequent dully workman-like tilts at Proust, Margaret Attwood and Max Frisch) is whether the actual adaptation brings anything more than wasn’t there already. Although there’s bizarre behaviour and disgusto detail aplenty - we defy you not to gag at the sequence with the eels and the horse’s head - the much hoped-for leap of cinematic imagination never quite arrives. Recommended, but if you’ve read the book, you may have reservations. (Trevor Johnston)
The Tin Drum (18) (Viilker Schliindorff, Ger/Fr/Yug/Pol, 1979) David Bennent, Mario Adorf, Daniel lerychski. 142 mins. Subtitles. From Fri 1D-Sun 12: Glasgow Film Theatre. From Tue 28-Thurs 2: Edinburgh Filmhouse.
The Tin Drum: ‘one of the great children’s performances’
5 DALLAS DOLL
I An Australian culture-clash comedy,
S Dallas Doll stars loud-mouthed lesbian
i performer Sandra Bernhard as a
} professional golfer who insinuates i herself into a comfy middle-class Sydney family, wrecking sexual and : psychological havoc. Although the
dyke diva has since disowned the film,
the role Celia director Ann Turner has . given her is a gift, making excellent
l use of Bernhard’s carefully cultivated ; public persona. Sadly, the film as a
‘ whole is too evenly paced, often more . intriguing than inspired, and never
; quite delivers what it promises.
l Gaining entry to the suburban
i Sommers family through her new role
I as resident golf professional, the
brash, manipulative Dallas (Bernhard) seduces in turn the father, Stephen (Frank Gallagher), the teenage son,
Rosalind (Victoria Longley). The father is flattered, the son naively grateful, the mother liberated to the point of
,, «a . . Dallas Doll: ‘more intriguing than inspired” i P'aymg carpet 90" In SEXY underwear
Charlie (Jake Blundell) and the mother,
and shrugging off the chains of dull ‘ domesticity. Dnly Rosalind’s sceptical, head-strong teenage daughter Rastus resists Dallas’s charms and vague New Age philosophising. Also, significantly, Dallas is merely a catalyst for the family’s reactions — one senses that she herself will not benefit directly from the revolution she has wrought. leaving aside Bernhard’s bizarre, exhibitionist habit of shedding her clothes at the merest pretext, she invests Dallas with a brazen charm that makes her appeal and influence quite believable. Less satisfactory is director Turner’s handling of the sociological element, which deals with Antipodean fears of an American or Japanese economic invasion. What makes this worth seeing, however, is Longley’s radiant, captivating portrayal of Rosalind, whose every ripple of enjoyment, shiver of anticipation and inkling of growing strength she fills with warmth, feeling and sincerity. (Nigel Floyd) Dallas Doll (18) (Ann Turner, Australia, 1993) Sandra Bernhard, Victoria Langley, Frank Gallagher. 104 mins. From Fri 17: Edinburgh Filmhouse.
SOLITAIRE FOR 2
Leon The Pig Farmer, ioint winner of the New Director’s Award at the 1992 Edinburgh Film Festival, was hailed as a great achievement for independent, low budget, British filmmaking. A bunch of people thought it was pretty funny, too. Co-directors and co- producers Gary Sinyor and Vadim Jean have since gone their separate ways, with Jean honing his craft with the stylish (if disappointing) Beyond Bedlam. flow Sinyor tries his hand at solo writing and directing, but his efforts suggest he might be better restricting himself to the producer’s office.
Daniel Becker (Mark Frankel) teaches inept businessmen the art of self-confidence; Katie Burrell (Amanda Pays) is an archaeologist who is cursed/blessed with ESP. lie reads body language, she reads minds. Together they might make the perfect
couple, if their stubborn personalities didn’t get in the way.
The problem with Solitaire For 2 is, while it might be acceptable to have unlikeable characters in a cynical thriller like, say, Shallow Grave, it’s absolutely vital to get the audience sympathetically involved with your leads in a love story. Here, however, we have a cocky, selfish yuppie and a hard-headed bitch who likes nothing better than to finish sentences for you. Not a good start. The obvious line of development is to make the duo, particularly Daniel, into better people through compromise and self-
knowledge, but Sinyor doesn’t seem to
know how to pitch these emotional subtleties to the viewer. it’s a messy piece of writing, with minor characters - such as Helen Lederer’s entirely unconvincing traffic cop - thrown in as mere plot contrivances. (Alan Morrison)
Solitaire For 2 (15) (Gary Sinyor, UK, 1995) Mark Frankel, Amanda Pays, Roshan Seth. 107 mins. From Fri 10. Limited general release.
Solitaire For 2: ‘niessy piece of writing’
22 The List 10-23 Feb 1995