Shorts) and (loud Day For The Bad
Short sharp shocks
Alan Morrison hails the work of Scottish director and actor Peter Mullan.
3.5”" "' '9} e kid‘s hero Wee Jockie and the man in
g}; the Big Bad wolfsuil-
5‘3“. 1‘ ‘3!
followed in I995 by two back-to-back films: l-‘rirlge' (one of this year's Tartan
Guys. The former sets a dramatic scene
in a Glasgwegian back court. as the life ‘ of a young boy. trapped inside a
THE DEAD MOTHER (LA MADHE MUEHTA)
discarded fridge. falls into the hands of
two alcoholic down-and-outs. Good Day For The Bad Guys is a searing glimpse into panto hell. as rivalries.
jealousies, boredom and
disillusionment come to a head for
Viewed individually. Mullan‘s shorts
are brilliant examples of atmospheric
storytelling. completely immersing the
T‘T audience in worlds where a menacing
Peter Mullan Already conﬁrmed as one of the country‘s most exciting acting talents (‘Scottish acting at its brilliant. visceral best.‘ according to Time 0111). Peter Mullan's work for theatre. television and film has left its mark on many audiences. As a writer. he has penned work for Wildcat. the BBC and Channel 4; as a director, he‘s gone to the heart of community theatre and staged political cabaret.
Over the past couple of years. however. Mullan‘s is perhaps the most distinctive new voice to emerge in Scottish short lilmmaking. llis debut as writer-director —- produced under the First Reels scheme -- was the darkly disturbing ('lusc. which follows a first- time father‘s brutally unbalanced attempts to clean up his tenement while awaiting the arrival from hospital of his wife and new-bom daughter. This was
violence is barely held in check by everyday routines. Shown together. as
g they will be in a special DEFF event
with Mullan introducing his work, a
‘ uniﬁed and not necessarily pleasant “‘ vision of the sharp end of Scottish
. working-class experience emerges. The ,
Q A child witnesses the murder of her mother, and grows up mute. the mother’s
stage and dressing rooms of Com! Day For The Bad (lays have a tacky.
' expressionistic colour. the surface gloss
; its attempt to convince us (and the actors) that cveryone's having fun.
Close and Fridge create a bleak, black-
and-white ponrait of Glasgow where heartfelt duty to a newborn child leads
to vicious murder and teenagers set
hotneless alcoholics on tire to pass the
time. There‘s a howl of pain and anger in
these three ﬁlms. but there’s also a
5 killer reappears on the scene years later and attempts to dispose of the girl. It’s
« of pantomime that‘s almost desperate in I
a familiar plot-line which usually belongs in a thriller, but The Dead Mother is a painterly visual fantasy of imprisonment and inexplicable desire. the
: relationship between the killer, his abused girlfriend and the mute girl takes
centre stage. Since the girl is effectively an empty space with childish airs, and
the girlfriend is dedicated implacany to love of her man, the only character
3 with depth potential is the killer. And he really is a bastard straight through.
the up-side to the coldblooded characterisation is that the film stays true to its amorality. Innocents die without consequence, without our sympathy, and
without even humour. their inconsequentiality provides a cool background
against which to explore the emotionally frozen character of the murderer, : although the film’s rather lame psychological treatment means that interest in
him isn’t really taken far enough. (Hannah Fries)
sense in each of the tarnished goodness The Dead Mom”: 20 ‘09: came” 7: 7pm; 23 ‘09: came" 7: 4W"- 55 (£4)-
. of the main characters. Mullan fully understands the complexities of his
subjects. He is now working on his first feature, something that should give an
' uncomfortable edge to the current rise - in Scottish feature ﬁlmmaking.
; [bier Mullan Shorts. [9 Aug.
; film/muse 2. 6.30pm. £6 (£4).
Images of Chﬂe
the five films from Chile receiving their European Premieres at this year’s festival are all made by young, independent filmmakers. these are films that celebrate the new-found freedom currently being enjoyed in Chile following the country’s liberation from dictatorship.
the films - El Trompefista, Reunion de Familia, Pelea de Fonda, En Silencio, Wichan and Large Distancia - are visually stunning, sensitively directed and bursting with a sense of humanity. Wichan is a particularly exciting film because it is the first to
actors are local Mapuche descendents and the story was originally written by the cacique chief in 1927.
’Each film is strikingly different in its subject matter, cinematic technique and approach,’ says Rachel Fairley, co-ordlnator of this programme. ‘they offer multiple perspectives which allow the viewer to reflect sensitively
, ; ~ .54 31- .r, . , ,1 We, i, ,f ,1 ".1" . -" 3‘ ".(
: on the complexities of Chile’s turbulent past, making their own
interpretations and coming to their
: own conclusions.’ the films are poetic yet accessible, and between them be made in the Mapuche language, the ;
comprise numerous aspects of modern filmmaking: some are dialogue based, others are visuals based, and together
they prove that, given the chance,
Chile would be at the innovative forefront of world cinema. (Gill Harris)
Chilean Shorts, 17 Aug, Filmhouse 2,
l 8.45pm; large Distancia screens with E Emmene-Moi on 21 Aug, Cameo 1,
? 7pm. £6 (£4).
Ang lee is now famous for The Wedding Banquefand Eat Drink Man Woman, but before these he directed a film which deserves greater recognition. Pushing Hands was made in 1991 on the back of a script competition held in taiwan, which Lee won. the great thing about it is a rare sophisticated intimacy: these are highly developed characters we can know and love. they live in the normal middle-class West, and nothing exceptional happens. An old Chinese man has moved in with his lawyer son, Alex, and American daughter-in-Iaw in the States. the drama is in the ensuing domestic conflict, which starts over food and leads to an emotional crisis. Beneath its quiet realism, Pushing Hands has a ferocious intensity. Alex’s breakdown and old Mr Chu’s sense of rejection are pretty devastating, especially as these people love one another. Modern notions of filial duty in America aren’t perfect, but nor does Lee point to an Eastern utopia of extended families. (Hannah Fries)
Pushing Hands, 24 Aug, Cameo 1, 9.30pm; 25 Aug, Cameo 1, 1pm.
FOR FULL DETAILS OF NON-FESTIVAL FILM PROGRAMMES IN GLASGOW AND EDINBURGH,
SEE PAGES 88 TD 93
10 The List 18-24 Aug 1995