4‘» r . 3
There could be no better crash-course introduction to African cinema than this set of four releases from Connoisseur and Academy Video. Africa’s film industry may still be finding its feet some 30 years alter certain countries won independence from European powers, but its stories have a freshness and power to entertain that embues often simple surface stories with hidden depths and contemporary relevance.
African Shorts (15, Academy Video, £12.99) contains Sembene Ousrnane’s Borom Sarret, the first African film by
a Black African filmmaker, as well as
Bathi ly’s Cerfificaf D ’Indigence -
a three moving fables told in different
cinematic styles. Ousmane’s Xala (12, Connoisseur Video, £15.99) also uses a symbolic narrative (concerning a black bourgeois leader’s attempts to cure his impotence) to examine contemporary social and political problems.
The different traditions of Black African Cinema (centring on the former French colonies) and North African Cinema are handled in an informative and accessible way by Ferid Boughedir in his twin documentaries Camera A frique/Camera Arabe (E, Academy Video, £15.99). The struggle for artistic independence is now on the agenda as filmmakers probe their identities and the clashes between the modern world and traditional ways of life. Boughedir’s feature Halfaouine (15, Connoisseur Video, £15.99) is also released: with superb ensemble performances and beautiful images, it tells of a teenage boy’s move from the secretive female world to which he has been privy, to the demands of life as an Arab male. (AM)
BEE— BRITAIN’S FINEST FILMS
From Ealing comedies to literary adaptations to dramas with a touch of social realism. Lumiere‘s superlative video collection released under the title ‘Britain‘s Finest Films‘ celebrates some of the finest cinematic achievements from over 30 years of British filriimaking. Basil Dean‘s 1935 version of Lorna [)mme ( PC) was the first made with sound. and captures the romance and adventure of R1). Blackmore‘s novel. ()thcr page-to- screerr adaptations out this month are Lord ()f'l'lie I’lles (PG). Peter Brook's disturbing allegory of a group of schoolboys‘ descent into barbarism. and Joseph Strick's l,’/_v.vxe.v ( 18). an imaginative and equally controversial version of James Joyce‘s supposedly unfilmable literary nrastcrpiece (here in its original cut with its blacked-out. soundtrack only. opening sequence).
If that last title acttrally ovvcs more to Eire for its atmosphere. there can be no questioning the much-loved British comic geriiability of Alastair Sim. who stars in both The Happiest Days Of Your Life (U) and Hire .-fml ('ry (U). Also featuring twice as an actor is Richard Attenborough. who brings a nasty streak to the baby-faced thug iii the classic Brig/iron RUf‘k (PG). and integrity to the man standing against the bullying power of the unions in the somewhat propagandist The Angry Silence (PG). Finally comes the wonderful. award-winning racial drama ('ry 'l‘lte B(’/HI'('(I ('nirii/ry (1’0). an
, early. bold and powerfully acted
condemnation of apartheid. Individually. each title has its my ii
‘ significance and merit; taken together.
they give the lie to 'l'ruffaut‘s claim that the words ‘British‘ and ‘cinema‘ are a contradiction in terms. (AM)
The ‘lirilttiri is l'i‘rres‘l I’ll/its" series is ()II the Lumiere ltllH’l. prit'et/ [9.99 (’(lt‘ll.
Romero, Carpenter, De Palma, Kubrick, Cronenberg - they’ve all had a stab at taking the magic of Stephen King from the page and making it into something equally powerful on the screen. Results are, to say the least, mixed. Sometimes it’s the short stories that work best, sometimes the weighty, doorstep-thick tomes. One of the author’s greatest strengths is his ability to use the latter form to cultivate fully realised, sympathetic communities filled with overlapping characters — the horror genre meets the soap opera - and so the American TV mini-series is a good medium for its visual dramatisation.
low have the three-hour version of
The Tammyknackers (15, Terror Vision, £12.99) and the six-hour version of The Stand (15, Terror Vision, £15.99). The Tommyknackers turns a bunch of small town inhabitants into emotional zombies when a buried spaceship is uncovered in nearby woods. The story is all over the place, the effects poor: a disappointing film of a disappointing novel. The Stand, however, is up there with Stand By Me and The Dead Zone as works that perfectly capture the essence of King. This post-apocalyptic epic opens with some genuinely terrifying scenes of a lethal virus outbreak and builds into a battle of good versus evil on a huge scale. The acting is consistently excellent, the characters well developed, the concept bold and engaging. This is televisual storytelling at its best. (AM)
Mohamed Camara’s Denko and Moussa ;
I The Illustrated Man
( 15) Ray Bradbtiry‘s bleak stories come alive through the ‘skin illustrations‘ of angry. enigmatic drifter Rod Steiger. btrt leave only a sense of allegorical confusion and muddled moralities. The design of
‘ the filrii looks great from the tattoos
themselves to the antiseptic futuristic interiors ~ but the structure of the narrative lacks cumulative power. (Beyond \‘tsiori. £12.99) I Night Caller ( 18) A riiix of .-\r'geiito-inspired slasher movie and llong Kong cop movie. .Vie/rt (’tt/ler has some stylish. but extremely nasty. moments. Most of the emphasis is oti the police work. btrt it should manage to please fans of botfi l-iastern action and killer-oii-the-loose horror. (liastern Heroes. £13.99)
I Les Roseaux Sauvages ( 15) There's a shadow cast by the Algerian War over Andre Techine‘s portrait of rural life tn the (i()s. liven the age-old teenage traumas experienced by a group of school kids are affected by what's happening across the Mediterranean. especially now that
Hunt is iii their midst.
This is a superior coming-
of-age tale. well acted and
I delicately handled. which builds to a t‘edeiiiptive.
cleansing climax. (Till’ltlll. £15.99) I The Haunting l’crhaps
e the most terrifying
haunted house movie ever made. Robert Wise‘s masterpiece proves that sustained atmosphere cati achieve what millions of dollars of gory sfx never can. The plot may be familiar —- a group of four
find themselves in a house
cursed with an evil history —- bttt its screen realisation. utilising a simple yet menacing soundtrack and astonishing cinematography (here in full widescreen). sets the film iii a class of its own.
1. (Terror Vision. £14.99)
I La Route De Corinthe
; ( )2) Claude Cliabrol‘s spy
thriller has a iiiat‘vellous off-centre humour. an aimless plot and heaps of remarkable images. When
Jean Seberg is accused of the murder of her NA’I'U
officer husband iii (.ir'eecc.
she decides to do a little investigative work of her
owii. (‘habrol takes his
thriller on a deliciously idiosyncratic journey which is entertaining at every stop, The director is on more familiar ground with Les Innocents Aux Mains Sales t 15 ). which finds darkness in the most beautiful hearts. Romy Schneider is bored with older husband Rod Steiger. btit her attempt to have her lover kill him backfires. Not particularly original. it's a diverting enough examination of what lies below the surface of iiiiddle-class respectability. (Arthouse. £15.99 each)
I People’s Hero t 18) When a couple of kids mess tip a batik heist. a real criminal who’s caught tip in the drama tries to turn the situation to his
advantage. 1.ike Dire l)tiv riflt’l'liﬂrlll. this movie
manages to build
' sympathy for the guy
that's ostensibly the
, baddie. while mixing
comedy atitf stand-off tension. hi the central
‘ role. Ti Lung gives an outstanding performance
- better than arty of his outings in other. less restrained bullet-fests -- as
a complex. tarnished.
ambiguous anti-hero. (Eastern Heroes. £13.99) I Finally Sunday (15)
Francois Truffaut's final
1 film is a comedy thriller
with a strong pairing iii liantiy Ardant and Jean-
; 1.ouis 'l'riiitignaiit. The
black-and-white photography is all part of the llitclicockiaii homage. btit Ardarit is very much a modern woman. discovering skeletons in every cupboard as she investigates the murder of her boss's wife and a bunch of others. (Artificial liyc. £15.99) I Fiorile ( 15) While not as nieiiiot'able as the Taviani Brother's other works ofepic scope ((iimtl .lltrr/ir'lre Baby/mi. Ktlm'). l-iitrl/e brings together folk tales. legends and historical fact fora thoroughly engaging and beautifully rendered family history. The Beriedetti fortune is founded on cursed gold. with murder and greed
following from generation to generation. The storytelling is well crafted. its Is the sense of present dues being paid for past actions — altliotrgli redeiripnoii is hinted at iii the innocence of the contenipor'aiy section's children. (Arrow. £15.99) I Devil Ship Pirates (PU) llammer goes back to the Ifith century as captain (‘liristoplier Lee and the crew of Spanish galleon ‘l)iablo‘ terrorise a ('oriiisli village. At least l.ee gives evidence to support his claim of being one of the screen's greatest swor’dfiglltet's. (Lumiere. £10.99) I Crumb ( 18) Terry Zvvigof‘f's fairly complete portrait ofcartoonist Robert (‘ruiiib scrapes below the surface of the drawings to discover strange sibling rivalries and an extrerrrely odd attitude to sex and women as the driving forces for (‘rumb's underground art. The real-life characters seem as bizarre and exaggerated as those it) the comics; you don‘t have to be a (‘runib fan to work here. bill it helps. (Artificial liyc. £15.99) I A Better Tomorrow ( In) As irriportant to the violent riiodern crime genre as .'i l'i'xI/n/ ()f Dollars was to the spaghetti western. Joliri Woo's original gangster movie is at last released in widescreeii in its subtitled form. In shades. cool suit and chewing a matchstick. C‘liow Yuri-Fat makes his name as Mark. at mobster at the heart of a clash of loyalties. There‘s an epic feel to it it”. as \Voo's excesses of style defined what was to follow (llorig Kong Classics. £13.99) I Bandit Queen t is) .-\ phenomenon (even though unseen) in its home country. Shekhar Kapur's account of Indian outlaw I)Ilt)()IilII Devi is one ()T the major international releases of recent years. Caste. sexism. politics and popular legend are all tackled head on. Seema Biswas gives a passionate perfot'iiiance. while Kapur refuses to compromise with his forthright version of evetits- a stance now justified as the real [)evi has decided to give her backing to the film once more. (Mainline. £15.99)
22 The List 8-21 Sept 1995