Farinelli: ‘a feast for eyes and ears’

; \ ‘f I i 7'




Some people would give their right arm for fame and fortune - for castrati, the price was much greater. Today, the thought of physically

mutilating a young boy in order to

combine, in later years, the child’s

: fresh voice with the vocal power of a 2 man and the high register of a woman is abhorrent, but a castrato was the

pop star of his day, mobbed by groupies and prized by kings.

Oscar nominee Farinelli presents the life of 18th century castrato Carlo Broschi - stage name Farinelli - through biographical details, period

1 splendour and a tictionalised narrative

that heightens the drama: like Amadeus, but without the Americanisms. Along with his composer brother Riccardo, Farinelli pleasures the female fans who fall at his feet: he ‘ploughs the furrow’, Riccardo ‘sows the seed’. However, their relationship has a deeper mutual dependency than sexual deviancy. Riccardo needs his brother’s fame in

order to keep composing popular songs, Carlo needs his brother’s music in order to have material custom-made for his voice. Nevertheless, the star is becoming tired of vocal acrobatics

' and longs to sing the more fulfilling music of Handel (Jeroen Krabbe),

| despite their personal animosity.

To the modern ear, the castrato’s repertoire is little more than pretty trills that substitute virtuosity for feeling. The castrato, too, was something of an ornamental figure, his manhood stolen from him, his life as empty as his music. The conflicts and

. desires to be both a man and an artist are at the heart of Farinelli, and there

is a strong emotional undercurrent

beneath the ornate costumes and

j arresting vocal set pieces.

l Entertaining, moving and enlightening,

; this is a feast for eyes and ears that

t doesn’t ignore the mind. (Alan

t Morrison)

Farinelli (15) (Gerard Corbiau,

, France/Belgium, 1994) Stefano Dionisi, ; Enrico l.o Verso, Jeroen Krabbe. 110

. mins. From Fri 10. Glasgow: 6F T.

i Edinburgh: Filmhouse.

MEDE- IL Posnrto

So wounded by the criticism of his last film. l9b’7's colonial caper li'lti/t' t’llist'ltitf). director Michael Rad ford retired hurl to the continent wltere he's hided itis titttc. clearly undergoing sotttething of a rethink. before emerging triumpltant witit this touching ltalian drama titat may well be his fittest film to date.

Set in I952. and inspired by a real-life itteident. it all takes place on a remote island off the Neapolitan coast. witere the locals‘ unchanging routine is sligittly ruffled by the arrival ofexilcd Chilean poet attd hero of the Left. Pablo Neruda (Philippe Noiret). He gets so much fan~mail that there's a new job for easygoing lisitermatt‘s son Mario (Massimo Troisi) itt dcliverittg it. but the new posttttatt is to do tttttcit more titatt just drop off a few letters each day. inspired by the poet‘s sensitivity and use of language. he comes tutder the spell of the printed page ltitttself and resolves to ttse fancy

; words itt wooing Beatrice (Maria ! Grazia Cueinotta). the comely village


Y look like ttol

httt the tittte we're allowed to get to t know these people makes our



ittto man of letters (itt botit senses of the phrase) with a remarkable unforced naturalness. Sadly. the actor died a day after shooting was completed. but he couldn‘t have left a liner legacy. Do see it. (Trevor Johnston)

// I’m/inn (U 1995) Mussinm 'I‘misi. Philippe Noirel. Maria Grazia ('ttt'irtultu. 108 mins. l’mm Fri 3. Glasgow: GI'T Edinburgh:


Getttly paced attd full of Mediterranean sun. Radford's film is z deceptive in its emotional grip. it ntay

affecting when the story takes a turtt for the worse itt its later stages. Radford never glamorises island life attd keeps a tigitt rein on the sentimentality. which could easily have gotten ottt of hand. While Noiret is itigitly assured. gruff htit ttot distant. the iilnt really belongs

; to Troisi. who manages the somewhat

a great deal is happening.

with them all the more

Mario's transformation

) (lWlt‘lltlUi Rat/ford. Italy.

ll Postlno: Gently paced


. s,

l i

I ‘a savagely stupld movle' i


A bloody murder; an alluring, devilish woman with a hidden double identity; a schlubby detective getting seduced by the sexy vamp he’s investigating - it can only be a Joe Eszterhas movie. Sadly, it is also a William Friedkin movie, and therein lies the rub. The prospect of director Friedkin tackling

a script by hackneyed erotic thrills

merchant Eszterhas is not one which

devotees of either’s work should

relish. Eszterhas (who penned Basic

' Instinct, Sliver and Showgirls)

specialises in movies with ludicrous plots from which the audience is distracted by large amounts of sleazy visual exotica. Enter Friedkin, the prince of police procedurals (The

French Connection, To live And Die In M) and a man renowned for his particularly sexless approach to tilmmaking, who tackles Jade like a serious crime thriller. The result is a T disaster, a savagely stupid movie that ? actively encourages its audience to concentrate upon a plot not fit for a straight-to-vid six-packer.

Friedkin knows how bad it all is, and : around half-time simply gives up and resorts to the one thing he can do with his eyes closed: a cracking car chase. The cast, meanwhile, grit their teeth and mug like crazy, with particular plaudits going to Michael Biehn who chews the scenery till it starts to shake. Cobblers. (Mark Kermode) Jade (18) (William Friedkin, US, 1995) David Caruso, linda Florentine, Chan Palminteri. From Fri 3. General release.

i i i l l


Robert De film

As befits the ntost respected actor of his generation. De lliro can exist solely on the strength of his surname in the title ofloltn Parker‘s biograpity (Goliatth £16.99). A straightforward chronological job. it fills out the CV attd fills iii a bit of background colour. That said. it never completely opens tip the off-screen life of this intensely private man. attd glosses over the strange division hetweett the actor's critical prestige and his films box office returns.

The lines of Jeanne Moreau's face tell of interesting travels through life. reckons Marianne Gray itt her biography la Moreau (Abacus £7.99). Gray keeps a spotlight trained closely on the actress as site wanders through a itighly individualistic career. it‘s by bringing togetiter the polar opposites that seem to surround Moreau the half-English epitotne of the French New Wave. the physical plainness that can suddenly glow on screen. the highly publicised grunt/s (llll()lll'.\‘ that went hand itt hand with the dedicated privacy of motherhood that the author does indeed discover the woman at the centre. With a subject who. at one montent is so irascible. the next vivacious. Gray cattnot help but provide a lively read.

For its fourth edition. the irreplaceable Time Out Film Guide (Penguin £l2.99) allows itself a little self-indulgence. This is. ofcourse. the centenary ofcinenta. but what do t0p tett lists by journos attd filmmakers really offer the reader? Thankfully. the rest of the guide is as itip. informed and contentious as ever. guidittg us through a well- balanced selection of over 10.000 classics. Hollywood popcorn fests. foreign gems and cult discoveries. The indices and appendices are also a godsend for the browser and buff alike. cross- referencing entries by genre. country. actors. directors and general subject. (Alan Morrison)

The List 3- 16 Nov I995 21