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Emir Kusturica‘s l’alme i)‘()r winning film isn't the first cinematic meditation on the beleagured former state of Yugoslavia (several documentaries and Before The Rain got there first). but it's undoubtedly both the most impressive and the most controversial. Uta/ergrotattl is a truly extraordinary creation. thoroughly worthy of the spectacular talent behind little (If The (iv/isles and IIllt'H liar/tet' IIil\ ‘lwav (m li‘asitiess.
The film‘s huge. all- embracing storyline is parable-like in nature two friends organise black market schemes as World War ll gets underway. whereupon one of them hides lll a cellar with a group of refugees to escape the .\'a/is. The other constructs an elaborate deception. profiting by the refugees' labour while tricking his comrade mto believing the war is still continuing. .-\fter 4t) years. the ruse is blown open and the disbelieving cellar dwellers emerge to a world they neither" recognise nor comprehend.
ls'usturicas method is to play in a major key throughout -there's even a brass band accompanying much of the action while the baroque camerawork is merged seamlessly with one brilliantly accomplished dramatic set-piece after another. llis concerns are directed beyond. rather than directly at. the present conflict literally digging at its roots « and the mood of bets ilderingly all- encompassing national
DEAD MAN WALKING - v a,
Dead Man Walking: ‘powerful study of human compassion’ Almost four years alter llol) It’oltt‘t'ts. actor 'l’im Robbins confirms his growing directorial stature with this powerful study of human compassion in the aftermath of the most appalling inhumanity.
Adapted by Robbins from the real life testimony of Sister llelen l’reiean. the film follows Susan Sarandon‘s difficult spiritual progress as the nun who answers a letter from a convicted killer (Sean Penn) and becomes his religious advisor as he awaits the day of his execution. Listening to the reflections and recriminations of the guilty individual who senselesst butchered two teenagers. Sister Helen's path forward presents two distinct challenges -- to persuade the murderer to come to terms with his own mortality by taking full responsibility for his horrific actions and. at the same time. to offer a listening ear to the anguished and angry families of the victims.
Thanks to Sarandon‘s unshowy but
cotnmittctl presence. we‘re left in no doubt that the weight of caring places a
heav y strain on the Sister is own emotions and. indeed. the film as a w hole. measured in its pacing. has a
consistent seriousness and intensity that ranks it far from the usual run of Hollywood pulp.
lfthe leavening humour and slightly over-emphatic rise of \usrat l‘ateh .~\li Khan's soundtrack music give it a
rather lighter feel. the enormous impact of Sean Penn‘s vivid and deeply ' insightful perlormance strongly underlines the pieces strong anti-
. capital punishment stance. ls’obbins‘ achievement is to reclaim the lilm
Katia Isma'r‘lova: ‘lmpressive potboiler’
l protagonist is impressive
l — Katia is no scheming
femme fatale. but a dulled mind seemingly incapable ISMAILDVA
of thinking more than one step ahead. Her hamfisted Adapting Nikolai Leskov's classic story
attempt to rewrite the ending of her mother-in— law's novel — altering it lxltl)‘ Maehet/i ()_t‘.'lltensk frotn tragic to happy 7- is (which later becatne an the most concrete symbol opera by Shostakovich). of her inept wish director VillCt'i 'l‘mlttfm’skl fulfilment imaginings: it‘s transforms a Flaubertian swiftly detected and tale of l‘)th century melodrama into an equally impressive
dismissed. lngeborga Dapkounaite contemporary potboiler. The woman of the title
(who also appeared in the is a typist fora well-
()scar-winning Burnt [iv The Star) plays her role with beautifully judged known writer and married lassitudc, turning a to her employer's son. potential romantic heroine The family are working in rural isolation to complete the latest written work.
into a triumph of until local handyman
medium. so often cavalier in its
treatment of carnage. for a sobering.
effective reminder of the most simple and urgent of human llles‘tlfJL‘SI to take another life is wrong. t’l‘revor Johnston) [Natl .lIa/i Hit/king ( l5) (lth li’o/iltittv. (LS, /‘/‘/5) Susan Sarina/on. Sea/t l’etttt. /\’ol)et't Pros/(Iv. I32 mitts. I’t‘om I't'i 2‘). (lt‘llt't'tll release.
ANIMATN * rov sronv
despondent fatalism all of which meshes neatly with the roll-call of l‘)tli Sergei intrudes into the dull domesticity. The mother-in-law discovers them together and has a stroke on the spot — whereupon Katia's murderous instincts are aroused. and it's not long before her husband Mitya is hugging the carpet. As a study in self- delusion. Ttxlorovski's treatment of his restless
century characters evoked midway through the drama by the investigating policeman. (Andrew l’ulver)
Katia /.\‘llltllltll‘tl ( IS) tlitleri 'Iotlorovslti, lv’ttssitt/l‘lttttt't'. [99-1) Ittgeltot‘ga I)apkottttaile.
.-lliee IVrietttllik/r l'ltalintir
.I’Itlt'llkttl'. HS mitts. I’m/n Mon 25: Glasgow I'll!!! 'I‘ltt't lll't'.
When the medical supplies to an isolated Alaskan town are threatened by a blizzard. it's up to an outsider hero to save the day. The difference is that this time our saviour comes in the furry coat of a half- husky/half-wolf called Balto. His mongrel background has made dogs and humans alike rather suspicious of him. although there is one four-
legged female who's got a soft spot for him.
Impressive action sequences ensure that Amblin's feature-length cartoon gives the typical Disney fare at run for its money. Not only that. it's based on a true story — except in real life. Balto didn't speak with the voice of Kevin Bacon. At least. I assume so. (AM) Balto (U) (Simon Wells, US. [995) With the voices of Kevin Bacon, Bridget Font/a. Bob Hoskins. 78 mitts. From Fri 29. General release.
The Nightmare Before Christmas, with its stop-motion techniques and ' maliciously dark humour, provided the tlipside to Disney’s cute-and- sentimental animation coin. Now, venturing into the field of computer- generated images, the studio again proves that a new style can also open up a fresh sense of playfulness with characters and story.
At his birthday party, young Andy is given a new Buzz Lightyear space- ranger doll, and so previous favourite, Woody the cowboy, is relegated to life as a second division plaything. In a fit of jealousy, Woody knocks Buzz out of the bedroom window; ostracised by his fellow toys, he then goes on a rescue
Toy Story: ‘thrilling against-the-clock adventure’
l mission and finds himself up against ; Sid, the nasty neighbouring kid who’s ‘ planning to literally blow Buzz up into orbit.
Needless to say, Toy Story looks amazing, but it’s the gripping story that’s the real surprise. A buddy movie and thrilling against-the-clock adventure rolled into one, it’s sprinkled with comic asides and meaningful life lessons. Don’t be fooled into thinking these toys are just for the kids. (Alan Morrisonl
Toy Story (PG) (John Lasseter, US, 1995) With the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rick/es. 81 mins. From Fri 22. General release.
tragedy i ‘once there was a country . . . ' as the preface has it) scents to dellect the criticism that has come the film's way. t:\ndrew l’ulverl (fin/ererotttttlt15) tlittiit‘ Kitstttrita. I’rattee/ ([er/tuttiv/lltttteari. I‘Nﬁ'l .lliki .llatto/loi'ie. [afar
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I’I'i 3‘): Glasgow Film ll](’tlll't'. I’m/n I'll 5: lz‘i/itt/rtajelt l-‘i/m/touse.
.22 The List 22 Mar-4 Apr 1996