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Last lit The llogmen: ‘iar too predictable’
MODERN WESTERN LAST or THE DOCMEN
Sometimes you wonder it just so much touchy-ieely, nicey-nicey Political Correctness is really good ior the movies. Take this contemporary Western, ior instance, where rootin’- tootin’ tracker Tom Berenger and university anthropologist Barbara Hershey run across a Cheyenne tribe which has somehow managed to survive in the mountains oi Montana tor a hundred years without anyone noticing.
The portrayal oi the ilative Americans, very much in the post- Dances With Wolves mould, seems so keen to avoid any negative stereotyping that the Cheyenne are reduced to benign, mystical, eco- friendly cyphers, the all-round good egg tribe. Fair enough, it it helps make up ior years oi misrepresentation, but it does undercut any tension created by the
narrative set-up: the inference is that they’ve survived by killing anyone who came near them, the reality seems a little more iluiiy.
Characterisation throughout is straight irom the cookie-cutter. Berenger is always watchable, but he’s saddled with truly hackneyed material as the boozy bounty hunter given one last chance to redeem himseli by locating a trio oi escaped convicts at large somewhere in the Rockies.
First-time director Tab llunter’s screenplay is iar too predictable to be very persuasive, but German cameraman Karl Walter lindenlaub (the real star oi Rob Roy) supplies the magniiicent landscapes that at least give you something else to think about in the meantime. (Trevor Johnston) last 0! The Dogmen (P6) (Tab Murphy, US, 1995) Tom Berenger, Barbara Hershey, Kurtwood Smith. 117 mins. From Fri 14. limited general release.
THRILLER EYE FDR AN EYE
In times gone by. the revenge thriller was a staple upon which Hollywood relied with increasing laziness and lack ofthought. A fleeting resurrection is offered by John Schlesinger‘s straightforward suspense ﬁlm. and the audience is at least united on the edge of their seats during an early scene. as a girl is raped and murdered in her own home while her mother. Karen (Sally
and the plot consequently becomes ever more reliant on compromise as Karen decides to tail the rapist. Credulity is strained a little further as she goes into physical training and simultaneously ﬁnds out from her support group details of a service that helps bring the right people to summary justice. ()ld Testament-style. By this time. you are either into the ﬁlm or not and. while it will win no prizes for originality. it does add a politically correct t‘vist here and there. Field is surprisingly good in the lead. cast no doubt for tl c contrast with her
Field). listens helplessly on a mobile phone. A suspect is arrested (Kiefer Sutherland). but he’s released on a legal technicality and. for Karen and her husband Mack (Ed Harris). the nightmare continues.
Maybe it‘s inevitable from such a riveting opening that the ﬁlm cannot possibly sustain that degree of tension.
sweet image. and while Sutherland is a walking cliche. Ed Han'is and sympathetic cop Joe Mantegna help to ground the story in reality. (Anwar Brett)
Eye F or An live ( I 8) (JO/Ill .S't'ltle.s'irtget: US. l 996) Sally Field. K iefer Sutherland. Ed Harris. [0/ mins. l’rmn Fri 2/. General release.
Eye For An Eye: “on prizes for originality’
ﬂow To Make erican llullt: ‘a iew too many stories’
HOW TO MAKE AN AMERICAN QUILT
As sewing circles go, iew can have such distinguished members as the cast list oi this ensemble piece, in which a group oi mature women impart the wisdom learned from their mostly disappointing experiences with men to young Winona llyder, who is contemplating matrimony with misgivings. Poet Maya Angelou, Oscar winners Ellen Burstyn and Anne Bancroit, Oscar nominees Kate llelligan, .lean Simmons and Alire Woodard, plus Broadway diva and character actress lois Smith weave their tales in between their stitches and, here and there, indulge in the odd needle match among themselves. Stability ior Finn (Byder), the product oi a broken hippy marriage, is represented in the gracious home oi her grandmother lly (Burstyn) and great-aunt Clady Joe (Bancroft). When live-in lover Sam (Bennot Mulroney) proposes, Finn takes herseli oii to
grandma’s tor the summer, to ponder her iuture and write a vaguely patronising thesis on the subject oi women’s handiwork in tribal cultures. In ilashback, we learn about the lives and loves oi all the women. Finn, meanwhile, is tempted by the oily charm oi local hunk leon (Johnathan Scaech’s iilm debut), but eventually comes to the right decision, thanks to the wisdom oi the ages - and acquires an enviable piece oi bedlinen. Directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse, ﬂow To Make An American Guilt has plenty oi touching moments and the odd risable one, but we’re in iamiliar, predictable territory, and there are a iew too many stories. Halfway through, there was that sinking sensation oi how many more confessions were yet to come. It is, however, worth seeing, it only for the perionnances oi so many screen grandes dames. (Sue Creenway) How To Make An American Guilt (15) (Jocelyn Moorhouse, US, 1995) Winona Ryder, Ellen Burstyn, Anne Bancroft. 116 mins. From-Fri 14. General release.
DRAMA MY LIFE AND TIMES WITH ANTDNIN ARTAUD
Antonin Artaud: ‘sets ltseli a diitlcult task’
Gerard Mordillat’s ﬁlm sets itself the difﬁcult task of communicating the attitudes and ideas of celebrated French poet- philosopher Antonin Artaud who died in l948 after years in an asylum. and only partially succeeds.
Artaud‘s story — of his ﬁnal years. at least — is told through the eyes of faithful disciple Jacques Prevel. himself an aspiring. garret-dwelling poet who divides his time between a loving-but- resentful wife and a hopeless junkie girlfriend.
While Mordillat skilfully evokes the burgeoning relationship
between the desperately naive Prevel and the laudanum-dependent older man. his ﬁlm is severely handicapped by an absence of much in the way of a propulsive narrative. it moves forward via a series of cafe-bound discussions.
walk-and-talk tirades and in-cell ranting; but since little actually happens apart from the occasional drug overdose. the ﬁlm is almost entirely reliant on the quaIity of its performances. Fortunately. these are top notch. Sarni Frey makes for a beautifully gaunt-faced Artaud. prey to his own overburdening weaknesses; Marc Barbé alongside is a ﬁne foil. all Left Bank neurosis and eager intensity. As an introduction to Artaud’s ideas. then. it does its subject few favours; where it succeeds is in conjuring up a mood and atmosphere that is entirely alien to the present day — even if it makes no concession to the demands of its period setting. (Andrew Pulver) My Life And Times With Antonin Artaud (l8) (Ge’rard Mordillat. France. 1993) Sami Frey, Man.“ Barbe’. Julie Jézéquel. 90 mins. Sun 23—Tae 25: Edinburgh
F i lmhause.
The List l4-27 Jun 1996 29