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August: ‘seli-indulgent characters, seii- lndulgent acting’



Give a man a knighthood and an Oscar, and he thinks he can go oil to the countryside and transiorm Chekhov. Anthony Hopkins makes his directorial debut with Julian Mitchell’s rewriting oi Uncle Vanya, in which he also plays the Welsh equivalent oi the title role. But where Louis Malle’s llanya 0n 42nd Street stripped the Russian original down to its core drama and characterisetions, this version seems to have caught a rather nasty strain at the Merchant-Ivory bug, which has leit it puited up and unsteady on its test. The histrionics take place in a country house in llorth Wales, where a multi-generational iamily and a iew iriends weep, shout, cornplaln and generally ieel sorry for themselves. Most of their troubles stem irom crossed aiiections and iealousies, particularly strong in the booze-addied brain oi leuan (Hopkins), who is in love with his dead sister’s husband’s new


iiopklns has a tow touching moments, but his character's quirks and )apes are supremely irritating. As director, he never gets the balance oi tragedy and iarce on a reasonable level and his continual cutaways to Kate Burton (daughter oi lllchard) are saturated in an out-oi-date soit iocus; meanwhile, as composer (oh, yes, give him an inch . . .)the music is derivative and at times inappropriate. Part oi the tilm’s problem lies in the original Chekhov: it‘s almost impossible to iind sympathy for these people, despite their heartaches and purposeless lives, given the comiort oi their surroundings. Salt-indulgent characters, soit-indulgent acting. ilopeinlly now that it’s out oi his system, ilopkins can get back to his great work in iront oi the camera. (Alan Morrison)

August (P6) (Anthony lloplrlns, UK, 19$) Anthony Hopkins, Leslie Phillips, Kate Burton. 89 mins. From Fri 23: Glasgow Film Theatre. From Mon 26: Edinburgh Filmhouse.



The title oi Bernardo Bertolucci’s latest tilm reiers to the way in which artists (and others) steal their material from the living world. it’s also about the theit oi maidenhood preceding adulthood.

Liv Tyler plays teenage American beauty Lucy, visiting her late mother’s artist iriends in their bohemian retreat in Tuscany. She has done so once before and has a lasting intatuation tor the young iothario she met then. The story is simply about to whom, irom the potential suitors, she will choose to lose her virginity.

Among her hosts, the rivals tor her aiiections are, most notably, terminally ill playwright Jeremy Irons, brash and adulterous llew Yorker D.W. Moiiat and, somewhat ambiguously, sculptor Donal McCann, who is to cast Lucy in one oi his Spencer-esque wood

pieces (which adorn the surroundings).

Sinead Cusack gives a tine periormance as his wiie Diana, the mainstay oi their community, while Irons is in moving iorm as the rather pathetic unrequited bachelor.

The photography and handling are characteristically masteriul, and Bertolucci’s rustic portrait oi the artist is unusually lyrical and simplistic given the scope oi his recent work. Doe-eyed Tyler brings a natural ireshness to Lucy. As she plays a not dissimilar part in the teen ilick Empire Records, it’s interesting to ponder whether she could be typecast as the undecided virgin. Something which is lost iorever can’t be regained in nature, but this is art, iiction, and perhaps that is the essence oi Stealing Beauty. (Clo MacDonald) Stealing Beauty (15) (Bernardo Bertolluci, Italy/France/llli, 1996) liv Tyler, Jeremy Irons, Donal McCain. 118 mins. From Fri 30. Glasgow: CF T. Edinburgh: Cameo.

”at. ’1’.

‘5: ‘13-, A .‘x' . _

Stealing Beauty: ‘lyrical and slmpllstlc’

The last Supper: ‘a stand-out piece oi work’



it all begins with an intellectual conceit: it you went back in time and met iiitler in a bar in 1909 beiore he committed his atrocities, would you kill him and save all thou lives while he is still ‘innocent’? llowever, this little game turns into something more deadly and more blackly comic tor ilve grad students in Iowa, each liberal to the core but soon committed to some very llliberal actions.

Written by Dan llosen and directed by ieature debutante Stacy Title, The Last Supper keeps changing the criteria oi the question until our live ‘heroes’ begin to contemplate the

grisly end oi some poor geek who

thinks The Catcher In The liye is pointless smut. The initial feeling that they’re doing mankind a iavour by inviting disparate characters to dinner, hearing their extreme views on

a particular subject, then paulng

them the poisoned chalice - well, caraie anyway - is inspired by an incident with a racist truck driver. When his threats turn to physical violence, the iriends unexpectedly reply with deadly iorce and set their weekly suppers in motion.

Described by the director as ‘an Arsenic And Old lace tor the 90s’, this cmdy is rarely signposted and relies as much on the vividly drawn characters as the bizarre situation that uniolds. The involvement oi iamiliar character actors in cameo roles as the hapless dinner guests adds to the tun, but while you laugh, you cannot help but think about the point the iii-makers are raising so eloquently. That, in the end, is what makes The Last Suppera stand-out piece oi work, and the whole delicious conlection is a treat. Just beware oi the aftertaste. (Anwar Brett)

The last Supper (15) (Shier Title, US, 1996) lion Eldarrl, Courtney Vance, Caneron Diaz. 92 mins. From 26 Aug. Glasgow: ABC Sauchlehall Sheet. Edlnburgh: Canoe.



The Perez Family: ‘a genuinely warm movle’

Set against a sultry Miami backdrop. The Pure: Family is a spicy tale of family and freedom which will warm your heart but won‘t rot your teeth.

" Released from a Cuban jail. Juan Perez (Alfred Molina) sails to Miami dreaming of his wife Carmela (Anjelica Huston) and family. whom he has not seen for twenty years. However, his hopes shatter when. thanks to a mix-up. no one meets him at the port. Falling in with flamboyant ex-prostitute Dottie Perez (Marisa Tomei). he builds a new Perez ‘family‘ with a crazy old man and a street kid. Meanwhile. Carmela is starting a new life with a gallant FBI agent (Chaz Palminteri).

The simple but engaging plot is given a boost by excellent acting. Huston is calm but commanding as the put-upon Carmela. striving to free herself from her husband’s memory and brother’s influence. Molina as tall, bearded Juan looks like an Old Testament prophet in a Hawaiian shirt, while Diego Wallraff is excellent as Carmela’s loathsome brother Angel. whose conniving ways make him a real Cuban heel. Most impressive is Tomei, who sways and salsas across the screen like the spirit of Havana.

The Perez Family could have been too sugary, but avoids the sentimentality trap thanks to Mira Nair's lusty and colourful direction and hilarious one-liners. A genuinely warm movie with the feeigood factor cranked to ten. (Peter Ross)

The Perez Family (15) (Mira Nair: US, 1996) Marisa Tomei, Alfred Molina, Anjelica Huston. 113 mins. me Fri 23. Glasgow: GFII

The List 23 Aug-5 Sept 1996 79