Kids In The Hall: ‘drab small-screen origins’
KIDS IN THE HALL: BRAIN CANOY
Apparently, the Canadian sketch- based television comedy Kids In The Hall (whose retinue of players take a stab at the big screen in Brain Candy) is a late-night cult show. Possiny true on the strength of some enthusiastic, energetic, if only occasionally humorous performances here. However, the transition from 30- minute TV show to 90-minute feature falls ﬂat.
The perfunctory story, concerning big business exploitation of an untested Prozac-like drug, is a feeble excuse to string together three TV episodes’ worth of sketches. The script is neither a ‘high concept’ commercial conceit (like Groundhog Day or Multiplicity) nor a well-crafted
character or plot-driven film.
The fact that the numerous caricatures each ‘kid’ plays went out with Monty Python suggests that the TV show isn’t all it’s cracked up to be; not only that, the ‘sketches’ have none of the surreal quality of the Python institution and can’t even muster the cheap but knowing throwaway humour of Airplane, Naked Gun or Wayne’s World. Potentially entertaining references to other movies (such as the corporate politics of The lludsucker Proxy) are neither spoof nor homage - it’s hard to know what they are.
The cinematic, fluid camerawork and production design don’t mask The Kids’ drab small-screen origins, instead accentuating them and the inevitability of the film’s failure to engage its audience. (Miles Fielder) The Kids In The Hall: Brain Candy (15) David Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney, Scott Thompson. 90 mins. From Fri 8. Glasgow: Odeon. Edinburgh: Cameo.
When shy newcomer Sarah (Robin Tunney) arrives at snobbish St Benedict‘s Academy. she doesn’t ﬁt into any ofthe Los Angelcs high
dead mother, to conquer her fears and summon up the resources to defeat her. With its high school setting and combination of supernatural thrills and black comedy. The Craft comes across as Carrie meets Heathers. It can‘t match the gory shocks of the former or the latter's mordant wit. but as teen
school‘s presiding cliques: the prom queens give her the cold shoulder while thejocksjust get the bots. Instead. she is drawn to some fellow misﬁts. a trio of surly rebels dubbed the ‘Bitches of Eastwick‘ by their snooty peers. Led by white-trash, trailer-park 'punk Nancy (Fairuza Balk). these weird sisters have been eagerly dabbling in witchcraft. but they can‘t conjure up more powerful spells until Sarah completes the magic circle.
Invoking the occult deity Manon. the co-cd coven turn the tables on their tormentors. A boorish hunk becomes a bcsotted slave and a racist beauty (in a genuinely unnerving sequence) loses her blonde hair in the school showers. But the hocus-pocus gets out of hand. Nancy becomes increasingly demented and demonic. forcing Sarah, whose
horror pics go. it has a good deal more panache than most.
The film's special effects are suitably well crafted — the showdown between Sarah and Nancy will give most audiences the creeps. containing more crawling. slithering, slimy creatures than Indiana Jones could shake a whip at. Best of all is Balk, whose Nancy has a spiky ferocity that prevents the film succumbing to blandness. 'I'he Crafr‘s underlying message — about the need for self-esteem and empowerment — is as wholesome and cloying as an episode of Beverley Hills 902/0. but when the film eschews edification and simply concentrates on being nasty. the result is bewitching. (Jason Best)
The Craft ( I 5) (Andrew Fleming. US. I996) Robin 'liorney. l’airiiza Balk. Neve Campbell. Rachel True. [0/ mins.
knack for ‘the craft‘ comes from her
From Fri 8. General release.
,The Craft: ‘supernatural thrills and black comedy’
The Pillow Book: ‘procession of achineg gorgeous images’
THE PILLOW BOOK
Other visual artists have turned to cinema as a further means of expression, but none uses the screen as a moving canvas with the same total mastery as Peter Greenaway. In stylistic terms, The Pillow Book is the culmination of his dominant creative concerns. Frames appear within _ frames, words scroll across the screen and a Babel of world languages are threaded into a richly textured soundtrack.
The slowly unfolding story focuses on llagito (Vivian Wu), a Japanese model who chooses her lovers on the strength of their handwriting. When she meets bisexual translator Jerome (Ewan McGregor), she sets in motion an intricate revenge plot to destroy the elderly publisher who caused her father’s death.
Scenes in which the lovers cover their bodies with calligraphic art are rendered with a delicate eroticism; brush touches flesh with a sensuality that lifts the graphic nudity above any notion of sleaze. Greenaway then contrasts these tender moments with lavish, macabre set-pieces, such as the flaying of Jermone’s illustrated body, drawing to mind the ‘poetic justice’ of The Cook, The Thief, Ilis Wife And Her lover’s spectacular finale.
The procession of achingly gorgeous images and the ritualisation of death are inextricably linked to the detailed solemnity of oriental literature, drama and social traditions. Greenaway transcends distinctions of film as art or art as film, and this latest masterpiece boasts genius in every frame. (Alan Morrison)
The Pillow Book (18) (Peter Greenaway, Ult/fletherlands/France, 1996) Vivian Wu, Ewan McGregor, Yoshi 0ida. 126 mins.
Trash: ‘ironic attltude’
In terms of its graphic nudity and drug-taking. there‘s still plenty in Paul Morrissey‘s Trash to shock the unassuming film-goer who thinks that the output of Andy Warhol’s Factory was all soup cans and star portraits. Then again. 25 years on. this ‘underground‘ classic has an accessibility and romantic core that reveals a director with a canny eye on the mainstream.
Joe Dallesandro plays a junkie whose addiction to heroin has rendered him impotent. much to the frustration of long- suffering. garbage- collecting girlfriend Holly Woodlaer (a genuine star performance). Joe embarks on a set of glassy-eyed encounters with other oddballs — a spaced-out gogo dancer. an acid freak. a mismatched 'swinging‘ couple — while Holly tries to scrape together something resembling a home. The central relationship may originate in the gutter. but there’s an element in Holly's sacrifice and Joe‘s ﬁnal realisation of his selfishness that is sweet and enviable.
Stylistically. the film fools us into thinking we‘re intruding on the real thing — overlapping dialogue. hand-held shots going in and out of focus. terrible sound recording. Morrissey‘s script. however. boasts some brilliant one-liners and an ironic attitude that this is a well crafted illusion.
Morrissey used a similar filmmaking style in Flesh. again drawing upon the sexual presence of Dallesandro, which screens alongside feminist parody Women In Revolt on Saturday 9 and Sunday 10. The horror double bill Blood For Dracula/Flesh For Frankenstein is part of the ‘Day of Horror’ on Saturday 2 (see separate review). while Heat — the bastard cousin that Sunset Boulevard never knew it had — screens on Sunday 17 and Monday 18. (Alan Morrison)
Trash ( [8) (Paul Morrissev. US. I970) Joe Dallesandro, Holly ll’oorllawn, Jane Fort/r.
I 03 mins. Mon 4/lite 5. Edinburgh: F ilmltouse.
The List 1- 14 Nov 1996 29