For what is likely to be
one of the biggest movies .
in recent times. the distributors of Evita have been keeping the exact details under wraps. waiting until the last moment to show the full ﬁlm to the press. The industry buzz is very ' positive however. and a ten-minute promo seen a few months ago hinted at a genuine musical epic. with huge crowd scenes (up to 40.000 extras. according to sources) and stars on top fortn.
The ﬁlm belongs very much to Madonna. in a gift of a pan to any
Song bird: Madonna in Evita
leading lady. It's a rags- to-riches tale of limitless ambition. following Eva Peron from poverty to her place by the side of Argentina‘s president and in the hearts of a nation. The story is narrated in song (in a manner that‘s closer to Brecht than your typical Hollywood musical) by sardonic revolutionary Che Guevara (Antonio Banderas). but once the audience becomes accustomed to the style. the sheer scale of the movie should take effect. See feature. (Alan Morrison)
Ei'ita (Alan Parker. US.
I 996 ) Madonna. Antonio Batu/eras, Jonathan Pryce. From Fri 3 Jan. General release.
THROUGH THE OLIVE TREES
Blending fact and ﬁction. this deceptively simple work follows the attempts of a ﬁlm director to shoot a drama in the rubble- strewn landscape of Northern Iran. an area frequently hit by earthquakes. The obstacles he faces aren't just geographic: his amateur actors have trouble distancing themselves from their roles. and their problems intrude into the action as much as the ﬁlm crew has intruded into their lives. At the heart of the ﬁlm- within-the-ﬁlm is a poignant unrequited love story. Former builder and hesitant actor Hossein ﬁnds himself playing opposite Tahereh. the young woman whom he has courted unsuccessfully in real life. Shamed by his illiteracy
and lack of a house. Hossein stubbornly refuses to accept her rejections. and his determination to win her over becomes the goal of his working day rather than an accurate rendition of the script he has been given.
It is a joy to watch the unmannered. emotionally convincing performances of the non-professionals. while master ﬁlmmaker Abbas Kiarostami weaves in improvised conversations about the problems of daily life in a rural environment and the unassuming heroism that is required to rebuild a community after a natural disaster. A little masterpiece. stripped down to essentials. but with a wonderfully moving ﬁnal scene. (Alan Morrison)
Through The Olive Trees ( PC) (A bhas K iarostam i, Iran/France, I994) 103 mins. Subtitles. Fri 3—Sat 4 Jan. Edinburgh:
Sylvester Stallone In Daylight: ‘he even looks afrald’
lfyou think Daylight is an ambitious remake of The Poseidon Adventure with a devastated under-river tunnel instead of a capsized ocean liner. then you‘ve got to accept Sylvester Stallone‘s disgraced ex-emergency chief instead of Gene Hackman‘s hellﬁre preacher. The religious overtones remain. though. as Sly tries to lead a small band of survivors from a smouldering. subterranean drowning- chamber to daylight and (for him) redemption.
It starts when a huge explosion seals one ofthe busy Manhattan-New Jersey
commuter routes. burying likeable tunnel cop Stan Shaw. self-styled power-ranger Viggo Mortensen and ageing couple Claire Bloom and Roger Fox (and their surrogate-son dog). Also. there is Amy Brenneman. frustrated mistress of Jay 0. Sanders — who is stuck too. along with his squabbling wife (Karen Young) and teenage daughter (Danielle Harris). Sly has to get in from the outside via the enormous ventilation fans. thereby literally ‘dicing‘ with death. Once there. it just gets harder.
It‘s not all bad — the special effects ﬁreball is very good. as is Sly‘s entry — but some of the acting is risible. particularly when Brenneman tries to
rescue some petty criminals from a van.
Dragon/rear! director Rob Cohen doesn‘t labour the greedy developer bit (they cause the disaster and stop the rescue. of course). which is fair enough. but more might have been made of the characterisations and the internal tensions. Stallone is refreshingly different. though. He doesn't hit anyone; he doesn‘t have all the answers: and. once or twice. he even looks afraid. Pity about the ending. (Gio MacDonald)
Daylight ([2) (Rob Cohen. US. I996) .S'yli'ester Stallone. Amy Brenneman. Viggo Mortensen. l /0 mins. Front Thurs 26 Nov. General release.
STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT
The eighth and most impressive instalment in the long-running sci-ii movie franchise, First Contact presents the Next Generation characters with their first opportunity to take centre stage, and what a pleasant surprise it is.
Gone are the camp familiarities oi Shatner and Co, replaced by a brooding Enterprise captain in the shape of Jean-luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), wracked by his past and his position of responsibility. When the Borg, a race of half-flesh, half- machlne creatures (motto: ‘resistance is iutile’) mount an attack on Earth, Picard is warned off by Starfleet - having been captured and ‘asslmilated’ by them in a previous TV episode. But, out for revenge, he joins the fight anyway. Chasing them back In time, the Enterprise crew discover that the Borg are attempting to stop
' the inhabitants of Earth in the year
2063 from completing'the first warp drive-powered flight, which led
Star Trek: First Contact: ‘most impressive lnstalment’
and create a happy and peaceable future.
Genuiner scary for long stretches in a manner that recalls Aliens, the film alternates neatly between the wonder oi space flight ior inventor Zefram Cochrane (Babe’s James Cromwell) and the claustrophobic desperation oi Picard in trying to prevent the Borg from taking over the Enterprise. Director Jonathan Frakes, who also plays Biker, directs the action with a steady hand and elicits fine perionnances throughout the cast, particularly from a believany tormented Stewart and Alice Krige, perverser sexy as the Borg Queen.
The special eifects and alien make- up benefit greatly from the daunting scope of the big screen, mating some scenes potentially too gruesome for younger viewers. Nevertheless, a strong storyline and committed ensemble acting make this one of a select band of sci-ii movies where the visuals enhance the tale rather than stand in place oi it. (Simon Wardell) Star Trek: First Contact (12) (Jonathan Fralres, US, 1996) Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Fraltes, Alice Krige. 111 mlns. From Fri 13 Dec. General
‘horribly inilated bad characters’
Flavoured with a combination of delicious mischief and outrageously flamboyant characterisation. Roald Dahl's writing always radiates a sympathetic understanding of childhood naughtiness. To do justice to such a trait tn a ﬁlm adaptation requires a director with an equally impish eye. In his version of lt’ottlt/ l)u/Il '.\ .Ilttliltltt. Danny |)e \"ito fully exploits exaggeration and playful camera work to tell the tale of a gifted child who uses her super brain to outwit her neglectful parents.
l)e Vito couldn't have created two more irritating ogres in Matilda's tntttn and dad: the self-obsessed Mr Wormwood (the director himself). with a dress sense as loud as his voice. and Mrs Wormwood (Rhea Perhnan). as glitzy as the bingo halls she attends each day. Next to them. the cute and charming Matilda (Mara Wilson) easily wins our sympathy.
However. it is when Matilda meets with the monstrous Miss Trunchbull (Pain i-erris) that she wins our full support. This hideous headmistress. who shot- pttts kids ottt of windows and strides around the playground like an army sergeant. is a force to be reckoned with. but tiny Matilda pits her intelligence against this huge battleaxe with the help of sweet and gentle form teacher. Miss Honey (Embeth Davidtz).
()ozing excess and wicked humour. this film captures the magic Dahl ingredient by offsetting the lovable Matilda against a series of horribly inflated bad characters. With an empowering message for children rippling through. it will appeal to the mischievous kid in everyone. (Beth Williams)
Roult/ Dtt/tl 's Mttliltlu ( PG) (Danny 'l)e Vito, US. I996) Mara Wilson. Danny De Witt, Emheth Dtll‘ltll:. 98 mins. Front
Through The Olive Trees: 'a little masterpiece’
Fri 20. General release.
humanity to contact other iiieforms release.
24 The List 13 Dec 1996-9 Jan I997