Ines Sastre In Beyond The Clouds



Michelangelo Antonioni has been making films for 50 years. with such titles as L'Avventura and Blow Up to his credit. In his eighties and having recently suffered a stroke. he was still able to direct the four segments making up this exploration of what lies behind the outer masks of our bodies and actions the true feelings which are Beyond The Clouds.

Each story revolves around sexual love. with fog-bound Ferrara the setting for the first. There. two beautiful young strangers (Kim Rossi- Stuart and Ines Sastre) have an unfulfilled love affair. In the second. John Malkovitch wanders around Portofino. struck by beautiful Sophie Marceau. who stabbed her father to death. The two become lovers or perhaps Malkovitch only imagines it.

Peter Weller‘s inability

l to choose between wife . Fanny Ardant and

: mistress Chiara Caselli precipitates the third story. I in which Ardant finds

' Jean Reno in the Paris apartment she has just rented to be rid of Weller. In the last story. set in Aix-en-Provence. young Vincent Perez follows beautiful Irene Jacob into a church. asks to see her again. but finds she is about to enter another world.

Based on selections from Antonioni's The Bttli‘llllg Alley Beyond The Tiber. these episodes are woven together by a narrator (Malkovitch) and co-director Wim Wenders. This is intended to reveal Antonioni‘s ideas about seeing. and the overall impression is one of stark. meditative beauty. (Gio MacDonald)

Beyond The Clouds (18) (Michelangelo Antonioni/Wint ll’enders, Franr'e/Italy/Germany. I995) John Malkovitch, Fanny Ardant, Peter

W Iller. / I 3 mins. Front Fri IOJan. Glasgow: GFT Edinburgh: l-‘iltnhouse.


Jacques Demy's Les Paraplut'es De Cherbourg (The Umbrellas 0f Cherbourg) was one of the more unusual French films of the 60s. Not so much for its story a woman who works in an umbrella shop is pregnant by a garage mechanic serving his military service, so she marries a diamond merchant - but because every line of dialogue is sung rather than spoken.

Picture postcard

colourful. with light ditties by Michel Legrand. it manages to capture a sense of everyday magic that makes it a very European equivalent of the classic Hollywood musical. In other words. there‘s a bit more realism alongside the sheer artifice of the genre. Demy‘s first colour film. it won the top Cannes prize in I964 and picked up a few Oscar nominations. (Alan Morrison)

The Umbrellas 0f

C lterbourg ( PG) (Jacques Demy, F ranr‘e. I 964) Catherine Deneuve. Nino Casteltttmvo, Mane Mic/tel. 90 ntitts. Front Fri IO Jan. Edinburgh:

t Cameo.


There is nothing wrong with remaking old films for new audiences. especially if you can give the story a fresh twist or a modem resonance. So re-doing The Bishop's Wife a whimsical I947 fantasy. rather like It Is A Wonder/id Life with a dog collar with heavyweights like Whitney Houston and Denzel Washington in the leads and a director (Penny Marshall) who is adept at poignant comedy. then all must have seemed upbeat and positive.

Plenty goes wrong. however. in this tale of a devoted parish priest who has lost his faith and is fast losing his wife. When both are restored by a charming angel sent down to Earth. the effect is less whimsical than cloying and charm- free. Everyone seems to be trying hard. Courtney B. Vance is convincing as the Reverend Henry Briggs. a good man worn down by the pressures of his job, while Houston. as his wife Julia. rallies the choir and sings a lot. When Dudley (Washington) arrives. Henry is naturally suspicious. but Julia and their young son Jeremiah (Justin Pierre Edmund) are charmed by his manner and looks.

Writers Nat Mauldin and Allan Scott select cosy certainties and comfortable cliches over heartwarming fantasy.

w Heavenly voice: Whitney Houston In The Preacher’s Wile.

while reality intrudes far too often into the story and the filmmakers cram in as many ‘Whitney Sings Gospel' numbers as they can manage. Rather than suspending disbelief. audiences might prefer to put their critical faculties into neutral for the duration of this anodyne. sentimental mush. It‘s well made and cheerful enough. but mush all the same. (Anwar Brett)

The Preachers Wife (U) (Penny Marshall. US. I996) Denzel Washington. Whitney Huston. Courtney B. Vanee. I24 ntins. Front Fri /7 Jan. (ienera/ release.


In southeast Iran, an old woman prepares to wash her ‘gabbeh’ - an intricate carpet with a unique design depicting the experiences and travels of a tribe. A young woman named Gabbeh appears at her side and proceeds to tell an emotional tale about her family of nomadic carpet- makers, of how her domineering lather refused to let her marry the man who followed their tribe at a distance on horseback. Other elements are woven in: Gabbeh’s uncle searches for the woman he saw by a river in a dream and, back in the current time-frame, the old woman’s husband begs the girl to run off with him. All of this is Gabbeh’s story; it is the carpet’s story; it Is also very likely to be the story of the old man and woman.

Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s cinematic table is beautifully photographed and strikingly coloured. In fact, colour is the key that unlocks the film’s

Gabbeh: ‘beautifully photographed and strikineg coloured’

secrets: ‘life is colour’ says one character, ‘love is colour’. In a patriarchal Islamic society, where women are often compelled to wear drab black clothing, a film which dresses its female characters in rich, vibrant dyes contains an underlying theme of personal freedom.

The whole film is constructed like a gabbeh itself - individual images, like illustrations, provide the starting point for a section of oral storytelling - and so it forms a bridge between traditional folk craftsmanship and international cinema. As lyrical, in its own way, as Paradianov’s The Colour 0! Pomegranates, Gabbeh may occasionally confound British audiences with its abstract approach, but its overall mood of lyricism and imagination leaves a lasting impression. (Alan Morrison)

Gabbelr (P6) (Mohsen Makltmalbaf, Iran/France, 1995) Shaghayegh Diodaf, Hussein Mohammi, noghielr Mallet-amt. 75mins. From Sun 19. Glasgow: 6F]:

SOME mornsn’s son

During the Maze prison protests in Belfast in the early years of Thatcherism. Bobby Sands led 2| young IRA men on hunger strike over the British Government's earlier withdrawal of special category (political) status. This gripping account of the period focuses on two fictional mothers of these men. Kathleen Quigley (Helen Mirren) and Annie Higgins (Fionnula Flanagan). Kathleen. a widowed teacher in a convent school. is a gentle pacifist; Annie is a tough farmer's wife with a fierce hatred of soldiers.

When Kathleen‘s son Gerard (Aidan Gillen) is caught and convicted for the murder of a soldier. along with Annie‘s son Frank (David O‘Hara). and the twojoin the hunger strike. the women face a bitter choice. If their sons lapse into cornas. they can use legal rights to intervene or let them die for their beliefs.

Some Mother '3 Son comes from the In The Name ()fT/te Father stable. with writer Terry George making his directorial debut. His style is similarly cinematic. with strong visuals. editing and sound to heighten a drama built on naturalistic performances. It's not overly objective. but it does recognise humanity on all sides. and its real bias is to a ‘universal’ motherhood of suffering.

The intransigence of the situation is seen to come from within polities: hardline public schoolboys in Whitehall and IRA leaders more willing to lose lives than lose face. What impresses most. however. is the fine acting from Mirren. Flanagan and a host of fresh and familiar faces. all aided by a haunting seore by Bill Whelan. (Gio MacDonald)

Some Mother's Son ( I 5) l 'Ii'rrv George. Ireland/US. I996) Helen Mirren. Fionnula l-‘lanagan, Aidan (Ill/en. ll2 mins. Front Fri IO Jan. lidinlmrg/t: Cameo.

Motherly love: Helen erren In Some Mother’s Son

32 The List 10-23 Jan I997