Welcome to The Dollhousez‘piercing and perceptive’
WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE
Had enough of the movies that feed you a line about the halcyon far-off days of youth? Todd Solondz's Sundance Grand Jury Prizewinner is a tell-it- like-it-was picture of growing up that gives it to you with specky glasses and locker-room trauma intact.
Eleven years old when the film was shot. Heather Matarazzo delivers an unforgettable performance as the deeply unprepossessing Dawn Wiener - a lonely. softly- spoken child subjected to constant abuse at school and virtually ignored at home. where her perfect little ballerina of a wee sister is forever in the spotlight. Her daily survival seems even more precarious when class bully Brandon (Brendan Sexton Jnr) threatens to “time her after school. Under his tough-guy exterior. however. she finds another scarred soul. and the glimmer of communication offers at least some hope for the future.
The world of high
school here is far closer to the bone and the truth than the usual sanitised version. Solondz's script offers wry observation of the way these near- pubescent kids throw sexual buzz-words around. yet he never loses
, sight of the cruelty they're
prepared to unleash on someone like Dawn. who’s never going to run with the iii-crowd.
Probing her inner world of frustration. seething anger and ongoing uncertainty. Solandz's understanding and i‘vlatarazzo's in-tune incarnation tnake a striking combination. where you hardly know whether to laugh or cry. While the low budget tells. and the darkening of tone in the later stages is slightly awkwardly achieved. this is still a piercing and perceptive addition to the cinema of childhood. Try to see it. (Trevor Johnston) ll'e/t'onte lit The Dollhouse l /5) (lot/d Solo/tilt. US. I995) Ileiit/ter .lhitiirti::o, Brendon Sexton Jni; Matthew Fit/tel: 87 mins. Front Fri 24 Jun: lit/iii/ttiijg/t ('tinteo. Front Fri [-1 Felt: (i/tisgoti‘ Film 'I‘lii'iiti'e.
‘You’ve killed my scooter.‘ wails Phil Daniels's Jimmy as his life begins to tear at the seams. Abandoned by his girl and best friend and betrayed by his Mod idol turned bellboy. Daniels (looking more like Alan Hansen's kid brother than Damon Albarn‘s godfather). allows the symbol of his identity to crash on the rocks.
That identity is part of The Mods as they plot a weekend down Brighton way which results in a little local difficulty with The Rockers. The violence. while hardly stylised. is inherently cartoonish (try Romper Stoittper to see what a head looks like after repeated heavy blows). but the humour keeps it bubbling away. Some is
intentional — Michael l-llphick‘s analysis of The Who. Some isn't — Sting‘s Monster Mash or whatever he is attempting.
Qtiadl‘op/tenitt is neither a move to cash in on Britpop (eighteen months too late) and it's too lluky to have been timed with the current. ill-advised
T attempt at the resurgence ' of the musical. The film is
merely another in the line of a cult being re-released in search of new cultdotn. It's also about half an hour too long as Jimmy gazes into his navel and the middle-distance while. not unusual for a musical. the music becomes mind- gratingly dire. See feature. (Brian Donaldson) Qtiudrop/ienitt ( l 8)
( Franc Rodi/uni. UK. I979) Phil Daniels. Sting. Tova/t. Leslie Ash. I20 mitts. Front Fri 3/ Jun. Glasgow: Showcase. Edinburgh: F ilm/ioiise.
POLITICAL DRAMA GARLA’S SONG
Robert Carlyle in Carla’s Song: ‘conslstently alluring’
After dealing most effectively vv ith the Spanish Civil War in Land and I-‘reedoin. Ken Loach has tackled an altogether more difficult subject in (‘iir/ii '3' Song. He has turned his eye on the civil war in Nicaragua during the
80s when the democratically elected i Sandinista government was being
j an irate bus inspector. falls for her
. the war to become merely a backdrop
subverted by attacks from the t American-funded Contras.
But the ﬁlm is. tnore than anything. a love story — a romance between Robert Carlyle's Glaswegian bus driver. George. and Oyanka Cabezas's Nicaraguan dancer. Carla. Carlisle puts in a consistently alluring and watchable performance as he defends Carla from
mystique and introduces her to the beauty of his country. Cabezas is every bit his match on screen: vulnerable when in Glasgow. but growing in strength when they eventually make it to Nicaragua.
Loach does not. unsurprisingly. allow
to this story. He gets up close and , personal to a country in turmoil. , pitching Carlyle and Oyanka into i situations which are so realistic that it ; could be a documentary — were it not i for the presence of Scott Glenn as a peace observer. It is a style which Loach carries over. with great effect. to the action and violence. Neither beautiful nor thrilling. it is mundane compared to most on-screen gun play. but much closer to the truth. Although a tad obvious in places. Cur/n 's Song is that rare treat: a political movie which entertains and informs without ever becoming polemical or. worse. worthy. (Thom Dibdin)
Cur/u it Sony (/5) (Ken Lotte/t. UK.
/ 996) Robert Curly/e. Oyanka ('itltezus. Scott Glenn. / 27 mins. Front Fri 3/ Jun. Limited general release.
THRILLER EXTREME MEASURES
the tirst fruit of Hugh Grant and Liz Hurley’s Simian Productions is a decent, old-fashioned medical thriller, with Grant as a junior doctor coping with the lile-and-death decisions required every night in the Accident and Emergency Department of a top New York teaching hospital. The latest crisis concerns a mystery patient succumbing to a bizarre set of traumatic symptoms that give the inquisitive young medic cause to dig deeper into a perplexing case, even it it means getting into trouble with his superiors.
While nursing assistant Sarah Jessica Parker is on hand to lend support and romantic involvement, Grant has little idea of the morass he’s about to wade into - a dark conspiracy that threatens his career, it not his very lite, and leads him into the gloomiest depths of the city’s dark underbelly.
Doctor’s orders: Hugh Grant in Extreme Measures
llugh, bless him, is actually very
believable. lle looks and sounds the part, carries the right degree of decency to keep the film’s moralising impetus going, and gets the most out of the script’s otten dizzying plot reversals. Perhaps its discussions of medical ethics are a bit clunky and it never loses the air of celluloid contrivance, but the tilm still manages to deliver much more than the average : no-brainer llollywood thriller. ' llackman’s performance, as the revered doctor whose drive for a significant breakthrough in treating spinal complaints pitches him into murky waters, is as imposing as ever. Michael Apted’s direction — betraying his documentary roots — does well by the hospital backgrounds and some ; scary location work way, way i underground. It builds to a taut tinale, : and the plot tits together. All in all, , sounds like a recommendation. (Irevor ’ Johnston) : Extreme Measures (15) (Michael , Apted, 1996, 08) Hugh Grant, Gene 3 ﬂackman, Sarah Jessica Parker. 118 ' mins. From Fri 31 Jan. General release-
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Flirting With Disaster: ‘pacy and tunny'
David 0. Russell follows his impressive debnt about ittother-son incest — Spit/thine l/lt' .llonlt'v » with a tnore ambitions film about several dysfunctional families. It's less emphatic and more contrived than the tits! liliii. but the dir-sezoes acidic ml is still abundantly evident. and Flirting ll'it/t llivttxtt’r is pacy. funny and wickedly fund of ll\ eccentric chataetei's.
Ben Stiller plays .\lel. a young famin man married to the adorable Nancy tl’ati'icia .-\i‘t[nettet and father of their baby son. but restless nevertheless. The couple's se.\ life is not what it used to be. and discontented Mel turns to attractive psychiatrist 'l'ina t'l‘ea l.eoni) foi help in finding his real parents.
Discovetiltg lits biological oitgms is certain not to prove the key It) the self-km)“ ledge that he hopes for. given that he e\tsts lll Rnssell‘s illl\lL‘I)'-Pl'ttpt'iit‘ti universe. So. on a journey that ‘llii'ts v. ith disastei” all the way. the unlikely threesome of husband. wife and shrink depart their original goal and begin a tt‘avvl through the American cultural landscape in search of belonging and estra- maz‘ital mistakes.
It‘s a clev et'ly calculated irony that this state of aflaiis is at its apes when the party ai'i'i\es at the Ilttllle tlI Mel's real Ptlt‘ellls i)t) middle-aged hippies I.in Tomlin and Alan .-\Ida and then flipped-out second son have the attsvvers'.’ ()f course not. They add their own brand of chaos to a plot that now tilts into farce. but. thanks to the quality ofthe performances and sharp scripting. remains engaging. (Hannah l-riesi l'ilirline ll'it/i [hunter (/5) ll)ttt'tt/ l). Kline/l. L'S. I‘M/it lien Sit/lei: Point to .‘II't/llt‘llt’. 'l'eo l.(’UIll. ()2 mins. l‘ront Fri 24 Jon. lztlin/noje/t: Film/tome.
24 The List 24 Jan-6 Feb I997