Marvin's Room (12) 98 mins Hth
Intense personal relationships, hankie- wetting drama and memorable performances from older actresses all signal a ’woman’s movie’. But the trite term does not do justice to this powerful story of two sisters reunited after twenty years.
Bessie (Diane Keaton) is the older sister who moved back to Florida to care for her bed-ridden father and senile aunt. Lee (Meryl Streep), who cut family ties to get married in Ohio, is now a single mother of two, whose eldest son Hank (Leonardo DiCaprio) is in a mental institution. But when Bessie discovers from Dr Wally (Robert De Niro) that she has leukemia, Lee returns to Florida for a week’s visit.
What sets Marvin’s Room up for success is a superbly written script. The comedy, and there are a lot of laughs,
comes not in punchlines but rises through the dialogue. The tragedy does not make you feel manipulated, but genuinely sad. But what really‘ makes the film — and moves the tone from sad to life-affirming and restorative of belief in humanity — is the subtlety of the characters and the effectiveness with which they are portrayed.
All the characters - even Keaton’s, for which she was justifiably Oscar- nominated — are damaged in some way. It is how they come to terms with their problems that intrigues, particularly the pivotal relationship between Hank and Bessie which eventually draws the two sisters back together. Add some stunning cinematic work from first-time director Jerry Zaks and you have one damn fine movie. (Thom Dibdin)
I Glasgow Film Theatre and Edinburgh Cameo from Fri 20 Jun.
Hong Kong style: Jackie Chan in Rumble In The Bronx
Rumble In The Bronx (15) 90 mins *tii
The long delay that has accompanied the release of Jackie Chan's latest attempt to crack Hollywood may suggest that it's as flawed as previous efforts The Big Brawl and The Cannonball Run (groan). But far from it, as this time Chan has maintained the kind of control he exercises over films in his native Hong Kong.
He throws himself with gusto into an adventure that has him defending his uncle’s Chinese supermarket in New York against a variety of street toughs. Things take a turn for the violent when his path crosses that of a ruthless Mafia-style gang, who will stop at nothing to find the misplaced loot
from their recent robbery.
If you only know the name and have never seen him in action, Jackie Chan is that rare thing — an action star with little apparent ego and some real acting ability. The man is as perpetually in motion as he is seemingly indestructible, evidence of which can be found over the end credits with a record of the bone-crunching mishaps that occurred during production.
And while Rumble In The Bronx unavoidably descends occasionally into
violent macho tosh, the tone is.
balanced by a sweet nature and a sincere, if clunky, moral, ensuring a smile on your face and a spring in your step. (Anwar Brett)
l Selected release from Fri 4 Jul.
new releases HUI
DEGREE SHOW Edinburgh College of Art
Art and entertainment are nicely balanced in the 24 films that make up this year’s output from ECA graduates. Again, the animation on offer more than lives up to expectations by aiming higher than a one-off easy punchline. Highlights come in all techniques: Jim LeFevre's models in The Little Princess's Birthday show their impatience at the inabilities of the storyteller; the two cartoon characters in Jim Stirk's Fruit Flavoured seem oblivious to the false nature of their surreal, two-dimensional world; and Jon Aird’s Dinner For Two mixes live and drawn action to allow literally anything to happen next.
Two animated works are worthy of special mention. In Ed Talfan’s Morris, an elderly Welsh miner reflects on his life and mistakes but is occasionally seen to be deluding himself. Diary, by Hazel Rychter, is a dazzling and inventive piece which uses minature bursts of diverse animation styles to capture the concentrated mood of single days over the course of a year. Distilled feelings and memories are ripe for the audience's own interpretations.
The short dramas and experimental works are more hit and miss. Monica Heilpern’s The Game plays out an informal trial as a breach of class and etiquette around a dinner table, while producer Garth Cruickshank also stars as a dapper secret agent in 605 TV spoof Go Marchwood, which is crammed with kitsch details. (Alan Morrison)
DEGREE SHOW Stevenson College
Not strictly a graduation show, Showreel 97 by students at Edinburgh’s Stevenson College is drawn from all audio-visual courses and all years. The emphasis here is less on artistic expression and more on providing students with solid skills for a career in the industryThe result is often work that slips into easy spoofs, obvious borrowings and dull formulas. Every now and then, however, a spark of imagination shines through.
The best drama on offer is Progression, in which writer-editor-director Michael Munro guides the story with a strong hand. The medical experiment subject has a touch of The X-Fi/es about it, and builds as an effective thriller. On the technical side, the most impressive work is a theatre costume promo where Angela Dunnett’s sepia~tinted camerawork gives an extra layer of style to Connie Fairbairn’s fetishistic designs. (Alan Morrison)
DEGREE SHOW Napier University
Technical expertise in all areas gives an extra sheen to a few gems within the 1997 crop from Napier’s Department of Photography, Film and Television. But the stylistic flashes don't distract from the central premise that every film here is in some way about people in conflict with their surroundings.
It would be wrong to dismiss the three short sections of Martin Smith's We Are The Humans as post-Acid House Welshisms. True, the setting is the schemier side of Edinburgh, but Smith‘s characters are their own entities, rolling along through rhythmic language and naturally daft humour. Fake, by Simon Dennis, is a tight little thriller about deceit and double—cross, in which a restaurateur fakes his death to foil his wife’s murder plans. Not only is the story pure noir, the lighting and superb design reinforce the murky mood.
Most impressive is pmt (Pre Millennium Tension), written and directed by Drew Tremlett and produced by Alan Saywell. In the final minutes leading up to the end of the millennium, four stories play out simultaneously in Germany, Northern Ireland, Spain and Scotland, drawing together issues of faith, guilt and new beginnings. A portrait of human strength and frailty at a moment of uncertainty, it has genuine depth. (Alan Morrison) '
I Films can be viewed at Napier University 61 Marchmont Road, until Sun 29 jun.
Niall Fulton in Fair.
27Jun—10lul 1997 TIIEIJST 25