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School of hard knocks
He almost went under with Waterworld, but director KEVIN REYNOLDS has survived Hollywood's stormiest seas to bring us 187, possibly his best film yet. Words: Thom Dibdin
After the big budget. all-action excesses of Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves — a success with the audiences — and ll’inerimr/(l — a disaster with the studios — director Kevin Reynolds has turned to an intimate. performance-lead movie for his next project. I87 is a classroom drama with a difference: it rings true and there is no happy ending.
The film is also a break for Reynolds in that it is the first time since 1988 that he has worked without the other Kevin -— Mr Costner. The two met while Reynolds was at LFSC Film School and (7ostner »— then a ‘no-name. struggling actor‘ according to the director — read for a student film. Although he didn‘t get that part. Reynolds cast Costner in his first full-length feature. Fandango. ‘lt was a real good friendship for a time.‘ drawls Reynolds terser as we chat in Edinburgh's Balmoral Hotel. And refuses to be drawn any further.
187. the Californian state penal code for homicide.
music videos and music-based films. lts inclusion
soundtrack delineates and provides texture to the action.
Reynolds. ‘lt was a great collaboration with the
‘We knew when we started it was going to be controversial, but after visiting some of these schools, I thought it was important to portray the way it really seemed to be.’
had its British premiere in the .Vlirrorball strand of the Edinburgh Film Festival. a slot normally reserved for
was down to the remarkable degree in which its
‘The music was really critical to me.' confirms
musical supervisor. (‘hris Douridas. who is the music
Teacher's pet: Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Reynolds on the set of 187
director at a public radio station in LA. I gave him one piece of music by Massive Attack and said. “this is our model for the film. just find me music“. So he started to send me music from all over the planet. wonderful stuff. and I got to pick and choose.‘
Reynolds began selecting the tunes before shooting began. designing the scenes around the music. Other pieces were not chosen until post- production. but he still edited the picture to the music. The result is a score which drives the film. almost as if Reynolds had created and illustrated his own DJ mix of musical feeling and emotions.
But unlike the cartoon violence of Reynolds' action yarns. I87 is a film about real violence happening to real people. It was written by a teacher. Scott Yageman. after an incident when he became overcome by a rage so violent that he wanted a kid who was breaking up the classroom to be dead. llorrified and frightened by his own emotions. he realised that they must be common in violence-filled schools across America.
‘We knew when we started the picture that it was going to be contrtwersial.‘ says Reynolds. ‘But talking to Scott and visiting some of these schools. l thought it was important to portray the way it really seemed to be. rather than glossing over it with a Dangerous Minds approach where if everybody tries hard enough. you‘ll discover that. deep down inside. everybody has a heart of gold. Because that is not reality.‘
For once. 187 is a contemporary Hollywood movie which does the proper job of art: to reflect society. whether good or bad. For this. and its blatantly non-politically correct approach to violence and vigilantism. it will undoubtedly receive a critical pasting. Reynolds makes no apologies for not providing pat answers to the problems he is portraying. That he is portraying these problems is reason enough for making the movie. And the brilliant soundtrack and strong performance he has extracted from Samuel 1.. Jackson are reason enough for you to go and see it.
Selected release from Fri 19 Sep. See review.
The column that goes the full monty for cinema revelations.
ORSON WELLES may have died as a neglected talent in 1985, but that hasn't stopped him having a part to play in today’s film industry. His last screenplay, The Cradle Will Rock, is currently being polished by British duo Ian La Frenais and Dick Clement, and is due to go into production in early 1998. No stars are attached, but John Irving (City Oflndustry) is in talks to direct. The semi- autobiographical story concerns Welles's marriage to Victoria Nicholson.
THE FLEAPIT FILM CLUB slinks back into Glasgow's Nice 'n’ Sleazy on Sauchiehall Street at 8pm on Wed 17 Sep for another season of cult items and rarities that can’t be named here in case moral campaigners get in a flap. Entry is by membership only, so write to Fleapit, PO Box 4711, Glasgow, 62 8YF or e-mail fleapit©dial.pipex.com for further information.
GLASGOW'S SALAAM FESTIVAL, a celebration of arts and culture in the Muslim world, contains a series of screenings and talks with a focus on women at the Glasgow Film Theatre. Films on show include Iranian duo The Blue-Veiled — about a group of women on a tomato farm - and the delightful The White Balloon; lectures range from representations of women in Iranian and Arab cinema to the non-Muslim media’s approach to Islam.
Part of the August programme of Salaam was the creative project A Cultural Journey, which brought together women and young people from north Glasgow for a series of exploratory workshops. Musicians from Capercaillie and The Pearlfishers also took part, and it was all documented by an all- women crew from Glasgow Film and Video Workshop. The resulting film screens with The Blue-Veiled on Tue 23 Sep at 6.30pm. For other events in the season, see Film Listings and Index.
Orson Welles: new script in development
12 Sep—25 Sep 1997 THELIST21