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Director of U-Turn Oliver Stone has a dilemma on his hands. He has made a
small, stylish movie called U-Turn about a petty gambler
who gets sucked into a deadly game of lust in a small
Arizona town. Stone’s problem, at least for the
American press, is the absence of the trademark
controversy. No wanton teenage violence, no conspiracy
theories - just a great story.
’Because there haven’t been any big outcries over this movie, people are saying my career’s over,’ the director
says. ’I can’t win either way.’
After all the fuss that surrounded Natural Born Killers
and Nixon, Stone wanted to take some time off to write his autobiographical novel, A Child’s Night Dream (to be published later this year), and to make what was for him a radically different kind of film.
’I had never done this kind of movie, and I found the script entrancing,’ he says. 'lt's a pure, genre-driven narrative story that works in its own right. It’s built like a film noir, but really it’s a Western.’
U-Turn was also an excuse for Stone to return to the desert of New Mexico and Arizona. ’There’s something about the desert that just brings out the freedom that I like,’ he says. But this is a far cry from the hostile place that Bobby (Sean Penn) encounters in the film, when his
.. , .. 2/ ~ .".. Covering all the angles: Oliver Stone on the set of U-Turn flash car breaks down and he meets a scary local mechanic (Billy Bob Thornton) and the sexy Apache wife (Jennifer Lopez) of a dodgy real estate dealer.
If his time out of the glare of controversy has left Stone more mellow, he can still get hot and bothered when provoked. ’Titanic has set a really bad example in terms of Hollywood budgets,’ he laments. 'T he amount of money being spent on films today and their incrediny long schedules are very depressing to me. U- Turn was, in part, an experiment to prove to myself that it can still be done in a less hyped and pretentious way.’
Shot over 42 days in the small dusty town of Superior, the film cost $20 million which, by Hollywood standards, is considered low budget. The other subject guarenteed to ruffle Stone's feathers is his much reported falling out with Quentin Tarantino during the writing of Natural Born Killers
’Quentin has said that he talks in terms of films and I talk in terms of movies, and that’s fine — except that I have never really been into denomination,’ Stone says. 'I think Quentin is talented, and he’s on a good run. Whatever he says about Natural Born Killers, I‘m sure he doesn’t mean it because he hasn't seen it. One day he will, maybe in ten or fifteen years time, when he gets past his ego.’ (Lila Rawlings)
I Selected release from Fri 24 Apr. See review
Director of Junk Mail
Norwegian hood: Pal Sletaune directs Junk Mail
Junk Mail’s central character is an Oslo postman, but he ain't no Postman Pat. Roy the postie eats cold baked beans and sausages out of the tin, abuses cats and stalks women.
’Roy originated in a short pitch for a film I wrote about four and a half years ago,’ explains Pal Sletaune, the director of Junk Mail. 'I like that he’s an anti- hero.’ Yet there’s nothing obviously heroic — anti or otherWise — about Roy. His has a miserable eXistence: bullied at work, friendless, Iivmg off the aforementioned beans in a dingy apartment.
’He’s not just a victim,’ argues Sletaune. 'He mistreats others when he’s mistreated. One day he’s picked on by his boss, so on his way home he kicks 3 cat. He balances things up. There are lots of Roys around. People recognise something in him.’
That recognition partly explains Junk Mail's popularity with audiences outside Norway. The film has garnered praise from audiences and critics at festivals throughout Europe, including its UK premiere in Edinburgh.
'I was surprised the humour worked,’ says Sletaune. ’lt's very Norwegian humour. It has references to my society and the way we speak. However, the film’s first foreign audience screening was in Cannes. They laughed the same as the audience in my hometown.’
Junk Mail’s visual slapstick humour
has also helped the film find wider appeal. Sletaune, an art school graduate With a background in TV commerCials and stills photography, notes the film's strong Visuals, which are not dissimilar to another Euro arthouse hit, Delicatessen.
'I like a universe for films, films that have their own laws — closed worlds,’ he says. ’We used urban locations, for example, but painted the walls. I liked the minimalist look. Junk Mail was a very planned film. However, the actors are the main things to concentrate on.’
What now, after the film's success beyond the Norwegian border?
’I will make another film in Norwegian in Oslo,’ Sletaune replies, ’but Junk Mail’s success does give me a chance to film in English. Norwegian films usually play only in Oslo, then vanish. A film has a life. It is important for Norwegian Cinema for us filmmakers to raise our ambitions and make better films. It is not genetic that Norwegian films should be shit.’
i Junk Mail is at the Cameo, Edinburgh from Fri 77 Apr and Glasgow Film Theatre from Fri 7 May. See review.
Italian Film Festival
Glasgow Film Theatre and Edinburgh Filmhouse, Fri l7—Sun 26 Apr.
While we’ve been going in droves to The Full Monty here in the UK, Italian audiences have also found new faith in their own country's cinema. Films such as The Best Man warmed the hearts of film-goers from Milan to Naples, and went on to be Italy’s contender for an Oscar. This new- found energy in indigenous cinema is reflected in the wide-ranging programme that makes up the fifth Italian Film Festival.
As ever, the material on offer includes comedies, romances and dramas. From the past come new prints of Bellocchio’s Fists In The Pocket and De Sica's The Garden Of The Finzi-Continis; from the present comes a not-to-be-missed double bill from director Paolo Virzi — the hit comedies Summer Holidays and Hard Egg. Virzi himself will be in attendance: other guests to Scotland include actress Ines Sastre (see Frontlines), actor/director Sergio Rubini and Oscar-winner Guiseppe Tornatore. (AM)
I See Listings and Index for details.
Australian Film Season
Edinburgh: Filmhouse from Fri 24—Thu 30 Apr.
Ever since Peter Weir headed a new wave of Australian cinema in the 705, there have been sporadic bursts of filmmaking fire down under. But for all the Gillian Armstrongs and Stephan Elliotts who step onto the international platform, the work of many others often doesn’t get further than the festival circuit.
Three of the titles in this seven-strong film season will appear at a cinema near you later in the year, but that’s no reason for not catching them at this early point. Kiss Or Kill is a tight love- on-the-run thriller, Hotel De Love is a frantic romantic comedy set in a honeymoon hotel, and Heaven’s Burning has all the markers of a film noir — bank heist, kidnapping, off-beat characters. The fact that Russell Crowe — devastatingly brilliant in LA. Confidential - stars in the third of these is an extra incentive to drop in.
Also worth seeing is The Well, a generation-gap drama that Split the critics when it premiered at Cannes last year. (AM)
I See Listings and Index for details. Thank God He Met liuie also screens as part of the season
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16-30 Apr 1998 TIIE [131' 25