FILM new releases



24 THE LIST 3O Apr—l4 May 1998

Belle of the ballroom: Tamiyo Kusakari in Shall We Dance?

ALSO OPENING Shall We Dance?

(PG) 135 mins.

Audiences in the UK warmed to the feelgood delights of the dancing world in Strict/y Ballroom, but will the outcome be the same when the country of origin is Japan rather than Australia? Shall We Dance? certainly struck a chord in America, where it

became the biggest Japanese box

office hit ever. So there’s no reason why it shouldn't grab some of the mainstream crowd over here, even if its subtitled status limits it to the arthouse circuit.

Shoei is a 'salary man' in his early 405, whose predictable life at work and at home is transformed when he takes up ballroom dancing. The music gives him an unexpected sense of freedom and helps him build on his infatuation with

gorgeous dancer Mai. Such is the nature of Japanese society, however, that not only is his stepping out of his set routine unusual, the physical contact demanded by ballroom dancing is particularly frowned upon. Critics have been united in their praise. In the States, CNN found it 'utterly charming‘ and compared it to the work of Bill Forsyth, while Time noted the ‘emotional gravity’ in the story. On home soil, Sight And Sound reckons it's a 'warm, immensely likable film’. The western film companies behind its distribution are Buena Vista International and Miramax, who both handled ll Postino - and yet again they’ve got a foreign language movie with excellent crossover potential. (Alan Morrison) I Glasgow Film Theatre and Edinburgh Fi/mhouse from Fri 8 May.

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Car trouble: LT. Walsh. Kurt Russell and Kathleen Quinlan in Breakdown

Breakdown (15) 93 mins *~k*

Just the kind of film to watch with few expectations and little advance knowledge, Breakdown is stuck firmly within its particular corner of the suspense genre and is on first name terms with every cliché in the vicinity. But that's part of the charm for an audience second-guessing not what will happen, but how and when certain things will occur.

A routine cross-country drive for East Coast yuppies Kurt Russell and Kathleen Quinlan, relocating to a new life in California, quickly turns into a nightmare after their spiffy 4x4 breaks down. Stuck on a vast, remote desert highway they are grateful for the help offered by a passing truck driver (Walsh), who offers to drop one of them at the nearest diner. Unfortunately once Russell gets the car going again and drives to the diner

there is no sign that his wife and the kindly trucker had ever been there. And so the plot cranks up a gear and really takes off.

If you can bear the familiarity of the journey, then sit back and enjoy the ride. This film seems to know it's trading in the worst urban myths and most hackneyed movie conventions as it echoes everything from Duel to Deliverance. Not that the cast don't play it all with a straight face. Russell IS intriguingly chosen to be the hapless victim here, a white-collar type easily intimidated by people and situations in this threatening wilderness.

Hardly a boost to tourism in the American Southwest this solid, silly, amiany suspenseful romp offers the

kind of high-grade, low-brow entertainment that audiences used to find in superior B-movies: not

SOphisticated, not flashy, but you'll know you’ve seen a film. (Anwar Brett) I General release from Fri 7 May.