FILM new releases

Masters and servants: Sophie Marceau in Firelight

Firefight (15) 113 mins at ‘k

Set at the turn of the century, Firefight revolves around the relationship between Swiss governess Elisabeth (Sophie Marceau) and aristocratic Englishman Charles (Stephen Dillane). Charles pays Elisabeth to bear him a child (his wife is comatose from an accident) on the condition that she gives the baby up as soon as it is born and never has anything to do with either of them again.

Elisabeth can’t forget, however, and, seven years later, she traces Charles to his stately home to fill the post of governess to his (or their) unruly daughter. Governess and Master still feel passionately about each other, and

the rambling house provides plenty of rooms for illicit trysts. But how can Elisabeth be reconciled with her child and what about the wife in the coma? The idea is that such an involved love story will work well against the stark backdrop of an imposing country house shot in winter. But although Marceau and Dillane both look the part, there is no real passion between them, and the atmOSphere of the film remains as washed out as the pale, cold light. Lia Williams is convincingly desperate as the spinster housekeeper who is in love with Charles, but it is Annabel Giles, as Charles's comatose wife, who is the most believable of all. (Sophy Bristow) ! Glasgow Showcase East from Fri 74 Aug. See preview



Wednesday 19.7.61 (PG) 93 mins 4: we

Viktor Kossakovsky's premise is straightforward: each of 100 St Petersburg natives in this documentary shares his date of birth Wednesday 19 July 1961. Products of a tumultuous period in RUSSIan history, the group of 36-year-olds have settled in Chad, Vladivostock, New York and Germany, With two, alas, casualties of the Afghanistan war. Struggle is apparent - ’Wednesday's child is full of woe' but the tone remains upbeat.

In one episode, a man, drinking from his quart of coarse, meths-purple vodka from a local pavement kiosk, has to blow into his cheeks for relief from its Sting and IS left vomiting pink bile. Elsewhere, the film is lent Wit and character by playful segues from

129 THE usr 13-20 Aug i998

Born in the USSR: Viktor Kossakovsky's Wednesday

scenes givmg tips on aquarium crabs, through gossip on star Signs to the evangelical zeal of a shipping magnate who dreams of transporting passengers to places ’inaccessible by coachfl

Kossakovsky closes by taking the vrewer on an exqwsite Snowman-ster flight over St Petersburg, setting its gutted tenements and rusting cranes against sweet, rising Violins. His own personal dictum that 'in Russia, one has to live long enough' is nodded to through the film's compex, gentle velocity. However, the Viewer is still lifted above the anchoring themes of fate and people's abdication to destiny to see Wednesday as a goiet, startling chronicle of oddity and st0ic good hum0ur. (Kay Lynde)

I Edinburgh Fi/mhouse, Fri lat-Sun 16 Aug.



Films screening this fortnight are listed below with certificate. credits. brief review and venue details. Film index compiled by Miles Fielder.

The Adventures Of Robin Hood (U) (Michael Curtiz. US. 1938) Errol Flynn. Olivia De Havilland. Basil Rathbone. l02 mins. Sparkling. Oscar-winning excitement as Flynn and his merry men fight the evil Prince and the wicked Rathbone to help the poor and capture the hand of the fair De Havilland. Peerless sword-play and an infectious sense of high spirits. Glasgow: GET. Falkirk: FTH. Anastasia (U) (Don Bluth/Gary Goldman. L'S. I997) Voices of Meg Ryan. Christopher Lloyd. John Cusack. 94 mins. With this widescreen romantic musical adventure. animator Don Bluth offers a film that rivals Disney. Rewriting history somewhat. evil magician Rasputin puts a curse on the Tsar‘s family and causes the I917 Revolution. The child princess Anastasia survives. btit grows as an orphan. unable to remember her past. With extraordinary action sequences. exquisite characterisations and beautiful songs. Edinburgh: Odeon. Kilmarnock: Odeon. Armageddon (12) (Michael Bay. L‘S. I988) Bruce Willis. Billy Bob Thornton. Steve Buscemi. l4-l mins. Billed as The Dirty Daren in space‘. Michael Bay's sci-ti movie delivers what this year's other event movies Deep Impact. Gm/sillu. Lost In Space only promised: SIZS million worth of relentless. retina-scorching. high-testosterone action. Bruce Willis leads a team of roughneck oil drillers who must save the world from an asteroid the size of Texas that‘s on collision course with Earth. We are not talking reality here; we are talking superior formula film- making. General release.

The Avengers ( 12) (Jeremiah Chechik. LTS. I998) Ralph l-‘iennes. L'ma Thurman. Sean Connery. 90 mins. A camp 'n' kitsch l960s and 70s television show with a strong cult following. The Avengers might seem like prime material for adaptation to the big screen. Certainly the casting is inspired with heartthrobs Fiennes and Thurman replacing Patrick MacNee and Diana Rigg as John Steed and Emma Peel. Furthermore, we get to see the future King of Scotland play a dastardly villain hell-bent on world destruction and Mrs Peel's seduction. H0wever. Warner Bros has made a worldwide decision not to screen The Avengers to the press. Make of that what you will. General release.

As Good As It Gets ( 15) (James L. Brooks. L'S. I997) Jack Nicholson. Helen Hunt. Greg Kinnear. I39 mins. Neurotic writer Melvin suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder. btit compensates for his lonely life by becoming a master of abuse. Carol. the waitress in a local restaurant. is the only person tough enough to take him on. As romantic comedies go. it's an odd pairing. but the match works thanks to a sharply witty script and spot-on performances from Nicholson and Hunt. Glasgow: (ii-T. Stirling: MacRobert

Barney's Great Adventure (L') 72 mins. A kids TV phenomenon. Barney the purple dinosaur's big screen debut finds him down on a farm with a trio of kids in search of a magic egg. The all singin'. all dancin' Barney struts his way through the simple story with regular singalongs. making the film perfect for under- fives. General release.

Bent ( l8) (Sean Mathias. L'K. I997) Clive Owen. Lothaire Bluteau. Mick Jagger. I I6 mins. Although the story is about hiding your real identity. the cinema version of Martin Sherman's play never disowns its theatrical roots. The expressionistic sets siigges an equivalent mood rather than historical realism as decadent German Max (Owen) conceals his homosexuality when sent to a Nazi concentration camp. However. the film only finds its emotional centre when Bliiteaii is on screen. Glasgow; Gl-T

the Big Lebowski ( l8) (Joel Coen. L'S. l997i

Jeff Bridges. John Goodman. Steve Buscemi. ll3 mins. The Coen brothers give their unique twist to a Chandler-esque LA mm. as 70s hippy throwback Jeff ‘The Dude' Lebow ski (Bridges) is drawn into the sordid affairs of his millionaire namesake. Suddenly he has to sleuth his way through disorganised crime.

Trademark oddball characters. surreal imagery and excellent performances grace this virtuoso comedy. Edinburgh: Cameo.

Breaking The Waves (l8) (Lars von Trier. Denmark/France. I996) Emily Watson. Stellan Skarsgard. Katrin Cartlidge. l58 mins. In a close-knit Calvinist community in the nonh of Scotland. a young woman faces banishment from the church when she makes a self- sacrificing pact with God in order to save her husband's life. Unlike von Trier's austere arthouse works (Eumpti). this intimate melodrama is raw and exposed. Emotional connection transcends everything else in one of the most moving films ever made. Edinburgh: Cameo.

The Castle (15) (Rob Sitch. Australia. I997) Michael Caton. Anne Tenney. Stephen Curry. 86 mins. In this rough-and-ready but surprisingly engaging comedy. a naive Australian family take on the might of a faceless corporation when their suburban home is threatened by an airport development. The film is dramatically awkward in places and runs out of steam before its admittedly brief running time is up. btit the filmmakers' affection for their characters pulls it through. Glasgow: ABC Film Centre. Edinburgh: Cameo.

Dance Of The Wind (PG) (Rajan Khosa. Germany/L'K/lndia. I997) Kitu Gidwani. Bhaveen Gosain. B.C. Sanyal. 85 mins. When her mother dies. traditional singer Pallavi becomes so distraught that she loses her voice. She withdraws and starts seeing a little girl. Tara. who has a beautiful voice herself. The antithesis of lumbering. Godzillawood culture. this idea-laden film relates its mystery by haunting music and lingering images rather than special effects trickery. Glasgow: Gl-T. The Daytrippers ( 15) (Greg Mottola. L'S. I997) Hope Davis. Liev Schreiber. Parker Posey. 87 mins. Strained as a family unit. the Malones pull together when daughter Eliza suspects her husband is having an affair. So begins a chaotic and disputatious trawl through New York in a station wagon. Mottola‘s script is as painfully incisive as it is funny and compassionate. That it succeeds as a film is thanks to its talented cast. who revel in the psychological subtleties of their pans. Glasgow: GET. Odeon Quay. Edinburgh: Cameo.

Deconstructing Harry (18) (Woody Allen. L'S. I997) Woody Allen. Kirstie Alley. Billy Crystal. 94 mins. Author Harry Block has writer's block. and his friends have all but abandoned him due to his habit of recasting them as characters in his best-selling 'fiction‘. Allen plays with the received. perceived idea of ‘Woody Allen'. and Stun/us! Memories floats in the background. There are flaws in the film. but there are also many. many prime Woody throwaways. Stirling: MacRobert.

Dr Dolittle (PG) (Betty Thomas. US. I998) Eddie Murphy. Ossie Davies. Oliver Platl. 85 mins. A turkey with Rex Harrison in its original form. and still pretty dire this time round. This wild family adventure offers crude bottom humour for the Babe audience. btit the talking animals gimmick battles with cheesy morality and nothing comes together. Overall. the film might have benefitted from a simpler. less snappy and more family orientated tale. while Murphy's comic judgement has again become decidedly questionable. General release.

The Exorcist ( l8) (William liriedkin. L'S. I973) Linda Blair. Ellen Burstyn. Max Von Sydow. l 10 mins. Earnest priest Von Sydow steps in to save poor little possessed girl in this hugely effective scarefest. Now re-released in remastered form. with a super stereo soundtrack (so you can hear those Obscenities in full). Dead good. dead scary. dead priest. General release.

Fetishes ( 18) (Nick Broonifield. L'S. I996) Mistress Raven. Mistress Catherine. Mistress Natasha. 8-) mins. First L'K screening outside its 1996 Edinburgh International Film Festival premiere. Broomfield's documentary is a

; candid Portrait of the 'mistresses' of a New

' York City SS; M parlour. Typically. Broomfield breaks the rules of access he agreed with the

mistresses. revealing depras ity beneath the

comic \eneer. Glasgow: (il-‘l‘.

Firelight ( l5) (William Nicholson. L‘K. I998) Sophie Marceau. Stephen Dillane. Lia

Williams. ll3 mins. Seven years after English

aristocrat Dillane persuaded Swiss goy'erness Marceau to hear him a child because his wife was in a coma. she returns to fill the family 's