Self-consciously composed and frustratingly slow, this black-and-white Hungarian version of The Postman Always Rings Twice is weighted down by a fateful inevitability. There's no apparent joy in the coupling of a drifter and a garage owner's wife, and the film focuses more on the desperation at the heart of their relationship than the mechanics of the murder plot that will bring them together. Long, unedited takes leave the actors posed meaningfully for longer than is narrativer necessary, establishing a mood of hopelessness that is more distinctively European than James M. Cain’s Depression Era pulp original. (Alan Morrison)
e Passion, Fi/mhouse 3, Mon 24, 3pm, £ 6.50 (£4).
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Driven by ideas rather than special effects, this imaginative, low-budget sci-fi movie traps six disparate individuals — angry ex-cop, timid maths student, uptight female shrink, unassuming office clerk, autistic man and ex-con - inside a BD maze of inter- locking cubical chambers. Some cubes are safe, others are booby-trapped: the only clue is the cryptic number stencilled on each sealed door. The absorbing mathematical puzzles, nail- biting suspense, strategic gore and understated allegory more than compensate for the variable acting. Like the idea of the cube itself, the film's conceptual structure is strong enough to survive the imperfections of those trapped within it. (Nigel Floyd)
# Cube, Cameo 2, Sat 22, 9pm; Cameo 2, Tue 25, 9pm, £6.50 (£4)
Alan Clarke's Play For Today was broadcast on the same night in 1981 that Bobby Sands died; the BBC’s switchboard was jammed with complaints that the film was IRA propaganda. Years on, this story of three army recruits undergoing intense psychological training/torture in order
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to form a new assassination unit seems to be less directly about events in Northern Ireland. Instead, it comes over as a confrontational piece of filmed theatre (based on a David Leland script) that indicates how the British right-wing military machine was ready to take the fight against terrorism into realms of psychological warfare. A little too much polemic at times, but intimidating nonetheless. (Alan Morrison)
3 Psy- Warriors, Fi/mhouse 2, Tue 25, 3.30pm, £4.50 (£3).
Fred Wiseman’s latest documentary is an extended portrait of life in a black 'project' (housing estate) in Chicago. Free of narration, the film alternates between 'scenes' of typical daily toil — a police Shakedown, a local housing officer berating officials on the phone, cockroach exterminators at work - and shots of urban decay on every street corner. It's not exactly third world poverty, more first world inhabitants treated like second-class citizens. Ultimately the tone is optimistic, not simply due to the ‘human spirit' on show, but because various groups and individuals are seen tackling their problems from within the community. (Alan Morrison)
a Public Housing, Filmhouse 3, Sun 23, 3pm, £6.50 (£4).
Moment Of Impact
On April Fool's Day 1989, computer analyst Leonid Lektov was hit by a car and severely injured. Rather than leave him unhappy in a nursing home, his wife Larisa carries out an emotionally, physically and psychologically demanding routine of care in their own house. Her daily toil is captured on video by the couple's daughter, Julia, but at times the drool-and-all footage is so intimate, it feels as if the Lektovs' privacy has been violated: the viewer reacts with embarrassment more than sympathy. It's also doubtful if Leonid is a completely willing participant in the process, which
edford beams into the Film Festival live from his ranch in Utah for a Scene By Scene on his directing career-Edinburgh International Conference Centre. Sat 22. 7.30pm. £12.50 (£5).
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terms of abuse: one Danish family’s veneer of respectability is stripped away in Festen.
Thomas Vinterberg's fine film has no interest in the charm - discreet or otherwise - of the bourgeoisie. It goes instead for the jugular: child abuse. racism, wife~battery and familial suicide. all observed with a handheld camera as family and friends gather to celebrate the patriarch's 60th birthday. Not everyone‘s so keen to share the celebratory mood, however. and one of the sons stands up. clears his throat, and informs the assorted guests that it's a family with tales that need to be told. -
There is irony to be had from this sitUation (to what lengths will the well-off guests go to hold the occasion together?). but Vinterberg's more interested in J
satire and social. progress - he views the events at the one remove of scorn and impatience. He has little respect for the cinematic conventions which- usually earn theepithet ‘understated‘. When the father asks for the port to be passed. it's an impolite harangue: the daughter, unimpressed by her brother's social etiquette. asks, ‘Where’s your fucking manners?!
If nothing else, Vinterberg allows that well-worn journalistic cliche, ‘gritty realism‘, to be used in an altogether different context. That may be no social revolution. but it’s a start. (Tony McKibbin)
a Festen, Fi'lmhouse 7, Fri 21, 9.30pm, £6. 50 (£4).
somehow diminishes the film’s goals — regardless of its award at the Sundance Film Festival. (Alan Morrison)
g Moment Of Impact, Fi/mhouse 2, Thu 20, 8pm; Fi/mhouse 2, Sat 22, 5.30pm, £6.50 (£4).
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It's refreshing to see a period drama with a wicked whiff of spirit about it. Des McAnuff brings out the wit in Balzac's novel, in which spinster Bette (Jessica Lange) becomes increasingly disappointed in life when her brother- in-law offers her a job as housekeeper (not an offer of marriage) after the death of her more beautiful sister. Spurned by a dashing young sculptor in favour of, first, her young cousin (Kelly Macdonald) and then a famous courtesan (Elisabeth Shue), Bette takes revenge on her supposedly respectable family as they self-destruct through adultery and debt. Lange is excellent: she makes Bette a strong and strangely sympathetic figure, with looks that move from severity to twilight beauty in a moment. (Alan Morrison)
ﬁ Cousin Bette, Dominion, Fri 21, 6pm; Cameo 1, Thu 27, 8pm, £6. 50 (£4).
Leo’s love life is a mess. First he falls for straight baker Brendan at their male bonding group. Then, when Brendan reciprocates his attentions, Leo is guilt- ridden when he discovers the woman
Brendan just finished with was Leo's unconsummated first love, and he starts falling for her. Again. Some people just shouldn‘t be allowed to fool around with love. Everybody in this alleged comedy seems too eager to shed lifelong sexual orientations (straight or gay) and see how the other (or same) half loves. One for the sexually undecided or adventurous in the audience. Not, however, for lovers of great film. (Graham Rae)
a Bedrooms And Hal/ways, Cameo 1, Fri21, 10.30pm; Cameo 1, Thu 27, 10.30pm, £6.50 (£4).
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Fresh out of prison, sentimental sociopath Brett Sprague tries to contain the seething violence that threatens to tear apart his 'white trash‘ family. But during one drink and drug- fuelled day, the fraught relationships between Brett, his down-trodden mother, his two brothers and his sullen girlfriend reach breaking point. Inter- cutting this spiralling madness with its future consequences, this often unbearably tense drama builds inexorably to a controlled explosion of savagery. (Nigel Floyd)
3 The Boys, Cameo 1, Mon 24, 10.30pm, £6.50 (£4).
20—27 Aug 1998 THE LIST 89