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Few novels convey the emotional and psychological consequences of slavery quite as ViVIdly as Toni Morrison's Pulitzer Prize-Winner, Beloved. Unfortunately Jonathan Demme's film doesn't have the same power as the book. Granted', it has some magnificently cinematic set-pieces and boasts strong performances by Oprah Winfrey, Danny Glover and newcomer Kimberly Elise, but its effectiveness is offset by a need to present its message Within a suspenseful, more conventionally organised storyline and, more damagingly, by a misconceived performance by Thandie Newton.
A brutal rape drives Sethe (Winfrey) to escape her cruel masters and jorn her family in freedom near Cincinnati. When the white men catch up With her, however, she murders her baby
.99 -__' Family reunion: Thandie Newton, Oprah Winfrey and Kimberly Elise in Beloved
Beloved (15) 172 mins :9: r:
daughter to save her from, literally, a fate worse than death. In later years, the baby haunts Sethe and her other daughter, Denver (Elise), then takes on reborn human form (Newton) on the arrival of Sethe's new lover, Paul D (Glover).
Newton should play Beloved as a growing child in an adult's body; instead she talks like she has suffered a stroke and walks like the Scarecrow in The Wizard Of Oz. It’s a technically well
accomplished performance, but too ‘
theatrical for this context, and so cloyingly ’simple’ that the essence of her character - pain and heartache - is lost. On a more positive note, the development of Denver from sullen, trapped teenager to strong, ’modern’ woman gives the film a clearer focus and marks Elise as someone to watch. (Alan Morrison)
a General release from Fri 5 Mar. See feature.
(12) 115 mins
Every day is Red Nose Day witliRobin Williams as the man who believes doctors should 'treat the patient as well as the disease' So he deftly cuts a slit in an enema bulb (no, l‘d never seen one either), sucks it on his neb and has the little bald-headed cancer patients rolling in their Sickbeds.
The philos0phy that laughter is the best medicine brings Patch Adams into conflict With the hospital authorities. They note 'excessive happiness' in his personal files, despite the fact that he starts the film as a depressive in a mental hospital, in a mini- reinterpretation of One Flew Over The
Medicine man: RobinWilliams in Patch Adams
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Cuckoo’s Nest. Williams is very good at caring, at taking on the authorities and, of c0urse, at being funny, breathing life into the weakest of japes (and they do not come weaker than simply putting on a red nose). But then he should be good at all this, for he has had enough practice with Awakenings, Good Will Hunting, the excruciating Dead Poets Society et al. We do not need a doctor to tell us that Williams wears his heart just a little too obvrously on his sleeve at times. And for all his qUirky comedic qualities, it IS impossible to escape a diagnosis here of terminal deja vu. (Brian Pendreigh) a General release from Fri 72 Mar.
new releases FILM
FILM FESTIVAL Dead 8 Dawn
Edinburg :Filmhouse, Fri S—Sun 7 Mar.
Alien schoolteachers, crazed killers and flesh-munching zombies are crawling out of the grave as Scottish horror film festival Dead By Dawn gets ready for a fear-filled weekend of previews, rare classics and personal appearances.
Italy is a key port of call, with the spotlight falling on the gia/lo style of crime-horror as practiced by Lucio Fulci (Lizard In A Woman’s Skin), Dario Argento (The Bird With The Crystal P/umage) and Michele Soavi (Stagefright). If it's gore you’re after, however, a through-the-night session on Saturday climaxes with the Fulci double bill of The Beyond and Zombie Flesh Eaters. Going further back in time are Freaks, Brain/ac and The Ting/er, while fans can get one step ahead of the crowd by catching previews of Brian Yuzna's Progeny and The Faculty, the latest from the pen of Scream writer Kevin Williamson.
Guests at the event include Richard Stanley, who'll talk about his uncut version of Dust Devil, and French director Jean Rollin, poetic master of low-budget scary sexploitation, who’ll discuss his career with List editor Alan Morrison after a screening of his latest film, Little Orphan Vampires.
I Two-day passes (£72) are available from Fi/mhouse box office (228 2688). See film listings and index for full details of events.
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Rave from the grave: The Beyond screens at Dead By Dawn
(15) 106 mins Hm
Made under the banner of DOGME 9S — a manifesto conceived by Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier (Breaking The Waves) and the writer/director of this film, Thomas Vinterberg — Festen is a deliberate attempt to escape the formal constraints of their national cinema by embracing a new, self-imposed set of rules. Chief among these is the dictum that the inner lives of the characters must justify the workings of the plot, in this case the story of a country house party given to celebrate the 60th birthday of rich patriarch Helge Klingenfeldt.
Tensions surface long before Helge, the assembled guests, his loyal wife Elsa, and their three children - Christian, Helene and Michael — sit down to dinner. Hanging over the party like a cloud is the fact that Christian’s beloved twin sister, Linda, committed suicide the year before. And during a speech about his dead sister, Christian reveals an even more disturbing family secret.
Festen is more interesting in itself than for the way it adheres to, or breaks with, DOGME's articles of faith. Occasionally, however, the grainy images, hand-held camerawork or muddy sound recording do come between us and the emotional heart of a scene. The question must be asked, therefore: would the same story, told in a more conventional way, have had any less emotional impact than this version? (Nigel Floyd)
I Glasgow Film Theatre and Edinburgh Fi/mhouse from Fri 5 Mar.
Human Rights Watch Edinburgh: Cameo, Fri 12—Mon 15 Mar.
Cinema has a unique ability to transport viewers across the world and, through its visual strengths, draw them into the heart of an on-screen dilemma. It’s a powerful 7" medium, and one that’s expertly used by " the filmmakers contributing to the Human Rights Watch International Film Feshval
Child slavery, racism and arranged . marriages; Nicaragua, Tibet and Iran — " subjects and places that spark argument, outrage, interest and inspiration. The eight films gathered together here all cover controversial subjects, but the filmmakers don't take the easy route of ’ propaganda.
Two documentaries on show skilfully capture this balance of humanism and cinematic style in very different ways. in Classified X, Melvin Van Peebles offers an alternative history of American movies, commenting on the representation of black characters from the silents to the present day. Across the world in Morocco, Fatima Jebli Ouzzani contemplates a woman’s place in a society where teenage girls who don’t bleed on their wedding night are despised and women, like her mother, escape from unhappy marriages by suicide. (Alan Morrison) I See film listings and index for screening details.
Melvin Van Peebles: Classified X
4—18 Mai l999 THE “ST 25