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Elizabeth Mastrantonio and David Strathairn in Limbo
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This gently engrossing drama delivers pretty much what you'd expect from the director of City Of Hope, Passion Fish and Lone Star - no more and no less. But where a generous, intelligent filmmaker such as John Sayles is concerned, that is more than enough. David Strathairn oozes easy charm as Alaskan ex-fisherman Joe Gastineau, who — although traumatised by a boating accident many years before - is hooked out of his safe, lethargic routine by damaged bar singer Donna De Angelo (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio). Then, on what seems like a routine sailing expedition - with Joe's estranged half-brother Bobby (Casey Siemaszko) at the helm - Joe, Donna and her moody teenage daughter Noelle (Vanessa Martinez) are left stranded on a remote island at the mercy of Nature's hostile, unforgiving
As always, Sayles’ subtle dialogue elicits credible, sympathetic performances from a hand-picked cast. Strathairn embodies the director's non-judgmental compassion, Mastrantonio acts well and sings beautifully, and newcomer Martinez proves herself a gifted natural. Sayles also drops in some pointed social commentary about the commercialisation of Alaska's frozen wilderness: 'Think of Alaska as one great natural theme park,’ says a slick entrepreneur to his wealthy potential backers. (Nigel Floyd)
I Limbo, Filmhouse 7, 78 Aug, 9.30pm; 79 Aug, 2.30pm, £7 (£4.50).
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Thug Life In D.C. ****
Marc 'Slam' Levin makes a welcome return to his first love, documentary, with a frank look at the young African American males who inhabit the US prison system. Levin leaves little to the imagination as he skilfully guides us through the corridors of Washington's Lorton Prison to focus on Audrey ’Dre' Burno, one of many teenagers who have become embroiled in the thug life of gangs, drugs and violence. Gangsta rap is effectively juxtaposed with the views of parents, guards and the prison warden, while emotive images of incarcerated teens suggest something is desperately wrong with the US social system. (Mark Robertson) l Thug Life In D.C., Filmhouse 3, 79 Aug, 9pm; 25 Aug, 6pm, £7 (£4.50).
Alexander Payne's caustically witty satire resonates far beyond its high school setting. Perky overachiever Tracey Flick (Reese Witherspoon) regards her victory in the student governor election as a done deal, until jaded teacher Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick) persuades dumb jock Paul to stand against her, which in turn prompts Paul's rebellious sister to run on a 'Scrap this student election nonsense' ticket. The key here is middle-aged teacher, Broderick's jaundiced voice-over, which offers a
skewed but broader and more insightful perspectiVe on peer group pressure and political ambition. While not as ambitious as the similar Rushmore, this is ultimately more satisfying. (Nigel Floyd)
I Election, ABC 7, 77Aug, 77pm, £7 (£4.50).
Show Me Love
Where recent American highschool movies rely on tongue-in-cheek humour to win the hearts of the MTV generation, this Swedish counterpart about teenage lesbians goes back to basics. Smart pop-culture references are replaced by slow exposition. Cartoon romance is replaced by gradually blossoming sweet love. While many teen movies lay claim to an offbeat edginess, Show Me Love portrays adolescent homosexuality in a way that is neither jokey nor salacious. A record-breaker in its home country, this is the missing link between Pretty In Pink and Kids. (James King)
I Show Me Love, Cameo 7, 79 Aug, 5.30pm; Lumiere, 27 Aug, 72. 30pm, £7 (£ 4.50).
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