Throne Of Death (Marana Simhasanam) id:
In a small island community in Kerala, a thief is sentenced to death by the 'Electronic Chair’, a brand new instrument of justice developed with help from the US and the World Bank. His death becomes the occasion for public celebration and political machinations. Highly peculiar and unsettling, this black, bleak would-be satire won the Camera d’Or at Cannes this year. However, the idea seems slight and the style of the piece is profoundly awkward, with slapdash editing and poor acting. The viewer is left wondering what to conclude beyond the age-old truism that politicians lack integrity.
I Throne Of Death (Marana Simhasanam), Filmhouse 2, 18 Aug, 8pm; 20 Aug, 3. 30pm, £7 (£4.50).
Hen Zwilling Und Frau Zuckermann stink
The attempt to wipe out cultures is a trait in European history. The city of Czernowitz in West Ukraine acts as a tiny microcosm of a bigger picture. Ruled over by the Soviets, Rumanians and Germans in many turns, the inhabitants’ Jewish heritage has remained strong in the face of attempted annihilation. The two main characters in Oiis fascinating and often moving documentary meet and disagree on a regular basis, for the purpose of keeping the German language alive. Volker Koepp's Herr Zwilling Und Frau Zuckermann is a lesson in showing the lives that live on beyond the bloody headlines. (Brian Donaldson)
I Herr Zwilling Und Frau Zuckermann. Filmhouse 2, 16 Aug, 3pm; 18 Aug, 3.30pm, £7 (£4.50).
Gordon and Cynthia make the oddest of odd screen couples since Ren & Stimpy. He is an unemployed asthmatic chain-smoker; she is an eczema-riddled sexual exhibitionist. Together they make sweet and sour love until she falls pregnant, rids herself of the body within and sees their relationship collapse. Australian director Peter Curran’s film actually takes off by becoming wilfully more surreal after this trauma when she disappears and he becomes temporarin institutionalised. The central duo speak a lot of words without saying much of anything and the repetitive carnality of the first half possiny makes the finale grander than it actually is. (Brian Donaldson)
I Praise, Filmhouse 1, 19 Aug.
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9. 30pm; Glasgow Film Theatre 2, 23 Aug, 6.15pm; Filmhouse 3, 26 Aug, 9pm, £7 (£4.50).
The Family (Aila)
A densely woven study of a family existing in the midst of political strife in Azerbaijan, The Family juxtaposes domestic tensions with the travails of a nation in crisis. The multiple narratives address relationship difficulties both familial and romantic, organised crime and poverty, against the backdrop of the 1990 Russian invasion of Baku. Sadly, the stories are ill-defined and convoluted, and the workaday visuals fail to hold the attention. Washed-out colours and an undistinguished style lend the film a gritty immediacy but also make for a muddled and strangely uninvolving viewing experience. (Hannah McGill)
I The Family (Aila) Filmhouse 3, 16 Aug, 9.15pm; 25 Aug, 9pm, £7 (£4.50).
* * ink
A married woman meets her sister's fiance in a cafe. The sexual tension, as they glance at each other, is tangible. A touch of Rachmaninov on the soundtrack, you might think, and we've got a cliched remake of Brief Encounter- why, there's even a cutaway from her musings to a kettle boiling. However, Korean director E. )- Yong looks afresh at the age-old issue of adultery. His precise compositions, coupled with the quiet formality of the music and the restrained acting style, capture the sense of confinement suffered by characters hemmed in by marriage, family and society. (Alan Morrison)
I An Affair. Filmhouse 2, 16, 17 Aug. 5.30pm, £7 (£4.50).
In visual terms - and if cut to the appropriate length of a short film — this study of the human form might work. Stretched to 75 minutes, stuffed with repetitious poses and tussles, padded out with empty mumblings about desire, it becomes unbearable. Hand- held camerawork, unabashed nudity
Crime scene: Melbourne's finest in Redball
Jon Hewitt shot this super tough tale of Melbourne cops in ten days on DVD. Rupert Murdoch attempted to have the film surpressed, because, he claimed, it defamed Melbourne's police force. It does, but Murdoch's censorship bid failed anyway. So now Hewitt has upgraded to 35mm film and Redball has made it across the world to Edinburgh.
Redball is code for a 'high priority case placing investigating officers under extreme pressure'. Hewitt's film is full of such jargon, which is a mark of its gritty authenticity. Based around the day and night duties of a group of homicide and vice detectives - variously on the take, cracking up and abusing innocents - Redball plays like NYPD Blue or Homicide: Life On The Streets without the restrictions of television conventions. From the opening scene, in which two detectives refuse to examine a corpse found in the river (too much paper work), to the final revelation. revolving around the return of a particularly sadistic serial killer, the Redball experience is akin to being 'tuned up' by the boys in blue in an interrogation cell.
Hewitt sustains a terrifically tense atmosphere, underscored by the constant threat of violence - this is what it must be like to play Russian
roulette. (Miles Fielder)
I Redball, Cameo 1, 78 Aug, 10.30pm; 26 Aug, 12.15am, £7 (£4.50).
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and the occasional whirring of the camera on the soundtrack don’t just reveal the ’nakedness’ of the project - they underline its pretentiousness. Speedy Boys has been to the Sundance, Rotterdam and Toronto Film Festivals, so even these institutions can be duped by a film that really is the Emperor's New Clothes. (Alan Morrison)
I Speedy Boys, Filmhouse 2, 16 Aug, 10.30pm; Cameo 2, 20 Aug, 9pm, £7 (£4.50).
A Good Baby
In the woods near his burnt-out home, young hillbilly Raymond (Henry Thomas) discovers an abandoned
newborn baby, the daughter of an odious travelling salesman (David Strathairn) and an under-age girl. Katherine Dieckmann shows an unsteady directorial hand on her first feature, allowing Strathairn's character to slide from cliche to cliche and underplaying the climactic confrontation. The only positive aspect is Thomas's vulnerable performance: the ’dignity of the poor' theme is shallowly treated, but he manages to convey how the man in rags has more humanity than the man in the well- pressed suit. (Alan Morrison)
I A Good Baby, Cameo 1, 17 Aug, 5.30pm; Cameo 3, 21 Aug, 7. 30pm, £7 (£4.50).
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