Class politics

When director Alexander Payne adapted Election, Tom Perrotta’s satirical novel about the 1992 American Presidential election campaign displaced to a high school, the last thing on his mind was a teen movie. 'Well, I'll tell you, it wasn't that it was set in a high school, because I couldn't care less about a high school movie,’ says Payne. 'I liked Perrotta's writing and his sense of character. There’s a lovely melancholy to the book. I also liked that it's about very flawed people doing funny, tragic, pathetic things.’

What Payne and writing partner Jim Taylor have come up with is a surprisingly cynical comedy (for a Hollywood studio film) - the taboo 'C' word even makes an appearance. The story focuses on the conflict between Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick) a devoted teacher undergoing a mid-life crisis, and Tracy Flick (Reese WitherSpoon) a prissy, model student, over a student government election. She's cocksure she’ll win; he undertakes a personal vendetta to ensure she won't - and there's no happy ending.

The source novel was inspired by two events: an incident in which a conservative high school principal in the South invalidated a prom queen election because the winner was pregnant, and the 1992 presidential election campaign. Payne plays up the comedy and

Tuition: Matthew Broderick and Alexander Payne filming Election

relocates the action from the original New Jersey setting to his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. 'I guess I shot Election in Omaha for the same reason that Ratcatcher was shot in Glasgow and why Woody Allen shoots in New York,’ explains Payne. 'You like to shoot where you're from and where you understand. The story is the same; it's then just the milieu and the details that become directorial.’

Having accepted a little of what Payne calls ‘horse trading' in the casting of two fairly bankable leads; he then cast unknowns and non-actors in the supporting roles. One of his finds, Chris Klein, is now a rising star and appears in the forthcoming American Pie. ‘I do have this certain . . . not dislike of stars, but just wanting to see people on the screen,’ says Payne. ‘Not stars pretending to be people. It's good to surround them with real faces, non-recognisable faces that don't look like actors, that look like real people.’

Payne is currently developing a handful of projects, the first of which is likely to be an adaptation of Paul Auster's The Locked Room (from his New York Trilogy) with screenwriter Lem Dobbs (The Limey) as well as a biopic to star John Leguizamo as the Mexican composer/arranger Esquivel, pioneer of space-age bachelor pad music. (Miles Fielder)

I Selected release from Fri 24 Sep. See review.

The Martell French Cinema Tour

Vrooooooom: Luc Besson and Gerard Pires's Taxi

France has a pretty healthy indigenous film industry. It regularly exports films, many of which are critical and/or commercial successes: Jean De F/orette, Manon De Sources, Betty Blue, Cyrano De Bergerac, La Femme Nikita, La Haine, La Reine Margot, Les Visiteurs, to name but a few. Unfortunately, foreign language films are rarely screened outside of art house cinemas in the UK. Even in Scotland, which has French and International Film Festivals, French films do not play to mainstream audiences.

The Martell French Cinema Tour aims to change this. Seven new French films, high brow and commercial and boasting ’name’ stars, are touring the UK. Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen feature in the early leg of the tour, organised and sponsored by Martell Cognac, the French Embassy and Odeon Cinemas where the films will be screened in each city over the course of one week.

The films Time Regained (Le Temps: Retrouvé) stars Catherine Deneuve, Emmanuelle Béart, Vincent Perez and John Malkovich in an adaptation of Marcel Proust’s novel which many

believe should have won the Palme d'Or in Cannes. Taxi, written and produced by Luc Besson, is a high octane thriller which does for the streets of Marseilles what Bu/litt did for San Francisco. Man Is A Woman (L’Homme Est Une Femme Comme Les Autres) gave the last French Film Festival programme its raunchy cover - Elsa Zilberstein groping Antoine (Euro Trash) de Caunes’s arse. La Tribune called it a French Woody Allen film. The romantic comedy The New Eve (La Nouve/le Eve) premiered at this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival to great acclaim. Walking In My Father’s Footsteps (Je Reg/e Mon Pas Sur Le Pas De Mon Pere) is an offbeat working class comedy, while Moon Calf (Dis- Moi Que Je Réve) is a charming, award-winning rural comedy. Finally, the period drama, The Children Of The Marsh/and (Les Enfants Du Marais), brings together a host of French acting talent including Michel Serrault, André Dussollier and Eric Cantona, yes the footy star. (Miles Fielder)

- Edinburgh Odeon from Fri 24 Sep; Glasgow Odeon City Centre & Aberdeen Odeon from Fri 1 Oct.

preview FILM Mapping The Stars

Scottish actor David Tennant’s film experience comprised a few shorts and a supporting part in Jude. Then he was cast as the lead in LA Without A Map alongside Johnny Depp and Vincent Gallo.

Speaking from Manchester, where he's currently performing in King Lear, Tennant casts his mind back to 1997 and filming LA Without A Map. 'I’d never been to America before, let alone Los Angeles, so it was fairly extraordinary,’ he says. ‘They were a fairly wild bunch; people like Vincent Gallo live life on the edge. It was fantastic, bewildering, mad.’

LA Without A Map’s cast and crew credits read like a who’s who of hip indie filmmaking: directed by Mika Kaurismaki (brother of Aki), it's adapted from Richard Rayner's cult novel and features credited and uncredited appearances by Depp, Gallo, Julie Delpy, Vinessa Shaw (fresh from Eyes Wide Shut), Andy Warhol star Joe Dallesandro, French actor Jean- Pierre Kalfin (from Godard’s Weekend), Anouk Aimee and Finnish rock band The Leningrad Cowboys. Like many of the above, filmmaker Sam Fuller, who sadly died shortly before filming commenced, was to play himself.

A formidable shoot, then? ‘There was pressure,‘ says Tennant, ’but I just had to get into it. It was all filmed in different bubbles. Vincent Gallo's stuff had to be filmed in the first three weeks; other people came in and out. It felt like all these different films. I don't think the whole cast ever met. That just added to the whole bonkers- ness of everything. We did the stuff with Johnny Depp in the first few days. I was just acclimatising to the whole affair and l was doing a scene with the most famous man in the world. But I met him, we shook hands and just did the scene. I do remember at one moment during the take the bit where he knocks his sunglasses off his nose and looks at me - thinking, "That's Johnny Depp!” I kept getting hit with reality attacks - it was just nonsense, very exciting.’

Tennant will next be seen on film in The Last September. (Miles Fielder)

- Edinburgh Filmhouse from Fri 1 Oct. See review.

On location: David Tennant shooting LA Without A map

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