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The 7th Italian Film Festival

The films of the Taviani brothers this year's retrospective subjects seem to vacillate between the hectic and the hushed; from the comic exuberance and excesses of The Night Of San Lorenzo (*tit), to the reflectiveness of Padre Padrone (* t * * *).

The Tavianis are good at a sudden filling of the frame, evidenced in San Lorenzo as the villagers rush into the open fields to devour watermelon. Or emptying it to the point of stillness; their work is full of quiet valleys and hermetic sequences of men alone, as in Padre Padrone. .

Which just goes to show that two minds can be as auteurist as one, for the Taviani bros, Paolo and Vittorio, have worked personal preoccupations into their films for almost 40 years. And this in spite of the fact that much of their work has taken the form of adaptation such as Fiorile (*tt), where we see money passing through the centuries in a particular part of Tuscany.

On a couple of occasions the Tavianis have moved into international production, most conspicuously with the epic Good Morning Babylon (***), which seems as

Boys Don't Cry

(18) 114 mins it t t ‘k 1: burden she

Thrs rs a teen love story With a grrsly twrst and a raw emotional core.

Wrrter/drrector Krrrrberly Perrce’s frrst handsome

'There isn't a performance here that is not complex, sensitive and commited'

(redrbrlrty of the frlm rests er‘trrely upon her performance, but =t's a as the

consummate skrli and grace Ni“. rs she wholly (().".\.’|II( rec; as a

Young love in That's It (Ecco Fatto)

much about giving free rein to their regular, lush composer Nicola Piovani, as a hymn to the early days of Hollywood. Here, two Italian brothers make their way as production designers on Griffith’s Intolerance. But their finest work is resolutely Italian.

The veteran Ettore Scola’s The Dinner (t) is seasoned with a couple of French actors Fanny Ardant and Marie Gillain but its failure is strictly Scola's. Eavesdropping on some 40 odd diners, the film leaves insight well alone and settles for cliche, while established actors like Stefania Sandrelli, Vittorio Gassman and Giancarlo Giannini are lost to flat characterisation.

Another great Italian actor, Sergio Castelleto, has only himself to blame. He makes his directorial debut with a sub-Kusturica romp, Libera Burro (ink), and also plays the eponymous bad boy made good who kidnaps the stepson of his main gangster rival. This endangers his burgeoning relationship with an Italian teacher who, understandably, disapproves of such behaviour.

The 7th Italian Film Festival then, a mixed, if mostly fine collection of contemporary and classic italian cinema. (Tony McKibbin)

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t'uth and :rrcirtzdualrtv to her turn as lana lyen the local boys who frrst befrrena and frnally destroy Brandon a'e portrayed by Peter Sar‘sgaard and Brendan Sexton l|| not as tmt-—dnnensronai redneck baddres, but as lost souls, driven to vrolence by a mptc- :ucornprehensron and fear

The sharply observed rnrnutrae of the their armless, drunken nocturnal wanderings, Iana's false r-arls and cheap Jewellery, the smeared mrrror rn her room - ground the frlm rr! an entrrely believable realrty, and prevent rt from sprrallrng rnto melodrama. Peirce rs subtle to the last, chvastatrnc; denouement

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shoulders errh approaches, she repeatedly floods the only franc \‘crtlr white light, a technrque street, that both captures the danlrng

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feature rs based upon the lrfe of Brandon Teena, the transgendered Nebraska grrl who lrved her Irfe as a male, and whose love affair wrth a smalltown grrl named lana Trsdel met a bloody end m 1093

Hilary Swank won an Oscar for her portrayal of Brandon and, for once, the Academy's chorce can't be faulted Swank rs srmply astorrrshrnc; the

26 THE LIST 1% 2/ Air: met;-

young beautrfully captures all the a‘v.'xk.'.ard swagger and unrestr iifl('(f passror: of late adolescence

l-lowever, Swanks Iziory should not be permitted to overshadow; trrt- rcst m the cast, there not a perforurarrt e llt'H‘ that rs not as complex, seusrtrm and committed as rt torrid be Sevrgny's gasr-Jky, lurrr'rrous iooiss and understated acting style lend a unrcrue


retensrty of young love and heralds the trrsrs to come

when the word rnclrsc rrmrnately handmd about, Boys Don’t (‘ry shows up Arne/nan Beauty for the shallow, glossy caricature rt rs, and stands as a

in an era 'rnasterprece rs

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Film Books

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Hitchcock At Work (Phardon £35 *tttt) is composed of evrdence of the Master of Suspense’s celluloid crimes. Foregorng anecdotal sources, frlm writer Brll Krohn examines Hrtch’s career through an accumulation of evrdence: shootrng schedules, story boards, memos, transcripts of discussrons wrth collaborators, etc, Replacrng frlm theory With 'Just the facts', Krohn presents a compellrng case that not only Identifies hrs subject's working methods but overturns a few myths, most notably that Hrtchcock was a control freak For example, the metrculous plannrng of North By Northwest’s crop-dustrng plane sequence was abandoned because the production vas movrng so swrftly The scene was storyboarded, but only for publrcrty purposes Illustrated wrth frlm and production strlls and reproductions of scrrpt pages and storyboards, Hrtchcock At Work rs both a frlm buff’s dream and coffee table perfection.

The Wicker Man rs wrdely regarded as one of the UK’s greatest horror movres, Allan Brown’s Inside The Wicker Man (Sidirck 8. Jackson £14.99 *ttt) reveals the shameful treatment of the cult frlm by rts producers i‘nrtchered rn the cuttrng room, the frlm was eventually released as a B-feature supportrng Don’t Look Now and the mrssrng footage vanrshed forever. Desprte Christopher Lee's healthy sceptrc:rsm ’A book about The Wicker Man? I would thrnk you would need an encyclopaedra.’ Brown squeezes plenty more rnto a scant 240 pages: rntervrews With the partrcrpants (from star Edward Woodwood to Brrtt Ekland's body doublet, the writing and frlmrng In Scotland and an analysis of the film's themes teg. Scottish paganrsm). The most fascrnatrng part of thrs invaluable companion book rs rts reconstruction of the orrgrnal frlm through Anthony Shaffer's script. But rt’s sad to read about what we’ll probably never see.

The Pocket Essential Film series (Pocket Essentrals £2.99 tit) provrdes everything the lay person needs to pass themselves off as a frlm buff. The first four books cover Woody Allen, Orson Welles, The Coen Brothers and Davrd Lynch. Small and cheap, according to the publrsher they're the desrrable alternatrve to heavywerght frlm theory and ‘anodyne press coverage' Cheeky Clrff's Notes anyone? (Miles Fielder)