FILM reviews

EXPERIMENTAL Julien Donkey-Boy

(15) 94 mins « k * A

Ju/ren Donkey-Boy consolidates Harmony Korrne’s credentials as the most rnterestrng frlmmaker rn America today, and qurte possibly the world. Even when constrarned by the Dogme 95 rules, Korrne’s narratrve deconstructron manages to out avant- garde, the most talked about frlm movement of the last decade. Wrth Jul/en Donkey-Boy Korrne attempts to get to the essence of the back-to- basrcs movement by drspensrng wrth a scrrpt and using spy cameras to gauge the general publrc’s ‘real reactrons’ to srtuatrons. And rn a nod to thrs darrng cmematrc lineage, Korrne-fan Werner Herzog appears as Julren’s father. Adomed wrth a perm that would please Kevrn Keegan, Ewen Bremner plays the trtle role, a paranOrd


(15) 93 mins it, w». fr 1‘:

Affectionate portrait of American suburban life

A brtter-sweet trrbute to the Amerrcan suburbs from wrrter-drrector Errc Mendelsohn, Judy Ber/in follows the crrss-crossrng paths of venous rnhabrtants of Babylon, Long Island on the day of an unusually lengthy solar eclrpse. Divorced schoolteacher Sue Berlrn (Barbara Barrre) has developed a crush on her tacrtUrn boss Bob Drshy (Arthur Gold), who, rn turn, rs trrrng of hrs drffrcult relatronshrp wrth hrs recoverrng alcoholrc wrfe (the great lvladelrne Kahn rn her frnal role). Meanwhile, the couple’s son Davrd (Aaron Harnrck) has returned from LA, ashamed at hrs farlure to become a

58 THE lIST Slam—l8 Jan ZOOI

Avant-garde genius

schr20phrenrc based on Korrne’s uncle Eddre. As wrth Gummo, Korrne abandons narratrve structure to delrver an account of a lrfe derrved from hrs reactron to specrfrc events whrch occurred durrng the nadrr of hrs exrstence. You cannot help but feel for Julren as he attempts to rntegrate With a socrety that farls to understand hrm and a famrly unWIllrng to come to terms wrth hrs rllness.

Desprte berng a Dogme 9S frlm, Ju/ien Donkey-80y rs stamped wrth Harmony Korrne all over rt. The lead role goes to real-lrfe grrlfrrend Chloe Sevrgny, the content w0uld make most drrectors balk and Korrne contrnues to TGJGCI tradrtronal cmematrc storytelling methods, optrng rnstead for a drsengaged stream—of-consCrousness. A genrus, though perhaps not to everyone's taste. (Kaleem Aftab)

I Fi/mhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 72 Jan. See Front/ines.

frlmmaker. Wanderrng the streets of hrs home town, he encounters varrous rndrvrduals rncludrng Sue’s daughter Judy (Edre Falco), a former hrgh-school classmate, who’s now determrned to succeed as an actress In Hollywood, whatever the obstacles.

Carefully balancmg humour and melancholy, whrle scrupulously av0rdrng sarcasm, Mendelsohn has crafted a tenderly affectronate portrart of muddled lrves, rn whrch conquron, drsapporntment and drsrllusron rub together wrth moments of fleeting grace. Imbued wrth a dream-like qualrty by Jeffrey Seckendorf's lumrnous black-and-whrte cmematography, and enhanced by a harpsrchord score, Judy Ber/in rs a frlm whrch manages to frnd beauty rn the most unexpected places. The outstandrng ensemble performances, not least from The Sopranos’ Falco, whose Judy rs a compelling mrxture of narvety, optrmrsm and sheer resrlrence, help make thrs a genurnely begurlrng prece of American rndependent crnema.

(Tom Dawson) I Fi/mhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 72 Jan. See Famespotting.



The Criminal

(cert and running time tbc) * t t

The strength of Julran Srmpson’s promrsrng debut feature, a contemporary urban thrrller Wrth frlm nOrr overtones, lres prrmarrly m the confrdent wrrtrng, as exemplrfred by rts daring opening scene. Chatted up In hrs local bar by a cool, mysterrous blonde, musrCran Steven Mackrntosh is unable to belreve hrs luck or take the rnrtratrve Thrown off-balance, he walks strarght rnto her tender trap, hrs wrde-eyed Innocence settrng the tone for the entrre frlm. But after the enrgmatrc stranger talks hrm rnto bed, he wakes up next to her dead body, pursues the fleerng krller, and rs arrested for her murder

Later released, lvlackrntosh wanders the streets in search of clues, shadowed by raded detectrve Bernard Hrll and hrs yOunger, hungrrer partner Holly Arrd A secretrve organrsatron called Shackleton rs mentroned by a shady frgure rn a peep- show, but as the bodres prle up, Mackrntos'n loses the plot completely The ever excellent Mackrntosh sees the frlm through rts few rough patches, but even he cannot smooth over rts last-mrnute slrde from norr-style paranora rnto full-blown conSprracy thrrller. As a pencrl-moustached pathologrst Eddre lzzard's strarght man adds a wry note to the proceedrngs, espeCraIly rn hrs cleverly ambrguous 'Basrl Exposrtron’ scene. (Nrgel Floyd) I Selected re/ease from Fri 72 Jan.


(18) 88 mins t tti

Urban thrills with noir overtones

’Yet another crap Brrtish gangster film' used to be a phrase you c0u|d hammer the post-Lock, Stock home- grown crrme frlms with. That term of abuse has now lost rts clout thanks to two frne frlms: last year’s Gangster No. 7 and now Sexy Beast, the debut of advert and pop vrdeo drrector Jonathan Glazer. Corncrdentally, both frlms orrgrnate from the same wrrtrng team, Lours Mellrs and Davrd Scrnto, though they parted ways wrth Gangster before rt was shot. Sexy Beast began as a draft of a play, whrch explarns its emphaSIs on dralogue, and boy does rt pack a punch

When retrred crrminal Gary Dove (Ray Wrnstone) gets a vrsrt from East End headcase Don Logan (Ben Krngsley), who's to persuade Dove to leave hrs Costa del Sol villa to do one last ’Job’ for crrme boss Teddy Bass (Ian lecShane), the sparks fly. Dove stutters a nervous ’No thanks’; Logan screams ’Yes, you c"tl’. At length, The back and forth between the hard man who’s lost hrs bottle and the offrcrous Irttle psychopath is nothrng short of Prnter-esque, alternately menacmg, hrlarrous and terrrfyrng.

Cast agarnst type (Krngsley was synonymous Wrth Gandhi), the leads are superb. Glazer rrgorously maintains content over style, and the result rs a razor sharp drama that's no mere gangster frlm. (Miles Fielder)

I GET, Glasgow; Fi/mhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 72 Jan. See preview

Triumph of content over style

The Road Home

(U) 100 mins * t 1):

A city busrnessman Luo (Sun Hongler) returns to hrs home village rn Northern Chrna for the funeral of hrs father, the local school teacher. Wrth hrs weeprng mother (Zhao Yuelrn) adamant that her husband's corpse be carried by hand rather than driven back from hosprtal, Luo recalls the story of hrs parents’ courtshrp several decades earlrer .

’A reaction agarnst the current vulgar tendency rn Chinese crnema’, rs how drrector Zhang Yimou (Raise The Red Lantern, To Live) has descrrbed The Road Home, whrch strives to uphold the values of an earlrer, less materralrstrc age In Chrna's hrstory when learning was venerated. Shrftrng from black and whrte (the present) to colour (the past), the bulk of the frlm consrsts of a rather sentrmental recreatron of the love-affair between Luo's parents, told from the perspectrve of the female character. Though attractrvely frlmed rn wrdescreen format, The Road Home is often at rts most affecting rn its attentron to small detarls; the reparr of a beloved bowl, the loss of a harr-clrp, the loving preparation of favourrte drshes. And rn the radiant Zhang Zryr, star of the forthcomrng martral arts perrod romance Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Yrmou has perhaps unearthed a muse to rrval hrs favoured actress Gong Lr. (Tom Dawson)

I Fi/mhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 5 Jan.

Recalling a less materialistic age