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CRIME DRAMA AMOHIS PIRROS (18) 153 mlns 00000

Bllled u the Moxlcan Pulp FIctIon. whlch cells It short

At last year's Edinburgh International Film Festival. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's debut feature was billed as ‘the Mexican Pulp Fiction' - a description which. in fact. sold it short. The Tarantino comparison is a useful starting point: the film tells three overlapping stories by using shifting time-frames. tangentially linked characters and jagged verbal rhythms. There's even an explicit reference to Reservoir Dogs in the throat-grabbing opening scene. which replaces Tim Roth's bleeding bank robber with a wounded Rottweiller dog.

Accidentally drawn into the world of illegal dog-fighting. teenager Octavio dreams of using his champion dog Cofi's winnings to run off with his abusive brother's young wife and baby. Later. fleeing from some rival fight-dog owners. Octavio and his friend are involved in a road accident. Meanwhile. middle-aged media executive Daniel leaves his wife and children for a beautiful model. Valeria; but their connubial bliss is cut short by this same car accident. which leaves her wheelchair-bound. Arriving on the scene. a homeless man. known only as El Chivo (The Goat). rescues the injured dog. Cofi. from the back of Octavio's battered car. wheeling the wounded canine away on an old trolley.

The Pulp Fiction comparison does not do justice to the fierce humanity that underpins Inarritu's beautiful. grainy visuals and Guillermo Arriaga Jordan's multi- Iayered script. Instead of Tarantino's cartoon version of Los Angeles criminal life. this is a world of everyday flesh-and-blood reality. observed with an unflinching but sympathetic eye. The best film of the year so far. and unlikely to be

surpassed. (Nigel Floyd)

I Fi/mhouse. Edinburgh from Fri 18 May. See preview. page 30.



(15) 109 mlna 00..

Whatever your criticiSms of Dogme. the films released under the Dawn manifesto (this is the fourth) have encrmous power in terms of capturing raw. Often physical emotion. In this categOry alone. Kristian Levring's film excels beyOnd all expectation.

To achieve this. Levring first establishes the direst of circumstances and so we enc0unter a motley Crew of American and European tourists (including Jennifer Jason Leigh, Janet McTeer and Romane Bohringer) just as their tOur bus shudders to a dry halt in the middle of the desolate Namibian desert. With only tinned carrots and duty-free booze to subSist on. the holiday-makers v0lunteer one of their number to go for aid and settle in for a long and possibly terminal wait. To lift the company's Spirits. a retired actOr (David Bradley) suggests they stage a production of Shakespeare's most bitter tragedy. King Lear. And so the madness begins.

What follows is a claustrophobic descent into the maelstrom where displaced and desperate individuals

Raw emotlon. Dogme-otylo

frantically attempt to stay alive. Dramatic use is made of Shakespeare's stunning prose and the cinematography is the finest conceivable for a back-to-basics filmmaking Dogme production. (Catherine Bromley)

I GFT. G/asgow; Fi/mhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 77 May



(15) 95 mlns COO.

Roddy Doyle has seen many of his literary creations make the crossover onto celluloid - The Commitments. The Snapper and The Van - but this is the first time he has written directly for the screen. Fans of the man's books will not be disappoirted as Doyle sticks to what he is best at.

And that is characters. usually slightly eccentric. unpredictable but always funny and sharp-witted. First-time director Keiron J. Wa'sh has gripped Doyle's unpredictable script with both hands and wrung every gag (and there are plenty) he can get from it.

Peter McDonald - p'eviously seen in another Irish comedy I Went Down and more recently Conor McPherson's Sa/t Water - and newcomer Flora Montgomery are Brendan and Trudy. Brendan. a nerdy English teacher whose evenings are spent choir singing or in rapture watching old movies. has his world turned arse over tit when Trudy struts up to him in a pub and demands he buy her a pint. From

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there the two embark on a relationship that takes in wild sex. nocturnal law breaking expeditions and filthy gesticulating at webcams destined for Tokyo.

This is filmic equivalent of Angel Delight: light. fluffy. sugary and unadulterated indulgent fun. Walsh's direction is never heavy-handed and no matter how black things look you just know everything will turn out all right. This does occasionally interfere with suspension of disbelief but hey. who ever really thought Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon could make it as convincing members of an all-female jazz band? (Mark Robertson)

I General release from Fri 25 May. See preview, page 31.

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Diane KUrys is often fascinated by the dynamics of intimacy: the way friendships. sibling rivalries or relationships dissolve into something rarefied and harder to pin down. In her best film. Coup de Foudre. two female friends. each married. move towards the possibility of a lesbian affair as if out of dissatisfaction with their own spouses. ln Six Days And Six Nights two sisters play games with each other and a lover as the power base constantly shifts.

In Kurys' new film, the dynamic is at its most cumbersome and hyperbolic as the movie details the love affair between 19th century writer George Sand (Juliette Binoche) and the young poet Alfred de Musset (Benoat Magimel). Where earlier films had an underlying ambiguity. even obscurity. here the nature of the relationship is played out against a broad historical sweep and so the famous love affair is anything but understated. When. for example. Musset has a problem getting down to his work. this leads us less to wonder about the complexities of art and relationships. more to think in hindsight about the waste of a well-known poetical talent. Disappointing. (Tony McKibbin)

I Fi/mhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 78 May.



(15) 120 mlne 00000

Welcome to the cinema of the damned. The great Hungarian filmmaker Bela Tarr's monochrome miserablist mood masterpiece is at the forefront of a type of cinema that's become increasingly prevalent over the last decade or so. Fate. Gummo. Rosetta all see humanist sensitivity fighting a losing battle against unremitting bleakness.

Yet Tarr is also ‘old school’. with this story of a married singer's affair with a local recluse (Miklbs B. Szekely) utilising smoothly controlled lateral tracks and deep focus long takes that emphasise the characters' smallness in the world. It's a style which clearly links him to the ‘aristocratic' camera approach of Antonioni,

Mlurabllot mood muterploce

Tarkovksy and AngelopOulos.

But here the characters aren't the well off and intellectual that generally populate those modernist maestros' work. but the social detritus trying to get by. This is a small mining town. The chanteuse (Vali Kerekes) sings in the rundown Titanic bar. and Szekely is a man who has “killed the love and beauty' in himself. Like Tarr's later satantango and Werckmeister Harmonies we have to settle for the sublime in the craft as he leaves us face down in the narrative mire. (Tony McKibbin)

I Fi/mhouse. Edinburgh from Mon 21 May.

10-24 May 2001 THI LIST 33