SATIRE BATTLE ROYALE (18) 113 mins .00.
Entertaining and provocative
In Japan of the near future education is largely a thing of the past. Teenage hooliganism in schools has become epidemic. In an effort to curb this wave of youthful rebellion, the government introduces the Battle Royale legislation, a kind of dangerous sports version of Lord Of The Flies. Its unwilling participants are classes of children, kidnapped and transported to an abandoned island where they are forced to kill one
It’s easy to level criticism against Kinji Fukasaku’s film, though not of the most obvious kind. Yes, it’s very violent with beautiful young school children being blown away and hacked to pieces and a morbid on screen bodycount. Ah, but we’re clearly in satirical territory, no? Brutal images laced with black humour aimed at provoking thoughts and reactions. Yet you might argue that the satire isn’t taken far enough; isn’t there more gunplay than political comment? It’s true that Battle Royale mirrors the content of violent computer games, but just as those games provide catharsis for young players while outraging their elders, so too does Fukasaku’s film entertain audiences while provoking critics.
This film has reactionary types in its crosshairs. Those that will rub their hands gleefully at the thought of a Mary Whitehouse sitting, watching, incensed by this movie will also laugh hysterically at the sight of a pretty teenage girl riddled with so many bullets she ends up dancing to the classical soundtrack - ‘Greensleeves’ in this scene. Others may want to be good boys and girls and stick to their homework. (Miles Fielder)
I Selected release from Fri 28 Sep. See preview, page 24.
MARTIAL ARTS GOHATTO (15) 101 mins 00.
Nagisa Oshima's new film may recall a couple of his popular earlier works — Ai No Corrida and Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence — also films emphasising a hothouse sexual atmosphere and closed off space. In this study of a much-desired young samurai recruit (Ryuhei Matsuda) in a Japanese samurai temple in the 18608. Oshima combines the sexually ripe with the coldly ritualistic as we witness Matsuda both lusted after and yet always at one remove. He may be desired by every man he meets (including senior samurai Takeshi Kitano). but he's also a clinically efficient killing machine: in one sequence he proves himself with an
Hothouse sexual atmosphere
And so we see Oshima once again both conventional and controversial; adopting masculine tropes (master and maid affair in Ai No Corrida. ROW. movie in Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence. samurai film here) before promptly reinterpreting them. On this occasion he does so. not just sexually. but in terms of mise en scene too. Where that master of Iarger-than-life samurai cinema. the late. great Akira Kurosawa, often emphasised the realistic with difficult on-Iocation shoots. it‘s as if Oshima wants to play up the dreamin mythic with a studio set design, suggesting the whole samurai world could have been a wispy erotic fiction. (Tony McKibbin) I Film/rouse, Edinburgh from Fri 74 Sep; GET, Glasgow from Fri 2l Sep.
stomach-knotting tension that evokes
(18) 90 mins .00
A post-Hammer. post-AIDS vampire road movie. The Forsaken has a charismatically menacing Johnathon Schaech as a latter day Nosferatu of the American Southwest. He and his young converts scour the desert highways by car at night. hunting for humans to feed on — as Sean (Dawson '8 Creek alumni Kerr Smith) discovers while driving from LA to Florida in a vintage Merc. Fortunately (or not) though. he's picked up pill- popping hitchhiker Brendan Fehr. who seems to know a lot about the undead.
One of the newer breed of films reworking the vampire genre. The Forsaken dispenses with the big- teeth. bats and prosthetic make-up cliches in favour of a metaphor about visceral. infectious blood-lust. Here. in effect. are beautiful youths getting their kicks out of viciously slaying their peers. It builds tension well from the outset. using unsettling subliminal flashbacks and jolting sound to echo
Has a degree of bite
Sean's fragmenting psyche (his job is editing film trailers — ha. ha. nice one). In this respect. despite the gore. it's more schlick than schlock. It falters later (and shamelesst leaves the door open for more). but fangs or not. it does have a degree of bite.
I On general release.
BIOGRAPHY PANDAEMONIUM (15) 119 mins 00..
If your knowledge of the Romantic poets is limited to dull. dry English lessons at school. this film will come
as something of an eye-opener. Directed by Julien Temple. whose last film was The Filth And The Fury. a biography of the Sex Pistols. it charts the friendship between two of the best- known poets of the late 18th century. Samuel Taylor Coleridge (played by Linus Roach) and William Wordsworth (John Hannah).
Temple eschews historical accuracy. instead focusing on the rock ‘n' roll aspects of their lives: the sex. the drugs and the breakdowns. His film is a mish- mash of styles, from straight costume drama to hallucinatory fantasy. juxtaposed with modern imagery such as jet planes flying through the sky. But this. combined with the frequent use of flashbacks. emphasises the opium-induced dream world in which Coleridge lives. The performances are all top-notch. particularly frOm the two leads: Roach's expressive face conveys his inner torment perfectly, and the usually charming and charismatic Hannah somehow manages to make his Wordsworth (here presented in an uncharitable light) appropriately stiff and colourless. Poetry is the new rock 'n' roll — you heard it here first. (Kirsty Knaggs)
I Filmhouse. Edinburgh from Fri 28 Sep.
Sex, drugs, poetry and breakdowns
THE CIRCLE (PG) 91 mins .00.
A film so humane and wise that one is humbled by its quiet strength and deceptively simple artistry. Through a series of quotidian incidents. director Jafar Panahi (The White Balloon) presents a devastating yet profoundly empathetic portrait of Moslem women's stunted lives in Iran. A young woman‘s attempts to buy a ticket to travel alone on a bus generates a
Humane, wise, humbling
her humiliation and fear. An unmarried pregnant woman. cast out by her scandalised family. watches as another woman abandons her own daughter on the street. in the hope that a wealthy stranger wrll take her in.
This film should be required viewing for those Muslim clerics and politicians who assert that women are treated with greater respect under Islam. Nobody could fail to be angered by the casual cruelties. wicked discrimination and blatant hypocrisy shown here. Yet. by the same token. nobody could fail to be impressed and inspired by the courage and resilience of these women. Linked only by their
depressingly similar fates. the women rebel against the circle of discrimination.
bravely denying their second-class status. (Nigel Floyd) I Film/rouse. Edinburgh from Fri 27 Sep.
1’1) 80;) 1019001 THE LIST 25