COMEDY DRAMA STRICTLY SINATRA (15) 97 mins 00.
Essentially, the story of Faust relocated to Sighthill
Having won an Oscar for the short film he wrote and directed, Franz Kafka’s
ROCKUMENTARY DOWN FROM THE MOUNTAIN
(U) 97 mins .00.
The concert movie often owes much to circumstance: the stabbing in Gimme Shelter. the death of Hendrix after the Isle of Wight gig. Sadly. Down From The Mountain is another such case. due to the untimely death of John Hartford. The film is the record of the concert given by the musicians who recorded the soundtrack to 0 Brother, Where Art Thou? and Hartford's role. as MC. is fascinating. Early on. backstage. he is at death's door. but on stage the music animates him into a jig. Hartford is only one of the amazing bluegrass musician assembly including fellow veteran Dr Ralph Stanley as well as younger artists such as Gillian Welch and Alison Krauss. Much of the pleasure of the film comes from putting faces to voices:
Amazing musical assembly
you would never believe demure Krauss had such a divine voice. while in Stanley a huge vocal presence comes from such a small man.
There are a number of songs not on the original soundtrack. giving viewers the chance to hear and see a little more of this stirring roots music that has flourished for so long without widespread appeal. (Stuart Thomas) I Fi/mhouse. Edinburgh from Fri 9 Nov. See preview, page 23.
It’s A Wonderful Life, actor Peter Capaldi makes his second stab, turning the camera on his home city, Glasgow. And quite cannily, he writes this comic story around the west coast cult of Frank Sinatra.
Strictly Sinatra is the rule in the lounge act of Toni Cocozza (played by Ian Hart) and his keyboardist Bill (Alun Armstrong, who stepped into the role at the eleventh hour after lan Bannen was tragically killed in a car accident). No Dino, no Bennett and no bloody Diamond for Toni. So obssessed with Old Blue Eyes is Toni, he falls in with Glasgow’s gangsters, seduced by crime boss Chisholm’s (Brian Cox) tales of his Vegas days with Sinatra
Essentially, this is the story of Faust, albeit relocated to Sighthill. Sinatra’s Vegas mob connections lend themselves to this very neatly. But Capaldi isn’t interested in the cool of the Rat Pack, but the gaudy showbiz culture epitomised by cabaret acts and talk show hosts (one of his favourites, Jimmy Tarbuck, makes a cameo appearance). And so Toni is a deeply uncool, pathetic, yet endearing protagonist.
Praise here must go to Hart, who gives a great tragi-comic performance, and despite making his name playing John Lennon twice, for the first time sings on film. He’s good, not great, but as mediocre as Toni would be, and thus wholly convincing. Kelly Macdonald, on the other hand, is totally wasted in a non-role as the romantic interest. (Miles Fielder)
I General release from Fri 9 Nov. See feature. pages 20.
DRAMA GABRIEL AND ME (15 tbc) 88 mins 0
After the monumental success of Billy Elliot. writer Lee Hall seems to have become complacent as his follow-up. Gabriel And Me is simply a formulaic retread of last year's balletic barnstormer. ln Billy Elliot, an adolescent bOy in a grim Northern town (Durham) struggles to hide his ‘girly' ambition (to be a dancer) from his staunchly macho father with the help of a kindly mentor (ballet teacher Julie Walters). in a strange case of deja vu. Gabriel And Me sees teenage Geordie lad Jimmy Spud (Sean Landless) struggle to hide his wish to be an angel from gruff. dying father (Ian
24 THE LIST 1-15 NOV 2001
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Glenn) with the help of none other than the Archangel Gabriel (Billy Connolly).
Whereas Billy Elliot pushed all the right buttons. everything abOut Gabriel And Me goes wrong. The dialogue is cliched and unimaginative. the script is sickeningly sentimental. the performances from Connolly and Glenn are shockingly poor. and the film lacks any real direction. Hall tries to have both Jimmy's father dying from cancer and angels swooping around over Tyneside. to mix gritty reality and high-flown fantasy. Maybe angel wings and hospital wings sounded like a clever con’ibination. but rather than working. it sends Gabriel And Me crashing to the ground. (Nick Dawson) I General release from Fri 2 Nov.
DRAMA GEORGE WASHINGTON (12) 89 mins moo
In a humid. broken North Carolina backwoods town. a group of angsty. literate and above all verbose teenagers talk and play. There's little Nasia (Candace Evanofski). who starts the film by telling her young boyfriend Buddy that her heart now lies with George (Donald Holden). a young man who has to wear a motorbike helmet everywhere he goes due to a fontanel that never closed. Also. there's Sonya. a straw-headed juvenile delinquent who leaves destruction wherever she goes. Childhood winds its Ianguorous path for these children. until tragedy strikes.
Director Davrd Gordon Greene's first feature has taken a long time to find a release here. which is a great shame. Green was a mere 24-year-old when he made this haunting. gorgeous film. possibly the first to be justifiably compared to Terence Malick‘s Days Of Heaven. From its lush, elegiac photography. remarkable performances from a group of non-actors and the deeply sensitive editing. this is an instant classic. Like Lynne Ramsey's Ratcatcher it deals with the suffocating guilt yet ultimate powerlessness of childhood. This is a tender. beautiful film from a remarkable new talent. (Paul Dale)
I Fi/mhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 2 Nov.
An instant classic
DRAMA NEW YEAR’S DAY (18) 101 mins 0.
The marvellous British character actor Ralph Brown (he was the maker of the Cambervvell Carrot in Withnai/ And / and the mummy's boy thug told to 'Fuck off back to Essex' in The Crying Game) turns his hand to writing with this coming-of-age tale. It‘s also a tale of bereavement centring on two Survivors of a skiing disaster which saw a class of school kids buried in an avalanche. Only best mates Jake (Andrew Lee Pots) and Steven (Bobby Barry) survive. though their teacher. Mr Diamond (Brown) remains in a coma. So traumatised are the boys by the event. they make a suicide pact with one clause: they give themselves one year to fulfil a series of task. things they‘ve always wanted to do. such as appear on the front of a newspaper or rob a bank.
Brown's is a well—meaning tale with an interesting central idea. and more upbeat than you might expect. However, it's let down by weak direction from Suri Krishnamma. who betrays her television origins. and some poor performances. despite the presence of class acts like Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Jacqueline Bisset. (Miles Fielder)
I Selected release from Fri 2 Nov.
Well-meaning tale let down by weak direction