Draw. KANDAHAR (PG) 84 mins 00..

America’s bombing of Afghanistan has made Kandahar the most timely film of 2001. Forget space odysseys, child wizards and hobbits, elves and orcs, Kandahar is the film President Bush wanted to see even as he was bombing its residents into oblivion. Maybe Dubya thought Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s film would somehow lead him to Bin Laden. It hasn’t, of course, not least because it’s not about men and war, it’s about women and humanity. And it wasn’t filmed in Afghanistan, but inside the border of Makhmalbaf’s home country, Iran. And if it’s an Afghanistan travelogue, as Makhmalbaf says it is, then it’s a travelogue detailing people and culture, not caves and fortresses.

Kandahar is the story of an Afghan woman, Nafas, living in exile in Canada who returns to Afghanistan to find her suicidal sister. The sister has sunk into depression under the Taliban’s oppression of women; in her final letter to Nafas she asks her to live life for both of them. So Nafas returns to her home country, hides herself beneath a burka and undertakes a perilous journey to the city of Kandahar.

Although Kandahar is written by Makhmalbaf, it’s based very closely

on the life of Nelofer Pazira who plays Nafas in the film. Pazira fled Afghanistan in 1989, eventually ended up in Ottawa, where she is now a documentary-maker and journalist. In 1998, after a decade of correspondence with her childhood friend Dyana, she received the suicide note. Pazira immediately tried to return to Kandahar, but when she couldn’t find a guide into Afghanistan she turned to Makhmalbaf, and together they made a film.

Don’t expect good production values (though there is some extraordinary visual poetry), nor professional performances -

Forget space odysseya and child wizards, Kandahar Is the moat timely

film of 2001

Makhmalbaf and Pazira filmed on the hoof with a starving crew. Expect a film that’s deeply moving, disturbing and uplifting. Expect a film about Taliban-ruled Afghanistan that’s barely fictionallsed at all.

In the perfect world, President Bush would watch Kandahar, empathise and realise bombing innocent Afghans is no better than

flying an airliner into a skyscraper. He

would stop waging war on innocents. And we would all live together, in peace and harmony, happy ever after . . . Yeah, right. (Miles Fielder)

I GFlI Glasgow; Filmhouse. Edinburgh from Fri 74 Dec.

DRAMA BLUE VELVET (1.8) 120 mins “00.



Boasting a filmic repertoire filled with the weirdly wonderful and

the insanely comic. David Lynch flexed every manic muscle in his body with this classic from 1986. The peaceful Lumbertown can now be seen as the template for Twin Peaks. with the white picket fences barricading in dark secrets aplenty. But there's mere genuinely warped horror in Blue Velvet than Lynch was ever allowed to get away with on TV. And in Dennis Hopper's Frank Booth, Lynch created the most twisted urban worrier since Travis Bickle. Armed with a gas mask and brimful of psychotic hate. Booth terrorises the vulnerable torch singer Dorothy (Isabella Rossellini) in a series of scary sex rituals. as witnessed by the timid yet overly- curious Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan). By the time Jeffrey finds himself crouching in Dorothy's closet. you've almost forgotten how he ever got there. It all starts with a typically Lynchian McGuffin: a severed ear stumbled upon in a


A living nightmare turns into a swift descent towards hell as Jeffrey's innocent world (one he is initially keen to escape from)

and pure love with Laura Dern's Sandy Williams is turned

upside down by the honors lying underneath; the moment when Dorothy invades the suburban slumber of the Williams

(U) 113 mins .00.

Your feelgood alternative to It’s A Wonderful Life

If you've seen It's A Wonderful Life just too many times but are still dreaming of a feelgood classic movie as well as a

h0usehold. naked and beaten. sums up that duality perfectly. Blue Velvet was Lynch's first movie after the mauling his

reputation took from the expensive flop of Dune. We now

realise that his soi-fi disaster was a blessing. For here. he

concentrates on the simple life of contemporary America.

Albeit one that is ripped and rotten to the core.

(Brian Donaldson)

I Selected release from Fri 74 Dec. See David Lynch feature

next issue.

Genuinely warped horror

30 THE LIST 13 Dec 2001—3 Jan 2002

white Christmas this year, the new print of Meet Me In St

Louis could be the answer. Directed by Vincente Minnelli in . glorious Technicolor with a young and heartin tuneful Judy

Garland. this 1944 musical follows a year in the life of all-

American family, the Smiths.

Released during wartime. it was clearly an optimistic attempt to emphasise family values. but Minnelli never wallows in nostalgia. Instead he combats it with sparky and sarky family dynamics. Set in 1903. it's about a put-upon

. father wants to move his family from St Louis to New York

but who faces resistance from his gaggle of girls who have romances to get on with and the fast-approaching World Fair to enjoy.

Perfect casting and performances. along with songs such

. as “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas' add to the warm

glow. while special mention goes to Margaret O'Brien who won an Oscar for her portrayal of snowman-decapitating youngest daughter Tootsie. With this twisted sister in the mix. there's no need to worry about the pudding turning out too sweet. (Louisa Pearson)

I Fi/mhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 27 Dec.


MAELSTROM (cert tbc) 88 mins

A fishy tale from

Quebec. From its

slaughter slab. an ugly fish tells the story of

- Bibiane Champagne

(Marie-Josée Croze). the neurotic daughter of a famous fashion designer who. upon losing her grasp on the family business. accidentally hits a man while driving drunk one fateful rainy

' night. The victim is an

old fisherman. who drags himself to his feet and returns home to slowly die. When Bibiane

realises what she has

done. she flies into paranoia. which culminates in her coming face-to-face with the dead man‘s son, Evian (Jean-Nicolas Verrault).

Enjoyable surreal thriller

This strange. multiple-

' award winning surrealist

thriller is definitely a lot of fun. it totally silly. By turns it's stunningly pretentious. joyous to

watch and ridiculous in

an avant garde way that seems more the domain of Nordics than the French Canadians (the dead fisherman is Norwegian). Beautifully shot. though. with a wonderful 50undtrack which shifts seamlessly from one of Grieg's adagios to Tom Waits. And it's very much like the kind of odd films Roman Polanski used to make in the late 60s (Repu/sion. Cul-de-sac) equal parts inspiration and infantile. Good stuff if that's yOur thing. Note: Maelstrom has been dropped for UK distribution at the eleventh hour; thus these Scottish screenings are something of an exclusive. (Paul Dale) I Fi/mhouse. Edinburgh from Fri 27 Dec.