DRAMA SUNSHINE STATE (15) 141 min .000

The ‘Sunshine State’ is Florida. The fictional setting of John Sayles’ new film is Delrona Beach, a community upon which change is being forced. Property developers are buying up land now seen as a prime location for building condominiums and golf courses for the incoming rich. From Marly (Eddie Falco), who runs her father’s motel, to Dr Lloyd (Bill Cobbs), who represents the interests of the black enclave of Lincoln Beach, the locals are being short-changed. While Chamber of Commerce stalwart Francine (Mary Steenbergen) leads the attempt to reinvent Delrona Beach as a tourist destination with the new traditional (an oxymoron if ever there was one) Buccaneer Days, her husband and banker Earl (Gordon Clapp) is in cohorts with the developers (Miguel Ferrer and Timothy Hutton).

No wonder Hollywood won’t give John Sayles money to make movies. With Sunshine State Sayles takes a complicated subject - how little control everyday people have over change in their lives and treats it intelligently, opting not for flashy spectacle or cheesy sentiment, but well-crafted storytelling and solid drama. Not for Hollywood, that kind of filmmaking. In one scene, for example, the elderly Dr Lloyd argues with a younger African-American (James McDaniel) about the negative legacy of the Civil Rights Movement. It might, Lloyd suggests, have given their race rights, but is the right to (if f.

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Hollywood studio backing a scene like that with bucks? And Sayles prefers subplots to the classic simple- minded Hollywood three act structure. There’s Angela Bassett’s highschool beauty, Desiree, returning to Delrona Beach after years away, bringing her trophy husband (McDaniel) home to meet her estranged mother. There’s Marly’s unlikely romance with Hutton’s landscape (re)designer, and her failed relationship with ex-husband (Richard Edson), who’s on her case for money for various dodgy financial ventures. Then there’s Marly’s father (Ralph Waite) bemoaning the changing times to everyone from his wife (Jane Alexander) to the disturbed youngster Terrell (Alex Lewis), whose guardian is Desiree’s mother. Sayles deftly intertwines the lives of his twenty or so main characters, and out of this comes a wholly believable portrait of a community. This is what a soap opera ought to be like. And Sayles infuses the whole film with wry humour (in a moment of work-related stress Francine explodes with: ‘People don’t realise how hard it is to invent a tradition’), lifting its potentially heavy-going message. There is, however, some sad irony in the fact that while Sayles has managed to work around Hollywood to successfully establish himself as America’s greatest independent filmmaker, the people he’s made a film about remain victims either unaware or exasperated by the lack of control they ultimately have over their lives. (Miles Fielder

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LOST IN LA MANCHA, THE documentary film about the making and, finally, unmaking of what would have been Terry Gilliam’s idiosyncratic vision of the deluded adventures of Don Quixote, gets preview screenings at the Glasgow Film Theatre on Tuesday 23 July and Edinburgh’s Filmhouse on Wednesday 24 July. The film’s director Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe as well as their producer Lucy Darwin will be on hand to talk about the film and no doubt provide further insight into just what went wrong on Gilliam’s film The Man who Killed Don Quixote.

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