DRAMA SWEET SIXTEEN (18) 105min O...

Compston excels as the tough kid with a tender heart

Ken Loach and writer Paul Laverty’s fourth feature collaboration is rooted fully and firmly in Laverty’s home territory - west coast Scotland. Where their first, Carla’s Song, opened in Glasgow and moved on to Nicaragua and their previous, Bread and Roses, was set in Los Angeles, Sweet Sixteen takes place in Greenock and Glasgow. The new film develops characters that appeared only peripherally in Loach and Laverty’s most memorable film, the also west coast-set My Name is Joe.

Cheeky wee ned Liam (Martin Compston) is awaiting his mother’s release from prison, which happens to fall on his 16th birthday. Pa’s not around and Liam’s ma is involved with dodgy drug dealer Stan (Gary McCormack), so Liam, determined to give his ma a home and a better life, begins dealing drugs himself. But although Liam and his pals are raking it in for themselves and their Glasgow mob boss, it’s only a matter of time before rival dealers, local hard men and splintering friendships threaten Liam’s livelihood and life.

Loach’s no frills working method (use of non-professional actors, regular cinematographer Barry Ackroyd’s largely static camerawork) sits well with Laverty’s straightforward storytelling, which prioritises character development over fancy plotting. On the surface it’s a modest film, but the action, though very specifically located in Greenock, speaks of the problems in deprived communities everywhere.

In his first screen role Greenock local Compston excels as the tough kid with a tender heart, and it’s his performance which lifts the film, imbuing it with both warmth and humour and countering the balance between worthy polemic and highly watchable drama. (Miles Fielder)

I General release from Fri 4 Oct. See feature. pages 14.

DRAMA MY KINGDOM (18) 116min 0.0. It has long been a tradition in the acting fraternity that every actor should try his hand at playing King Lear once in their lifetime. Whether director/co-writer Don Boyd's loose rendition of Shakespeare‘s monarch set in modern day Liverpool wili suffice for Richard Harris. only time will tell. Yet it is hard to believe that Harris will better his performance as Sandeman. Liverpool's most feared crime lord. Like Lear. My Kingdom tells of the demise of a once great figure and the consequences of his demise on his three daughters. Acknowledging his time is up after the death of his wife Mandy (Lynn Redgrave). Sandeman decides to beget the spoils of his business onto his three daughters.

Career best performance


Hollywood's great strength is its ability to create entertainment that through the universal language of gunfights. eprOSions. car chases and sex appeals to audiences all aCross the globe. However. from time to time. it decides to depart from the norm by giving us films seemingly made solely for Stateside audiences.

The Rookie is one of these exceptions. a film which has a bluegrass $0undtrack and the idea of the American Dream at its very core. Unfortunately. it's also a massively overlong film about baseball. Based on a true st0ry. it concerns thirtysomething high school coach Jim Morris (Dennis Ouaid) whose raggedy baseball team say that. if they win their championship. he must give professional baseball a shot.

Competently made but thoroughly formulaic. there is no justification for


Election day on the remote island of Kish in the Persian Gulf. A Stillen soldier (Cyrus Abidi). stationed to guard against smugglers. is given the duty of escorting the idealistic young female official (Nassim Abdi) collecting the votes. Few of the locals. however. seem familiar with the practicalities of filling in a ballot form. Some are Out fishing at sea. others attending a funeral. while one man inSists that he will only vote for Allah. because he doesn't know any of the candidates.

Inspired by Mohsen Makhmalbaf's short film Testing Democracy. Secret Ballot is an amusmgly abSLirdist table. which. from its opening shots of a ballot-box being parachuted onto a secluded beach. maintains a gently Surreal atmosphere.

the two-hours-plus running time. This is essentially a rather dull version of The Stratton Story. minus the drama of the lead character being an amputee. or Jimmy Stewart's star quality. That Rachel Griffiths and Brian Cox are both wasted in insubstantial supporting roles is just one in a long list of disappointments. (Nick Dawson) I General release from Fri 77 Oct.

Amusing absurdist fable

Filming in long. static takes with wide-angle lenses to emphaSise the themes of distance and detachment. Iranian-born writer-director Babak Payami observes some of the contradictions of introducing demOCracy: why. one character asks. can a woman marry at 12 but not vote until she's 16? And the filmmaker treats the deveIOping relationship between the two leads. both played by non-professionals. with tender understatement. (Tom Dawson)

I Film/muse. Edinburgh from Fri 7 7 Oct.

DRAMA CLUB LE MONDE (18) 79min 0

This parody of club life begins with all the usual gags: an ignorant bouncer. ridiculous rules for the guest list and an entry queue a mile long deSpite the venue being empty.

Does anything else need to be said after I reveal that these aged gags are the best part of the film? Probably not. but just to warn anyone still thinking of

spending their hard earned after the puerile first ten minutes the movie disiiitegrates into a teen version of Grange Hill. The motley crew on the dance

The two elders. brothel madame Kath (LOuise Lombardi and football club owner Tracy (Lorraine Pilkington). Will do anything to get their grubby mitts on the cash, whereas ex-drug addict Jo (Emma Catherwood) wants no share in the blood money.

If family disputes were not enough to contend with, every gangster in town

28 THE LIST (5 -‘i i' Oct 7931)

is also after Sandeman's share of the pie. which pi'owdes a liari'owing iiisight into the Scouse undenrrorld and the pitfalls of avarice. My Kingdom overcomes two recent bete-non‘s of Cinema: bad updates of Shakespeare and. even worse. British gangster films. (Kaleem Aftabi

I Selected release from Fri 1 l Oct.

floor are Mike (Brad Gorton). who has recently been dumped by Ali (Alison McKen/ie). coke snorting Yas (Emma Pike) and Kelly (Tania Emery). propping up the toilet seat. Anthony (Tom Conelly) and Patrick (Tom Halstead). two club novices. and best of the sad bunch, Mr Sunglasses (Danny Nussbaum). Behind the scenes manager Danny (Frank Harper) is shagging his best friend's wife. So many characters. so little story.

At a (thankfully) slim 80 minutes. this is the longest advert for staying in with a good book yet to be seen. (Kaleem Aftab). I Selected release from Fri 7 1 Oct.