Great expectations with The Last Great Wilderness
Scottish filmmaker DAVID MACKENZIE is not a big fan of interviews. But with his debut feature released this month and two high profile films in the pipeline, he better get used to them. Words: Catherine Bromley
oled tip in a (ilasgow hotel room writing the
draft screenplay to his third feature. Asylum.
Scottish filmmaker l)a\'id Mackeii/ie is deep in the throws of cabin fever. Pacing neryously around the room. sparking tip the first of many cigarettes. he orders coffee and while I set up my tape recorder. he apologises for not being able to do the interyiew met the phone. as previously arranged. ‘l hayen't done that many interyiews. so I find them easier to do face-to- face.' he says.
No problem] I reply. htit I’m thinking: ‘You better get used to it. sunshinef for 36 year—old Macken/ie is tipped to be a Very hot property. His second feature. an adaptation of Alexander 'l‘rocchi's cult noy'el Young (it/(UH starring liw an .\lc(}regor. Tilda Swinton and Peter .\lullan is set to premiere at the (antics liilm l’estiyal in this year’s l'n (‘ertain Regard selection. Meanwhile. his third feature. the aforementioned Asylum based on Patrick McUrath’s noy'el. has already been cast with Natasha Richardson and Sir Ian .\lcl\'el|en on board.
Before these high profile projects hit the big screen » linng sit/(IN! will no doubt show at the lidinburgh International Film l-‘estiy‘al while shy/um will follow next year —- the somewhat expectant Mackenzie has the artliouse release of his first feature. The Last (but! ll'iltleriiess. to contend with. The pilot project from Scottish Screen's 31st l-‘ilms Digital Scheme. it's a contradictory affair: a buddy moin deyoid of a bond between its heroes. a road movie that doesn‘t really go anywhere and a dark thriller with quite a few laughs iny‘olyed. Starring the director's brother. Alastair Mackenzie (best known to TV audiences as
22 THE LIST 5 9.1:.
‘I always try and do these serious films and then I end up making them funny’
:\t'L‘liic in .llulturt'll n/ I/lt' (i/(‘IIL the film follows his character. (‘liarlie. and his passenger Vincente‘s journey into the heart (if lllL‘ Sc‘tiltisll Highlands. Once there. they stumble across a wilderness retreat inhabited by Various social pariahs. one of wlioni's a ghost. and it‘s here that the trigger-happy fun really begins.
Inspired by a walk in the north l’erthshire countryside. where Macken/ie was struck by ‘the paranoid landscape'. the director. preyiously acclaimed for his short films. csplains that in the initial drafts he and he brother wrote for the original screenplay. the haunted house in the Highlands was just a hotel. ‘lllc‘ll it became a therapy centre i'etreat.‘ he says. "l'hat was a lot more interesting. to esplore the idea of the Highlands being seen as a place of t‘ccoycl'y as well as this unpoliceable. anarchic eny ironment. 'l‘liat’s the both sldcs Ui- lliL‘ lliglllttltds.‘
Talking about the jarring lllt\ of comedy and Violence in the film. .\lackeii/ie laughs and says: ‘I always try and do these serious films and then I end up making them funny. Young sit/unis an exception I
think there's maybe one laugh in it. But it's a way of
pushing the iiarratiye and taking the sting out of things. Trying to play with those shades of light and dark is something that he done a lot in the short films. so it \eers in that direction quite regtilarlyf
('lieap to make the film cost less than half a million The lust (fret/I ll'i/t/t'rnt'ss was plagued by problems during shooting. Two days into the film. the Scottish countryside was hit by foot-aiid-mouth and then in week two of the shoot. a flu epidemic broke otit among the crew. 'I couldn't giye a flick about foot—and-mouth] says Macken/ie in an offhand manner. lloweyer. he rolled with the punches and tliriy ed on the spontaneity that these problems produced.
If he can apply the same fighting spirit to inter\ iews and oyercottie the neryes that are too ey'ident at the moment. I)a\id Macken/ie will haye a quotable career in film ahead of him.
The Last Great Wilderness plays at GFT, Glasgow and Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 9 May. See review, page 14.
Lights. came/a. act/on
BACK IN 1982, WHEN EDDIE Murphy made his film debut in Walter Hill‘s terrific buddy crime-thriller 48 Hours. his character uttered the line: ‘There's a new sheriff in town and his name‘s Reggie Hammond.‘ Well. here in 2003 there‘s a new sheriff in the town of Edinburgh and his name‘s Paul Dale. Dale takes over at The List as the magazine‘s new film editor. He‘s been writing about film in this magazine for the past few years and if you‘ve seen his work you‘ll know he‘s a man with flare, authority and opinion. opinion, opinion. Dale‘s got flare. too. when it comes to dress sense. Think 70$ pimp — bell-bottomed pin strip suit, porno ‘tache and all. Once spied or read. he‘s not easily forgotten.
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Claudia Cardinale and Burt Lancaster in The Leopard
CALL YOURSELF A filmgoer? Well. don't. unless you’ve been attending the Luchino Visconti season currently playing at Edinburgh’s Filmhouse and moving on to the Glasgow Film Theatre in June. Highlights in the retrospective of the great Italian master include The Leopard, Obssessione and Rocco and his Brothers. Cinema paradiso or what?