HEEL COMES / NAPOLEON DYNAMITE (PG) 94min ooo
Napoleon «Jon Hederi is a Quirk, teenage geek who belie/es he has the potential to riile the universe through "he most oddball means. such as ordering time machines over the net and helping new kid Pedro lEfrer‘. Piaiiirex, become class president. He l; res at home rrith his edually bizarre IZIIIIII/ but turmOii kicks off one day .vhen his grandmother Cracks her coccyx in a motorbike aCCident and slea/y Uncle Rico iJon Griesi is called in as babysitter.
Paying heavy homage to 80s misfit comedies such as Jeff Kanew's The Revenge of the Nerds and John Hughes' Weird SCience (1984 and 85 respectively), Napoleon Dynamite seems to come from that age before rap. when Arnie and Sly ruled the multiplexes and yet doesn't. Painstakingly ticking off the boxes of the high school genre. husband and Wife team Jared and Jerusha Hess ldirector and writer respectively) are clearly haVing a ball, allowmg the episodic structure of their debut feature to be governed by their love of the film's special (needs) central character. And yet the whole thing also has an air of an over-manufactured Stock Aitken and Waterman song. Like Elvis Costello‘s body of work (he recorded his Blood and Chocolate album under the Napoleon Dynamite moniker) this film can be utterly brilliant one minute and less than zero a second later. It’s an oddball film whose attempt at mainstream seduction may make it all too eaSy to overrate. iKaleem Aftab) I UGC Edinburgh 8 Cameo Edinburgh from Fri 3 Dec and UGC Glasgow, Grove/tor, Hill/tead. and GFI', Glasgow from Fri IO Dec. See interview; page 62.
ARCHIVAL DOCUMENTARY RIDING GIANTS (12A) 100min O...
Surf's up. In fact. it's been up for a long time. since the indigenous cultures of PolyneSia fashioned boards out of local woodS and swam out into the big surf (much to the displeasure of the Visiting CaIVinist miSSionaries). But Surfing and beach Culture really came into their own in the 19408 and 505 and it IS from this point that Stacy Dogtown 8 Z Boys Peralta begins his enthralling documentary homage to the men land womenl who bit the big one.
at the turn of the costar, through ' the Subciilture that S€:€il“(:’l 7‘ represent exec/thug that Tl": Eisenhower ethos std/x: against, 5 if Peralta is too instincti.e. cle.er at”: hopest a cinematic aIClll."S'. 10in") I‘f. story in the popular representations Surfing like the Beach 80,8 and the Gidget movies and instead he focuses on those he believes changed the spon forever leither IISCEIII,’ 0r creatively/i. So he chats to legend; Greg Nell and Jeff Clark and extreme surfer Laird Hamilton.
It's a treacherous. vivid and compelling ride. and Peralta is in his element assembling and seamlesst integrating old footage Wllll new. It lacks the personal self-aggrandisiiig fOCuS of Dogtown but that may not be Such a bad thing. So packed ‘.'.lllll
facts. it'lmifl item '1") l " ISNII "swell «‘7' the x .' f t" ‘. rlellatr: ‘;f:fr"lf} ra'ti .iif Rid/rig; Garth; that I rs" .: Soon that this; '.‘;'l‘. srwtia emerges; fl’filll tnr: tulw: Iii vi 2: <1 - in front of the face: t'iw .i'“: rolls the end credits I .ll‘rl'.. a." 1 bitcnin', Paul Date
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THE MERCHANT OF VENICE (15) 138 min .0
‘If you prick me, do I not bleed?’ If you bore me, do I not sleep? The problem with Michael Radford’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s problematical comedy is that it simply fails to come to terms with the vexed issues at the heart of the text. The play, although dressed up as a plea for racial tolerance in productions over the last century, is really a piece of anti- Semitism, and literalising the text while trying to keep its more right-on interpretation just produces a mess. Some alterations to the timing of certain key speeches only make the play’s unsatisfactory structure even more so.
Radford sets the piece in period, but the palls of dust and smoke that hang in the air around its palatial interiors merely make it appear as if the only difference between 16th century Europe and our times is the former’s want of Mr Sheen. Al Pacino’s Shylock is strong, intense and powerful, yet he gets little support from the cast. Joseph Fiennes’ Bassanio is appallingly overacted and Jeremy Irons’ mystifyineg gay Antonio gives one the impression that if you touched him you’d get a splinter. Lynn Collins' performance is better, but her transition from simpering girly to brilliant transvestite lawyer is a problem within the text that she simply fails to overcome. Generally, this kind of money should have been used to stage the entire Shakespearean oeuvre in a decent theatre. What a waste.
(Steve Cramer) I General release from Fri 3 Oct.
SITGES FILM FESTIVAL Not many people know about it but the SITGES FILM FESTIVAL in Spain is the festival for the people in the know. Adele Hartley explains why this year is a must.
This month the International Film Festival of Catalonia celebrates its 37th year. As ever, Sitges 2004 focuses on fantastic cinema, and is arguably Europe's most important and fun film market.
Comprehensiver satisfying industry needs, it also serves an enthusiastic public whose seemingly insatiable desire for film is indulged and exceeded with what looks suspiciously like glee.
Some of this year’s highlights include Hayao Spirited Away Miyazaki’s new animé Howl’s Moving Castle, Infernal Affairs III, Izo (the latest from madman Miike Takashi) and Christian Johnston’s faux documentary September Tapes. The latter tells of 18 mini-DV tapes found at the site of the last battle between Osama bin Laden and the rebel forces in southern Afghanistan which give crucial information for locating Al Qaeda. The movie is currently under investigation by an unamused Pentagon.
If that’s not enough there’s Doug Buck's blistering anthology Prologue, Johnnie To’s new film Breaking News and Aaron Woodley’s filthy Lynchian/Cronenbergian romance Rhinoceros Eyes.
Of the too-many-to-mention special events, there’s a frankly huge Star Wars conference, a focus on digital features, a John Landis retrospective, a pair of locally produced Dali documentaries, an endless list of short films and, for sport, you could try to avoid getting whiplash spotting tapas munching stars.
I Sitges 2004 2—7 7 December. www. Cinemasitges. corn lo fire/al site of the film f8$llV£1// or
www. sitgestur. com loft/Ciel tourist Site Of Sitges}.
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