predicted. but with Billy Bob Thornton's garrulous Coach Gary Gaines masterminding every play. y0u'll get caught up in the action even if you can't tell your 'first-and-down' from your ‘time-out'.
Produced by Brian Grazer (8 Mile). Friday Night Lights shares a keen sense of concern for the financially impoverished. and uses an equally awkward racial hook to hang the action on; white underdogs locked in an uphill struggle against cocky blacks.
It's apparently based on true events and many details have the bitter sting of veracity about them. from the 'For Sale' signs dumped on Thornton's lawn after a losing game to the constant threat of unemployment felt by both coach and players. But such asides are secondary to director Peter Berg's main agenda; bone-cracking, blood-stained action sequences which are all choreographed to a deafening rock score. (Eddie Harrison)
I General release from Fri 73 May.
MARTIAL ARTS ONG-BAK (18) 105min u
This Thai martial arts flick begins promisineg enough, with the young men of a rural village racing to scale an enormous ancient tree in a rough and tumble contest that kicks off a once-every-24-years celebration of their sacred Buddha. The sequences aerial acrobatics and bone-crunching stunts. all performed without 'Sissy' wirework and CGI effects. set the precedent for the impressive. back- to-basics martial arts lunacy to come. And the swift narrative set—up that follows suggests pleasmgly economical storytelling.
It's all the more disarmomting. then. that Ong-Bak ultimately proves to be a low-grade martial arts workout. The simple story about a yOung man's quest to recover the head of the village's Buddha stature after it's stolen by big city gangsters gives
way to an endless series of bruising fights. And while the Muay Thai kickboxmg style employed by star and action choreographer Tony Jaa is impressive. the way in which the various bouts are filmed is uninspired and ultimately tiresome.
The film‘s subtext. the corrupting influence of the West on the East (as epitomised by the urban gangsters and the rural villagers). also falls by the wayside as the action takes centre stage. Likewise. the message that peace is the path one should follow is jettisoned in favour of graphic and glamorised violence. In this context. it's hard to appreciate the not entirely unsuccessful attempts at humour in the film's first half, which include a Jackie Chan- style slapstick chase through a market and a bout with a disco dancing Muay Thai opponent. (Miles Fielder)
I Selected release from Fri 73 May.
CLASSIC NASHVILLE (15) 161 min .0000
This is a brand new print for the 30th anniversary reiSSiie of Robert Altman's brilliantly free-wheeling satire on the c0untry and western music industry. one of the outstanding achievements of ‘New Hollywood. 24 characters — including singers. musicians. agents. publicists. jOurnalists and assorted wannabees and hangers—on — converge on Tennessee‘s capital during the nation's bicentennial celebrations. Tearing up the filmmaking rule book. not least by refusmg to explain the assassination at the film's climax. Altman offers up a sprawling mosaic of American somety: we're given impressionistic glimpses of individual lives. moments of intimacy Within the babble of everyday existence.
The exceptional actors not only got to improvise much of their overlapping dialogue. but to write many of their own songs from the perspective of the characters. and the likes of ‘200 Children' and ‘lt Don't Worry Me' encapSuIate the sentimentality and the comforting appeal of country leSlC. There's a real awareness here of how people are exploited within everyday relationships and how hard it is to communicate one's real feelings. and yet Nashville also presciently looks forward to our contemporary obsession with celebrities and to politics itself becoming a form of showbusiness. (Tom Dawson)
I GFT. Glasgow on Tue 77 and Wed 78 May only
INTERVIEW PERVERSE POETRY
Kaleem Aftab meets GREGG ARAKI, a former enfant terrible of US
Gregg Araki (pictured, pointing) is built like a brick shit house. He cuts a dashing ﬁgure dressed in black jeans and skin tight black T-shirt. The veins on his bulging biceps look like something out of a Popeye cartoon and as we talk under the blistering sunshine in Venice soon after the world premier of his new ﬁlm, Mysterious Skin, l have to fight the urge to ask to see his passport to verify that he really is 45 years old.
In the early 90’s Araki was at the forefront of New Queer Cinema. His films, The Living End and Totally F‘“ked Up had a satirical pop-cultural edge that set him apart from the ‘issue’ movie that had, up to this time, castrated the gay ﬁlm genre. Not that Araki’s quirky eye made him immensely popular in the gay community. The Living End, with it’s depiction of gay characters as outlaws was particularly troublesome. Yet, it was this ability to offend, experiment, and reinvent gay characters on screen that made Araki the leading light of queer cinema.
Araki then seemed to hit a rut. His ﬁlms The Doom Generation, Nowhere and Splendor were too experimental to make them commercially viable. But Mysterious Skin (based on Scott Heim’s novel that was to gay lit what Araki’s Totally F‘“ked Up was to queer cinema) is a magnificent return to form. Without losing any of his visual panache, Araki chooses a more formulaic narrative style to show how two children cope with being the
victims of a paedophile.
The Asian-American director reveals, ‘I don’t think that I’ve changed direction. I’m a person and hopefully l’m changing. As a ﬁlmmaker I’ve evolved and I love the fact that all my ﬁlms are different. I think my ﬁlms together all have a through line and they all have my personality in them, but you couldn’t cut them all together and make one movie that makes
For Araki, who grew up in Los Angeles, adapting Heim’s book to the screen was a dream project. He says, ‘The adaptation is really faithful to the book and I love the book. The book for me is so raw, so honest and so truthful. This is so clearly Scott’s story, yet it is really universal. I was not abused as a kid but I really related to the characters. I think that what Scott has done in the novel is really incorporate what it is like growing up in
It is when talking about the ethereal music that chimes through Mysterious Skin that Araki becomes more lucid about his ﬁlmmaking metamorphosis, ‘The Doom Generation is really my 9 Inch Nails movie, I was really into them at the time, and this film is more like the Cocteau Twins, a more luscious piece.’ The results suggest that Araki although still looking good in black should think about throwing away his rock vinyl.
I Mysterious Skin is on selected release from Fri 20 May See review. page 50.
THRILLER ROMANCE THE BRIDESMAID (15) 110min 000
It may not repeat the box office Success of La Ceremonie. Claude Cliabrol's previous Ruth Rendell adaptation. which had a gun-toting Isabelle Huppert and Sandrine Bonnaire Wiping out a bOurgeOis family. yet The Bridesmaid still makes for an elegant and slyly enjoyable Hitchockian thriller in the vein of Strangers on a Train.
Love tends to be an overpowering
emotion in Chabi‘ol's films. and The Bridesmaid concerns itself \‘.’llll the fateful repercussions of the romantic attraction between two temperamentally opposed ihdiyiduals. Devoted to his Widowed hairdresser mother. Philippe (Benon Magimell is a clean cut salesman. leading a routine existence in a provuicial French community But at his Sister's wedding he falls for a mysterious bridesmaid who calls lieiseif Senla (Laura Smell. and who boasts of an improbany chequered past. To >
ll’ .’t3 May 3305» THE LIST 49