The Sydney Morning Herald from Sydney, New South Wales, New South Wales, Australia on December 26, 1986 · Page 12
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The Sydney Morning Herald from Sydney, New South Wales, New South Wales, Australia · Page 12

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Sydney, New South Wales, New South Wales, Australia
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Friday, December 26, 1986
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Page 12
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Page 12 The Sydney Morning Herald, Friday, December 26, 1986 Awe m a Franc JI .illl ML (fleam mm time g death m a fkench CflRDPf Directed and written by Michel Deville, from the aovel Sur la terre am del by Reae Belletto. Rated M. Valhalla, Glebe. YELLOW EARTH Directed by Chen Kaige. Written by Zhang Ziliang. Rated G. Opera House (Playhouse). I WO foreign language films on 1 view over the holidays provide widely divergent experiences but are each, in their unique ways, compulsive viewing. Michel Deville's Death in a French Garden (or Peril en la Demeure), made in 1984, is a sensual thriller which finds this variable director near the top of his form. Set in a provincial city, it involves a personable but impoverished young music teacher, David (Christophe Malavoy), who accepts an assignment to teach guitar to the beautiful teenage daughter of a wealthy couple. Even before the first lesson has taken place, the girl's attractive mother, Julia (Nicole Garcia) pays an unexpected visit to David's loft apartment and seduces him. The affair continues happily, and erotically, until David receives in the mail a video cassette filmed outside his window and clearly showing the illicit goings-on inside. His confusion (and that of the audience) is increased when he meets a friendly but slightly sinister fellow (Richard Bohringer) who admits he's a hired killer. Who will the victim be? David, perhaps? Or Julia's suave but vaguely sadistic husband (Michel Pic-coli)? And what about the woman neighbour (Anemone), who may or may not be a cripple, and who has a very direct way of talking about sex and passion? For most of the film's length, Deville keeps the viewer riveted. The photography (Martial Thury) is lush and tactile, the editing (Raymonde Guyot) is quite brilliant, and the use of music (Schubert and Brahms mostly) is exemplary. Only towards the end of this tantalising picture does Deville's grip on the material fall apart. Sad to say, he doesn't know how to end it. That's not the problem with Chen Kaige's Yellow Earth, also made in 1984. This is the most important film we've seen from China, the work of a director in his early 30s, and though it was initially greeted with disfavour by the powers that be in Beijing, Kaige iOPEBUNG THIS WEEK J DEATH IN A FRENCH GARDEN: Sensuous French mystery, by Michel Deville, about a young man seduced by J the mother of his student and then involved in a plot to kill her husband. Full of twists. Valhalla. ! YELLOW EARTH: A trail-blazer from f China, set in 1939, and involving an interaction between the China of the ? future and the China of the past Placid, Jserene, haunting. Directed by 32-ycar-told Chen Kaige. Opera House Cinema. JsTAR TREK IV - THE VOYAGE J HOME: Probably the best, certainly Jthe funniest, Star Trek -saga, with Kirk, WORTH SEEING MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE: A fluent, adventurous, funny British movie about a young Anglo-Pakistani man who finds passion in the arms of a bovver-boy in South London. Highly recommended. Dendy. MONA LISA: A wonderful, award ny Bruno sits ana ponaers . New Zealand's national factor has always wanted Ito be a film-maker. He talks to PAUL BYRNES f about his plans for a (Change of role in movies. FD") RUNO LAWRENCE is New i O ) Zealand's national actor. In the "" past six years, he's been in 'almost every good NZ movie Goodbye Pork Pie, Smash Palace. Heart of The Stag, The Quiet Earth. Utu. Sam Neill is the other biggie, but he's New Zealand's international actor, jetting around the world to this mini-series and that movie. While Neill, fine actor that he is, probably has a manicure and a pedicure, Bruno looks like he still has dirt under his fingernails. Bruno swears fluently and calls you mate, wears daggy clothes, and can't do much with his lank, thinning hair. His voice seems to travel through a desert in his throat before it reaches the surface as a low goose's honk. The rough edges are integral to his charm as an actor. He's sort of ordinary, but he has a canny look in those big dark eyes, a hint of true grit. He can be very forceful and violent on screen, but there is also an edge of rare tenderness in his best roles lke in Smash Palace or The Quiet Earth. His versatility and truthful rapport with the camera makes him a great film actor, a ripe candidate for an international career. The problem is he can't make up his mind whether he wants it or not. went on to win prizes and recognition at several international festivals during 1985. The story is set in 1939; China is already at war with Japan. A young communist soldier (Wang Xueyin) is sent from the south to the arid north-west of the country, near the Yellow River. His mission is to gather folk songs from the region, though, incidentally, he'll also spread the communist word. He's billeted with a very poor family: a farmer, prematurely aged through years of backbreak-ing work; and his two children, a 12-year-old girl (Xue Bai) and a little boy (Liu Qiang). It's the relationship between the stranger from the south and these two youngsters that form the core of this beautiful, haunting film; a film whose stately pace and sparse use of dialogue (looks and gestures speak volumes here) should not deter those seeking the very special. Yellow Earth takes us to an unfamiliar place and time, but through its serene images and its use of songs and music, it widens all our horizons. Magic gets overcooked STAR TREK IV - THE VOYAGE HOME Directed by Leonard Nimoy. Written by Steve Meerson, Peter Krikes, Harve Bennett, Nicholas Meyer. Rated PG. Greater Union Centre, George St. THE GOLDEN CHILD Directed by Michael Ritchie. Written by Dennis Feldman. Rated M. Greater Union Centre, George St. HOWARD ... A KEW DREED OF HERO Directed by Willard Hayek. Written by Huyck, Gloria Katz. Rated PG. Pitt Centre. PTTJHESE three holiday entertain-f ! merits have one major element in common; all of them have special effects created by Industrial Light and Magic, the state-of-the-art outfit established by George Lucas in Marin County, across the bay from San Francisco. ILM, in fact, co-produced Star Trek IV and The Golden Child and Lucasfilm, another Lucas company, produced Howard A New Breed of Spock and Co travelling to San Francisco, 1986, in search of humpbacked whales. Greater Union Centre, George St. THE GOLDEN CHILD: Eddie Murphy involved in Indiana Jor. esstyle adventures. Fun, but rather overproduced. Greater Union Centre, George St. HOWARD ... A NEW BREED OF HERO: Duck jokes galore, but it all ends in some over-elaborate and over-familiar special effects. Pitt Centre. THREE AMIGOS: Steve Martin steals this comedy from co-stars Chevy Chase and Martin Short; an uneven farce from .John Landis. Village Cinema City. winning central performance from Bob Hoskins as a stocky crim in love with a willowy black call-girl in this wild, wayward romance, directed by Neil Jordan. Academy Twin. MOSQUITO COAST: Harrison Ford takes his family to the jungle to discover Utopia. It falls short of grand tragedy, but it has some good moments. Peter Weir directed. Hoyts. "Some days I do," he said, during a recent visit to Sydney. "When I'm sitting in the dunny out the back at home, pondering and looking up at the sky, I think 'I wouldn't mind an American movie. He has worked regularly in Australia The Great Bookie Robbery and Poker Face were recent TV appearances and he has had US offers, but not for a part that he really liked. . "There has always been something in my mind about doing it at home. There was that thing in the -1960s, that 6 His versatility and truthful rapport with the camera makes him a great film actor, a ripe candidate for an international career. The problem is he can't make up his mind whether he wants it or not.9 renaissance. Up till then, everyone pissed off. If you were a dancer or musician you went to New York, actors went to London and if you couldn't afford it, or were a rock muso, you came to Australia. "Even I did that he was the drummer with Max Merritt and the Meteors in the mid-1960s but even so, there were some of us who kept saying 'hang on, there is something that can happen here at home. If we all piss off, nothing will happen. I guess that is how the film thing got started. What happened was that he and his friends started BLERTA, which stood for many things but approximately "Bruno Lawrence's Electric Revelation and Travelling Aoparition". Reviews by DAVID STRflTTON Hero. This probably accounts for an over-familiarity and a sameness which, frankly, is getting a bit tiresome. Unexpectedly, the best of the three is Star Trek IV; don't know if diehard trekkies would agree, but this outing seems to me by far the best of the four feature films based on the popular television series. This time, Kirk (William Shatner), Spock (director Leonard Nimoy) and the crew (no longer flying Enterprise) go back in time, from the 23rd century to 1986. Their mission is to find two humpbacked whales, rendered extinct as a result of the madness of modern man, but needed in the future to save the world. Much of the fun to be found in the quite witty screenplay involves the bemused citizens of the future trying to cope with 20th-century life; buses that demand exact change, kids with deafening radios on public transport and cops that don't understand when you seek directions to the nearest nuclear facility. All of these scenes, which also provide a romantic interest for Kirk in the shape of a marine biologist (Catherine Hicks) who adores whales, are stylishly handled; and Kirk's throwaway line as the crew leave their ship in the middle of a San Francisco park is a gem: "Everybody remember where we parked it," he says as they stroll off into the city. If Star Trek IV plays down the special effects in favour of a well-written and amusing narrative. The Golden Child, on the other hand, makes the mistake of swamping an interesting narrative with special effects. Eddie Murphy's long-awaited follow-up to Beverly Hills Cop finds him involved in finding missing children in contemporary Los Angeles. A dusky Tibetan woman (Charlotte Lewis) seeks his help in tracing the eponymous "golden child," a perfect, magical being, stolen from his mountain-top home by a Prince of Darkness (Charles Dance). The film seems determined to be all things to all people; it has a bit of kung fu, a bit of urban crime thriller, a bit of sex, a side-trip to Kathmandu, some Indiana Jones-type adventures in strange caverns, and, ultimately, some A lien-sty e effects when Dance becomes a winged monster. If ever there was an actor who needed to be situated in the real world, it's Murphy. Despite all this, director Michael Ritchie manages to stage one dazzling scene of which Luis Bunuel himself might have been proud: a dream sequence in which Murphy and the villainous Dance suddenly find themselves faced with a studio audi- HEARTBREAK RIDGE: Clint Eastwood emits some hilariously funny bad language in this tribute to the US Marines. Village Cinema City. THE BOY WHO COULD FLY: Appealing fantasy for young teens by Nick Castle (The Last Starfighter). State. KING KONG LIVES: Dino de Lau-rentiis recycles his giant ape. Hoyts. WINDRIDER: Australian film directed by former cinematographer Vincent Monton in attractive-looking Perth locations. Tom Burlinson is a wealthy, young windsurfer who has a steamy affair with rock star Nicole Kidman. Very slight. Hoyts. THE MISSION: Grand, sumptuous but over-romanticised story of two priests in 1 8th-century South America, directed by Roland Joffe, of The Killing Fields. Jeremy Irons and Robert De Niro. Pitt Centre and Village Double Bay. MALCOLM: A very good comedy. Two battlers turn techno-bank robbers. Hoyts. In an old Leyland bus, the troupe, including spouses, children and hitchhikers, travelled the length of New Zealand and much of Australia for six years, doing weird shows combining music, acting, films and whatever craziness they felt inspired by. The trumpeter in the band was Geoff Murphy and he and Lawrence started making short films with a 16 millimetre Bolex. "I didn't start out to be an actor. I started doing it as part of being a film-maker. 1 loved the whole idea of celluloid and telling stories this way. "Okay, I have conceded that my role in that is as an actor and that is fine, but sometimes as a straight journeyman actor, it does get boring, especially if you are doing a piece of shit" Murphy's rise as a director has paralleled Lawrence's rise as an actor. (Their friendship dates back to early years in jazz clubs in Wellington. Murphy was married to Bruno's sister-in-law, and John Charles, another BLERTA collaborator and the composer of the music for several of Murphy's films, married the other of three sisters). Murphy directed Lawrence in Goodbye Pork Pie. the most successful film to come out of the resurgence of NZ film. j I O" x rC& 1 Jlj I" V -wf v s t - pw"' m "mr-n. x V.. v,: . fd ' M iff David (Christophe Malavoy) and Julia (Nicole Garcia) in Death in a French Garden... a tantalising film. ence who applaud on cue. It's a marvellously dislocating moment in a generally over-produced, over-cooked movie. Howard is over-produced too. He was Howard The Duck in America, and proved one of the bigger flops of the summer season there. Inspired by the Marvel Comics character, originally created by Steve Gerber, Howard is first discovered living comfortably in his Duck world, reading Rolling Egg and Playduck in an apartment that has a poster of Mae Nest and W. C. Fowls in My Little Chickadee prominently displayed on the wall. Howard is zapped through space to land in (of all places) Cleveland, Ohio where he quickly meets a friendly, wholesome rock singer (Lea Thompson, the appealing actress last seen in Back to the Future). Howard is a witty fellow, and tough, too, so he manages to fend for himself quite well. He even shares a surprisingly erotic bedroom scene with Ms Thompson, which is one of the odder sequences in recent movies. In the end the film degenerates into another Industrial Light and Magic firework display, with yet another villain (Jeffrey Jones) being transformed into a monstrous Dark Overlord who has to be destroyed. There are a few good jokes along the way, but the final effect : is that we've been here rather too many times before. The final credits reveal, curiously, that Howard has been played by no less than eight actors, two of them women, plus a stunt duck. Playing to the low-life THREE 7IMICOS Directed by John Landis. Written by Steven Martin, Lome Michaels, Randy Newman. Rated PG. Village Cinema City. flOMEDIES aren't going to be l 1 thick on the ground in cinemas this Christmas, so Three Amigos, the latest from John Landis (who made as well as The Quiet Earth and Utu, which opened at the Chauvel this week. Utu was made in 1983, two years before Quiet Earth. It's set in 1870, the period of the Maori land wars, and the word means revenge, or point of honour. It's about a Britonised Maori who declares war on the colonisers when he sees his village wiped out. Lawrence plays a settler who does the same thing when his family is killed by the Maori. Pauline Kael, the influential critic of the New Yorker magazine, loved Utu, saying it made her head swim. "The film has sweep, yet it's singularly unpretentious irony is turned into slapstick. Lawrence is now approaching his mid-40s, and he yearns to direct. He has a couple of film projects he would like to make. One is a musical love story, about a man who plays saxophone with punk bands and third clarinet for the National Symphony Orchestra. The other is about a woman who is convicted for the murder of her husband. When she discovers that he's not dead, she kills him, because you can't be convicted twice for the same crime. The third project, in which he wants to act, is based on a renowned novel by NZ author M. K. Joseph, about a soldier in France at the end of World War II, who falls in love with a collaborator. "I really want to direct the musical and the murder story, but it won't kill me if I don't. I haven't sat in that chair and I'm quite keen to, just to exercise my own thoughts and approach to the whole thing. I'm slowly getting more and more people interested. The Blues Brothers and Trading Places) is likely to be a big success. It's a pity that it really isn't all that funny. The opening scenes are promising. The setting is a Mexican village in 1916; bandits terrorise the place and, in the best tradition of Seven SamuraiThe Magnificent Seven, a young peasant woman, Carmen (Patrice Martinez) decides she must find outside help. That's when she sees a silent movie at the local flea-pit, a movie featuring three devil-may-care gunmen called The Three Amigos, who achieve all the things she longs for: they rid a village, much like hers, from a bandit scourge, and won't even accept the reward money. In actuality, the "amigos" are three dim-witted actors: Lucky Day (Steve Manin), Dusty Bottoms (Chevy Chase) and Ned Nederlander (Martin Short). After an amusing run-in with the megalomaniacal boss of their studio, the three decide to accept the Mexican invitation, wrongly assuming they've been asked to perform their usual act. This basic misunderstanding paves the way for the hilarious scene where, after being challenged by some very scrungy villains in a low-life bar, they unexpectedly go into a quite charming and very silly song-and-dance routine. Nothing that follows is as much fun as this scene, mainly because the film is t A 4 i A w A Nl Disappointing ... Martin Short, :wwso::f A- : : :::::-:::::. - : . '-f r ; If - .1:' - 'mmmmmmtm fife 3t I M&! E Z,yCyX,. XXX -i f - - '4 I - ; wiiifiH, ami m so very predictable. John Landis, who's shown in the past that he's a fine director of comedy, often seems to have had his mind on other things. The film has a ragged structure that becomes more and more irritating as it goes on. Steve Martin, who co-scripted and co-produced, effortlessly steals the show. Your eye is always drawn to him, because he's by far the best comic and actor of the three; Martin Short, in his first film (he's well known on American television) has a few amusing moments as the diminutive Ned, an ex-child star who turns out to be the fastest gun of the trio. As for Chevy Chase, who gets top billing, he makes almost no impression as Dusty, the romantic member of the act. His more ebullient companions tend to elbow him off the screen, and he spends much of the film looking bemused as if wondering where on earth he is and what he's supposed to be doing. If Three Amigos is disappointing, it's because the people involved have ail done better work in the past. But it's not all bad; the first half of the film contains quite a few laughs, and the production is impeccably crafted. You may find a central campfire scene, involving the three heroes with various desert animals, including a talking tortoise, one of the more genuinely bizarre moments in recent cinema. left, Chevy Chase and Steve Martin. Bruno Lawrence ... didn't start out to be Pulling the pin out of Grenada HEARTBREAK RIDGE Directed by Clint Eastwood. Written by James Carabatsos. Rated M. Village Cinema City. 53unnery Sergeant Tom Highway iijr? (Clint Eastwood) is an anach-romism, described early in Heartbreak Ridge as the kind of soldier you keep under glass until there's a war. This rugged, scarred veteran with a Neville Wran voice is a survivor of the Korean and Vietnam wars, and he's dedicated to the Marines and the USA. This is a film for the Reagan era; like Top Gun, it's a celebration of the American fighting man, and the success of the earlier film (No 1 at the US box-office this year) indicates there's a huge audience waiting to be assured that American fighting men are still the best. In reconfirming that idea, Eastwood serves us up with a hoary old story about a platoon of malcontents whipped into fighting shape by a tough veteran sergeant. Highway is humanised in the film because he still has a yen for his ex-wife (Marsha Mason). He's also very funny; James Carabatsos has provided Eastwood with some of the most vulgar language ever heard on the screen. Eastwood directs Heartbreak Ridge with great skill. A pity, then, that his climax involves the US invasion of Grenada, an event distorted by the film and filled with gratuitous moments (such as the cigar-chomping Eastwood casually shooting a wounded Cuban soldier in the back). This sequence does, however, have one superb moment that borders on the surreal ; the unit, trapped by enemy fire, tries to call in aerial reinforcements, but the local telephone operator won't accept a collect call to their base in the US. Thank goodness for credit cards. Y SS I if. ' ' an actor. & 4 i f

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