The Guardian from London, Greater London, England on May 10, 1984 · 19
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The Guardian from London, Greater London, England · 19

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Thursday, May 10, 1984
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19
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MOVIE GUARDIAN Thursday May 10 1984 J9 BRIEFING Derek Malcolm reviews the week's new releases Anil Best films The Mission (Academy) : Parviz Sayyad's story of Khomeini hit man in America, befriended by his nrey and increasingly uncertain of his fanaticism. Intriguing and enthralling. Carmen (Curzon): Carlos Saura's second collaboration with flamenco dancer Antonio Gades, this time making a dance-drama out of Bizet. The Trouble With Harry (Screen on the Hill, Plaza, etc): Hitchcock at his blithest with enchanting comedy of mayhem, set in verdant Vermont, circa 1955. With Shirley MacLaine, Edmund Gwenn outstanding. Swann In Love ((Lumiere): Schlondorff's intense and beautifully acted version of part of Proust's Swann's Way, with Irons, Muti and Delon justifying dangerous casting. A treat to watch. Daniel Takes A Train (Gate, Notting Hill): Pal Sander's excellent summation of the post-revolutionary chaos in Budapest, circa 1956, through the story of two uncertain young men and their families. Should they stay or go? The Ballad of Narayama (Premiere): Last year's Cannes prizwinner by Shohei Imamura, a naturalistic version of legend of impoverished villagers sending their old up the mountain to die. White Dog (Electric Screen): Sam Fuller's parable about racialism, melodramatic but effective in simplistic vein, with splendid canine performance in support of Kristy JIcNicol, Burl Ives and Paul Winfield. Best on TV Atlantic City (tonight, BBC-2, 9.0): Louis Malle's 1980 slice of Americana, with Burt Lancaster as ageing numbers runner, a brave but pathetic anachronism in modern gambling city. Excellent. Lacombe Lucien (Saturday, BBC-2, 9.55): Malle again, this time an earlier film (1974) about a lumpen French boy who joins the Gestapo to be somebody. A fine study of everyday fascism, and its consecuences. Man Of Aran (Sunday, C4, 3.05): Classic Robert Flaherty documentary, made in 1934, and still a model of its kind, despite charges of fakery. Call Northside 777 (Sunday, C4, 10.15): Henry Hathaway's famous 1948, crime thriller, with James Stewart as dogged reporter trying to prove a man innocent of murder. Thieves Like Us (Sunday, BBC-1, 10.20): Now highly regarded 1973 Robert Altman adaptation of Edward Anderson's novel about the Depression Years. With Keith Carradine, Shelley Duvall as Southern rednecks turned crooks. Ghost Dance (Monday, C4, 10.0): Intriguing Ken McMulIcn experiment, placing Jacques Dcrrida's ideas within an English setting and stylishly confusing expectations. The Baft Of The Medusa (Wednesday, C4, 9.30): 1980 Yugoslavian parable after the Gcricault painting about Serbian teachers in a remote village of the twenties caught up with avant-garde ideas. Worth looking at. The Cincinnati Kid (Wednesday, BBC-1, 7.20) : 1965 Norman Jewison gambling movie with Steve McQueen, the young pretender, versus Edward G. Robinson, the old master, at stud poker. Riveting. Special interest Sad to see Peter Bridgmann's lively film about West German rock leaving both the Phoenix and the ICA cinemas so quickly. But it is replaced in both by Scorsese's The King Of Comedy, an even better film which hasn't had the success it should. At the Scula on Saturday, there's an all-day, all-night Revenge of the Bright Bill programmes, showing The Evil Dead, Basket Case, Death Trap and other goodies -which look like having their video lives circumscribed. Carne's Les Enfants Du Paradis Should calm patrons down on Sunday. London's Film - makers Co-op have their annual Preview show next week, from Friday to Sunday; there's a packed programme, including British premieres of new American and European as well as British work. Advance hooking is advised ring 586 4806. At the National Film Theatre, Sally Potter's Gold Diggers continues, with its attendant films in context season, and the retrospectives are Joan Crawford, Jacques Demy throughout the month. Joanne Woodward gives a Guardian Lecture on Sunday, and don't ask her what it is like to be married to Paul Newman. The event starts at 6 30 pm. Outside London, there's a personal appearance at Newcastle's Tyneside Cinema by Elisabeth Welch on Saturday. She will be interviewed on stage by Sheila Whitaker, and musical extracts front some of her many films, such as Fiddlers Three, and Dead Of Night, will be featured on the programme, Carlos Saura's Carmen continues its successful run at the Edinburgh Filmhouse till the end of next week when it is replaced by Coppola's Rumble Fish in the main theatre. Derek Malcolm POSSIBLY the most remark able film at this year's Cannes film Festival, which ooens tomorrow, will not be seen by many people. After 15 years in the preparation, Sergio Leone's Once Upon A nine xu Aineuua, ib eunig lu be shown at the festival, but out of competition. The film will not be shown to the Dress, only to those able to pay 20 or 40 for the one gala performance, a benefit for the institut jfasteur. a worthy cause, no doubt, but why no screening tor trie press, and, as things stand now, no press conference either? The answer would seem to lie in a dispute between Leone and his producers, the Ladd Company, ana his distributors, Warner Bros. This is a long film three hours, 40 minutes and the American release will be an hour shorter. Again, as of now, because a law suit has just begun, so the whole thing is sub judicc. Once Upon A Time In America concerns a gang of four Jewish-American gang NOWSHOWING Film al 1 .45 4.00 6.20 8.45 daily Lumiere Cinema 836 0691S ALSO AT NORWICH - NOVERRE- FROM MONDAY ii mam sters (based on the autobiography of David Aaronson The Hoods, which he signed with the pen name of Harry Grey) who, start out as Twenties kids in the twenties. The film follows them through young manhood as bootleggers during prohibition, and then takes the story up to 1968 when one gang member has moved into the higher ranks of organised crime the government. The Americans claimed, apparently, that the constant shifts in time flashbacks within flashbacks and so on made the film too hard to follow, but when they tried to re-edit it chronologically, it just wouldn't come out right. This is not all that surprising in view of what Leone lias said about the work. "The principal character in the film is Time," he says. " In the course of the years, the characters change physi ONE OF THE BEST! FILMS OF '84" "THE GREATEST LIVING AMERICAN DIRECTOR... PERHAPS HIS BEST FILM YET" Time Out "MAGNIFICENT" The Times "TREMENDOUS" Financial Times SAM FULLER'S WHITE DOG, TRAINED TO KILL PLANTATREE FOR .1 4, JUSl OVA Jul! tl plants tret in your nimi or thit ol a loved one as gill or memorial For details writs to- ine modlang Trust. Hal. TW3. Fieapost. Grantham, JL lines. NG3I6BR. Reg Oisnly No. 264781. Car. jam KSS THE TRAGEDY Directed by Peler Brook An adaptation of Bizet's opera . Helena Delavault as Carmen Howard Hensel as Don Jose nmhilUwr.tjillUajhllln ADnittkw MAY- EXCLUSIVE PRESENTATION BARBICAN CENTRE CINEMA I 01-628-8795 nolnyiMiyl.:.l,jie.lS.S.70 MiMiyG,7J3.!0.2?,2lalM0.4:.5O of a?Iwi$ pastt cally, and sometimes they even change their identity. However, they remain linked to their past, determined by it. Time, after having separated them and made them enemies, will reunite them." Leone seems to be saying that this is his Proust film. I am one of those lucky enough to have seen the Leone version in Paris before Cannes. It is a monument of film-making. I don't know if it is a masterpiece, but it is certainly Leone's best movie, and it may well be as good a film as anyone will see this year. The two leads, are played by Robert De Niro and James Woods. Not only are they the leaders of the gang of four, but theirs is a friendship as ambiguous as that of the two leads in Bcrtolucci's 1900 (De Niro and Depardieu). In fact, this comparison is more relevant than it may seem for one of tiiiaaiiji I MARIE-THERES REUN-TARA MACGOWRAN CLAUDINE AUGER- KLAUS BARNER-CASSIE STUART and JENNY AGUTTER : in "SECRET PLACES&based on the novel by JANICE ELLIOTT Music by iMICHELLEGRAND Executive Producers AL CLARK &RQBERTDEVEREUX Produced by SIMON RELPH &ANN SKINNER-Written & Directed bZELDA BARRON SourvdiadieoMt . MadelnnsoclatlonwIBi. i THE NATIONAL FILM FINANCE CORPORATION, REDIfFUSION FIIMS. LTD and RANK FILM DISTRIBUTORS LTD Messed by RANK FILM DISTRIBUTORS LTD ' ' LONDON'S complement of films from the Third .World; is pathetically thin, largely because of the risks distributors have to take to screen them. That risk, however, is considerably diminished when a film as sheerly enjoyable as Euzhan Palcy's Rue Cases Negres (Black Shack Alley, Chelsea Cinema, PG) comes along. The winner of four prizes at last year's Venice Film Festival and then a French Cesar, this adaptation of Joseph Zobel's West Indian novel has a charm and liveliness that can scarcely fail with audiences. Black Shack Alley is a shanty town in the Martinique of the Thirties, where the impoverished and exploited black sugar plantation workers eke out their lives under French colonial domination. There, the grandmother of an 11-year-old orphan boy determines to devote her life to his education and advancement. Despite what looks like insuperable obstacles, Jose makes it, by dint not only of grandma's implacable persistence but his own natural brightness, he cannot be far removed from the writer Zobel himself. Palcy's film, a faithful transcription of the once-banned book, has only two professionals in its cast the wonderfully named Darling Legitimus, a veteran of 140 films who justly capped her career with the Best Actress prize at Venice, and the Senegalese Duta Seek, who plays equally well as the old man who first teaches the unformed boy. The rest Palcy describes, very correctly," as "naturals." The playing is not necessarily sophisticated but it does have a Pagnolesque credibility. The film's greatest virtue 0 Rachel Ward playing temptress to James Woods's nightclub owner in Against Ail Odds the six co-scripwriters of Leone's film is the late Franco (Kim) Arcalli, who co-wrote and edited 1900 with Berto-lucci. And of course, one must not forget that Bertolucci himself co-wrote Once Upon A Time In The West. Both Bertolucci and Leone are real movie-makers ; that is to say, they know not only where to put the camera, but also how to move it. And both are great directors of actors arid actresses The two female leads- .-Elizabeth.'-. Mc-Governi and Tuesday Weld are both superb. Also, like Bertollucci who used him 20 years ago in Before The Revolution, . Leone commissioned the great Ennio Morricone to compose the score , and you wouldn't believe the varaitions he can pull on a pop tune like Amapola. Leone has gone on record as saying that this is not a film critical of America, nor ASKREBA-V1RGIN PRODUCTION is the . way It positively glories in its characters and adamantly sees the poor as the salt of the earth. There is little po-faced didacticism, and no terror of sentiment whatever. Even the superb sepia-toned print seems to be enjoying itself, basking in the Martinique sun as Palcy illustrates her theme with bold and confident brushstrokes. Rue Cases Negres has a certain faux-naif quality which, in this case, does not seem- tacked on. Yet there are occasional doubts. The film should make you angry at the appalling wastage of lives within its impoverished landscape. But it doesn't, largely because the early scenes are a little too' milked for laughter to sustain Jose's final tirade against the degradation he has witnessed. What is achieved is a wonderfully natural flow, sustained by fresh performances and a story-telling sense that is not overlaid by a pseudo-European style. The odyssey of Garry Cadenat's Jose, as he moves from community school to college among the Creole aristocracy in Fort de France, may be unconventionally optimistic. But it seldom seems flabbily so, like Martin Ritt's Cross Creek (Classic, Haymarket, etc., U) which wears its lack of cynicism like a badge advertising its honourable intentions This is the story of Marjo-rie Kinnan Rawlings's conversion from romantic to realist novelist via her stay in the backwoods of Florida, where the people of Cross Creek proved the perfect subject for her writing. P't orchestrates his tale with great warmth but little rigour, presenting Rawlings as a New York girl of the twenties who doughtily copes with country life and also comes to terms with herself as a woman. The film, shot by John Alonzo in limpid colour, seems happy to present its As the Cannes Film Festival opens, Richard Roud reports on the row erupting over Sergio Leone's latest epic a political analysis. "How could lit be" he sa,id, " since I am neither American nor Jewish no rany more of a gangster than my fellow film-makers " Once Upon a Time implies a fairy tale after all But since the track begins and ends with Kate Smith singing God Bless America, I think Leone is trying to say something about America, from the stink of the streets to corruption in the corridors of power. The film's chief appeal, however, lies in its making. I have mentioned the acting (although I neglected to comment on how well the ageing process has been done, and this is not just a question of makeup, good as that may be). There are also the sets, or at least one big street set, but Leone has also found real locations which match and mesh with the decor, so from that point backwoods folk as charm-' ingly backward . but good-hearted with it, and somehow more closely in touch with real life than any city slicker. It is a very conventional view, with Rip Tom's good ole boy neighbour leading the way and Alfre Woodard as our heroine's black servant not far behind. Mary Steenburgen is Rawlings, and gives a pleas ant, rather lightweight performance, with just a hint of a will of steel. Peter Coyote is the local hotelier she learns to love. Ritt is an able and honourable film-maker but.when his heart is on his sleeve like this, the result tends to be the kind of liberal Hollywood movie that looks and tastes like fudge. Rawlings, who wrote The Yearling and other good stories, was possibly a sharper talent than the film of that book, or. this, make her appear. Taylor Hackford's Against All Odds (Warner, West End; Odeon Marble Arch, etc., 15), is based on Daniel Mainwaring's novel and screenplay, made into Jacques Tourneur's splendid Out Of The Past, with Robert Mitchum, Kirk Douglas and Jane Greer. This time around there's Jeff Bridges, Rachel Ward, Richard Widmark and Jane Greer again, somewhat eerily cast as the mother of the girl she originally played. Alas it does not work, though Hackford, who made An Officer And A Gentleman, is the kind of director who always looks as if he is just about to make something interesting. . The trouble here, even if the 'memory of Tourneur's 1947 film noir were not still fresh, is the way Hackford fatally extends it into an ambitious parable about corruption in Los Angeles instead of sticking more closely to the three characters involved. Besides that, Rachel Ward's unpredictable beauty of view too the film is utterly convincing. For a foreign director, the dialogue direction is faultless : everybody's English (or should I say American) is perfect : no goofs, no awkwardness except perhaps for De Niro's Yiddish. Leone also achieves a sense of period, and this is especially important, given the complex system of narration. One always knows where (and when) one is, and by the end one feels as if one has lived the lives of the six main characters. The cancellation of the press show will probably only draw attention to Leone's preferred version of the film. Since the screening date for Once Upon A Time is not until May 20, we can always hope that things will sort themselves out before then. And that Britain gets to see the full-length version. Robert De Niro in Once Upon A Time In America 7VFMIifS w BEST ACTRESS Ir?T.i3i?rj fciSILVER IIONfrcichSmFw 2m - BLACK SHACK ALLEY pg 1 fngllihSubtillu EUZHAN PALCY'S JtoArtlHoUlEpIUlnm prizowinning film from the West Indies "The debut of a tonsiderable artist" Oavtd Robinson Tho Times Siomng GARRY CADENAT.- DARLING LEGITIMUS DOUTA SECK HMBn Martinique) Ft onco basod on iho novel "La Ruo Caies Nogros" by Joseph ZobI mom STARTS TODAY " Filmar 1.55 4.10 6.25 8.45 daily tCaUS! CS AaaflfedZLi A 206KINGSROADSW3 Vn a-LjSiaWi I aH SItIAiVtELEPHONE 3513742 A THRILLING MARVELLOUS PIECE OF CINEMA' HKK RODDICK, TIMS OUT I URGE YOU TOSEE IT BARRY NORMAHFUM 04 HOW AT THE CURZON Cinema Curzon Street, London Wt 01-499 3737 who makes -a mess- first of her own life and then of that of a nightclub owner (James Woods) and a down-at-heel professional footballer (Bridges) is not quite strong enough, so that the centre never holds. Even so, this is not an entirely negligible movie, decently scripted by Eric Hughes and performed and directed with a certain strength, if not passion. Paul Newman's Harry And Son (Odeon, Haymarket, 15) ought to have been a better film than it is. Newman, who co-produced and co-scripted as well as directing it, plays a greying widower, a blue collar construction worker who loses his job and watches dyspeptically as his son (Robbie- Benson), who could work but won't, seems in the process of opting out. With his daughter married to a thrusting salesman whom he hates, Harry sees little to fight for any more. He is an awkward cuss, even with the woman (Joanne Woodward) who looks on him with favour. The film meanders through' a series of overlong that love conquers all, thugh sometimes too late. Nor does the weight of Newman's screen persona lend itself too easily to a credible depiction of this kind of hopeless curmudgeon. Regrettably, since the film clearly has something to say, Harry And Son degenerates into indulgence. It seems badly in need of a real film-maker at the helm, though Newman is clearly not the kind of star who hogs the camera. But it is not as much of a mess as Scandalous (Classics, Chelsea and Tottenham Court Road, 15, from next week). This starts off with John Giclgud as a Japanese businessman and ends with him as a punk rocker. These are but two of his disguises as an elderly conman in this romantic comedy thriller, which also wastes the talents of Robert Hays and Pamela Stephenson. 'St5 BEST FIRST FILM '.ss.-uwa ABIMBV CARLOS SAUM Kantol Mffomo uon uuau hi hi - reo m iuch Him at 2.00 (not Sun) 4.10. 6.30, 8.40

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