The Guardian from London, Greater London, England on April 17, 1986 · 13
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The Guardian from London, Greater London, England · 13

London, Greater London, England
Issue Date:
Thursday, April 17, 1986
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MOVIE GUARDIAN .THE 'GUARDIAN Thursday OERKK iarman thinks that Mr. Mary Whitehouse has done 6methlM TKsautifttl to Wbk wia, vugie help firom Winston s Churchill she has nelni tn nnt hint ftill in the pnblie ogre. When a season of his films were presented on Channel 4 early this year, by-the film critic of the Times, David ' , Robinson, . Mrs; Whitehouse reacted to Jubilee and if Jarman had -plumbed hitherto nrdmown depths ot sexual depravity, and violence. And , if ft were not for the members of Wap National Viewers and Listeners Association, with ears and eyes cocked.for any hint of the late nisht televisual imprpprlety. hte latest, film. (&ravaggio which opens in iLondoni next week , and then, in many BF1 cinemas, would surely not have, been attended by such flurries of media excitement ' So Derek Jarman sits in his tiny central London apart- .mens -r owning novum; with' ndr'monev and in debt jovially explaining why he has had to 'dance down the . margins of British cinema for mora than a decade, andwhy it' took 17 scripts and seven years to make nis latest film about a sixteenth-century Italian painter and shot in a derelict dockland warehouse in the Isle of Dogs for a mere 475,000. He speaks like an unstoppable waterfall and you can 'either choose to be doused in the torrents or retire bedraggled. There is no stemming nis tide as he suggests that Mrs Whitehouse. hadT dragged what was "marginal into the mainstream." jarman has prided himself, wonder, on not being a mainstream man; right from his bright cinema beginnings. The line from Sebastiane by way of Jubilee with its mid-seventies apocalypse and . The Angelic conversation, drawing out the Shakespeare of the sonnets as a romantic sexual outcast has been abstruse, esoteric and original: a suitable subject for cults. And Jarman sees himself, in high romantic terms, as one of a lost generation of film makers who should have bloomed in the 1970s, but were thwarted by film economics and cultural narrowness. "The British film renaissance 1b extremely successful Sweet bread cf youth brain he loves Derek Malcolm survives a week of horrors enlivened by the new Paul Morrissey and a Soviet comedy B)2 MDBGl1 gD5 IN PAUL Morrissey's Mixed Bleed (Screen on the Green, Cannon, Oxford Street, etc:, 18) a young street urchin is thrown off a New York rooftop by a gang of dope pushers. In Larry Cohen's The Staff (Prince. Charles, Cannon, Oxford Street, 15) a "tide of goo threatens to invade the bowels of the free world." And in Dario Argento's Creepers (Time Centre, 18) a 14-year-old girl falls into a pit of flesh-eating maggots. Only one of these films is not supposed to make you laugh. Ivs been one helluva week to be ft reviewer. Surprisingly, though, there have been small compensations. After all, Morrissey, Cohen, and Argento are directors around whom cults, of one kind or another, have sprung," But if Cohen and Argento seem the most naturally talented, it is Morrissey, on this occasion, who has provided the most interesting movie. Mixed Blood is at least an intriguing attempt to subvert the downbeat realist drugs drama with a bizarre mixture of irony and farce. Marilia Pera, the definite star of the show (last seen here as the whore in Babenco's Pixote), plays a female Fagin who uses her family of not over-bright minors to run a Lower East Side drugs .racket because they are too young to go to MfUBDMIi H mjfTOT-" H HT OF RECENT MEMORY" "A WILD AND WONDERFUL FILM . . . CASUAL VIOLENCE, SEX AND SUBVERSIVE HUMOUR ... A THOROUGHLY I ENTERTAININGMOVIE" 7HEIAGE PAUL MORRISS A SHOCKINGLY FUN THE MEAN STREETS OF NEW YORK I i ft Si 0 mm i -Ha. w In Cara meets Che mwm in terms of. public relations and if s a perfect reflection of Thatcherite Britain," he says. We need look no further than Chariots ofj Fire,' which the late unlamented films minister, Ian Sproat, described as being . "useful in , the Falk-lands crisis." And David Puttnam, he said, had long ago thrown in his towel ana decided that all that Britain could do was to intervene in American cinema with films-like The Killing Fields. As he snaps at the heels of Mr Puttnam and his ilk, some -might detect sour, grapes. What was Caravaggio to England, the likes of Mr Puttnam might ask. : "One of the main threads in British Steve Martin with the aoI if caught The . rooftop eath precipitates gang warfare in Alphabet City, with the police as the gang - in authority and the racial: stereotypes totally confused. Pera orchestrates her campaign with all the aplomb of a gutter Napoleon while attempting to keep her boys' underwear' clean, and there are some quite good jokes about the innate dumbness which passes for hip in these Sarts. Whether she yet eserves to be dubbed a mixture of Carmen Miranda and Anna Magnani is doubtful; but she certainly has a style and attack with which few others could compete, except Berhaps ; Miranda and agnani. As for her brood, most of them look like male models attempting the Joe Dallesandro pout, splitting their jeans front and back in the process. The tone of the film is half violent and bloody and half camp operetta, a melange that's certainly lively, often off-putting and occasionally an apt comment on New York streetlife. You get the feeling that Morrissey doesnt really know what he is doing, but has some basic insights all the same. Cohen's The ' Stuff has a: small boy; (Scott Bloom) and an industrial spy (Michael; Moriarry) trying , to stop the spread . of a mass-produced CTT tTTfc. la wm fl NY COMEDY SET IN AscemftomCanitoggw(aboye); I'Jain (rig; "one rtyd 'jimroMon fiP&ure to Frank Martin. Darak Sarman has found tt kindred spirit. Nicholas de Jonah sum talented Hlm-ituifcep watose latest raov culture is the - relationship between North and South look" back to Inigo Jones, Browning, Lawrence. And it's been Eradicated by the American connection." Back in; 1079 Jarman. came in all innocence to the idea of making a film about the late, sixteenth-century painter. Nicholas Ward Jackson,, the film's original begetter, had suggested Caravaggio as a suitable, subject and Jarman spent two months In Rome staring at the pictures: First he saw. . in many' of -these canvases "the. huge struggle of a gay artist to. come to terms with his sexuality". The heterosexual world, he said,; was always "complain dessert which first hooks its customers and then destroys them. It comes out of the earth for free, so its makers are on to a fortune. Halfway through one wonders where this, crisply made and mildly amusing spoof is going. And the answer is nowhere very much, since the goo takes over from the script bursting out of bodies through wildly gaping mouths until the whole film s awash with it It brings a new meaning to fast food, but not one thaf s particularly endearing. Creepers is Argento at his most throwaway, carelessly traversing a half .dubbed story about a , girl-stabbing murderer preying on. the inmates of a Swiss finishing school as if he'd never made The Bird With The Crystal Plumage, Cat o' Nine Tails or Suspiria. Each of those movies had passages of sustained gothic invention that make Creepers look like the daft potboiler it undoubtedly is. Donald Fleasence does his best with the script for a bit but; he is soon defeated. Jennifer Connelly doesnt even bother to do battle. ' Carl Reiner's The Man With Two Brains (Scala now, ICA later, 15), is' better value, rightly rescued, from the video market by two of the smaller exhibitors. It has Steve Martin as a brain surgeon who marries a heartless gold-digger, realises it and fails in love instead with a disembodied brain, in David Warner's laboratory. It speaks to him kindly, you see. The gold-digger is played by the glorious Kathleen Turner, and Sissy Spacek is the voice of the brain. It seems, quite simple why doesn't the surgeon kill his wife and substitute the Spacek . brain? But though fast with , his fingers, he's slow with his mind, and it doesnt occur to him. ' There are, however, some very funny lines "I screwed the top of her head off. but we didn't go any further,'' says the surgeon to a doctor mend about nis initial amour with the gold-digger on. the operating table.. : Volunteers '(Cannon Haymarket, etc., 15) is genuine oddity. like .aWoody Allen idea the great man has; thrown away. Sensibly, per & mm m a S f; ing that ; homosexuals wens obsessed with sex. and they cant understand it But they would understand it if their sex lives -were outlawed and unspe akable.' If gay people aren't, obsessed with sex there's something wrong with them." Caravaggio wrote his life in his pictures and Jarman, playing psychologist and detective nearly ,400 years on, is convinced thai. he . has decoded , the. messages they seek to convey. There is no missing the way .in which 'he empathises and.' identifies, with the painter. "He burnt away, decorum and the ideal . . .' knocked the saints out of the. sky and on to the streets,'' haps, since it is set in Thailand during the sixties at a time when the American Peace Corps was still trying to make headway among the natives, And thai , seems a slightly doubtful' area for .comedy, especially in the light of hindsight Made by Nicholas Meyer, : who gave us Star Trek n and The Day After, the. film was shot in a Mexico which never looks much like Thailand and has Tom Hanks as a rich gam- . bier escaping into the Peace Corps when .threatened by the bookmakers only to foulmouth the whole opera- . tion before it starts. .; The film attempts a sardonic edge that it cant properly sustain, like an. anti-American tract made by Americans who eventually . take fright .at its implications in the Reagan era. But again if s funny In bits, before it goes to pieces. And . no one could accuse it of toeing the current super-patriotic line. Much the best bargain of the week, though only on at the Metro for a short 'spell during . its current two-week celebration of Soviet cinema, : is Eldar ' Shengelaya's Bine Meantalns. This was a great, success at the' Directors' Fortnight in Cannes last year, and at the London Festival: Shengelaya's comedy centres round a budding writer who takes his, new work to a publishing house and finds himself completely enmeshed in bureaucracy. Instead of Setting the book out, he ivolves himself in the daily lives of those who ought to be ' helping him all failures from other fields, including a geologist employed as a proof-reader surreptitiously engaged on establishing the cause of the earth - tremors which eventually blow the whole place down. All this makes a much more mordant satire than you might think, and is superbly played by cast which -apparently 'includes several amateurs. The other films in the seasonjcluae, Mikhal-kov's A' Private ConvierraUottj and Five Evenings, Raiz- man's A Private1 life and; AbaVashitov's sci-fl Parade of tBeWiraets. Genuinely recommended, especially , in this of all weeks. new ofc Bf unnusi i wit nmw ,nn muMmsa open new he writes in the handsome text of the script. Derek Jarman's Caravaggio, pub- . lished with the text, photographs and: commentary to coincide with the premiere. -. He. ; characterises : the : painter's life as that of an immoral tough, using ruffians, prostitutes, and pimps as the models for his devotional work, -and tells you that the "prostitute" who -was the subject, for his Death of the Virgin was the "Christine Keeler" of her times. But he insists he 'does not want to sentimentalise or sensationalise .Caravaggio so that he emerges as a sixteenth-century James Dean, preferring to . see him as a man who BRIEFING Best film BAN (Screen on the Hill, Cur-zon West End, Gate Notting Hill): Kurosawa's epic reworking of Lear, with battle scenes of rare virtuosity and some dull patches too. Chris Marker's fine A.K., about its making, is at the Screen for matinees. A Boom With A View (Curzon Mayfair): This will run and run, being James Ivory out of E. M. Forster. Very fine cast, elegant film-making. '' Heatbieakers QCA.ahd Electric Screen): Bobby Roth's ironic study of an LA buddy buddy relationship,; and the gftu who are its appendages. Thoroughly entertaining. : 'Absolute Beglnners'(release): A brave if muddied attempt at a large-scale British musical .about, the Fifties. Don't worry about the story, it's the style that counts. No . Surrender (Odeon, Haymarket): Mordant Alan Bleasdale tale of the Liver-, pudlian Irish, at each, other , on New Year's Eve. Excellent acting, original conception. Out Of Africa (release): Pollack's multi-Oscared .version of The Isak Dinesen Story, with Robert' Redford, Meryl Streep, Brandauer and a . lot of Africa in its sights. Very long. , . ?. QestonTV End Of The Dav (Today. BBC- 2, 2.0). Duvivier's 1943 story of retired actors' home disrupted by new arrival-. With Michel Simon, .Louis Jouvet and alL The Bluebird (Friday, BBC-2, 3:30). George Cukor's ill-starred 1976 American-Russian co-production with -Liz Taylor, Jane Fonda, Cicely Tyson, Ava Gardner and, yes, Patsy Kensit. Long ' after Maeterlinck, and it shows. r Babes On Broadway- (Sunday, C4, 2.30). 1941 Busby Berkeley vehicle for Rooney and Garland. Very lively.. The Wooden Horse (Sund C4. 10.15). Jack Lee's' It story of Allied PoWs' Stalag Luft breakout with: Genn, Tomlinson, Steel and stiff upper lip. . - ! Seaceal (Monday, C4. 11.0). 1985 Amber Films fictional documentary of Northumbrian coal beachcombers, involving the men themselves plus actors: and improvised screenplay. . That Forsyte Woman . (Tuesday, C4, 9.0). Compton Bennett's 1949 version of Galsworthy's A Man Of Property for MGM with Flynn, Garson, Pidgeon and -much lavishry.. . 'v-': La Peau Donee (Wednesday, C4, 10.0). More Truffaut, this time from 1964, about married man's adultery with, air hostess (lean Desailly and Francois Dorleac). Less charm,, more bite than before.- Special interest . Derek Jarman's Caravaggio has a preview at the National Film Theatre next Wednesday, after which the filmmaker gives a Guardian Lecture. The Spanish Film Under Franco season at the theatre continues with .Berlanga's Welcome Mr Marshall on, Monday, the Spanish classic of the Fifties. On Sub-day, the , series of early French comic films reaches Feuillade. one of the greatest of silent: directors. Saturday all nightera are still very popular at the Scala, where there's a Steve Martin' dusk-to-dawn show, put on to . supplement The WiW'. BiIm (his latest film; to be shown here). .This include the underrated . Pennies From Heaven adaptation by Herbert Ross. Good repertory can also be found f transfigured his life info great painting. ' This is,the point where the detective work begins. The Beheading. of St John was Sainted, about a year after aravaggio had murdered Thomaslno in Rome and is signed in the blood , which drips from St John's neck to the floor;1 the signatorial epigrapb r reads ".Caravaggio did this.'V From this cryptic annotation, and the fact that a knife Is; used in the picture rather than a traditional sword, Jarman concludes that the painting is confeBsionaL In a deductive flight, he decided that Caravaggio had bad some passionate relationship with Thomasino . at the Everyman. Hamnstead: The Rifcsy, Brixton and the Rio, Dalston. . . . Outside London, the Castle Cinema. Pickering, Yorkshire, which leavens its week to week programmes with occasional specials, mounts a Country - Music Film Spectacular on April 27 a double bill of Honeysuckle Rose (Willie Nelson) and Honkytonk Man (Clint "Mayor" Eastwood). Plymouth's Arts Centre have a season of Argentinian films, starting tomorrow with The Official Version, the Oscar-winnine Foreign Finn. .which rtuu .Tor three days. iiu luuiuu -cuiu wno we delightful Argie, plus Funny ;Drty::Little War. The Anvfl fCivic Cinema, . Sheffield, has an excellent programme next week on its three screens.. Karel Reisz's Sweet Dreams, . Szabo'a Col Redl and Malle's ' Alamo' Bay... '; . . GtaartSlan preview - The next Guardian Preview, will be Philip Saville's Shadey, starring Antony Sher, Billie Whitelaw, Patrick McNee and, Lesley Ash. It is on Sunday, April 27 at the Screen on the HilL The performance starts at 2.30. For tickets (limited to two), please send an sae to Anne Groves, Shadey,. The Guardian, 119 Farringdon Road, London EC1 3ER. First come, first served. I i i tti s tm .... 7 . , ; :i COLUMBIA PICTURES nxaam a MARTIN RANSOHOFFnmwcnoN a RICHARD MARQUANDnLM GLENN CLOSE JEFF BRIDGES "JAGGED EDGE PETER COYOTE ROBEKTLOGGIA JOHN BARRY ""BJOE ESZTERHAS""UCSMARTIN RANSOHOFF "S RICHARD MARQUAND ItHtWI i WBF RELEASED BY COLUMBIA-EM-WARNER DISTRIBUTORS ft NOW SHOWING WARNER WESTEND?iigaS?R . ABC SHAFTESBURY AVE SS. CANNON TOTTENHAM CT. RD. S CANNON CHELSEA i& ODEON (KENSINGTON Of. CORONET WESTBOURNE GROVES BRISTOL Odeon CAMBRIDQE Alia MHJON KEYNES Point OXFORD Phoenix -e FROM TOMORROW ALSO AT BEXLEYHEATHABC HOUDWAYOdeon ...ROMFORD Odeon CARDIFF Odeon LEEDS GUILDFORD Odeon muuuoNsc.ooeoHDnutsmamBkmewQM-CMnuomaaco which bad erupted into a quarreL : The painter's sexuality is of course unconcealed, and its violent 'manifestations clean "His St John, pictures are a succession of; male nudes straightforward physique fihotos." Jarman oegan to magine the course of Caravaggio's relationship ' with Thomasino and the route leading to the-horrific, murderous finale. Christopher Hobbs has created a breathtaking series of Caravaggio pastiches and managed to contrive a series of Roman tableaux within the warehouse. But the characters 8 peak in a mixture of K M H OMki'no) nJ . see listings for details 4 From Fri 25 April Eves 6.00 & 8:30 (Sun at 3.304 6:00) Mikhail Baryshnikov Gregory Hines A TAYLOR HACKF0RD FILM YOU ". . . it's which would give Sherlock Holmes no clues as to who did it . . IAIN JOHNSTONE - SUNDA Y TIMES "KCEILENT two excellent Jeff Bridges and One of the beat thrillers of the year." DEREK MALCOLM - THE OUARDtAN WCHCOCKIAN SUSPENSE" . . . one of the year's ten best, at the very least . . . true Hitchcockian suspense ANDY QJLL-NEWMUSJOU. EXPRESS "IUJGENr' H. . . Intelligent playing (Glenn Close and Jeff Bridges) of a smartly-written script keeps the thing in a class of its own. . NBLHOmUH-JHEKACE When a murder case is this shocking, which do you trust? Your emotions or your evidence? Odeon : ST. ALBANS Odeon MUWELLnii4.oaeoi SLDUQHQranaoa ancient imdmodernBrittsh , voices, andthe. (Mhes -are rchwen principally ftompost- wataiy,:Plaeis and time are. fluid. Jarman is predictably impenitept '"We tend to look ; .at&e past as if it were a kind ; of neurotic archaeological construction. The past is 'alwayswittt?us;n4-Ana. let us ; hotiei insist t;. slaves to v the niggling scrupulousness , of a paracular period when it ! will not help to make vivid r and immediate the dilemmas that were' Caravaggio's and which can be ,understood . sharply sUU.; '.'1:,,';.: ' "That; the; filhi - has .been '' made on such a tiny budget financed by the British Film Institute's production board i .-i is a tribute to directorial . ingenuity : in shooting only ; interior locations, and to the film's producer, the 'young Sarah Radclyfet who came to Caravaggio by way of My Beautiful Laundrette, and a fearsome reputation for keep-' iiag rigidly? to budgets. .,-She!ahd?her partner; Tim Sevan came into film production by the sensible backdoor : of making pop promos, ' chiefly for the American market So, it was she came to : meet Derek Jarman, became 6 reducer and . kept him to udget - 1 - "The basic waste of money in the film : industry is ridiculous," she says. "Going so over budget just wouldn't be allowed; "in any other industry.". Caravaggio then stands as an example of what can be achieved outside the mainstream of British film production. Jarman has found the right form for a Caravaggio very much bis own.. "If Caravaggio were alive now and matine films, they would be censored out of existence or he would be at the filmmakers', co-operative, doing things with Super a And as for his pictures if he were painting them now, the police would nave been raiding the gallery' where they were shown' Very Derek Jarman. Derek Jarman's Caravaggio is published by Thames and Hudson at 9.95. The premiere of Caravaggio, on April 24 at 9 pm, will be a chanty performance, with proceeds goxng to Action Against Aids. Tickets for this performance at the Lumiere cinema are available at 5. THE SORT OF FILM CANT PUT DOWN" a thriller, a whodunnit oerformances from Glenn Close. .. STREATHAM Odeon TUNBRIDGE WELLS Cannon WALTHAM CROSS Embassy

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