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The Guardian from London, Greater London, England • 10

Publication:
The Guardiani
Location:
London, Greater London, England
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Page:
10
Extracted Article Text (OCR)

ARTS GUARDIAN Thursday March 12 1981 10 FIRST Race against the tide Nancy Banks-Smith looks at the life qf Flookburgh's shrimp fishermen Mona Lisa. Others would go further and claim they are a melody from a symphony by Strauss, a Bendel bonnet, a Shakespeare sonnet, Mickey Mouse. Shrimping in the bay-is, therefore, a daily igold rush, getting to the best shrimping grounds first. A procedure as fraught as finding a parking space in Lon-i don. In the bay, however, you must remember that the man you beat to a parking space is the one you wjll need to haul you out of i a quicksand.

What the documentary had to have was a trapped tractor. It says much for Cock-croft's ruthless patience that he waited for it and got it. Other tractors gathered, revving, hauling. A rope tightened and snapped. Bloody hell, I think it's there to stop." It was down to its hub-caps.

"We'll never shift it." They didn't. It sank until only the chimney showed like a periscope, the rip tide came roaring in and the fishermen made a run for it. their tractors black against the dying light. But the television team waited and watched it drown. said his friends with even greater honesty "Tha wor told it wor no good when tha bowt it." Them's fighting words and it can come to that.

Yan fisherman bit another's lug off in a feet" (translation: one fisherman bit another's ear off in a fight). It might have been worse. At first I thought he said leg. They are, with good reason, men of few words. I'll 'appen say summat said Brian Shore about someone, the tomorrer I'll be in a quicksand and need a bit of a pull and they'll say 'Bugger 'im'." Few words but strong ones.

The dialect is Cumbrian, the curses plain and simple, the language elemental. As tha knaws, hunger's a sharp thorn." Most of us would admit with some embarrassment that we know no such thing. However, if you are peckish there is nothing better than Morecambe shrimps. They give other shrimps an inferiority complex. Some would say they are the smile on the Mona Lisa.

Or even the cause of the smile on the the sky, picks up and polishes the pale sun, doubles the rainbow. The fisher-, men send up glittering furrows as they race for the shrimping grounds or, when the treacherous tide turns, home. The work Is hard, hazardous, nervous. To be any good you've got to be a bit cracked. Flookburgh is like a family, too close for comfort.

"I don't think anyone in the village speaks to everyone," said Cedric Robinson, who being the Queen's Guide to the sands lives outside the village and works alone. It's so competitive you're at one another's throats all the time. Families fall out on the sands." Don't they just. After Christmas, the occasion most calculated to set families striking each other with spades is, a day out on the sands. You can see this family frankness at work in the Flookburgh pub.

I think I can say in all honesty," said one man, concluding the sad tale of a trapped tractor, that the best tractor in the village was ruined." Naw," I will make you fishers of THE MEN Of The Wet Sahara (Yorks) trawl More-cambe Bay for shrimps and, now and then, for fishermen caught in its quicksands. They fish from tractors, not boats, and the sands can gulp these down like the Great Grimpen Mire which made everyone tremble so in The Hound Of The Baskervilles. There was a hound here too. Brian Shore, one of the fishermen, owns a champion whippet, the fastest teeth in the west. They 'ave to be a bit cracked to be any good he said, wrenching its clamped jaws off.

the bit of fur it fancied. This is the first of a new four part series of Once In A Lifetime, produced and directed by Barry Cockcroft. He specialises in men and women who live in collision or collusion with harsh nature. The concept is Wordsworthian, enduring people in lonely places. It makes for entrancing photography from Mostafa Hammuri.

Even at low tide the 120 square miles of the bay are covered with a thin skin of water which reflects Sissy Spacek and Ernest Tubb in Coal Miner's Daughter Derek Malcolm reviews Coal Miner's Daughter and the other releases pride 5 fey MICHAEL Apted's Coal Miner's Daughter (Plaza, A) is a very curious, if successful, picture. Based on llie autobiography of I.orctta Lynn, the country music star who hailed from a poor white Appalachian family, married at 13 and bore four children before becoming a leading light of the Grand Olc Opry, it is so loosely directed as to be almost without shape. It also progresses, almost imperceptibly, from the nitty-gritty realism of its early scenes into a full-blown showbiz saga, complete with nervous breakdown and final triumph. Yet the film, unified and often transformed by a superb performance from Sissv Spacek and a very good one from Tommy Lee Jones, survives this change of gear and even builds upon it. Perhaps because it starts the way it docs almost like a social document the later, more familiar sequences gain a greater validity.

But the greatest strength of the film lies in the way Apted, always a good actor's director but less firm on structure (vide Stardust and Agatha), illuminates and underlines the changing relationship of his husband and wife. It is he who forces her into singing stardom, but she who takes over, forcing him into a gradual reversal of roles. Spacek. the star of Badlands. Three Women, and Carrie, has seldom given a more mature performance while still retaining her extraordinary ability to seem totally at the mercy of circumstances.

And Jones seldom puts a foot wrong as the Svcngali who trumps his own ace. NATIONAL FILM THEATRE South Bank, London SE1 Box Office: 01-928 32323 MARCH PROGRAMMES INCLUDE ERICH VON STROHEIM Director and A ctor F. W. MURNAU: Poet and Painter Tickets 1.20 and E1.50 Membership from 40p the men rather than the women provide the mainspring of the drama. Two unusual, and unusually good, documentaries open this week.

The most curious is Ira Word's Best Boy (Academy, U), in which the film-maker looks at the life and hard times of his retarded cousin, a balding 52-year-old with the mental age of five. Hard times, it transpires, not because his elderly Jewish parents in any way mistreat him, but because, apart from a brief period in a home, he has lived all his life cocooned in their over-protective embrace. The film shows Ira taking the gentle Philly in hand, sending him to a psychiatrist, enrolling him at a day centre for the handicapped and gradually expanding his experience of the strange world outside his home. During the shooting, his old father dies and his mother has to be persuaded that, when she too goes, a residential centre is the only answer. Meanwhile Philly seems to welcome both the camera and his new freedom as if somehow they are intimately connected.

The film was shown at the New York and London film festivals, and eventually received an Oscar. It is not exactly rigorous we don't learn enough about Philly in detail and rather too much footage is devoted to his parents. But it does give a fascinating glimpse of the trials and tribulations of coping with a retarded child, and rightly suggests that those trials arc not one-sided. Optimism is the keynote and what Wohl discovers also opens up argument and debate. Fred "Wiseman's Model, which is the centrepiece of a season of his films at the Electric, is about fashion models, not the other variety.

And, like most of his state-of-the-art documentaries, it assumes nothing about its subjects. Based on the work of a high-powered model agency, it does have opinions, but they are gradually formed as the filming, and notably the editing (about which you can't be objective), progress. Those wishing for exciting polemic should look elsewhere. This is not the sort of film that gets Oscars. Yet Wiseman's studies of contemporary institutions certainly deserve one.

They are valu The film, however, might have sot nowhere pretty fast without Apted's handsome recreation of the Kentucky homestead into the midst of which Jones's boastful and confident ex-serviceman arrives to claim the hand of his child-bride. This is the best piece of sustained filmmaking the director has yet achieved. The rest, performances apart, is stronger on detail than on narrative drive. A film, though, to remember, just because it started as it did and never nuite betrays its opening half-hour. Its clutch of Oscar nominations clearly proves something.

Brothers and Sisters (ICA Cinema and Cinecenta, AA) is about the murder, in a Northern town that looks much like Ripper country, of a local prostitute. The title, however, gives you the clue that it isn't just the advertised thriller. So does the genesis produced by the BIT Production Board and made by Richard Woolley, albeit, on the biggest budget yet accorded to a feature by the BFI. In fact, the film tries for significance by suggesting that men are such hypocrites that they are all responsible for the death. That way we never get to know whodunnit, which is surely a cheat.

And we are also treated to an exceedingly self-conscious, overwritten and under-performed piece of didactic cinema about two of the main suspects, one a leftish intellectual with scrupulous liberal opinions and no sense at all, the other a right-wing professional soldier who is virtually a cardboard cut-out. Why then is the film so watchable Partly, I think, because Woolley, though clearly neither a natural screenplay writer nor a very skilful director of actors, still manages to get more than halfway under the skin of the sort, of provincial life we might well regard as parody if we didn't know that it can be all too real. And also because the film is very good to look at, particularly when Pasco McFarlane's location camerawork is given full rein in the dark, suburban streets. It is a film which, for all its faults, is recognisably English and has recognisably English concerns. The other side of the coin to Tony Garnetl's Prostitute in that Janacek's that takes a comic strip about talking animals and makes of it something universal, free from whimsy and with its own wry tang.

Translucence. lightness, spring were the marks of the orchestral playing under Richard Armstrong's direction as good as you could hope to find. Words came through clearly much of the time all the more surprising because the Dominion is a large house and has no orchestra pit to speak of. Yet clarity was not bought at the cost of tameness. Tender accompaniments (to such things as the woes of drunken foolish mankind) had full play.

Like the celebrated Glyn-debourne production, this one by David Pountney (with Maria Bjornson the inventive designer) uses emblems to identify the animals the child-caterpillar tripping along in hooped dress carries a caterpillar-accordion. The Welsh version has its own odd magic snowsheets vanish down a hole in the roller-coaster permanent set, the hens are music-hall chars, birds loll in umpires' seats hung from the flies. Only the ballet interludes seem a touch too human. Though the performance calls almost as much for physical as for vocal athleticism the large cast got the music across as well as the tumbling. Good tenor and bass sounds from Arthur Davies (the Fox) and Geoffrey Moses (the Poacher) strong performances from Helen Field (the Vixen), Phillip Joll (the Forester), and Nigel Douglas (the Schoolmaster).

A life-enhancing evening. RIVERSIDE Michael Billington Domestic Affair IT SOUNDS like the kind of show John Osborne mercil-lesslv parodies. But the Roval Court Activists' production of Domestic Affair (at the Riverside Studios until Saturday) is a lively, vivid, impressionistic account of the problems faced by battered wives. It also goes some way towards proving its thesis that the issue is not simply a domestic affair but a symptom of the way women are treated by the culture as a whole. Improvised around the experiences of the Chiswick Family Rescue Home and scripted by Gilly Fraser, it presents us with five women who swap stories of male violence.

Rather on the lifeboat principle, they range from an upper-class nurse whose doctor-husband is adept at disguising the evidence, to a working-class wife bashed about by her leather-clad rock-group partner. The five women bicker among themselves, rail against the life-sentence atmosphere of the home, discuss their own inadequacies '(" It's amazing how brave we are with other people's husbands and concur on the IflTTB seldom as unsatisfactory as the present one. There is still time to pull it into shape before it goes to New York again in the summer but much needs to be done. The lighting, noisy scene changes, wobbling drop curtain may be righted by the verv next performance at Covent Garden. But it is the casting and the characterisations that are mostly wrong.

I except at once Anthony Dowell, who gives a beautiful account of the competition solo for Daphnis, and Merele Park for the sheer quality of her dancing. She misses the extraordinarily piteous quality Fonteyn had in the captive dance But Marguerite Porter, sensitive artist though she is, is totally miscast as the sensual Lykanion so that the seduction scene with Daphnis goes for nothing. Julian Hosking (disguised as David Drew with moustache) makes nothing of Dorkon and Stephen Jefferies, surprisingly, makes nothing of Brvaxis. The pirates were always something of a problem but they have now become ludicrously balletic and lightweight. In fact the whole ballet was looking sadly old-fashioned until the exultant finale won it cheers.

The biggest applause of the evening went to the evergreen 50-year-old Facade, but it was madness putting MacMillan's My Brother. My Sisters between these two works. ST JOHN'S Edward Greenfield Paul Coker PAUL COKER, now 2f, Is still best remembered as an outstanding candidate in the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition in 1978. But since then, thanks to the English Speaking Union, he has had the chance to study in America. The development in his artistry was very clear from this recital at St John's Smith Square in aid of the ESU Music Scholarships.

If anyone thought that the American experience would harden Coker in the wrong way, put him in line with the steamhammer school of pianism, then all four works here proved the contrary, even the Bartok Suite Opus 14, which if anything lacked a little in bite in the three dance movements and then found its poetic justification in the slow lyrical final movement. Coker is not just a keyboard poet and a persuader but essentially a singing artist, so that the great Schubert flat Sonata was not so much an epic statement as the product of the greatest of all song-writers, at times achingly poignant. The Chopin flat minor sonata found its culmination in the great central melody of the Funeral March, while, even Beethoven's minor Variations, often treated like a Czerny exercise, had tenderness as well as energy. DAILY MAIL REMARKABLE' SUNDAY EXPRESS "ELEGANT" SUNDAY TIMES "MASTERLY" DAILY TELEGRAPH lack of sympathy shown by doctors, police and many of their own sex. But the conclusion they reach is that you can't do anything on your own it is society's attitudes towards women that have to be changed.

What lifts this 70-minute show above liberal worthiness, however, is the variety of theatrical techniques employed by the director, Catherine McCall. We get mimed brutality and silent karate-chops, choreographed congress and a visually adroit account of the male idea of the perfect woman of which one instance is a figure on her back, legs obligingly apart, brandishing a grill-pan. But even if a show like this is only a starting-point, it at least airs a real social problem with bags of theatrical vigour. COVENT GARDEN Mary Clarke Daphnis And Chloe Merle Pari; picture by Douglas Jejjery FREDERICK ASHTON'S ballet to Ravel's glorious score for Daphnis and Chloe has had a curious life. When it was first staged, nearly 30 years ago.

it was received coolly both by audiences and by all but the most discerning critics. Gradually it won affection here and Chloe became one of Margot Fon-teyn's most moving, most radiant roles. But it was in New York, during the company's 1953 tour, that it was really hailed as a masterpiece, Revivals without Fonteyn have never altogether satisfactory Ashton has said that it is the ballet in which he misses her the most but ri I II I 1 li ofM ADVANCE lOOKUM OFFICE MATS om-Y MAT IE RESERVED WON PRISM KWOM1ANCC OMLV SAT A SUN AU PERFORMANCES SEPARATE PERFORMANCES 1 W. i can RFHRADIO 3 Meirion Bowen BBCSO Barenboim PIERRE Boulez's visits to London to conduct the BBC Symphony Orchestra rare as they are blow away a lot of cobwebs, reminding us of what he did in the Sixties and Seventies to make 20th century music a regular component of our concert programmes. This Festival Hall concert had a highly characteristic flavour, revealing both traditional and innovatory ingredients in Bartok, Schoenberg and Varese.

The opportunity to hear Bartok's Four Pieces for Orchestra, Opus 12, was particularly welcome. They are rarely played, not only because they are very demanding, but because of their slightly unsettled stylistic quality. They seem to mingle elements from The Miraculous Mandarin, Bluebeard's Castle and other mature works by this composer. Nevertheless, they add up to a rewarding proposition. Bartok's Piano Concerto No.

1 has a more defined, folk-based idiom and is consequently easier to assimilate. All the same, its percussion writing in the slow movement and its general harmonic and textural individuality rarely failed to astonish. In this performance, the soloist was Daniel Barenboinij who played with enormous virtuosity, but tended often to press the tempo forward, causing both Boulez and the orchestra to lose their grip on the rhythm. Bartok and Varese were composers who seemed to welcome new sonorities in an open-minded, indeed jubilant, spirit. Varese's Ameriques struck home with tremendous force, not merely because of the sheer decibels involved, but through the easy, natural flow of its invention and formal shapes.

Some of the atavistic quality of the music was lost at times, as the BBC players perhaps curbed by Boulez resisted some of the composer's fortissimo markings. DOMINION John Rosselli Cunning Little Vixen ONLY overseas aid ranks-higher than subsidies for the arts among the things people would rather cut. In the face of this opinion poll result (published in the Financial Times at the weekend) the Welsh National Opera opened a short London season with a performance on Budget night that showed just what we shall lose if the present bleak age grows bleaker. Translucent and terse such is the poetry of The Cunning Little. that extraordinary late work of I FROM 19th MARCH HEARTLAND GRAND PRIX: BERLIN 80 'Remarkable performances" LONDON FILM FESTIVAL brochure Tuesday, 17 March, 7.30 p.m.

RON CARTER 4 EHwridgtSaMfort Band able precisely because of the distance he keeps, and will become increasingly so as curiosity is heightened by time. Also, he depends so greatlv on his subjects that he is more at the mercy of his material than most. If it's dull, as it was in Sinai Field Mission, he won't change it. If it isn't, his abstemious methods produce incomparable footage, as in Juvenile Court and Welfare, which are also on show. Model is halfway between the two, evincing a sharp and even spiteful sense of humour but still putting on the straight est of faces.

On the whole, thought, it allows vou to think your own thoughts. Mine were that Wiseman has illustrated, often marvellously, a rat-race perfectly in tune with the commercially-obsessed society within which it operates. Do you want to sell your product, or vourself? We have the know-how. It is a microcosm of the American life we have all more or less slavishly copied that explains a lot more than usual about the world about us. John Quested's Loophole (Empire, A) puts Albert Finnev, Martin Sheen, Jonathan Pryce and others into the sewers of London whence they rob the hitherto burglar-proof vault of a Thames-side holding bank.

Is this the British Rififi? Unfortunately not, since a flaccid script and unremarkable logistics give a fairly distinguished cast very little indeed to do except look sweaty. An overlong explanatory section and an oddly truncated denouement are other disadvantages. Surely Messrs Finney and Sheen deserve, and arc capable of serving, something more ambitious Motel Hell (London Pavilion. X) is a piece of latter-day American Grand Guignol starring Rory Calhoun, now a gentle-looking veteran with the most engaging of smiles, as Farmer Vincent, a Southern smoked meal expert who traps more or less innocent passers-by, slits their vocal chords, plants them in the ground with a bag over their heads to cure them and then shoves them in his pies. It takes all sorts of critters to make Farmer Vincent fritters," goes the tag-line, as You're Eating Out My Heart And Soul is warbled over the sound-track.

LAST THREE DAYS Woody Atan, Chorion running, Mflem Harper STARDUST MEMORIES Dimt KaMon, QiraMin Pgo, Mwnwi Stspteton ton, Gtraldin Pig, 8tpUton INTERIORS From Suiday March 1S for 7 diyi KUROSAWA'S KAGAMUSHA 1 I GOING PUBLIC WITH The story so far: naffed to the molars with the hooligan heroics of the Sex Pistols, Johnny Rotten reverts to plain old John Lydon and goes legit with Public Image Ltd, whose cantankerous bomb-shelter boogie has some critics in stitches and the rest in reverential rapture. Surviving a strategy that's confused most onlookers, PiL are about to release their third album, "Flowers Of named after Sid Vicious' old group. This gives us the excuse for a frank exchange of views in a memorable head-to-head with Public Image. We'll also be tongue-wrestling with dishevelled Beatpoet reincarnation, Tom Waits, going gaucho in South. America with Queen and discussing international finances with former Squeeze ivory tinkler Jools Holland and his Millionaires.

"this singer and mistress-of-all-trades offers the best solo show 111 tOWn Financial Times 4. tt Ninetyvulgan mttfim dynamic minutes EWorld It's all good dirty fun. Daily Star: "A stunning sci-fi epic Derek Malcolm ANDREI TARKOVSKYS STflLKER "A Wrk of incomparable magic and excitement." En. Times jft A loddCoffipw)' Meat CURZON CURZON ST. MAVfAIR -W1 499 3737-38 Showing at: 4 LSli LEICESTER SOU 930 0G3I UtSAoFnAS 11pm Round Horn Chi Firm RA.

NW1. 01.267 26M. TELEPHONE 01-7372121 2.00pra IMot Sun), 4.05, 6.20, 8.40pm. 3 'C IHEMALl-SW'9MJ47.

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