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FILM: FEBRUARY 2005

CARLIE'S CINE CRITS

The Oscars are with us this month, but you will not find A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT (Cert 15 2 hrs 23 mins) under the best foreign film category, where it should be, as the French have refused to put it forward because it was made with American money.

Really! What films don't get made with a mixture of funding from different sources? However, it is very well worth paying a visit to see.

Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, he uses the same star as in his well-lauded film, Amelie. But this is a much darker film, dealing with love and war, without much humour. As World War I draws to an end, Mathilde (Audrey Tatou) receives word that her fiancÚ, Manech, is one of 5 soldiers who have been court-martialled and pushed out of an Allied trench into no-man's land. Everyone believes all the soldiers died there, but Mathilde refuses to accept that he has died as she is sure that somehow she would know if this were so.

So she embarks on a journey to discover the truth about the fate of her lover. In doing so she is drawn deeper into the horrors of war and the indelible marks it leaves on those whose lives it has touched. A cameo by a fluent French speaking Jodie Foster contributes to the high level of acting and the film is photographed using lighting and colours that reflect the grimness of war contrasted with the lightness of the Breton countryside where Mathilde and Maneche grow up.


February also brings a fascinating documentary, THE YES MEN (Cert 15 2 hrs 32 mins), which follows Andy and Mike as they set up a web site that mimics the World Trade Organisation and are then mistaken for the real thing and invited to speak at conferences. There are hilarious moments as participants take their satire for profound wisdom. The film is thought provoking and instructive.


Grandparents as well as parents will enjoy taking their young ones to RACING STRIPES (Cert tbc 1 hr 25 mins) which tells how an abandoned baby zebra is rescued by a farmer and brought brought up to believe himself a racehorse.

The farmer's daughter wishes to win a major race and together they work hard and strive to win. Dustin Hoffman. Whoopi Goldberg and other Hollywood luminaries voice the 'live' animals. I enjoyed it and the kids at the screening adored it!

FILM: FEBRUARY 2005

Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, he uses the same star as in his well-lauded film, Amelie. But this is a much darker film, dealing with love and war, without much humour. As World War I draws to an end, Mathilde (Audrey Tatou) receives word that her fiancÚ, Manech, is one of 5 soldiers who have been court-martialled and pushed out of an Allied trench into no-man's land. Everyone believes all the soldiers died there, but Mathilde refuses to accept that he has died as she is sure that somehow she would know if this were so.


THE WOODSMAN (cert. 15 1hr. 27mins.), gives a welcome leading role to Kevin Bacon at long last. I would not have imagined that I could feel sympathy for a character who preys on young children, yet this well-crafted film with an excellent subdued portrayal of the ex-convict by Kevin Bacon, has just that result. Aided by a robust , tough-talking Kyra Sedgwick (Bacon's real-life wife) as a woman who comes to his aid by accepting him for what he has become rather than judging him on his past behaviour, we are shown a man in turmoil as he is forced to face up to his past and deal with the present.

While not offering any easy solutions, first time director, Nicole Kassell, forces us to examine our own views and realise that what seems obvious might not always be so.

Also on now is THE SEA INSIDE (Cert. PG 2hrs 05mins), which deals with the difficult subject of a man who wants to take his own life but needs help to do so. It is based on the profoundly moving true story of the Spaniard, Ramon Sampredo (played by Javier Bardem) who fought a 30 year battle to end his life with dignity.

The film explores his relationships with two women: Julia, a lawyer who supports his cause, and Rosa, a local woman who wants to convince him that life is worth living. Well-acted and filmed, it provides another example of a story that makes us face up to different views on life and death.


THEATRE TIP

In a similar vein WHOSE LIFE IS IT ANYWAY? (Comedy Theatre) is a challenging play, by Brian Clartke, dealing with the freedom to choose one's own time to die. Kim Cattrall plays Claire who has been paralysed in an accident and is stuck in hospital with an active mind, but a body that won't work. Although dealing with a most serious subject there is much humour in the lines and performances. Peter Hall directs the play in a manner that intelligently explores the issues and their resolution.

Good to see the return of Derek Jacobi to the West End. Although on the surface a difficult play, Jacobi and the rest of the cast in DON CARLOS (Gielgud Theatre) present Schiller's play so clearly that the audience has no problem in comprehending the interaction of passion and politics. The Spanish theme is strongly in evidence at the present time with the RSC presenting a trio of Spanish Golden Age camedies. They are bright, fast moving and very funny. Take your pick, or visit all three: you will find THE DOG IN THE MANGER or HOUSE OF DESIRES as well as PEDRO, THE GREAT PRETENDER well worth the price of a ticket.

Carlie Newman

   
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