Wednesday 26 August 1998
Director: Phillipe de Broca
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Curzon Mayfair, Richmond Filmhouse
GADJO DILO (15)
Director: Tony Gatlif
The opening isn't auspicious. We see Stephane (Romain Duris), a young Parisian, tramping down a long, icy road, somewhere in rural Romania. His quest for Nora Luca, the gypsy singer whose music he discovered through his father, seems wilfully obscure. But once Stephane blunders into a gypsy village after a drunken night with Izidor, an old man he meets crying and cursing in the snow, the filmmaking takes wing. The old man, whose own son has just been arrested, treats Stephane like a surrogate child.
Stephane learns gradually about the habits, superstitions and, above all, the music of his hosts. The gypsies regard him at first as a potential rapist, murderer or thief. Presumably, they must have felt roughly the same way about the director, Tony Gatlif, but this, thankfully, is not one of those films in which the director peers at people as if they are ethnographic curiosities. Gatlif, himself of gypsy origin, never patronises his subjects. There is a warmth and humour to the storytelling which makes redundant any accusations that he is packaging exotic images of a disenfranchised community for the delectation of bourgeois cinemagoers.
THE LIFE OF STUFF (U)
Director: Simon Donald
A profoundly depressing Glasgow gangland drama. Performances and direction are pitched at such an overwrought level from the very first scene that the film doesn't have anywhere to go. The claustrophobic settings (almost the entire story takes place in a deserted warehouse) don't help. Ewen Bremner and Gina McKee do their best as two hostages trapped in the basement, but the shock tactics do little but leave you numb.
Director: Philip Saville
In this suburban morality tale, Chris (Christian Bale) is festering somewhere in the commuter belt, playing happy families, when his old friend Tony (Lee Ross) thinks that he ought to be out having fun. Most of the film is set in the 1970s, but the period is not reconstructed with any great verve. There is plenty that's likeable - the late-1960s Paris interlude, especially, is very endearing. But back on home soil, the storytelling is less assured, and on the whole, Saville shows a dispiriting lack of ambition.
Metro, Odeon Kensington, Virgin Fulham Road, Virgin Haymarket
THE X-FILES (15)
Director: Rob Bowman
Fans of the X-Files television series have been heard to complain recently that the show's itinerant approach to conspiracy theories had taken some of the novelty and lustre out of the subject. In which case, The X-Files as it appears on film isn't likely to offer any compensation. But you can't deny that it looks splendid on the big screen: the director Rob Bowman and his director of photography, Ward Russell, have concocted some awe-inspiring compositions. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson reprise their roles as FBI agents Mulder and Scully respectively, and the screenplay (by the series' creator Chris Carter) gives them a meaty conundrum to chew on, involving a shifty secret government, a deadly virus from outer space and the world's oldest living organism. Duchovny and Anderson are most engaging; through little dialogue and even less facial movement they manage to convey great tenderness.
ABC Baker Street, ABC Shaftesbury Avenue, Clapham Picture House, Elephant & Castle Coronet, Hammersmith Virgin, Odeon Camden Town, Odeon Haymarket, Odeon Kensington, Odeon Marble Arch, Odeon Swiss Cottage, Odeon West End, Ritzy Cinema, Virgin Chelsea, Virgin Fulham Road, Virgin Trocadero
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