ThE FiLm AnD ViDeO ReViEwS


Jaspre Bark looks at the Film newbies and Marcus goes goggle eyed after watching the cream of this month's video releases.

Grid Runners

Director - Andrew Stevens
Stars - Don "the dragon" Wilson, Athena Massey, Stella Stevens (yes we've never heard of them either)

Set in the future Don Wilson (the world kickboxing champion) plays a grid runner David Quarry- a superior cop - obsessed with getting to level 10 on Lethal Combat, a VR game for kickboxers.

The plot follows the standard cop movie route. Cop and buddy, against the forces of free enterprise, buddy gets killed by baddy, cop tries to avenge buddy, but has to resign to do it.

So where does the sci-fi come in ? The big company is a VR company who manufactures VR systems, their top scientist discovers a way of making the VR characters into flesh. The first two are the top cyber porn models Greta and Liana.. Which Burtech plan to sell off to their highest bidder. Unfortunately for Burtech and everyone else one of the characters Dante (Michal Bernardo- who says not a single word throughout the film, ie he probably has an accent thicker than Schwarzenegger so they give him telepathic speech read by an American actor ) from level 10 of Lethal Combat also decides he wants to be made flesh.

A very bad B-movie (if there is such a thing), the plot jumps all over the place, Quarry suddenly gets access to information that he couldn't possibly have deduced ever, you know the kind of thing i mean. But it kept me entertained, just the thing for a dull Sunday afternoon. Plus it has the odd good line. When the bad guy is told that a represenetative of the peoples republic of England, can't turn up he says "well God save the King" . Mercifully the kickboxing is kept to a minimum.


He's the man ! Mr Destiny

Destiny turns on the radio

Director - Jack Baran
Stars James Le Gros, James Belushi and Quentin Trantino

A man wakes up in the desert (a suitable Dick dale Pulp Fiction track plays in the background) and collapses in front of a car containing Johnny Destiny (Quentin Tarantino acting and looking like Micky Dolenz from the Monkees) heading for Las Vegas. Julian for it is he (Julian McDermott), is returning to Vegas after three years in Prison, to find his sweetheart, Lucille is now someone else's and the money they robbed is all gone. Which does not please him.

Tuerto (James Belushi) plays Lucille's (Nancy Travis - a lounge singer) hubbie, a casino owner prone to scratching his balls and singing 'Viva Las Vegas'. He's also having problems with his sex life "when I talk to you I have to wear snowshoes".

I can't understand quite why this did so badly at the box-office, it's much better than most of the crap currently on TV, and at the cinema. It's got a lot of the sci-fi edge of Repo man, and the storyline of Raising Arizona, for that matter Julian reminds me of Nick Cage in Raising Arizona. Worth watching on any day of the week. Extra brownie points go to James Le Gros for his excellent role as Julian's ex partner in crime Thoreau.
PS Travis can't sing to save her life


The Red Desert

Director - Michelangelo Antonini
Stars - Monica Vitti - Richard Harris

Best described as dull, grey, gloom, doom and despondency shot through with a burst of colour aka Monica Vitti. The opening scenes show a strike at a factory that can best be described as an evironmental apocalypse. (Film Triv fans the actress Liv Ullman read out the nomination for Apocalypse now as Apocalypso now. Now that would have been a great movie. Kurtz sits in the depths of a seedy Jamaican bar singing Calypsos based on T S Elliot's The Wasteland whilst guzzling cans of Red Stripe and assaulting passing tourists with coconuts.) Monica Vitti plays a slightly insane car crash victim . Richard Harris (talking Italian no less) is a stranger in these parts, who's here to sort the smoke belching factory. However nothing really seems to happen from there on in. The rest of the film seems to just be the story of a bunch of up-tight bourgeoise Italians play a whole lot of intellectual mind-games, whilst Monica goes slowly but surely round the bend.

Antonio unfortunately was a bit of a Orson, his films just get worse and worse the older he got. The dialogue is ponderous, and the characters are devoid of life, esp the women who are (as usual for Antonini) screwed-up, kooky and constantly angst ridden. The men are to a man, both arrogant and dull, which makes the whole film a

2/10 (the 2's for Monica and being Green before his time)

Don't move Motherf***ers this is a stick-up


Director - Patrick Read Jonson
Stars -. George C Scott, Charlie Talbert, Kathy Bates

"We have not seen an articulate movie about teen issues in a very long time," says Dawn Steel, producer of Angus. And it's doubtful if this movie really goes that far to redress the balance. Cast in the mould of classic teen movies like Ferris Bueller's Day Off and The Breakfast Club, the main problem with Angus is that, unlike the movies it aspires to, it never manages to break out of the Hollywood teen movie formula.

Angus Bethune, played by newcomer Charlie Talbert, is an everygeek, a "fat kid who sweats and is good at science." His best friend is Troy (Chris Owen) a short fellow geek with‚Dumbo sized ears and a fascination with bodily functions. His arch rival is football captain and most popular boy in school Rick Sanford (James van der Beek) and the love of his life is head cheerleader Melissa LeFevre. When Rick rigs the voting for King of the Winter Ball so that Angus is selected, he knows he's being set up for a fall, but it's also the only chance he'll ever get to go on a date with Queen of the Winter Ball Melissa. Unsurprisingly the prank backfires and highschool hero Rick is left with egg on his face. Now where have I heard that plot before ?

Admirable support is supplied by Academy Award winners Kathy Bates as Meg, Angus' mother, Rita Moreno as Madame Rulenska, the Latin dance teacher who gives Angus lessons and George C. Scott who plays the irascible grandfather who's motto is "screw 'em, who cares what they think."

At the heart of this movie is a reflectiont on what constitutes normality. Angus is desperate to fit in at high school at a time in his life when social conformity is of the utmost importance, and his grandfather is challenging social convention by marrying a woman thirty years his junior. The film also makes a worthy, if fleeting attempt to address the issue of bulimia, but for a movie that's supposed to articulately address real teen issues it's mired in a pre-seventies hollywood view of what concerns teenagers. While Angus and co. are worrying about test results and popularity, 22% of all American highschool kids carry guns to school for fear of their lives, and 28% have a major drugs habit before graduation, I didn't see those issues addressed. Fine performances from the cast and an intelligent script and direction however, do manage to lift this film above its lamentably hackneyed premise.

6/10 JB


Director - Joe Johnston
Stars - Robin Williams, Jonathan Hyde and Kirsten Dunst CERT. TBA DURATION 1 HR. 30 MINS. USA

When the young Alan Parrish unearths an ancient, arcane board game in the freshly dug foundations of an extension to his father's shoe factory, he is taking the first steps on an adventure it will take him twenty six years to complete. Jumanji is the name of the board game, "a game for those who seek to find a way to leave their world behind." And that is exactly what happens to Alan when, playing for the first time with his best friend Sarah he is magically imprisoned in the board game, until a five and an eight are rolled in succession.

This won't occur until twenty six years later when two young children Judy (Kirsten Dunst) and Peter (Bradley Pierce) move into the crumbling mansion where Alan used to live, discover the game in the attic and resume the game that Alan and Sarah began playing all those years ago. In doing so they release the now adult Alan Parrish (Robin Williams) a swarm of giant killer mosquitoes, a herd of stampeding animals a psychotic hunter Van Pelt (Jonathan Hyde) and countless more dangers of the jungle. The only way to put a stop to all this chaos is to find the adult Sarah (Bonnie Hunt) and risk life and limb to finish the game.

Williams as the adult Parrish serves up his standard helping of saccharine schmaltz and shows none of his considerable comedic flair. This department is left to the excellent young Kirsten Dunst. But the real star of the film is the computer aided animation, which is at times breath taking. I don't care how jaded and cynical you are, I defy you not to be on the edge of you seat just once.

On the one hand the movie might be seen as a giant metaphor for self repression. Parrish's repressed fear of his father (also played by Hyde) is represented by his struggles with Van Pelt. And our own repressed fears of the more primeval nature that lies beneath our civilised surface might be represented by the jungle that breaks out of the game and has to be put back before it over runs the small town. On the other hand you could simply see it as a better class of family entertainment.

7/10 JB

The curse of Hello strikes the Sanchez family

East LA

Director - Gregory Nava (Producer Francis Ford Coppola)
Stars - Jimmy Smiths, Esai Morales and Edward James Olmos

East LA follows the story of the Sanchez family from Jose Sanchez's epic walk from Mexico to the farm suburb of East LA in the 20's, to the present day East LA Ghetto. In between he raises a family , loses a child or two and sees the area change from farm fields to a ghetto. A child turns delinquent, and gets shot, a daughter turns form nun to the wife of an ex-priest and another gets banged up for GBH ( a pretty ordinary family then ?) it all happens in this film.

Gregory Nava under the tutelage of Francis Ford Coppola tries to recreate the mystique and the family saga of the Godfather and fails miserably. It has the high-points and the low-points of any family, but it all gets too moralistic and it takes far too much time on how wonderful the family is and not enough time on a decent plot. Although the film is full of accomplished actors like Olmos and Smiths it lacks the commanding prescence of someone like DeNiro, Brando or Pacino.


ooh that's cold !

The Viking Saga

Director Michael Chapman
Stars Ralf Moeller, Sven-ole Thorsen and Ingibjorg Stefansdottir

Oh God I think I'm going to be sick !! This viking has just stuck his intestines on a rusty nail and is proceeding to walk around an obelix trailing a length of pork sausage that a butchers dog can only dream about. To say that Iceland was a pretty nasty place under the Vikings is no understatement, and this is a film all about it, or I think it is, the plot for this film - mostly told in voiceover - is just too fast and to convoluted to even think about, so just sit back and enjoy the dismembering. The best guess I got to the plot was this; Good ruler gets killed by black dressed psycho, so the son has to avenge the fathers death, but first he must learn the ways of 'the ancients' from some nutter who likes to live far away from civilisation. A sort of Return of the Jedi set in Iceland.

There are no stars in this film - well they might be big in Iceland apparently Ingibjorg Stefansdottir is the lead singer of pop group 'piece of cake'- there's the usual gratuitous sex, and lots and lots of Monty Python 'Anyone for tennis' dismemberment. It's the closest you'll ever get to a spaghetti Western set in Iceland.


Science and Surrealism

Director - Jean Painleve
Stars - a load of fish

Let's get our cards on the table about this video, I really don't know quite why anyone would want to buy Science and surrealism. The video comprises of 8 films (one surreal seven natural history) by the French director Jean Painleve, shot between the 20's and the 60's. The films cover such delights as the story of the mollusc, the seahorse, vampire bats, octupi, crustacea and chemical reactions to music oh and surrealism.

The surrealist film 'Mathusalem' is wonderful, it contains six scenes based on six surrealistic notions eg 'a coffin carried in a Bugatti folowed by a priest and a group of scooter pushing relatives arguing'. The nat hist movies are also quite extraordinary in their way, they pre-date the sort of work that the BBC Nat hist unit and Jacques Cousteau do best by at least 30 years - the music and the accompanying voiceovers make them quite compelling viewing eat yer heart out Attenborough.

Ultimately what is the point of watching 30-60 year old Nat hist movies ? This film is the surrealist joke; how many surrealists does it take to change a light bulb ? Answer a fish named Jean Painleve .


Monica Vitti


Director - Michelangelo Atonioni
Stars - Minica Vitti, Gabrielle Ferzetti and Lea Massari

Atonioni's classic L'Aventura is finally released on the small screen, and was it worth waiting for ? oh yes it most certainly was. The film starts with a party of young and old bourgeoise types on a boat trip to a supposedly deserted island, and a complex set of interconnected relationships starts to develop. But develop very very slowly. A member of the party Claudia disappears on the island just as a storm is brewing, the party goes back leaving her lover Sandro (Ferzetti) and her best friend Anna (Vitti - looking like sex on a stick) and misfit Corrado to search for her. But with no luck, for the reat of the film they (Anna and Sandro) follow rumours of Claudia around the bleak deserted landscape of Italy, gradually falling in Love.

The film is a masterwork - even though it does clock in at 2 hours 20 minutes - and is Atonioni's best work. I found ever minute completely riveting and it wasn't just Monica Vitti's presence that did it. Even after 30 plus years the film is still staggering, and bewildering, rent the thing now.


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