Empire State is a stylised, tough-talking British lilm noir set in London’s East End where the activities at the wide boys, male prostitutes and yuppie business tolk are seen as some kind at microcosm lor events in Thatcher’s Britain. It is a glossy, ambitious lilm that interweaves several stories and marks a considerable step forward tor its director Ron Peck.

A graduate ol the London Film School, Peck is best known tor the independent gay teature Nighthawks (1978) and the subversiver comic short What Can I Do With A Male Nude? (1985). Empire State has occupied him and his partner Mark Ayres tor the past three years and marks a hard lought move into mainstream teatures. ‘Films like LetterTo Brezhnev and Mona Lisa have only come about in the last eighteen months, two years, and when we started there was an enormous resistance to making a contemporary tilm,’ Peck explains. ‘At one point we thought we had raised all the tinance and a section at the money tell away, so it was a battle. Initially we were prompted by a sense at things changing in the East End; that the old gangland image was being turned into some smart, American-style images and there was the extraordinary contradiction ol being able to walk all the street at some rundown estate into something like a Manhattan nightclub. Then that seemed symbolic ol the rapid changes in Britain as a whole; the drive tortitness, expensive clothes, the whole designer ethos which might be some kind at tacelitt to conceal everything that was still crumbling underneath.’

As Empire State evolved, Peck saw some three hundred actors over a period ol lour months in a search tor ‘Fresh laces and new people without past associations.’ Picking the cream at the crop he used improvisational workshop as a testing ground tor the actors to explore their characters and contribute to the development at the script. Lee Drysdale's excellent depiction ol the wily rent boy Johnny was one character to emerge lrom this process. ‘Improvisation tests something other than ability,’ Peck

o Boesman and Lena ( 15) (Athol Fugard. South Africa. 1973) 102 mins. Fugard also stars in this remarkable Beckett-like drama condemning racist policies in this land. supported by the self-explanatory Portrait ofNe/son Mandela. Edinburgh; Filmhouse 0 Brazil ( 15) (Terry Gilliam. UK 1985) Jonathan Pryce. Robert DeNiro. Michael l’alin. 142 mins. Ambitious. dazzling Orwellian romance with Pryce as a cog in the bureaucratic wheel finally stirred to oppose the system by the power of love. Edinburgh: Filmhouse Glasgow; (irosvenor

0 Broken Mirrors ( 18) (Marleen (iorris. Holland. 1984) Lineke Rijxman.1—lenrielte Tol. 112 mins. Two narrative strands one involving a sadistic killer and one


believes, ‘and it’s not something that everyone does well. It depends on the actor’s grasp ot a character so he leels able to react as that character to anything that may happen. Once lilming began we kept to what was scripted because the schedule was tight. Improvising is not something l’ve wholly got to grips with but I would like to try and take it lurther, it’s just that in England the written word is still so sacrosant.’

To balance the youth and inexperience ot the majority at his players, Peck cast veterans Martin Landau and Bay McAnally in key roles as an American businessman and an elder statesman ol the East End gangs. ‘The two older characters had to have a weight and a history at experience. Martin was incredible because he knew the smallest technique down to where

following the growing resistance of a prostitute to the demeaning demands of her work are intertwined to thought-provoking but ultimately inequitable effect in this feminist perspective on male-female relationships from the director of A Question ()f.Silwz(‘e. Glasgow; (iF'l‘

0 Cabaret ( 18) (Bob Fosse. US. 1972) Liza Minnelli. Joel (irey. Michael York. 124 mins. In the divinely decadent Berlin of the early ‘30s singer Sally Bowles wows them at the Kit Kat (,‘lub. encounters the beginnings of Nazism and shares her pretty English boyfriend with a gay baron.

Stylish and invigorating Broadway musical turned Oscar-winning cinema landmark. Edinburgh; Filmhouse




to place his hands in relation to the camera. It was just instinctive but he recalled working on North By Northwest, his tirst tilm, and how he’d tollow everything and learn the demands otthe medium.’

Depending onthe linancial viability 01 Empire State, Peck has clear aspirations tor the luture at his company Team Pictures. ‘Empire State is a declaration at what we want to do; tough, contemporary lilms that express as much visually as through the script. In Britain the emphasis is still on the written word and we teel that the placing ot the camera, the use at colour or music is just as important trom a tilm’s very conception. lt Empire State succeeds then I want to make lilms with the emphasis much less on the dialogue.’ ,

(Allan Hunter)

0 Casablanca (PU) (Michael (’urtiz. US. 1942) Humphrey Bogart. Ingrid Bergman. Dooley Wilson. 102 mins. You must remember this. . . Bogart being impossiny noble. Bergman torn between two lovers. (‘laude Rains playing both ends against the middle. devious Nazis. a fogbound airport. a piano-player [inkling that tune . . . A wonderful hill of beans. (ilasgow: (irosvenor

0 Children at a Lesser God ( 15) (Randa Haines. US. 1986) William Hurt. Marlee Matlin. 119 mins. (‘apable but empty filmed theatre. with brilliant but unconventional teacher first challenged but then enamoured of Oscar-winning Ms Matlin. Glasgow: Cinema. Strathclyde: ()deon Hamilton

0 Le Cop (Les Ripoux) ( 15) ((‘laude Zidi. France. 198411’hiliPPC Noirct‘

'l'hierry Lhermitte. Regine. 107 mins. Noiret and Lherrnitte star as an ()dd (‘ouple on the beat: the former a street-smart veteran who has a carefully arranged lifester whereby he never pays cash for anything. the latter an idealistic. incorruptible rookie who vows that there is no such thing as a ‘free‘ meal. Sly. inventive. anarchic and cheerfully amoral llic comedy. a genuine treat. Edinburgh; Filmhouse 0 CritterS( 15) (Stephen llerak. US. 198(1) Dee Wallace Stone. M. limmet Walsh. 95mins. Lively. sophomoric piss-take of Gremlins with demented balls of fluff laying siege to the homely ranch ofa Middle-American family. (iood. low-budget fun. (ilasgow; (‘annon Sauciehall Street. Cinema. Edinburgh; ('annon - Crocodile Dundee ( l5) (I’eter Faiman. Australia. 198()) Paul Hogan. Linda Kizlowski. 98mins. Slight but engaging comedy-romance starring l loges as a legendary croc hunter at large among the sophisticates in the jungle ofdowntown Manhattan. Edinburgh; Dominion 0 Death in Venice ( 15) (Luchino V'isconti. Italy. 1971 ) Dirk Bogarde. Bjorn Andersen. Silvano Mangano. 130 mins. Sumptuous adaptation of the Thomas Mann novella with Bogarde superbly inhabiting the skin of an elderly composer who is smitten with the perfect beauty ofa young boy. A ravishing film with music by Mahler. and Bogarde at the absolute peak of his screen mastery. (ilasgow; (1171‘ o Deliverance ( 18) (John Boorman. US. 1972) Burt Reynolds. Jon Voight. Ned Beatty. 109 mins. Four city dwellers on a weekend canoeing trip in the Appalachians encounter disaster when they are confronted by local hillbillies and the river proves more than they can handle. A thrilling action movie and a lucid expose of the veneer ofcivilised harmony modern society has painted over man's essentially savage existence. this is Boorman‘s finest hour and rewards viewing after viewing. Edinburgh; (‘ameo 0 Un Drole De Paroissien (Jean-Pierre Mocky. France. 1963) Bourvil. Francis Blanche. Jean l’oiret. French comic Bourvil makes a fast franc by stealing from the collecting boxes in churches. (ilasgow; French (‘ine (‘1th o Duetloane ( 15) (Andrei Konchalovsky. US. 198(1) Julie Andrews. Alan Bates. Max Von Sydow. 107 mins. Dim. dismal ‘opening out' ofthe 'l'om Kempinski play with Julie as a world-renowned violinist stricken by multiple sclerosis. A singular failure. Edinburgh; (‘annon o 84 Charing Cross Road (U) (David Jones. US. 198(3) Anne Bancroft. Anthony Hopkins. Judi Dench. 99 mins. Mild-mannered but effective depiction of the twenty-year affectionate correspondence between brassy. garrulous American Anglophile Helene llanff and the stiff-upper-lip English bookseller

12 The List 12 25 June