DRAMA JACK GOES BOATING (15) 90min ●●●●●

Philip Seymour Hoffman goes back to his theatrical roots for his directorial debut, reprising the central role he played on stage in Bob Glaudini’s 2007 off-Broadway hit. Hoffman plays the titular Jack, a shy and withdrawn New York limo driver whose best friend Clyde (John Ortiz) tries to set him up with the equally withdrawn Connie (Gone Baby Gone’s Amy Ryan). The mechanics required to bring Jack and Connie together put an additional stress on Clyde, whose relationship with his live-in girlfriend Lucy (Daphne Rubin-Vega) is also under considerable duress.

predictable but well-observed scenes of domestic disharmony.

Hoffman’s stature as an actor has remained considerable since his breakout roles in Boogie Nights and Magnolia, and his Oscar-winning turn as Truman Capote, and Jack Goes Boating shows that he can direct with considerable sensitivity. As the plot summary suggests, the film is based on a deliberately slight and traditionally structured play, and Hoffman’s cast recreate their stage roles with aplomb. Ortiz and Rubin-Vega capture the essence of two strong people who find themselves constrained by a weakening relationship, Hoffman provides a happy, convincing centre as Jack, and Ryan, the only newcomer to the cast, notably underplays her role as the dowdy Connie.

Betraying its theatrical origins, Jack Goes Finishing on a bitter-sweet coda, Jack Goes

Boating builds up each character in microscopic detail leading towards a climax of excruciating social awkwardness, as Jack attempts to cook dinner for his friends. Clyde rashly attempts to spice up the evening with some hashish and then some freshly-scored cocaine, leading to Boating’s subtle and occasionally poetic dissection of ordinary life in the Queens district feels more like a stage production than a cinematic experience, but is no less enjoyable for that. (Eddie Harrison) Selected release from Fri 4 Nov.

DRAMA THE IDES OF MARCH (15) 101min ●●●●●

George Clooney more salt than pepper, more actor than director. Like Good Night, and Good Luck, his fourth directorial effort dissects America’s political system and surmises that it is fuelled by corruption and greed. The Ides of March is set around a hotly contested Ohio

Presidential Primary where Governor Mike Morris (Clooney) is trying to deal the knockout blow that will confirm him as the Democratic presidential candidate. A mundane opening is spent being introduced to an idealistic press secretary (man of the moment Ryan Gosling), two wily campaign managers (Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti), an unscrupulous journalist (Marisa Tomei) and a young intern (Evan Rachel Wood). Inevitably there is a sex scandal and the press secretary is taught some harsh lessons about the murky world of politics and the media. Surprisingly effective for such a by-the-numbers political drama, it may see Clooney on the campaign trail himself, for votes from Academy Award members. (Kaleem Aftab) General release from Fri 28 Oct.

PREVIEW FESTIVAL AFRICA IN MOTION As Scotland’s biggest celebration of African cinema returns, Amy Russell looks at the strengths of this year’s programme

‘The first criteria is that they are excellent films,’ explains Lizelle Bisschoff, founder of Africa in Motion, when asked about the film festival’s selection process. African cinema is still an unknown factor for many UK filmgoers, and its relative scarcity on even the non- mainstream circuits means that, for many, the continent’s on-screen representation can come largely in the form of well-intentioned but often grim TV documentaries. Africa in Motion has always attempted to introduce a new audience to the diversity and skill of African cinema, and to showcase the industry’s talent for entertainment, as well as education. ‘When you do something to do with Africa it can so easily become a development initiative or awareness-raising which, of course, a lot of these films are because they deal with the real issues of Africa but it’s always been very important for us to emphasise that we screen brilliant African films first and foremost,’ says Bisschoff. This year the festival is acting on that claim by bringing an exciting programme themed around children and youth to Edinburgh screens, and can also boast nine UK premières, one of which Pegase (Pegusus, pictured) won the prestigious Golden Stallion award at FESPACO, the world’s largest African Film Festival, earlier this year. A mixture of African-made documentaries and fictional narratives, Africa in Motion highlights the different styles of films that are being produced, including several animated films such as L’arbre aux esprits (Tree of Spirits); a genre not commonly associated with Africa, but one which is evidently growing in appeal. To complement its film programme, the festival will also host a series of events including a filmmaker seminar with Obi Emelonye, director of The Mirror Boy, storytelling sessions for children, drumming and dance workshops. A lack of funding and the absence of a solid

distribution infrastructure means that African films have remained difficult to access; even within the rarefied world of arthouse distribution, pan-African cinema is constantly relegated to the sidelines. Were it not for the efforts of Africa in Motion and similar festivals there would be little or no outlet to meet what is a growing demand. The audience includes expanding African immigrant communities living in Scotland, the academic audience working in African or Film studies as well as school groups who already have links to the continent through their own Global Citizenship initiatives. In building this audience and sustaining an interest in all things African, gains can really be made in terms of the distribution and awareness of African cinema on the UK circuit. As Madiba once noted: ‘When the water starts boiling it is foolish to turn off the heat.’ Africa in Motion 2011 is at Filmhouse, Edinburgh, Wed 2–Sun 6 Nov. See For children’s events see Kids, page 76. Also read Amy Russell’s blogs about the festival at

20 Oct–17 Nov 2011 THE LIST 69