y Simon Banner
BO DEREK'S new film Bolero k" 18" Classic Haymarket) defies conventional criticism. It cannot be described as an error of judgement on the part of the star (who is also the producer) and her Svengalian husband John Derek (writer and director), because the pair have a proven track record in making execrable films (remember their best-forgotten Tarzan The Ape Man?).
Nor would it fairly be called a waste of talent, for the Dereks bring to their projects the peculiar distinction of suggesting that no talent is involved.
Beautiful Bo stars as a 'twenties heiress with a name as unlikely as her own, Ayre McGillivary (but then her chauffeur is called Cotton and her lover Angel). Graduating from college is all too much for Bo who celebrates her freedom by peeling off her clothes and romping unashamedly among the spring flowers.
Things go from bad to worse as Ayre vows to find a sheik (preferably a Valentino lookalike) to relieve her of her virginity. Where else does one took for a sheik if not the Casbah? (We know it is the Casbah because of the snakecharmer, the belly-dancer and the pianist playing "As Time Goes By,".) ,
With disarming frankness our heroine tells the first sheik she encounters that she has come all this way "to give you my virginity." Mildly puzzled, the sheik replies, "I've never been given this gift before."
In the middle of unwrapping his gift, Ayre's would-be lover passes out from the effects of too much opium. Disappointed, yet undaunted, Ms Derek decides to try her luck in Spain, now inclined towards a bullfighter.
And a very handsome one she finds too. Part-time wine merchant and full-time member of the Spanish nobility, Angel is also a conservationist of sorts: he doesn't kill bulls, merely taunts them unmercifully. Ms Derek likes him for this.
The bulls obviously lack such powers of discrimination: an accident in the ring and Angel is horriby gored. The hero escapes with his life but not his manhood.
From the jaws of defeat Ayre snatches final victory: her days spent nakedly riding and bullfighting inspire Angel to give his most stunning performance.
Intended as a romantic comedy, Bolero is neither funny nor romantic. At moments the acting is so bad as to be embarrassing, while presumeably attractive locations have the bland look of lowbudget film sets. Even the pseudo-pornographic love
scenes remain icily awkward.
Wait until this one reaches our television screens and miss it then as well.
Begin with the not improbable, if darkly comic idea of an American President plagued by recurrent nightmares of nuclear holocaust. Then suppose that scientists might develop the ability of psychics, allowing them to project themselves into other people's dreams.
Such speculations are brought together in Dreamscape ("15", ABC Shaftesbury Avenue) to create a well paced fantasy thriller enhanced by striking special effects and pleasing performances (from Dennis Quaid, Kate Capshaw and Christopher Plummer, among others).
The literal truth of the old wives tale-when you dream that you die, you die in life at the same moment — is the dynamic for the tension and excitement of the film. Of course, were that folklore true, no old wife could have survived to tell that particular tale. Suspend such disbelief and Dreamscape offers plenty to enjoy.
Strikebound ("PG", Screen On Islington Green) is the first full length film from Australian director Richard Lowenstein. From a man still in his early twenties it is an amazing debut. Set in a small Australian coal mining town in the 1930's, Strikebound tells the true story of two Scottish immigrants who organise the first "stay-in" strike in the nation's history. These two main characters, still alive today, actually appear in a prologue and an epilogue to the dramatisation.
What might have been a straighforward political narrative (virtuous perhaps, but dull) is enlivened by the filmmaker's compelling visual sense. This is not an aesthetic of prettiness (rather what we expect from Australian period-piece cinema), but radical technique suggesting radical vision. Social conscience meets purely cinematic talent: an unlikely, but welcome encounter.
Private Life ("PG", Phoenix, East Finchley) is the latest work of Yuli Raizman, a Russian director whose growing reputation is indicated by his recent retrospective at the National Film Theatre.
The well-observed story of a successful businessman's realisation of his neglect of family life, its moments of insight are agreeably understated.
The English of Private Life has the look of a television film. But as it isn't going to pack out the cinemas, television is where you are most likely to see it.