THE mid-winter entertainment that started with Disney's The Block Hole ("A". Odeon. Leicester Square) went on at once to the more seasonable snow scenes of Don Sharp's film of Alistair Maclean's snowbound adventure Bear Island ("A", Leicester Square, Theatre).
Sharp's team did not actually get to "Bear Island", where the story sends a team of United Nations scientists to invesCgate weather conditions. The Film was made in similar frozen places in Alaska and Canada.
The scenery is spectacular and, though the mutual suspisions of scientists watching each other spy out the secret of the former German U-boat base is not absolutely inspired, it does quite .well.
The east includes Donald Sutherland, Richard Widmark and Lloyd Bridges with a professionally punctilious performance by Vanessa Redgrave, as a Norwegian expert speaking that all-but perfect English so often mastered by Norwegians, with a few peculiarly Scandinavian vowels.
But a really happy film which I imagine appealing to any age group is Peter Yate's Breaking Away ("A", Odeon, Kensington. and Gate, Bloomsbury). If one social group in films appeals to me less than most, it is that of American adolescents. So why the gang of youths, finishing high school or beginning college in Indiums scuffling and manoeuvring to in the local bicycle race makes such a refreshing comedy is hard to say.
Partly it is due to the candid charm of the young hero, Dave (Dennis Christopher). Partly it is that the values shaping the story are so much more normal than in most films today. Because Dave passionately longs to emulate Italian cycle racing champions he baffles his parents by trying to identify with Italian language and manners. ("Don't turn Catholic on us" begs one parent seeing him cross himself before a race.) The parents, too, represent the normality of values and realistic view or the generation gap. Dad (Paul Dooley) blusters like the original "male Chauvinist". Mom (Barbara Barrie) is a treasure, distinctly reminiscent of the late Billie Burke, The briskness and perception of the dialogue capture the spontaneity which is the supposed aim of today's fashion for improvisation. Yates has achieved that spontaneity through five or six years' work on this script sith Steve Tesich, the young Yug slay screenwriter Yates rates so hi hly.
Lastly. a dominant eleme t M the whirring pace and exhilao ion of Breaking Away is the mu. teal adapt:10On of Mendelss( hn, Rossini and others whiz ing round with the bicycle whee s.
A slightly more mature con edy is Going South ("A", Plar 4), though comedy with a cro Led smile, directed by that gloat actor, Jack Nicholson.
Nicholson also stars as the outlaw riding out of tuwn apparently to be hanged for robbery, when he is saved b an offer of marriage from ulia (Mary Steenburgen) who t kes him home to her property n a disused mine.
Their quirky relationships are pretty predictable. But the r stie story is full of twists and tur s to provoke curiosity until it rea hes the point of trhe gold she beli ves hidden on her land.
festival where I much dislike it. apc le y n e dseeni ri et a itse. ad that I had Aisthhefilmaireo Seeing it again, I felt my sen. e of humour must have beer in abeyance. The picture is cry funny indeed if you take .our sense or humour with you, ary .Steenburger is an amu ing herione with echoes of the arly Jennifer Jones.
Disney's The Black Ho!' is another helping of science tic ion. Though on at least one accot tit I liked it better than the others. My reason is that there is just a hint of mystery as the space ship sets off into the unknown tu nel instead of computerised diagr The crew, on a long seam for signs of life in space. discov r a derelict spacecraft perched on the edge of a black hole. This is the domain of a demon king, Dr Reinhardt (Maximilian Schell) served by robots, in particular one called Vincent, who look like descendants of the Daleks. The robots are the most nearly human characters.
Sticking out like a festering thumb from the rest is the blockbuster, Bertolucci's Luna ("X", Odeon, Haymarket), two hours and twenty minutes of incest and drugs. This unseemly proposition is something of a film grand opera, rather like Coppola's Apocalypse Now, but not nearly as integrated either as story or as film.
The protagonist is a supposed American opera star (Jill Clayburgh). At least once divorced she returns to Italy to the flabby teenaged son (Matthew Barry), whom she smothers with unwholesome love until he turns on her. When he calls her sick and crazy, it is impossible not to agree.
The whole enterprise is sick and crazy, relieved only at moments by 13 ertolucci's undoubted talent for monumental spectacle and the grand Italian manner. The dialogue achieves numerous unintentional laughs.
Even the operatic excerpts are not integrated into the film. They are merely excerpts sung by various Italian celebreties — once Callas, once Domingo and so on. At least, it saves that attractive new star Jill Clayburgh from the agony of dubbing the music. She puts up a very good effort at a totally impossible part.
Freda Bruce Lockhart