Winning Independents

Industry word is that times are hard for independent filmmakers and distributors— but as yet there has been no shortage of interesting indies in 1990. In the Englishlanguage releases scheduled for November and December, Brits are writ large, though mostly in American productions, which speaks volumes about the state of the British film industry. Ken Loach, who was one of the angry young men of British film and television in the 1960s, directs Hemdale’s Hidden Agenda, a fact-based political thriller that has generated all kinds of discomfort in England, about the mysterious shooting of an American lawyer by British troops in Northern Ireland. The Grifters, a psychological thriller about Los Angeles con artists (starring John Cusack and Anjelica Huston), joins the growing pile of films based on Jim Thompson’s novels of despair: it promises well because it’s directed by Stephen Frears (My Beautiful Laundrette. Dangerous Liaisons) and is the first film from Martin Scorsese’s new production company, Tom Stoppard directs Cinecom’s film adaptation of his play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, starring Gary Oldman and Tim Roth as Hamlet’s befuddled chums and an impeccably accented Richard Dreyfuss as the Player King. Robert Altman’s Vincent and Theo is a surprisingly classical, wonderfully low-key examination of the relationship between Van Gogh (Tim Roth) and the brother who supported him.