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Bearskin: An Urban Fairytale
Na Pele do Urso

Portugal/UK 1989
produced by
Eduardo Guedes, Leontine Ruette for Film Four, British Screen, Instituto Português de Cinema, Radiotelevisao Portuguesa/Cinema Action
directed by Ann Guedes, Eduardo Guedes
starring Damon Lowry, Tom Waits, Isabel Ruth, Julia Britton, Bill Paterson, Ian Dury, Charlotte Coleman, Alex Norton, Mark Arden, Pip Torrens, David Gant, Karl Collins, Russell Lee
written by Ann Guedes, Eduardo Guedes, music by Michael McEvoy

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Johnny (Damon Lowry) has lost not only his money gambling but also that of his girlfriend Kate (Charlotte Coleman), which would be bad enough as it is (in fact se tosses him out), but then he also owes quite some dough to the mob ... which means that before long, 2 gangsters are on his trail.

On the run, Johnny decides it would be a good idea to hire on as an assistant for a punch and Judy act, run by Silva (Tom Waits) & Laura (Julia Britton), where he can hide in a bear costume. And he finds accomodations at an artists' supply store, run by cold-hearted Mrs J (Isabel Ruth), who has for some reason shut down operations of the store, but still has him help her keeping inventory every day, as a sort of payment.

Soon, Johnny gets friendly with Silva, & especially Laura, but Silva has some sort of mystery as well ...

When Johnny learns that the gangsters have raped Kate & thrashed her appartment (both off-screen) to learn where he is (she didn't even know), he wants revenge &, together with Silva, blows up their house ... but that doesn't help, soon the gangsters have found him (despite his costume) & make an attempt on his life.

It turns out that Johnny & Silva are kindred spirits, as Silva, once a prizeboxer, has gone into hiding too with his Punch and Judy show, having stolen a mere 20 million Pounds from the mob ... but somehow Mrs J has found out about Silva & blown the whistle on him ... 6 he is shot dead - Why ? Because Silva consorts with Mrs J's daughter Laura, whom she wants in the family business of running the artists' supply store.

Laura is not very pleased & thrashes the store.

Johnny is meanwhile found out by the gangsters & badly hurt, & only Laura can save him from being killed as well. She takes him to an airplane graveyard where they make love, but after that he sneaks out on her ... & almost falls prey to the gangsters again, only to be saved by ... Silva, of all people, who has only staged his death to escape the mob for good, & now he fakes Johnny's as well, but on the condition that he returns to Laura.


A blend of gangster film with the poetic aspects of street performers ... which despite some good sequences just doesn't come to life as the direction seems to be unable to really bring the poetic aspects of the story to life, so what could ahve been romantic or intended kitsch just remains stale, deriving the fim of any real momentum, instead giving it the I-wanna-be-an-art-film-look.  A pity, rather.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD