One plane crash is unfortunate; two looks like carelessness. The List keeps both feet on the ground as it reviews all the films opening

over the next fortnight.

I Blue Black Permanent Poetic but painfully obscure. Margaret Tait‘s long-awaited feature

debut captures the lives of 3

three women. different generations of the same family. focusing on their meditations on living and dying. This is by no means conventional mainstream filmmaking - more a series of artistically constructed moving images —- but its fragmented narrative confuses and seriously hinders enjoyment of the film‘s visual power. So little effort is made to indicate which of the three time-frames is currently on screen that for most of the film it is difficult to work out which daughter is related to which mother. with the result that themes

are muddicd and what f could be engaging becomes boring. Acting

varies —- (‘elia lrnrie is as bad as Gerda Stevenson is good while Tait's evocation of ()rkney seascapes is a gem sadly lost in the incoherence of the whole. See preview.


I Mr Saturday Night With two of the biggest hit comedies of all-time (When Harry Met Sally. (‘r'rv Slir‘kers) behind him. Billy Crystal buckles down to a long-cherished project on the life of a fictional Jewish stand-up. Funny. touching and

cloyingly sentimental. Mr Saturday Night shows

' Crystal as a director to

watch and an actor who's range has too often been restrained. Recommended for those who don’t mind the self-indulgence of others. (AM)

I Used people Despite all .

appearances to the contrary. Beeban Kidron‘s Hollywood debut isn't quite your usual helping of sentimental slop. Having both Shirley MacLaine and Jessica Tandy in the same movie certainly constitutes a

most omery old cynic would find themselves hard-pressed not to respond to this amiable

good fun as Grandma Frieda. full of wordly wisdom but worried for her own future; but Kathy

Bates's whiny sis Bibby is '

too shrill a proposition. while younger sibling Norma (an extraordinary Marcia Gay Harden). with

her crazed habit of double threat. but even the

dressing up as a different

T film star every day. is one of those characters that

tale of quirky domesticity. 2 It all starts when recently-

widowed Pearl Berman (MacLaine) gets picked up at her hubby‘s funeral by Joe Meledandri (Marcello Mastroianni in his first American movie). thus beginning a romantic late late show that puts the rest of the Bermans‘ sundry trials and tribulations into perfect perspective.

Crotchety crinklepuss Tandy is actually rather

seems unduly constrained as a mere subplot. Then again. it‘s that kind of movie: so eager to please.

it's crammed full of j disparate individuals.

switchback shifts of tone.

{ teensy epiphanies. Yet the

oldsters do capture the heart. and the sense of real lives perking up after decades of making-do is

painfully and perceptiver :

5 caught. A bit of a grower.

i i l

as connoisseurs of popular music are wont to say. (TJ )


Aficionados of movie plane crashes will be clutching their vom-bags in glee, for this factionalised version oi the 1972 Andes air disaster certainly kicks off with a good ’un. it’s late October, and a Uruguayan rugby team’s charter flight clips the side of a mountain, breaks in two and toboggans down the slope before coming to rest on snow-covered Mt Tinguirrica at a height of 11,500 feet. As directed by sometime Spielberg collaborator Frank Marshall, this is spectacularly hair-raising stuff, but as soon as the true-life story of the young men’s survival begins to unfold, the picture loses its way. Shying away from some of the nitty-gritty details of their remarkable salvation - they ate the ice-packed corpses to stay alive - it instead places a very Hollywood emphasis on God’s mysterious ways on the wonders of teamwork.

It could be a lot grungier really (when was the last time you saw a 15-rated movie that featured acts of cannibalism?) which is partly why the film seems so unsatisfying. The story is remarkable, a testament to just what people can and will go through to hang on to life, but here we’ve got a a slightly tougher TV Movie of the Week approach, all too keen to stress the ‘triumph of the human spirit’ angle to get anywhere near the ugly truth.


Sending up the All-American hero is about as palatable for most Stateside stomachs as slapping a dose oi cod liver oil on mom’s apple pie. Witness the lukewarm US box office responses

to The Player and Accidental Hero:

maybe irony and satire aren’t part oi the average mall-rat’s lexicon.

. So, when a small-time crook becomes the mystery figure who saves lives while picking pockets during a plane crash, only to have his heroic act usurped by another low-life burn, you can be sure that you’ve got to slip behind the suriace narrative to grasp the real intent oi the film. Accidental

Hero is a somewhat old-fashioned

offering, reminiscent oi weekend

matinees spent with Frank Capra and

' Preston Sturges, cheering as the little

man comes good against the odds.

This time he’s called Bernie LaPlante

(Dustin Hoffman), a loser who’s

estranged from his wife and son, but

becomes the hero oi TV millions - not least reporter Gale Gayley (Geena

Davis) when his exploits at the

disaster site are iuzzlly captured on

film. Leaving one shoe on the plane and the other in the car oi iellow

' chancer John Dubber (Andy Garcia), LaPlante suiiers humiliation after humiliation while Dubber takes the

. Cinderella route to fame, fortune and

an increasingly guilty conscience. Hoffman pulls us in and pushes us

away with the character traits of a

real anti-hero, simultaneoust

sympathetic and slightly repugnant: you’d like to give him a bug, but are afraid that you’d be repelled by the

)\‘ ’A.

Some at it really grates. The Latin- American looking bit-part players die first, while the Hollywood stars survive. Ethan Hawke goes 72 days without shaving and still grows a supercool tufty goatee while everyone around him is in deep shag facial hair city. And they’ve got Aaron Neville singing ‘Ave Maria’ over the end credits. Those with a low platitude threshold will just wonder what kind of warped individuals would want to make a movie like this anyway. Come back Cannibal Holocaust, all is forgiven. (Trevor Johnston)

Alive (15) (Frank Marshall, 08, 1992) Ethan Hawke, Vincent Spano, Josh Hamilton. 126 mins. From Fri 30. Glasgow: MGM Sauchlehall Street, MGM Parkhead. Edinburgh: Cannon, UCI. Strathclyde: llCl Clydebank, llCl East Kilbride.

if he’s fallen back on the mannerisms of Hatso Hizzo of Midnight Cowboy? That was 24 years ago and these two llve-by-thelr-wlts characters are distant cousins in acting terms anyway. More relevent criticisms could be sent in the direction of co- stars Davis and Garcia, both of whom seem rather ungainly in their respective roles, and director Stephen Frears who appears less at ease with the constraints of this comic style than the rougher edge of his recently screened TV film The Snapper. Nevertheless, Accidental Hero is a funny movie, thanks to Hoffman’s skilful meandering down a path of comic lgnomlny while mumbling a succession of skewed philosophical one-liners. (Alan Morrison)

Accidental Hero (15) (Stephen Frears, US, 1992) Dustin Hoffman, Geena Davis, Andy Garcia. 119 mins. From Fri 23. Glasgow: Ddeon, MGM Parkhead. Edinburgh: Ddeon, UCI. Strathclyde: IlCl Clydebank, DCI East Kllbrlde.

ell oi the great unwashed. So what i

n 31““ \i g“. . “_ r.

‘xfi‘h \ y ‘3 R

‘Here we’ve got a slightly tougher TV Movie of the Week

approach, all too

keen to stress the “triumph of the human spirit” angle.’

‘A somewhat old-fashioned oiiering, reminiscent of weekend matinees spent cheering as the little man comes good against the odds.’

28 The List 23 April—6 May 1993