Last issue: AIDS and the Holocaust. This time: a couple of deaths by cancer. It’s all fun

and games as The List reviews the new films opening in Scotland over the next fortnight.

I Shadowlands (PG) An elegant account of the later life of writer and Oxford academic CS. Lewis (Anthony Hopkins). centring on his romance with American cancer victim Joy Gresham (Debra Winger). Director Richard Attenborough hits more genuine emotions here on a small. intimate canvas than he ever did with the epic scale of Ghandi and C r): Freedom. A magnificent piece of filmmaking. filled with

real depth and feeling. See preview.

I The House Of The Spirits (15) A dream cast lrons. Close. Streep. Ryder. Banderas a wonderful source novel by Isabel Allende. an acclaimed director in Bille The Best Intentions August. Or. a travesty of a Euro-pudding with big stars letting their acting egos run rampant with no one seemingly in charge. A case of the latter. unfortunately. as this epic of South American domestic melodrama and political turmoil collapses into mayhem. It’s even too long to have potential as a camp classic. Only the younger generation retain any credibility. See preview.

I Body Snatchers ( 18 ) Abel Ferrara's excellent remake of the pods-from- space sci-fl story eschews the Communist paranoia of Don Siegal‘s 1956 original and the pop- psychology hippie- hangover of Philip Kaufman‘s 1978 version in favour of a tense and terrifying nightmare on a military airbase. In fact. only the director of Ms 45: Angel Of Vengeance and Bad Lieutenant could invest a film about conformity with such a

strong sense of alienation.

Gabrielle Anwar (sidelined in Scent OfA Woman and The Three Musketeers) suffers heightened teenage angst as her fartiin including a truly scary steprnum in Meg Tilly and friends start to become emotional

l l

zombies. Unfortunately. bad press when the movie

premiered at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival vetoed a cinema release in the UK proof positive that national newspaper critics are woefully inadequate when it comes to spotting a good genre movie. Warner Brothers Distributors have already put it out in a shamelessly butchered pan ’n‘ scan video version, but the more perceptive of arthouse programmers have recognised that the wide ‘scope

, cinematography and

shattering digital soundtrack need to be appreciated in a big screen situation. Do not miss great horror movies are few and far between. (AM)


The top draw in France last year was Les Visiteurs, a scatological load of old ribaldry which easily out-sold Jurassic Park at the box office and dragged French cinema, crying with laughter, to depths hitherto unsuspected, let alone plumbed. The easy comparison of Sir Godefroy and his trod upon (literally) servant Jacquart, is to Monty Python, although to do so would lend Les Vis an undue sense of anarchic sophistication.

Godefroy, Top Lance in the French court of 1122, is all set to claim the lovely Frénégonde as his wife when, under the influence of a hallucinogenic potion, he mistakes his soon-to-be father-in-law for a bear and shoots him between the eyes. With Frénégonde making straight for the nunnery, Godefroy’s only option is to take a time-travel potion and return to the moment before the arrow was shot. Alas, the potion was badly mixed, sending Godefroy and Jacquart forward in time to the 19903.

So here we have the standard fare of feudal knight coming to terms with modern life and lavatories. But in amongst the smell gags and toilet training, orifice humour and blood- relative mix-ups, Godefroy comes to (Thom Dibdin) the awesome truth that he is in post- Les Visiteurs (15) (Jean-Marc Poiré, Revolutionary France: no more serfs. lt . France, 1993) Christian Clavier, Jean is this - marginally higher - level of f Romeo, Valérie Lemercier. 105 mins. humour, together with some splendid From Fri 11. Glasgow: GFT. Edinburgh: special effects in the race to return to l Filmhouse.

feudal times which lifts Les Vis out of the merde and into the belly-laugh. Sadly, the merde has stuck and the film been rated 15 when, surely, it is aimed at a much lower mental range.

A 3,?

‘the standard fare of V

.3 '5 1‘

feudal knight coming to terms with modern life

and lavatories’ §


Is it a seasonal thing? Symptomatic of l the chills of winter when we’re at our physical troughs in health terms? Or is !

; it just because the Oscars are around f . ..

the corner, that cinematic death I raises its many heads on the ' ' , .‘ February/March screens? Depending i i'

on the level of cynicism in your bloodstream, you’ll either take this cancer-tinged tale on face value, or I you’ll reckon it’s a little reward for the ' actor in Michael Keaton after his commercially lucrative turns in the Batman cape.

Keaton is Bob Jones, who discovers almost simultaneously that his wife Gail (llicole Kidman) is pregnant and that he is dying from cancer. Faced with the devastating prospect that he may not live long enough to even see his only child, Bob - a PR executive who has put a gloss over his life - decides to videotape a loose scrapbook of his thoughts and reminiscences which will be his legacy. 01 course, the exercise gradually becomes less a teaching tool for his offspring than the means by which he can reappraise what really matters most and come to terms with his own failings before shuffling off this mortal coil.

The self-discovery angle should come as no surprise to followers of the work of writer-producer-director Bruce Joel Rubin. As screenwriter of Ghost and Jacob’s Ladder, he has already created scenarios whereby

male protagonists faced with death ; must reassemble their priorities before they can pass on in peace. Unfortunately, My Life treads a . virtually identical thematic path, ' complete with mystical flashes of ' white light at the end of the tunnel and a Chinese healer (llaing S. llgor) 3 who is nothing but a carbon copy of f guardian angel chiropractor Danny Aiello in Adrian Lyne’s movie. Now in i the director’s chair for the first time, all Rubin can manage is a film that is ; sadly clichéd rather than genuinely 2 sad, with only Keaton’s warmth and humorous human dignity to ! recommend it. (Alan Morrison)

l My Life (12) (Bruce Joel Rubin, us,

i 1993) Michael Keaton, Nicole Kidman, llaing S. llgor. 117 mins. From Fri 11. General release.

sponsored by BACARDI BLACK

‘sadly cliched rather than genuinely sad’

16 The List I l—24 March 1994