American airheads, Victorian vampire

hunter, Shakespearian villain. Buddha: Keanu reincarnates himself again as The List reviews the new films opening over the next couple of weeks.

I Hostile Hostages ( 15) Still pretty manic. but obviously restraining himself on the foul- mouthed front. Denis Leary makes a stab at breaking into the mainstream with this caper comedy. He's Gus. a cat burglar. who triggers the alarm on ajob and finds himself trapped with two obnoxious hostages. a constantly feuding husband and wife team. Jean-Paul Sartre's Hui! Clos it isn’t. but the comedy there is comes frotn the crook's sense that giving himself up might be better than the domestic prison torture he‘s now forced to undergo.

Problem one: the title. Changed from The Rej'to something pretty mundane because of the ‘proximity to the World Cup‘. Problem two (and more serious): Leary in a Disney (Touchstone) film? You can sense him straining at the leash.

I look Who’s Talking How! You might have thought that heavy custodial sentences would have been the most likely consequence of the criminally diabolical Look Who's Talking Too. but here we are with a further sequel that's gone to the dogs even if it fails to sink quite as low as its abominable predecessor. On the plus side it‘s probably the best Christmas movie released this month. As the familiar figures of part- time cabbie. part-time pilot. full-time poppa Travolta and recently- ftred advertising hotshot momma Alley try to convince their wee ‘uns that Santa does indeed exist, the latest addition to the household is the personable canine Rocks. whose inner thoughts (in the fine tradition of the series) are gruffly voiced to us by one Danny DeVito. Plot. on the other hand. arrives in the shape

of glamorous international business tycoon l.ysette Anthony. a voracious

femme fatale who has her

i heady eyes on lly driver

JT and plants a bitchy

; poodle (voiced by Diane Keaton) on his wife as a

' diversionary tactic.

All of which winds tip Ill a snowy Christmas live

' finale as daddy battles to

fight off power-bimlm and spend the hols with his family. along the way taking in the requisite amount of doggy antics. broad comedy for kids and a raft of mildly dodgy innuendo that's gained the film a 12 certificate. Main

diversion for adults:

5 pondering the combined

weight of twin cliunkies

I John and Kirstie. (Trevor l Johnston)

I Rookie Of The Year

of baseball

(PC) A modern-day fairytale. set in the world

for hitting a home run in UK box office terms. unless it's got some major stars. The only known

name here is behind the

camera for most of the titne Daniel Stern. one of the City Slit/very trio and. while he‘s got the

tone right for a soft.

sticky. kids' film. the subject matter and setting might not book a British audience. Twelve-year-old Henry is a clumsy but enthusiastic Little League

player who becomes a lightening pitcher for the

Chicago Cubs after breaking his arm. A little

bit of magic. yes. btit the

film could do with more.

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The trouble with this geriatric comedy is that, while it brings together two veteran actors - Jack Lemmon and

l Walter Matthau - in a way that is

reminiscent of their best work together (The Front Page or The Odd

Couple), it never matches the wit and

' sprightliness of those old movies. The , nominal plot casts them as a pair of

snow-bound suburban neighbours, whose mutual love for their new neighbour, the astonishingly well- preserved and wildly spontaneous Ann-Margret, provokes a re-run of their earlier fights over Lemmon’s late wife. Sadly, as a vehicle for their familiar screen personalities, it is a little too fastidiously tailored for its own good, leaving them little room for casual inventiveness.

So, although Matthau and Lemmon are as grouchy, irascible and funny as ever, the thin plot and predictable gags don’t give them enough to get their dentures into. Once the vivacious Ann-Margret whizzes into their routine lives on her jet-ski, things can never be the same again; yet they often seem to be retracing their own footprints in the snow. There’s some admirably lusty stuff about sex among

in. .. ‘.

Grumpy Old Men: ‘a mite too strained’

those of an advanced age and plenty of sharp one-liners to establish the mutual hatred between the two grumpy old codgers, but everything is a mite too strained to recapture the glories of yesteryear. (Nigel Floyd) Grumpy Old Men (12) (Donald Petrie, US, 1993) Walter Matthau, Jack Lemmon, Ann-Margret. 103 mins. From Fri 27: General release.

It’s been a very long time coming, the distributors have been cagey about

;showing it to the press, and the UK

version has been trimmed by fifteen minutes from the cut released in Europe. These factors alone give reasons to fear the worst about Bertolucci’s latest folly, and the worst is indeed what we get.

Seattle moppet Jesse (Alex Wiesendanger) may or may not be the reincarnation of a recently deceased Tibetan monk and spiritual guide, so he and dad (Chris Isaak) visit Bhutan in Nepal to see if the kid comes up to scratch. In the meantime, kindly lama Norbu (a rather endearing Ying Buocheng) offers him a potted history of Buddhism by way of a child’s picture book, the illustrated pages of which come to life offering up one Keanu Reeves as the young nobleman Siddartha on the road to enlightenment and his ultimate reincarnation as the Lord Buddha.

Surprisingly, the brave Keanu is the least of the film’s problems. He’s

Little Buddha: ‘lame and ill-tocused’

golden and healthy-looking walking through his role convincingly enough but hardly glows with the insouciant charm of a young Sabu what the part really needed. Indeed, the Siddartha sections of the narrative pass agreeably enough; it’s just that everything around them is so lame and ill-focused. lsaak and Bridget Fonda have absolutely nothing to grip onto by way of character development as the parents, the pacing is doggedly slow, the eco-friendly sentiments hazin generalised, the lecturing tone often like a schools’ lesson on Buddhism. The result is one of those movies that keeps threatening to get going but never does. Only Vittorio Storaro’s painterly cinematography emerges with any real credit. (Trevor Johnston)

Little Buddha (PG) (Bernardo Bertolucci, US/UK/France, 1994) Keanu Reeves, Ying Buocheng, Alex Wiesendanger. 120 mins. From Fri 20. Glagsow: Odeon. Edinburgh Cameo.

sponsored by BACARDI BLACK


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‘Kill-Off' director Maggie Greenwald‘s journey into Western territory is no male wish-fulfilment

: device like the upcoming

“Bad Girls‘. but an impressive chronicle of the harshness of the old West and the near- impossibility of being a woman within its unforgiving environs. Disowned by her New York family because of her single mum status. Suzy Aniis's plucky heroine Josephine leaves the baby with her sister and lights out for the frontier. donning ranclier‘s clothes and inflicting a stern facial scar to assume a new identity as the enigmatic Little Jo. Understandably wary of discovery by the ornery critters peopling the remote mining outpost of Ruby City. she keeps her distance from the likes of local entrepreneur Bo Hopkins and mine supervisor McKellen. choosing a solitary new existence as a winter sheep herder which allows her to gain a sense of self- dependence. However. prying eyes are unable to resist the letters she continues to receive from her sibling and a shock revelation may not be far away. lyrically shot by Declan Quinn. (ireenwald's film offers a convincing and often starkly beautiful evocation of a time and a place. Little Jo's outsider status providing a fascinating insight into what must have been an unrelentineg difficult way of life. Certainly. the rnenfolk are a mass of sexual and racial prejudices. allowing Jo‘s very ‘feminine' civility ironically to win her respect as a manly cool customer. While Aniis makes for a credibly skinny sort ofchap. it's a measure of the film's success that the tensions between the townspeople and unscrupulous railway barons. or thoughts of the unenviable position of David Chang‘s Chinese cook. cart happily move centre-stage once we've taken the heroine‘s ambiguous gender identity for granted. Worth seeing. (Trevor Johnston)

20 The List 20 May—2 June I994