To follow the head or the heart? To go for brains or brawn? Eternal questions that, given the appropriate fine- tuning, can be the source of comedy or tragedy, romance or farce. In Fred Schepisi’s charming l.0., the defining dilemma is between academic intelligence and practical common sense, as Princeton mathematician Catherine (Meg Ryan) has to choose between stuffy psychologist James (Stephen Fry) and easy-going motor mechanic Ed (Tim Robbins). To help her along is an unusual Cupid - her uncle, Albert Einstein (Walter Matthau).
Catherine is determined that a successful marriage can only be based on a meeting of minds, and so she downplays the obvious physical attraction she feels for Ed. But Einstein and a trio of elderly Germanic cronies decide that, in a universe governed by the chaos theory, love too is driven by chance encounters, and so they set Ed up as a scientific genius, brilliant enough to deliver a ground-breaking lecture on cold nuclear fusion to the country’s greatest scholars.
Intelligence descends in hierarchies, from the genius formulas of Einstein, through the dizzy cleverness of Catherine, to the homespun theories of Ed, mostly lifted from his sci-fl comics. Within its scientific setting,
l.u.: 'Iaidback period comedy' the movie is saying that sexual chemistry is as important, if not more so, than anything the boffins can come up with in the lab. Although Einstein and his buddies treat the whole thing as another experiment, testing the reactions of opposing elements, they are the ones who realise that love can’t be equated with university degrees. A laidback period comedy that captures the spirit and wit of Capra and Sturges,‘l.o. also contains a classic character performance from Walter Matthau, who gives us the Einstein hinted at in that famous stuck-out-tongue photograph. (Alan Morrison)
Ll]. (PG) (Fred Schepisi, US, 1994) Meg Ryan, Tim Robbins, Walter Matthau. 96 mins. From Fri 17. General release.
llow convenient: a movie whose translated acronym is also its own review - So Fucking What? A wannabe scathing satire on media celebrity, this adaptation of Andrew Wellman’s novel is as angry, inarticulate and dlrectlonless as its twentynothing protagonist. It’s only hope is that, like Stephen llorff’s character ‘Spab’, it will find an echo in the hollow minds of the intellectually confused, politically naive and spiritually blank Generation Xers who are its target audience.
lield hostage in a convenience store by terrorists, Cliff Spab (Dorff), Wendy Piister (Reese Witherspoon) and Joe Dice (Jack lloseworthy) become the unwitting stars of a networked TV ‘reality show’ based on video tapes made by their captors. By the time Spab and Wendy emerge 36 days later, their naked emotions and his residual humour have transformed them into talk-show-worthy celebrities and youth role models. Ironically, this too
s:.w.: ‘Smerticial so; nihilisrn'
is a trap and, unable to cope with his newly imposed fame, Spab loses the place, flees the spotlight and plunges into self-pitying irresponsibility, with the help of his pal Morrow (Jake Busey).
Obviously, the then nineteen-year-old Wellmann’s original article and subsequent novel struck a chord with those who will relish a soundtrack featuring llole, Babes In Toyland, Therapy? and the like. But judging by the histrionic performances and .lefery Levy’s over-emphatic direction, the filmmakers seem to imagine that if they simply pump up the volume, reality will bite, allowing the message to come over loud and clear. Superficial 905 nihilism for disaffected twentysomethings who deserve better. (lligel Floyd)
S.F.W. (18) (Jefery Levy, US, 1994) Stephen Dortf, Reese Witherspoon, Jack lloseworthy. 95 mins. From Fri 17. Edinburgh: Fllmhouse.
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