I little Women (U) ln Louisa May Alcott‘s enduring novel. the sweet morality and sheer goodness of the March sisters is frequently overwhelming to the point of nausea. but this. the third time Hollywood has attempted to put it on film. avoids becoming some sort of ‘literary house on the prairie’. Bathed in an amber glow. the girls’ house remains a bastion of love. forgiveness and charity where winter scenes are greeted with a chorus of ‘Oh. wonderful snow!‘. Director Gillian Armstrong plays on the proto-feminist qualities of the narrative. Particularly through the strong-willed characters of Marmee (Susan Sarandon) and Jo (Winona Ryder). and slowly the film wins over all but the hardest hearts. See feature.

I The Madness 0f lllng George (PG) He may have lost the American colonies in the late l8th century. but George III is currently toast of the month on the other side of the Atlantic. Or at least this superlative film, adapted by Alan Bennett from his own play. has taken the country by storm. resulting in Oscar nominations for Nigel Hawthorne. Helen Mirren. Ken Adam (designer) and Bennett himself. The film has all of the fine acting and intricate period detail you'd expect from a quality British production; but this is more than a costume romp. Its analysis of the King‘s illness and the effect it had on his maniage. his family and the political condition of the country is filled with teasing contemporary parallels. See preview.

I Mi Vida Loca (15) In Gas Food Lodging. Allison Anders captured the bruised but lively


Cor blimey! That Beethove' bit Mutt ’n’ Jeff, mate. won’t believe your mince 1 London lad Gary Oldman i. out a Germanic twang in Immortal Beloved. The List reviews this and the other new movies opening this fortnight.

V. "

llelida Lopez in Mi Vida loca spirit of three women in trailer park America; here she shifts her focus to Echo Park in LA and the chicano gang girls. once again giving cinematic voice to those that Hollywood considers too marginalised to matter. This notion of vocalising individual stories is the heart of the film‘s style. as narrative blocks are further broken by character voice-overs and opposing viewpoints on the same events.

Anders drew on her own local knowledge as well as that of the gang members to build her script. but the episodes themselves are fairly familiar from a spate of black urban movies: two childhood friends falling out over the same boy. inter-gang rivalries with fatal conclusions. jealousies over automobiles. the exasperation of one generation with the next. Too often the dialogue over-emphatically knocks home its points. and occasionally the ‘homegirls‘ and ‘bitches' rest uneasily on the tongues of the professional actors. There‘s a freshness in the setting. accents and attitudes. but somehow it lacks bite and. strangely enough. insight. See profile in Hollywood



4‘ ne' b , o g | B . .-'. _t‘_ x. .s

Beethoven the man, Schindler crosses Europe in search of the women who played important roles in the composer’s life. Julia Guicciardi (Valeria Golino), a former aristocrat in the Austro-liungarian Empire, and the Countess Anna Maria Erdody (Isabella Bossellini) seem to be the most likely candidates; but what of his sister-in- law Joanna (Johanna Ter Steege), whom he believes to be an unworthy wife for his brother and mother for his much loved nephew?

As a director, Rose has had his ups (Paperhouse, Candyman) as well as his downs (Chicago Joe And The Showgirl). Immortal Beloved suffers from some beautiful but overstylised

(I l shots and a few woefully stodgy

Immortal Beloved: ‘flashback romantic mystery’

Da-da-da-dum. Da-da-da-dum. Ludwig Van Beethoven may not be up there on every teenager’s wall, fighting for space against other musical supremos like Take That and East 17, but the opening notes of Bernard Rose’s Immortal Beloved are surely familiar to all. That initial blast from the Fifth Symphony may well be the obvious Beethoven cliché, but from this point on, the film veers away from the expected, avoiding the traditional pattern of the biopic in favour of a flashback romantic mystery.

Faithful secretary Anton Schindler (Jeroen Krabbe) is intrigued by the wording in his departed master’s will, which leaves all his worldly gifts to an unnamed ‘lmmortal Beloved’. Convinced that this lover’s identity holds the key to the enigma of

passages, which pull down the pace of

i Schindler’s search like a lead weight;

other sequences, however - especially the climactic on-screen realisation of the famous ‘Ode To Joy’ in the Ninth Symphony - are stunning visualisations of the inspirational state of a composer’s mind.

Gary Oldman is, as ever, magnificent, capturing the composer’s imaginative fire, his passion, his sheer frustration at being deaf. This disability is well realised on screen, with occasional muffled sounds drawing the audience to Beethoven’s perspective of the world. Despite languishing under what may be the worst old age make-up since David Bowie sucked blood in The Hunger, Dldman also manages to make the near-death scenes extremely moving, rounding off this portrait of a genius locked inside a private world of silent pain. In the end, Immortal Beloved shows a far better understanding of one man and his music than was achieved in the admittedly more entertaining Amadeus. (Alan Morrison)

Immortal Beloved (15) (Bernard Bose, UK, 1994) Cary Dldman, Isabella Bossellini, Jeroen Krabbe. 120 mins. From Fri 24.


For a man at pensionable age, Sean Connery certainly does a lot of dashing around. There are punch-ups to negotiate here, car chases and even menacing swamp alligators, all of which might give you the impression that Arne Glimcher’s movie is a busy little number. This is true, but for all the hustle and borrowings from just about everywhere, Just Cause goes nowhere fast.

Connery plays a distinguished lecturer at law, tempted back into front-line action by the prospect of righting the racially motivated injustice that put Blair Underwood on Death Row. We spend the first 70 minutes establishing whether he’s Innocent or guilty before the film’s malor plot twist throws all the cards up in the air again - clever, yes, but it hangs instant obsolescence on everything we’ve just seen and, as such, sorely tests the viewers’ patience.

Sean furrows his face every now and then and says ‘fuck’ just so we register he’s in earnest. Laurence Fishburne plays second fiddle as a Southern sheriff who likes to beat his way into court, but he is Andy Pandy

. Just Cause: ‘goes nowhere last’ compared to Ed llarris’s riper over- ; exaggerated post-Lecter serial psycho who hands out narrative developments from his prison cell. By the time the whole thing has chased itself through a grandstanding and rather phoney final reel, we’ve run through John Crisham legal procedural, liberal conscience flick and a dash of Silence Of The Lambs. It’s not exactly not done well, to paraphrase Dr Johnson, but you’re certainly surprised to see it done at all. One for the easily impressed. (Trevor Johnston) Just Cause (18) (Arne Cllmcher, US, 1995) Sean Connery, laurence Fishburne, Kate Capshaw. 102 mins. From Fri 31: General release.


I Like It Like That: ‘hot- blooded comedy-draina’

Writer-director Darnell Martin‘s debut is a hot- blooded comedy-drama about the emotional. sexual and economic tug- of-war between a young black and Latino couple - Lisette and Chino Linares. When a power cut plunges their neighbourhood into darkness Chino joins in a ‘shopping' spree to bag his wife a stereo. but instead he gets caught and winds up in a Bronx detention centre. leaving Lisette to fend for herself and their three kids.

Penniless and jobless. Lisette finds herself caught up in a domestic crisis that tests her relationship to the limit. This being New York. the resulting family feuds and sexual jCfllOUSICS are all conducted at top volume and usually in front of the whole street. Everybody knows everybody’s business in this noisy. brash expression of twentysomething experience played out against a colourful Bronx backdrop of graffitied walls. shiny concession stands and funky street fashion.

The film‘s picture of an inner-city environment where kids carry guns and deal drugs and where a job is the ultimate status symbol is unsentimental. while the pressure of Lisette and Chino‘s parental responsibilities is realistically portrayed. The hot. sweaty atmosphere and their continually sizzling tempers sometimes make the performances seem melodramatic. and although the frequent bursts of vibrant Latin soul are a perfect complement to the domestic angst of the characters. it's not always enough and the story drags towards the end. (Gill Roth)

[Like It Like Thu! (15) (Darnell Martin. US. [994) Lauren Velez. Jon Seda. Griffin Dunne. [06 mins. From Fri 24 March: Edinburgh Filmhouse. From Mon 1 7 April: Glasgow Film Theatre.

20 The List 24 Mar-6 Apr 1995