Take your choice, kids, of your new summer screen friends: a killer whale, a friendly ghost, or a mustachioed Gaul. The List goes it alone and reviews the new films opening this fortnight.
I Les Uiaboliques If you've seen Henri- (leorges Clouzot's tight and suspenseful chiller on TV. even if you know the ending. take the time to catch it in this brand new print. The mistress of a callous schoolmaster persuades his heiress wife to poison him: together they dump the body in the
school swimming pool.
But when the pool is drained. no body is found. The director straps the
audience to their seats.
5 Fatso in an abandoned mansion that‘s just been bequeathed to Cathy
performance) are convinced there‘s treasure stashed away in the old dark
keeps the pressure up. and
doesn't let them go until the final frames. Most of what has followed. since this film's release in 1955. has been pale imitation.
ASTERIX CONQUERS AMERICA
Asterix Conquers America: ‘colour, song and new adventures’
Thirty-six years since he first sipped his magic potion and gave the Romans a run for their money in Goscinny and Uderzo‘s magazine strip. Asterix is still going strong. this time heading out of his home domain and across the Atlantic. He's off to rescue village druid Getafix. who has been captured by the Romans and catapulted into the New World. where he‘s now being held by a tribe of Indians. Their medicine man is after the strength-giving potion. but it’s faithful ()belix who wins the tribe over when he saves the chief's daughter from :1 buffan stampede. Asteris's first cinema appearance was in l9()7 in sisterit' ’l’lie (iaal. which at the time knocked Disney off the animated feature box office summit in Germany. Since then. he‘s found himself opposite Cleopatra. taking on twelve tasks. up against Caesar. over in Britain. and battling it out
in a big fight. While other kids‘ heroes have come and gone in bursts of merchandising glory. the little guy with the walrus moustache has remained consistently popular. particularly in Europe.
This. his seventh movie. is the first to be filmed in English (by a German production company). rather than go through a dubbing process. But even given the story's setting and the commercially hopeful title. Asterir Conquers America is likely to lag well behind this year's other animated feature set among the Indians. Disney's Pocahontas. But money isn‘t everything. and there‘s enough colour. song. and new adventures on offer here to keep youngsters engrossed while the oldies re- acquaint themselves with familiar friends.
.‘Isrerix Conquers A meri ca
(U) ((Ier/tarrl Ila/tn, Germany. I994) 85 mins. l-‘mm Fri 4. General release.
lonely little Casper - a who may be
excepted) and a lot of invention in the
[HEE— E LIHMANWH f'IHE m; s o
i In spite of the headline-grabbing % scandal that has made Hugh Grant
Another comic strip. another big summer movie. This time everyone‘s favourite friendly ghost gets churned into a likeable but rather messy amalgam of (Iliasilnisrers supernatural slapstick. post Addams Family gothic humour and the son of feelgood Spielbergiana that revels in funny gadgetry and family values. Here the title character exists purely as a special effect. a lost soul with unfinished business on earth. Casper has been living with his three bad-tempered spectral uncles Stretch. Stinkie and
Moriany‘s money-grabbing heiress. She and accident-prone legal assistant Eric Idle (Yet another terrible
house. so ghost psychologist Bill Pullman is hired to calm the resident unquiet spirits. leaving tomboy daughter Christina Ricci to discover
undead. but is really just looking for a friend. Despite gatnc performances (Iiric ldle
design ofthe haunted house itself.
wegi ’ Casper is a movie with a beginning.
and ending and not much of a middle. The film-makers obviously knew they wanted to set the thing in the house. but didn't have much of an idea what to do once they got there. Flailing sub-plots involving greedy old Moriarty or young Ricci fitting in at her new school seem more like padding than anything else.
As such. the movie never really works tip much momentum. rendering the would-be tearful finale rather high and dry. With goodwill throughout in the film's favour. you may come out wishing you‘d liked the piece rather more than you did. (Trevor Johnston) ('asper (PG) (Brad .S'illn'r/ing. US.
/‘)‘)5) (.‘lirislina th't'l. Bill Pullman. (lat/iv illariarly. Ifric lil/c. IOU/inns.
‘A movie with a
beginning, an ending and not much of a middle.’
even more of a household name than his Four Weddings And A Funeral success ever did, his latest excursion into the field of light comedy signals business as usual.
Writer-director Chris Monger’s whimsical tale has a pair of English mapmakers (Grant and McNeice) coming upon the small Welsh village of Fynnon Garw during the First World War. Initially met with suspicion by the locals, they soon enjoy their hospitality, only to incur their wrath
when they announce that after careful measurement the beloved mountain ;
‘ overlooking the village does not
sabotage the villagers, led by the
qualify as a mountain at all, but is a hill. With a combination of stealth and
contrasting characters of the Reverend Jones (inevitably played by Kenneth Griffith) and the randy pub landlord Morgan the Goat (Meaney), set about remedying matters.
Much of the enjoyment the The Englishman Who. . . can offer comes from Monger’s evocation of the spirit of Eating Films at their best, with the idea of officialdom being put in its place by the spirited opposition of the colourful locals. Yet this also points up the differences between this modern equivalent and the great Ealing movies of the past. Those films used ‘types’ as characters, certainly, they revelled in almost parochial detail and did not shy away from the eccentric or the bizarre - but they were also tightly written, well paced and featured characters that audiences could admire or identify with.
By comparison, Monger’s gallery of
l enjoyably familiar stereotypes and eccentric supporting players are kept
K ‘ if} ., .4"
‘Pleasing enough, if a little bland.’
at some distance by his rather cold direction, with everyone going through the motions without ever conveying real emotion. One of the few exceptions to this is fan Hart’s enthralling portrayal of a shell- shocked former soldier, but he only plays a minor role in the high jinks that follow.
All else is pleasing enough, if a little bland. In terms of enjoyment this film
is more hill than mountain but the charm of the leading performances carries it through, even if it lacks the qualities that made Four Weddings
And A Funeral so successful, and the very spirit of the films that it so shamelessly echoes. (Anwar Brett)
The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill, I But Game 00 run A Mountain (PG) (Christopher Monger, UK, 1995) Hugh Grant, Tara Fitzgerald, Golm Meane y, Ian McNeice, Ian Hart, Kenneth l Griffith. 95 mins. From Fri 4. General ‘ release.
28 The List 28 Jul-IO Aug I995