Emma: ‘attractive and luscious-looking plece'


Of all Jane Austen’s heroines, Emma Woodhouse can be the most irritating - attractive, well-off, lively and witty. But this is a young woman who cannot resist meddling in other people’s love lives, largely to break the monotony of a dull existence and show off her supposed powers of judgement and perception. The result of her matchmaking fantasies is disaster all round, particularly for pretty, ignorant, illegitimate ilarriet Smith, whom she graciously patronises with her friendship. All the time Emma has missed what anybody with a grain of sense would have seen immediately - that her own happiness and destiny is right under her nose in the shape of friend, neighbour and relative by marriage, the handsome Mr Knightley. Austen-itis has broken out all over in the past year, with the acclaimed BBC adaptation of Pride And Prejudice, Emma Thompson's lovely interpretation of Sense And Sensibility, and now this, the first of

two versions of Emma (the second is a TV movie due later in the year). Arid that’s not including Clueless- same plot, updated. Gwyneth Paltrow, with flawless accent, is a fine Emma, with Jeremy . llortham suitably pursing nostrils as 2 Mr Knightley. A little gem comes from ; Juliet Stevenson as the truly awful ; new bride of the vicar, played by Alan E Cumming, who is still smarting at Miss Woodhouse’s rejection. With a book of ; such length and complexity, quite a bit i has had to be sacrificed, and some of l the best comic elements of the book i cannot be developed in the time I available. Much of the story of the caddish Frank Churchill (Ewan McGregor) and the saintly Jane Fairfax (Polly Walker) has to go.

Director Douglas McGrath, who also wrote the screenplay, has put together an attractive and luscious-looking piece, but it you love the book, it makes you grateful for six-hour adaptations. (Sue Greenway)

Emma (PB) (Douglas McGrath, ilk/US, 1996) Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeremy llortham, Toni Collette. 111mins. From Fri 13. Glasgow: 6F T. Edinburgh: Cameo.


A pointless remake of :1 I955 French classic. this lame melodrama-cum- thriller begins interestingly but before long spins out of control into pastiche and self-parody which is not ideal for a film that is supposed to chill your bones.

When two women vie for the love of brutal boys‘ school headmaster Guy Baran (C hazz Palminteri) whose overt nastiness is matched only by his over-acting it seems inevitable that someone will get hurt. In this case. it‘s Guy himself. who is poisoned by his mousey wife Mia (Isabelle Adjani) as part ofa plan she has devised with his mistress Nicole (Sharon Stone). With Guy safely dead and the body hidden. the two women begin to cover their

tracks. only to learn that all is not quite what it seems.

()ne of those thrillers that boasts plenty of twists. without bothering to keep them a secret so you can see them coming, Diabolique sets up the relationships and the characters in reasonably convincing detail only to blow it as the plot picks up pace. Even Kathy Bates‘s offbeat contribution as a down-on-her-luck detective and Stone‘s wicked performance cannot save a film that revels in cliche and excess. Everyone seems to be acting in a different movie and. looking at the results, probably wished they were. The last word goes to directorJeremiah Cliechik. who saves the biggest surprise until the end if you thought the movie couldn‘t get any sillier. just keep watching. (Anwar Brett)

Diabolique (/8) (Jeremiah (Wee/tilt. US. I995) S/Iurmt Slime. C‘lttlf.‘ I’ulmiitleri. Isabel/e .‘lt/jtllll. /()7 mills. From ["11 6. Limited general release.

Diabolloque: ‘splns out of control into pastiche and self-parody’

s in \ D‘s—A T Beaumarchals: ‘hlstory as spectacle’



While King George was going mad in 18th century England, French playwright, judge and spy Pierre- Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais was busily challenging the decadent Parisian aristocracy with both quilt and books of law. Between the stage, prison, law courts and high society, Beaumarchais also found time to bed numerous women, negotiate arms deals with rebel Americans fighting England for their independence, avert a war between France and England, and produce a play - The Marriage Of Figaro that was instrumental in the birth of the French Revolution.

All of this is, allegedly, true. Where fact ends and fiction begins isn’t

important because this film’s frantic pacing (resulting in some erratic editing), energetic performances and yoking together of major historical events and characters (such as Beaumarchais’s meeting with Benjamin Franklin taking a bath) makes for a hugely entertaining romp. This is history as spectacle.

in Edouardo Molinaro’s charismatic, womanising intriguer Beaumarchals - inspired by Sacha Guitry’s unpublished drama and played with a beguiling mix of innocence, lrrerevence and passion by Fabrice luchini) are the seeds of none other than tan Fleming’s James Bond. (Miles Fielder) Beaumarchais (15) (Edouardo Molinaro, France, 1996) Fabrice Luchini, Michel Serrault, Michel Piccoli. 100 mins. Subtitles. From Fri 6. Edinburgh: Filmhouse.


Orson Welles

The world needs many things. but another Orson Welles biography is probably not one of them. Then again. when that extra weight to our bookshelves is being added from the pen of David Thomson. then perhaps we can forgive the publishing world. Thomson‘s Biographical Dictionary Of Film is one of the truly essential reference books. so it comes as no surprise that Rosebud (Little. Brown £20) is detailed. respectful (but not wholly reverential) and entirely readable. Welles's story is inherently dramatic - initial glory followed by a slow tragic decline but universally known. so it's to Thomson's credit that it still sounds so fresh. as the writer darts here and there among the filmmaker’s fabrications and egotistical inventions.

Helen McCarthy‘s The Artime Movie Guide (Titan £9.99) is a definitive volume that couldn't be bettered. The UK’s leading expert on Japanese animation. McCarthy provides synopses. reviews and credits for every anime feature and made-for- video release between I983 and i995 with associated side-panels noting trends and themes. Thoroughly informative and simply organised. it’s all you need to know about this growing market.

Finally. relive some of the highligth of the 1994 and l995 Drambuie Edinburgh Film Festivals with Projections 6 (Faber £9.99). This year's film- forum-in-print draws heavily on last year’s Scene By Scenes Robert Towne. the Coens. Walter Murch. Suso Cecchi D’Amico, Terence Davies. Steve Martin and Gillies Mackinnon and adds two DEFF-on’ginated interviews with retrospective subjects Stanley Donen and Shohei lrnarnura. it's encouraging to see in a tangible and lasting format the Festival's determined attempts to make the craft of filmmaking widely accessible.

(Alan Morrison)

The List 6- l9 Sept 1996 21