The current fashion for ﬁlmmakers to turn to English literature libraries for dramatic inspiration continues with another adaptation of Charlotte Bronté's romance Jane Eyre. which on paper has as much going for it as against it. The American response to the ﬁlm was lukewarm to say the least. and there hasn't been the opportunity for the British press to weigh up its merits in advance of the ﬁlm's opening.
In its favour. the ﬁlm unites William Hurt and Charlotte Gainsbourg under the direction of Franco Zefﬁrelli. whose Romeo And Juliet was for years the epitome of literary screen romance. There is also a sturdy British thespian cast that includes .loan Plowright. Billie Whitelaw. John Wood and Fiona Shaw. However. it's clear on the
Jane Eyre: “darker tones'
evidence of his recent efforts that Zefﬁrelli is very unpredictable — Hamlet worked because of Mel Gibson. but Endless Love was Hollywood teen schmaltz at its worst and his last movie. Sparrow. was an embarrassing retread of past glories. That the current advert for Jane Eyre quotes obscure American critics and TV stations is not a good omen.
That said. it would be wrong to prejudge even when instincts lean this way. and the potential is there for Jane Eyre to be a more substantial period piece with darker tones -— like Michael Winterbottom‘s powerful Hardy adaptation Jude — rather than the typical Jane Austen fun and froth. (Alan Morrison)
Jane E vre (PG) ( F raneo Zefjirelli. UK/Italv, I996) Willianr Hurt. Charlotte Gainshourg, Joan Piotr-right. I l 3 mins. Front Fri 27. General release.
usr MAN STANDING
Walter Hill’s latest movie is due to open in America only a week before its UK release. so it hasn’t been possible to gauge the reaction of the US public in the usual manner. The lack of even a single print in this country at time of going to press also means that no critical assessment can guide audiences towards or away from the box ofﬁce.
What is known. however. is that the ﬁlm strays into Western
Test Man Standing: ‘strays
into Western territory’
territory by reworking the Yojimba/A F istjiil Of Dollars scenario of a mercenary offering his skills to two warring factions. playing each against the other for personal gain. Bruce Willis dusts off his Die Hard action persona. while colourful characters are assured by the addition to the cast of Christopher Walken and Bruce Dern. (Alan Morrison)
Last Man Standing ( [8) (Walter Hill, US. I996) Bruce Willis. Christopher Walken, Bruce Dent. From Fri 27. General release.
COMEDY DRAMA STRIPTEASE
Striptease: ‘some grace but little eroticism’
A ﬁlm that‘s rrrore of a cause r'e'lehre for the star‘s pay cheque than for the reason she was paid so much — this is indeed the movie for which Demi Moore was paid Sl2.5 million to be a stripper. In return for their money. the producers have got an actress who can certainly carry a ﬁlm. but that won't satisfy audiences unable to decide what sort of ﬁlm this is supposed to be. Fired from her job as an FBI secretary because of her ex-husband's criminal record. Moore is forced to strip to pay
1 her way. Under pressure from the iauthon’ties who consider herjob I incompatible with bringing up her child. she resorts to desperate measures which. in a roundabout way. include 'US Congressman Burt Reynolds §spouting off about family values while Egetting his kicks by visiting stripjoints. l The actual scenes of striptease are 5 performed with some grace but little éeroticism: Moore's motions have less to :do with stripping than artful posturing las she gyrates to some Annie Lennox track or other while divesting herself of everything but her G-string to display a :chest that looks as ﬁne now as the day she bought it. Any inference of lseediness or squalor is replaced by a i hygienic and wholesome club where lthe strippers are the salt of the earth and' lthe punters are as passive as a eunuchs‘ iconvenuon. ' The story takes in murder. political intrigue. political satire. satirical . ! intrigue. black humour and some of the f lbig social issues of the day. Yet iaudienccs. seduced by the promises of lthe title. will probably be disappointed ;by Moore's sudden modesty - and there ,‘is little in the way of decent plot to I replace this void of misplaced expectation. (Anwar Brett) . Striptease (/5) (Andrew Bergman. US. 1 [996) Demi Moore. Burt Reynolds. |Armand Assante. // 7 mins. Front Fri :20. General release.
FUTURISTIC THRILLER ESCAPE FROM I.A
When Escape From New York was released 1981 , its groundbreaking computer graphics, electronic score, dystoplan vision, satirical tone and tongue-ln-cheek humour had a freshness that disguised its ramshackle narrative and uneven pacing. Equally enjoyable was cynical anti-hero Snake Pllssken, with his roguish eye-patch and tight-Iipped, Eastwood-style one-liners. But after years of computer-generated effects, apocalyptic sci-fl and Arnie movies with fllppant kiss-off lines, this all feels rather hackneyed and pointless. This time Snake is let out and charged with terminating the us President’s errant daughter, Utopia (AJ. Longer), a Pattl Hearst-style runaway who has stolen the govemment’s super-destructive “doomsday device’ and shocked up with South American drug dealer turned political revolutionary Cuervo Jones (George corrsfnce). Snake's incentive plan on this occasion is a
Escape From LA: ‘rather hackneyed
and pointless’ fatal virus injected into his bloodstream. Once ashore, he makes his way across an urban wasteland, if encountering en route a variety of small-time crooks and survivors, including tough transsexual llershe (Pam Grier), weaser tour guide Map To The Stars Eddie (Steve Busceml), and spaced-out surfer Pipeline (Peter Fonda).
If it’s true that Carpenter, llussell and producer Debra llill divided up $17 million between them, then good luck to them. What the hell they did do with the rest of the $50 million budget is anyone’s guess; it sure isn’t on the screen. A few fragments of plot, some expensive but old-fashioned-looklng SFX sequences, and fleeting cameos by the likes of Valerie Gollno and genre fave Bruce Campbell do not add up to a bone flde remdre, far less a stand-alone sequel. Why bother to make the same film again, with more money, less satirical bite and no Imagination? (lligel Floyd)
Escape From LA (15) (John Carpenter; US, 1996) Kurt Russell, Stacy leach, Steve Descent. 101 mlns. Front Fri 20.
the Praise ‘symbollc love story’
With ﬁlms like The Second Awakening ()f K risla Clarges. Sisters and Rosa [.iiremluog. Margarethe von Trotta secured a place at the forefront of Germany's New Cinema movement during the 70s. her name forever associated with committed political/ feminist ﬁlmmaking.
It‘s ironic. then. that as her star-director conterrrporaries — Werrders. Fassbinder. Schlondor'f f (her former husband) — have fallen by the wayside. von Trotta's steady-as-she-goes output has seemingly outlasted theirs. The Promise is an ambitious attempt to describe 30 years of living with the Berlin Wall. framed not as the dreamlike fable of Wenders‘ ll’ings Of Desire. but in a symbolic love story in which the divided city keeps two ﬁercely devoted lovers
In l96l. an liast-to-West escape attempt results in the forced separation of an liast Berlin couple — she makes it through the sewers. he holds back as a police patrol sweeps into sight — and through the ensuing decades their
: diverging paths are detailed. She becomes a
fashion designer. he an astrophysicist; and the life pressures on both sides are analysed with considerable. if low-key. skill.
The couple's rare meetings result in a child and. as the Wall ﬁnally crumbles. an inevitable rapprochement. Although von Trotta relies perhaps a little too heavily on the power of locked-glances melodrama to sustain her story. The Promise is still an absorbing account of a historical era that’s rarely been described in this kind of depth. (Andrew Pulver)
The Promise ( l5) (Margarethe von Trotta, Germany, I994) August Zirnei: Corinna Harfouch, Meret Becker: I I9 mins. Subtitles. From Fri 2 7. Edinburgh: F ilmhouse.
an The List 20 Sept-3 Oct .1996