THE FIRST WIVES CLUB LA 3 He” hath no fury like a woman 'i scorned. and neither does Hollywood ‘ when it comes to the spurned psychos of l’aial .»lIIi'aetioii. She-Devil and Disclosure. Recently. however. good box office returns for ‘female interest' ; movies have proved there's an audience out there who would prefer to see girls on top — and not only in the bedroom scenes. Hence the appeal of The First II’ll‘l’S Club and the unsurprising news that it topped the American charts for weeks on end.
Goldie l-lawn. Bette Midler and Diane Keaton play three comfortably well-off. middle-aged women whose husbands have wandered towards younger and firmer flesh. Best chums at college who drifted apart when marriage duties took over. the trio are reunited at the funeral of a friend who took a drunken leap off a penthouse balcony when dumped for a trophy girlfriend. Determined not to suffer the same sad fate. they band together and. using their wealth and connections. plan a series of sting-style revenges on their erring spouses.
Robeit llarling‘s screenplay delivers line after laugh-out-loud line of intelligent wit and stop-dead put- downs. This isn‘t the juvenile sniggering or broad slapstick comedy of a typical Hollywood package. but a well-crafted piece of writing that harks back to an older. golden age when almost every sentence had a sparkling spin of its own. llawn sends up her
Mr Reliable: ‘riotously funny celebration of anarchic
Australian spirit’ COMEDY l MR RELIABLE
It seems Australian ﬁlmmakers can‘t put a foot wrong. They excel at period drama (The Piano), camp comedy (The xIr/l'ellllll'ex' ()f/’I'i.t‘('lll(t). even kids' films (Babe) and now. with Mr Reliable. the true story. This. however. is not television movie-of—the- week pap. rather a riotously funny celebration of anarchic Australian spirit.
The film charts the events of the country's first T\'-covered crime drama. the siege of petty criminal Wally Mellisli's home. which involved tear gas and wedding bells. Macedonian-born director Nadia Tass uses her theatrical background to contrast the generally
tragi-eoiiiedy are the more serious overtones of Australia's unhappy involvement in Vietnam. which leads to civil unrest. protests and police brutality.
The cast is uniformly marvellous. from Colin I‘riel's sympathetic star turn as Mellisli -- the bewildered. flawed folk hero — to George Shevtsov‘s amusing cameo as Mellish's East litiropean neighbour. To cap it all. the ending of Mr Reliable —- and remember. it's all true —— pulls of one of the greatest coups of Australian cinema. As long as Australian filmmakers keep making honest. offbeat films — and what could be more honest and stranger than fiction than a true storyl’ -- the country's international cinema success will continue. (Miles Fielder) .Ilr Reliable (/5) (Nadia
la Roue: ‘a genuine event‘
Abel Gance‘s expansive silent masterpieces have long been ranked among the celluloid milestones of the century. and the current French Film Festival provides another chance to sample one of the medium's great visionaries with an unmissable showing of his 1922 epic La Roue (The W/i eel).
Screening here in the two-and-a-half hour version Gance slimmed down from his mammoth original cut (the print has French intertitles. but there‘s an excellent English synopsis). this is silent melodrama in ex‘eelsix: a baby abandoned after a railway disaster grows up into the woman whose beauty creates a tangle of
The First Wive's Club: ‘stop-dead put-downs'
image as forever baby-faced. taking plenty ofjibes about plastic surgery; Keaton has the ditzy mannerisms of someone who spent too long in the company of Woody Allen; and Midler rivals Mae West for smart one-liners that can be cynical. defensive or downright cruel.
Boyfriends in the audience might cringe a little and check their behaviour. but murder isn't on the minds of the characters here: in the case of The First II'll'eS Club. revenge really is sweet. (Alan Morrison)
The First Wives Club (PO) (Hug/i Iii/son. US. [996) (Jo/(lie Haii'n. Bette .lliil/ei: Diane Keaton. / ()2 mins‘. From Fri [5. General release.
upbeat tone (all sun and (ills rock soundtrack. this being 1968 and the Summer of Love) with the constant threat of tragedy. Looming large behind this
in“, Australia. [996/ (‘tlllll I'it'fe/x. Jacqueline .Ilt'KeItfie. l’alll .S'onk/vila. ll} lllfll.\'. l‘roni Fri 22. (ieneral I't’lt’ll.\'(’.
HORROR THE ISLAND OF OR MOREAU
HG. Wells's l()()-year-old novel about a mad scientist creating human/animal hybrids on an isolated island is filled with themes that. when updated. are tantalisingly timely. Substituting the original's concerns with surgery for genetic engineering. Moreau‘s God-like aspirations and the superior beings he creates become. post- World War ll and pre- iiiilleniiium. even more disturbing. Unfortunately. this film version seems to have been plagued with troubles from early in the shoot: Rob Morrow left the cast. writer-director Richard Stanley (Han/ware) was fired. and star Marlon Brando insisted on having his
The Island Of Dr Moreau: ‘over-the-top’
lines read to him via an earpiece.
American reviews suggest that. in a deluge
3 of over-lhc-top ‘ performances. only
Brando's camp mannerisms emerge as entertaining. The consensus of opinion is also that the special effects by Stan Winston aren't all that scary and John l-‘i'ankenlieimer's
direction is energetic but
hopelessly confused. Then again. maybe this hybrid
‘ of linglish source novel
and American studio realisation is a monster that will find more receptive victims this side of the Atlantic. (Alan Morrison)
The Island ()_/ Dr Moreau l/5) (Jo/III l-‘rankenlieiniei: L'S. I996) .llarlon BI'tl/lt/(l, liil Kil/iiei; David T/lt’ll'le. ()5 Illlll.\'. l-‘roni Fri /5 Nov. (ieneral release.
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
After profiling the relationship of a mother and gifted son in little Man Tate, Jodie Foster stands behind the camera again, this time to deal with the interactions between an entire family in this seasonal comedy about a Thanksgiving reunion. Based on a screenplay by “Lil. Richter, Home For The Holidays presents the pains, frustrations and affections of individuals bound together by very little other than blood ties.
Holly Hunter is Claudia, the single mother reluctantly arriving at the parental home under the cloud of a head cold and recent job loss. Ready to spend more time biting her tongue than the turkey dinner, she enters a typical family world of kisses and criticism, where her parents deny the sexuality of her gay brother (Robert Downey Jr), overlook the ‘dutiful daughter’ act of her sister (Cynthia Stevenson) and dismiss as senility the
Home For The Holidays: ‘powerful pertormances'
A “.2 6 7
home truths spoken by her spinster aunt (Geraldine Chaplin).
The focus on people struggling to connect is typically Foster, but unfortunately it is the director/
audience connection that proves to be
the greatest struggle of all for this film. Although the action is structured by labelled sections designed to harness our objectivity, the strong characterisation steers us off course. With a host of powerful performances triggering off our own personal memories of family occasions, it is difficult not to be carried along on a rollercoaster ride of subjective emotion. Although peppered with highly entertaining moments, the film sadly loses direction and becomes just like the famin occasion itself, an uncomfortable experience to he survived rather than enjoyed. (Beth Williams)
Home For The Holidays (15) (Jodie Foster, US, 1996) Holly Hunter, Robert Downey Jr, Anne Bancroft. 103 mins. From Fri 22. General release.
emotions in her adoptive engine driver father. violin-making ostensible ‘brother' and wealthy husband.
Seeing the film now. it's astonishing to think it was largely shot in I92]. for there’s quickfire editing that wouldn‘t look out of place on today‘s MTV. extraordinary use of a rail- mounted camera. and a whole host of visual effects (part blocked-off screens. double- exposures. ‘iiegative‘
. images. deliberate over- exposure) designed to give fullest rein to the rich swathes of emotion that drive the story along.
We can still learn from Gance in his hunger to
create new ways of
I image-making and his
ultimate desire for a
I pushed to the limits of expression. Thankfully. Adrian Johnston's score (commissioned by Paris‘s Louvre art gallery. no less). brilliantly blending electronic and acoustic keyboards. percussion and reeds. makes it live and breathe again for today‘s audience. Quite simply. it dwarfs most of 1996‘s shallow output. A genuine event. (Trevor Johnston) [.u Roae (Abel Gance. Fl‘llllt‘t’. I922) severin- Mars, Gabriel (Ie Gl'tll’llllt’. li-e Close. I50 ininx. Silent will: score eoiiiposerl and performed by Adrian Johnston. Sim / 7. Edinburgh: Festival
28 The List l5-28 Nov I996