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23 January 1997 Edition

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Irish men can jump

I must admit that I like Michael J Fox. It's not just that he and I have so much in common, although it must be admitted that we both could be taller but have managed to retain our boyish good looks and charm. No, it's because I like his screen presence. Even if he does usually play the same character it's a likeable feelgood sort of guy. So it wasn't too big a surprise to find his efforts to play a slightly sleazy character in his latest big screen outing The Frighteners, were thwarted early on. We soon find out that he has a heart of gold, is still haunted by the death of his wife, and, because we must have a plot, he can see ghosts because of a near-death experience.

This ability to see the supernatural is the basis of the film. Michael and his ghostly buddies make an easy living, first haunting then `curing' clients of their ghostly presences. The sinister part of proceedings centres on their attempt to put an end to a mysterious string of deaths which have left the authorities baffled. While much of the opening is lighthearted and funny in a Beetlejuice manner, the latter part of the film is darker and scarier, as Fox comes up against a formidable serial-killing spirit.

Overall, the acting, with the exception of Jeffrey Combs as an irritatingly psychotic FBI man, is up to the job and the special effects are impressive. I'm a tough barometer with this sort of thing but I did jump once or twice in my seat (that's always funny, because your first reaction is to look around to see if anyone noticed). This one won't figure in any Oscars but it is good entertaining horror and value for your popcorn.

By Liam O Coileain

Dissatisfaction with your parents and the desire to choose an ideal set has fascinated children's fantasies for generations. But is it good enough material for a comedy film? After watching and laughing through David Russell's Flirting with Disaster the answer is a qualified yes.

This is the story of a happily married couple, Mel and Nancy, with new child. The birth and naming of said child provokes a crisis of identity for the adopted Mel who sets out to find his biological parents.

In some ways the film is quite formulaic. It trades heavily on the highs and lows of the nuclear family which are the staple diet of comedy on television and cinema. The other component of this film is entangled personal relationships. It is the development and resolution of these relationships that makes the film.

The plot is aided by a host of excellent actors including Patricia Arquette, Alan Alda, Lily Tomlin, George Segal and Mary Tyler Moore and gives the film an upbeat Woody Allen look complete with psycholgists, Jewish parents and laid back hippies.

In many senses the film seems to be a humorous commentary of the neuroses that grip families in urban America, or at least the neuroses that have been paraded over the years in the half hour sitcoms of Family Ties, the Cosbys, Friends, Cheers and Frazier etc.

Somehow watching this film I couldn't quite get over the fact that Woody Allen's personal life has ended up as a more unbelievable story than the plot of many of his films and though I laughed at the plot of Flirting With Disaster, I couldn't help wondering that maybe it wasn't just fantasy.


``Oh, what a circus. Oh, what a show'' - thus opens Alan Parker's stunning screen adaptation of the musical Evita, with Tim Rice's succint lyrics encapsulating both the spectacular movie itself and the international hype surrounding its general release. Not since the highly successful Grease of the late 1970s has a film musical caused such a sensation .

With Evita Parker unleashes a breathtaking rollercoaster ride through the life and times of Eva Peron - actress come Argentinian first lady. She is described as ``the greatest social climber since Cinderella'' and the film follows her bed-hopping climb from the smokey bars of Buenos Aires to the balcony of the Casa Rosada. Indeed it is this South American dream fairytale quality which makes it irresistible. Yet Evita quite rightly proclaims to be much more than an elaborate fairytale

This splendid production combines classic cinematography, dynamic musical passion with an almost palpable Latin American atmosphere.

Parker's talent for setting is once again highlighted as he captures the sultry mood of 1940s Buneos Aires with the same careful precision as the gritty 1990s Dublin of The Commitments.

The film's characters are like the production itself - larger than life - and at times appear as comical stereotypes (a flaw common to many musicals). That aside, both Madonna and Antonio Banderas are guite simply superb. Despite Madonna's uncanny resemblance to the real Eva Peron, her success is down to the fact that she is doing what she does best -.singing - and her vocal chords do the acting and excell in doing so.

Evita's lack of factual detail is compensated for with the atmosphere and intense passions of a country in revolt. The audience's view remains from a distance, but a sense of affinity is never lost because while Evita is a whirlwind ``rainbow tour''of 1940s fashion, showbiz and politics, it remains the story of a woman, a man and a country. It re-invents modern opera putting both Madonna and musicals firmly back in the Hollywood picture.

By Aine Keane

An Phoblacht Magazine


  • The first edition of this new magazine will feature a 10 page special on the life and legacy of our leader Martin McGuinness to mark the first anniversary of his untimely passing.
  • It will include a personal reminiscence by Gerry Adams and contributions from the McGuinness family.
  • There will also be an exclusive interview with our new Uachtar├ín Mary Lou McDonald.

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