Immortal Beloved (1994)
There are only two real problems with writer/director Bernard Rose's semi-biopic of Electric Light Orchestra influence and fairly good composer Ludwig van Beethoven. 1) The viewer spends anxious moments worrying if Ludwig's head (played by Gary Oldman) is going to explode from sheer thespian intensity, and 2) It's not really a "good" movie. But screw the quibbles and dig the film's piquant riffing on a known fact: On his deathbed, Beethoven scribbled a missive to a mysterious "immortal beloved," and then croaked. Which causes Ludwig's secretary (Jeroen Krabbé) to get all Rosebud and scour 19th-century Vienna, trying to figure out whether his boss' paramour was the Countess Guicciardi (Valeria Golino), Countess Erdody (Isabella Rossellini), his sister-in-law Johanna (Johanna Ter Steege), or Johanna's son Karl (Marco Hofschneider). Or, for all Rose (Paperhouse) knows or cares about historical accuracy, ELO's Jeff Lynne. What matters is Rose's hyper-febrile visual sense, which makes Ken Russell seem downright Jesse Helmsian in comparison (to pick just one example: a post-childhood-trauma scene where a lake fills with a twinkling galaxy of stars to the magnificent accompaniment of the "Ode to Joy"), and the film's sheer fuck-it-all romantic abandon. To paraphrase Baltimore's own Greg Kihn, they don't make 'em like that anymore.