ENJOYMENT of Tootsie (Pearl, 9.30pm) depends greatly on how easy you find it to accept Dustin Hoffman as a woman. The makeup artists took the raw material and worked with it, hiding those donkey ears and temporarily capping the masculine teeth but Hoffman is still a man. In drag he mumbles, making suspension of disbelief harder still. Yet Tootsie, essentially one, long joke, told until it almost runs out of steam, is so deftly handled and acutely observed that it proves impossible to ignore. Director Sydney Pollack must take much of the credit, although without Jessica Lange, Charles Durning and a number of other notables in small parts (Geena Davis, Bill Murray, Dabney Coleman) it might still have been a struggle. Lange is especially luminous, as the female star Hoffman (as a woman) falls in love with. That joke has Hoffman as an unemployed actor, dressing up as a woman so he can take a part in a daytime soap. Teri Garr brings up the rear with style, playing the girlfriend who isn't sure whether her boyfriend is strange, transvestite, or a combination of both. OTHER films to look out for: La Petite Voleuse (Pearl, 12.20am), a French production with Charlotte Gainsbourg as a 16-year-old who becomes the lover and accomplice of a thief. A moderately engaging account of amoral behaviour, with usual French pretentious touches. Psycho II (Pearl, 2.15am). Anthony Perkins and Vera Miles are back, this time in colour and with extra gore. Hercule Poirot's Christmas (World, 2.10am). Standard but enjoyable mystery with usual ingredients: an old manor house, suspicious residents and a shifty butler. It's A Wonderful Life (STAR Plus, 2pm). The famous weepy with James Stewart as a smalltown failure who decides to end it all. Terribly effective, in its own icky, bittersweet way. An example of the dialogue: 'Every time you hear a bell ring, it means an angel has just got his wings.' The Sellout (STAR Plus, 2am). Espionage romp with a good cast (Richard Widmark, Oliver Reed), Russian bad guys and enjoyable vistas of Jerusalem. FILMS on Cable Movie Channel: The Piano (7pm). Jane Campion's haunting tale of love and sex told from a woman's point of view. In the late 19th century a Scottish woman (Holly Hunter), her illegitimate daughter (Anna Paquin) and her beloved piano, arrive in remote New Zealand for an arranged marriage to farmer Sam Neill. The headstrong Hunter, who has been mute since childhood, strikes a bargain with moody neighbour Harvey Keitel (a Maori convert) involving the piano that leads to eye-opening consequences for the entire community. Writer-director Campion has fashioned a highly original fable, showing the tragedy and triumph erotic passion can bring to one's daily life. All four lead actors are excellent, particularly Hunter and Keitel. Oscars went to Hunter and Paquin for their acting and Campion for her screenplay. Rose (9pm). Roy Cheung is a triad leader who flees to Macau to escape the mob. His true love (Maggie Cheung) follows him, but is confronted by more horrors. Veronica Yip, the former breast-bearer, co-stars. Gate II (11pm). Young Terry (Louis Tripp) is going through a bad time. His alcoholic father has lost his job as a pilot and Terry himself is a Grade-A geek with few friends. But he has a plan. With the aid of a computer and a book of spells he will open a secret gate and ask the powers of darkness to improve his lot. Needless to say, all hell breaks loose. This pointless sequel to Gate spent three years on the shelf while the studio decided what could be done with it. Special effects are of passing interest, if you like that sort of thing.