Funny Bones: ‘honest and sensitive’


Funny Bones may be one of the most talked about films of the moment, but it’s also one of the most

misrepresented. It is billed by most as

a comedy, but tragicomedy would perhaps be more accurate for, while it does have some very funny moments, its main interest lies in its seriousness. The last in Peter

Chelsom’s trilogy about Blackpool, Funny Bones takes a long hard look at

the nature of comedy and the world of comedians, focusing on the dark side

'5 and the melancholic alter ego for

' which comedians are renowned.

Starring Leslie Caron, Jerry Lewis,

Oliver Platt and Lee Evans, who steals

the show by proving his talent for

; straight acting alongside his genius

t for comedy, it tells the tale of two

men, both comedians and both quite different. Tommy (Platt) escapes from

the shadow of his comedian lather (Lewis) by going to Blackpool in

search of fresh material. It is there that he meets Jack (Evans), a man who doesn’t need to rely on material - he was born with funny bones. Together, they work through their problems, finding, eventually, that they are linked by more than just their profession. Against a gallery of grotesques, Chelsom creates an honest and sensitive portrait of the deep sorrow that so often underlies comic genius. It is the relentless alternation 3 between hilarity and tragedy that 1 makes this such an immensely powerful and strangely cathartic

experience, but the most striking thing

about Funny Bones is the enormous , love with which it has so obviously been put together, resulting in a masterpiece of great vibrancy and tenderness. This is without doubt one of the best films to have come out of Britain this year. (Gill Harris) Funny Bones (15) (Peter Che/sum, ~ UK/US, 1995) Lee Evans, Oliver Flatt, Jerry lewis. 128 mins. From Fri 6. Edinburgh: Cameo, UBI. Strathclyde: - UBI Clydebank.

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John Singleton's pointcd and unsophisticatcd latest film follows on more from lioy: .\' '/"he Hood than l’oe/it' .hirat'e. In his debrrt mm ie. l..-\'s teenage blacks shot each other dead before they could reach university. Now racial tension threatens to wipe out those who make it.

Three freshmen arriye at fictitious Columbus l'niversity. searching for personal identity in the political science class of Professor Larry l‘islllflll‘llc‘. (‘ocky black runner .\lalik t()mar Epps) feels rumoured to ms athletics scholarship; twcc. white. middle-class Kristen (Kristy Swanson) is date-raped shortly after she arrives; and backwoods. friendlcss Renry (Michael Rapaport) doesn‘t fit in anywhere. As Kristen drifts towards a lesbian affair with ’l'ar'yn (Jennifer (‘onnelly) and Malik lirrds his feet with new girlfriend

Deja (Tyra Banks). Remy falls in with a murderous neo-Na/i gang. Iipps and Swanson do well with a fragmented and character-stereonped script. but Rapaport is less fortunate. and Fishburne is hard to accept as the campus-accented pedagogue. Regina King as Monet knocks the ‘we-are‘-the- world‘ ethos firmly on the head. and rapper Ice Cube lends the rest of the warmth -- though he and his pals look a ‘I little bit soft to be tough guys. it's an ambitious project for 27-year-old 9 Singleton and he does labour things in 5 putting across his message about stressing human similarities not differences. learning to think independently. and (sirrrply put) no pain, no gain. This message seems worth it. though, and if the style is crude and inconsistent. there is enough entertainment to appeal to a broad. if younger. audience. (Gio MacDonald) Higher Learning (/5) (John Single/on. US. I995) Omar lip/is. K r'isly .S'rvanson. Laurence Fish/nirne. I28 mins. From Fri [3. Edin/nirgh: l'i/Hl/lrrllse.

Higher Learning: ‘pointed and unsophisticated’

Red Firecracker, Green Firecracker: ‘emotional repression, sumptuous visuals’

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Itinerant artist lliu Bao is hired by the wealthy Cal household, whose fortune and power in the region comes from its fireworks factory, to paint traditional New Year pictures. Head of the family is a young woman, Chunzlri, who has been forced into a masculine managerial role, dressing in an asexual manner and not allowing herself any trace of femininity in her personal grooming. Soon, lliu Bao’s independent streak threatens the rigid order of the estate: not only does he belong to a lower class, he has awakened desires in the ‘Mistress’ that confuse her and inflame the )ealousies of her head of staff.

Like Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige, director He Ping has taken great care over the composition of the film’s images. Here, however, the love story is made more prominent and the visual metaphors rest easily on the surface.

The noisy, outward display of the fireworks contrasts with the central characters’ hidden emotions and sexuality, but their affair takes melodramatic turns, as if caught at the stop/start lights of the title. Their intense looks and embraces might move some viewers, but their behaviour becomes progressively sillier and the literally explosive finale is just ridiculous.

This whole Chinese period sub-genre has more than a few parallels with the ‘Merchant-Ivory’ British style: emotional repression, contemporary message from historical metaphor, sumptuous visuals. However, not every film is a Remains 0! The Day or a liaise The Red lantern; in fact, you could say that this was China’s Enchanted April, with pretty costumes travelling along the same thematic roads. (Alan Morrison) fled Firecracker, Green Firecracker (15) (He Ping, China/Hang Kong, 1993) Hing Jinn, Wu Gang, Zhao Xiaurui. 115 mins. From Sat 7. Edinburgh: FilthUSr; ,


The Wild Bunch: ‘one of the bloodiest westerns ever made’

In the past few years. Sam Peckinpah's work has been able to be seen in a fresh light with the release of the director's cut of Pat Garrett rind Billy The Kid and the re-issue of Straw Dogs. Now, more than a quarter of a century on from its first screenings. it‘s the turn of The Wild Bunch. one of the bloodiest westerns ever made.

William Holden is the ageing head of a group of outlaws who rob a US army train in order to sell its cargo of arms to a jumped-up bandit-general across the Mexican border. ()n his tail. however. is former accomplice Robert Ryan. who has traded in loyalty to his old friend in return for a get-out-of-jail-free card. It's clear. however. from the greedy. white trash bounty hunters who accorrrpany Ryan on the side of the 'law‘ that he. Holden. and perhaps Holden's lieutenant l-Lrnest Borgnine are the last men of their type left in a Wild West that. only one year before the First World War. has left them out of time.

The Wild Bane/r is not as sustained an elegy on the passing of an era as Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid or. better still. Leone's Once Upon A 'lirne In 'I he West. lrrstead. it is a brutal yet dignified homage to a breed of men who. although glory has passed them by in life. achieve heroism (and with it. moral redemption) with their final acts. Tire film's style has lost none of its impressive qualities: in fact. Robert Rodriguez and John Woo have clearly learned a thing or two about editing and slo- mo action from the master. (Alan Morrison) The Wild Barrel: (/8) (Sam l’eckinpah, US. I969) ll’il/iarn Holden. Robert Ryan. [fir/res! Borg/line. [45 rnirrr. From Fri l3.“ Edinburgh l-‘ilrn/roare. From Star 22: Glasgow Film Theatre.

The List 6- l9 ()ct l99519