non festival review

Bean (PG) 97 mins t it *

Shot in LA at the same time as Volcano and subtitled ’The Ultimate Disaster Movie’, Bean the movie represents a new departure for Rowan Atkinson’s maladroit alter- ego.

Mr Bean's television outings have enjoyed staggering success. It's the UK’s highest-rating comedy series of the 905 and the most successful ever television-to-video transfer; it has been broadcast in 94 countries and on countless international flights. But although Mr Bean has been seen on the PBS channel, it still has a relatively low profile in the States.

Co-written by Richard Curtis and Robin Driscoll and directed by Mel Smith - all three long-term Atkinson collaborators Bean is a fairly serious attempt to broaden the range of a character who evolved as a dummy on which to hang sight- gags. In a 25-minute sitcom, Bean can ride into town in his padlocked Mini, stir up a wasp's nest of chaos and putter off unscathed into the sunset. In this more sustained narrative, the irresponsible and frequently vindictive mirestarter is forced to face the consequences of his idiocy.

For the most part, the plot which has Bean mistaken for an art expert and taken into the bosom of California's cultural life is a pretext for the usual silliness. Most gags are agreeably daft; several are tiresomely lavatorial; while others (the electric razor routine or the instant coffee routine) are pretty damn cobwebby. More surprising is the new dimension to Bean’s character, a conscience-stricken and resourceful problem-solving mentality which - predictably enough saves the day and nauseatingly enough - upholds family values and true blue American schmaltz. Well,

Making a killing: John Cusack in Grosse Pointe Blank

Waxing lyrical: Rowan Atkinson is the budding star in Bean

what did you expect?

It’s also notable that the supporting cast - which includes Burt Reynolds, Sir John Mills, Peter Capaldi and June (Dot Cotton) Brown acquits itself beautifully, with an amiable performance from Peter MacNicol as the gallery exec who innocently invites Bean into his home.

On the strength of Bean, America is almost certain to take Atkinson to its heart. At home - although the line ’all Englishmen are ugly' will strike a chord in devo- crazy Scotland you'll like Bean the movie if you like Mr Bean the TV show. Real grown-ups should stay away. (Andrew Burnet)

I General release from Fri 8 Aug.

and sundry other Cusacks cropping up towards the bottom of the credits.

On the surface, Grosse Pointe Blank is a one-joke film -- the gag being the gap between the humdrum, day-to- day triViaIities of Martin's life and career worries, and the alien flash and deatth glamour of his actual work. It’s in the subtext, though, that much of the film's appeal lies.

The people Martin left behind when he disappeared on prom-night are wont to ask him where he's been for the past ten years. In fact, since the days of the brat-packesque films he came to prominence With, Cusack has been movrng in the shadowy pools of the Chicago stage, Woody Allen films

Grosse Pointe Blank

(15) 108 mins M at it

In 1985, teen-player John Cusack drove away from school and headed for California in search of The Sure Thing. It's hard to recall exactly, but the chances are he learned a lesson in life along the way everyone who went near a school in the mowe America of the 80s did. Except Crispin Glover. Now, as Martin 0 Blank, a depressed freelance hitman, it's time for Cusack to return to his a/iria mater, for lllal

most American of masochistic rites, the high-school reunion.

Diiected by George Arniitage 7 who turns in a fair post-Woo action sequence here and there this is nonetheless Cusack's film. As well as cor-producing, he also had a hand in the screenplay and positively inhabits Martin, sWitching froin comic/romantic lead to focused killer effortlessly and believany It's a family affair, his ever- excellent sister Joan pIUVIthIIr} .i turn (is l\laitiii's Sflll/t Id, nagging iet.iiy,

and Jim Thompson adaptations, and here he brings traces of edgier worlds back into the sunlit suburb and the locker-lined school corridors, so familiar from last decade’s coming-of- age flicks. And, of course, in Grosse Pointe, everyone has long Since came of age, landed a job and is tinged with a faint, unspoken desperation and memories of simpler times, when, for a brief moment, A-ha ruled the airwaves. (Damien Love)

I Glasgow Film Theatre from Fri 8 Aug.

new releases FILM Alive And Kicking

(15) 100 mins *‘ki

Drama about a gay dancer with AIDS, anyone? Hmm, not too many hands showing there. It would be a shame, though, if the apparently downbeat subject matter put audiences off what is actually a passionate and involving British movie. This film succeeds because it refuses to take its viewers’ prejudices at face value and works damn hard to make you care about its actually-rather-courageous cast of characters.

Jason Flemyng, about whom you’ll be hearing a lot more in the months and years to come, is modern ballet dancer Tonio, who puts everything into a series of roles With the Critically lauded Ballet Luna company. He takes over the demanding lead in a new revival of its famed male duo piece ’Indian Summer’ even though his HIV positive status may not be up to the intense physical demands of the bravura choreography.

An additional complication is his turbulent relationship with dedicated AIDS counsellor Anthony Sher, who bears a heavy burden from the continual line of pain and suffering to which his work exposes him. Both men may have to admit their own failings in the face of apparently insuperable odds, but stubbornness is as much a part of their personalities as the abrasive sense of humour that seems to get them through no matter what.

The real strength of Nancy Meckler's film is that it's never affected and steadfastly refuses to indulge itself in self-pity. Though the sheer weight of commitment sometimes brings the soap-box out in Martin Sherman’s screenplay, he knows how to bring the speechifying back down to earth. Flemyng's central turn brings home the emotional reality of living under the shadow of HIV in a matter—of—fact way that’s cumulatively affecting, and he certainly lets us experience the sheer muscular effort in the modern dance arena. A surprise recommendation perhaps, but a recommendation nonetheless. (Trevor Johnston)

I Edinburgh Fi/mhouse, Thu 7 Sun 70; Glasgow Film Theatre, Fr18---5uri IO

Ballet high: Jason Flemyng in Alive And Kicking

STAR RATINGS it it * * fir Outstanding 1k * 'k 1: Recommended 1% it it Worth a try is it $0.50 4r Poor

8—14 Aug I997THEU8T111