As Adam Sandler plumbs the depths of comedy once again with ANGER MANAGEMENT, we ask: why is anger in films so funny? Words: Miles Fielder

nger is hilarious. yes'.’ Why? Because watching

people lose their self-control is funny. Why?

Because we like to laugh at other people’s misfortunes. And why is that? Because we wish to vicariously experience the plethora of unpleasantries life has in store for us. In relative safety of one remove. At heart. we are all voyeurs.

This is why anger in films is even funnier than in real life. Between us and it there is a raging. potentially harmful individual and a cinema screen. We can laugh at ()liver Hardy finally blowing his top after humping a piano tip 20 flights of stairs in The Music Box only to have Stan Laurel‘s infuriating absentmindedness send it crashing all the way back down to the bottom (three times). Vi“ can latiin while not having to worry about ()llie giving us a black eye or a cauliflower ear.

Adam Sandler knows this. The hacks-for-hire who write and direct Sandler's films know this. The besuited money people looking for a big return on their investment may be too self- irnportant to understand this basic truth about the human condition. but they do know Sandler earns them a fortune. Thus. we have Anger .‘vlunugwnwrr. in which Sandler plays a mild-mannered Joe who is misdiagnosed as having ‘rag control‘ issues and is subsequently put in the care of Jack Nicholson's quack. a shrink who is. in a word. psychopathic. The Joe's mild manner is put thoroughly to the test.

Here we have the crux of the matter: raging anger in films is funny. but anger withheld is funnier still. In Howard Hawks‘ Bringing up Baby. considered by many to be the finest screwball comedy ever made. Cary Grant's uptight paleontologist spends the entire running

22 THE LIST 5—19 June 2003

Anger in films is funny, though anger withheld is funnier still; but black, boiling self-destructive anger is simply hilarious

time of the film being wound up by Katharine Hepburn’s dizzy society gal. Grant can‘t vent his anger. even when Hepburn attempts to drive away with his car (by accident. of course) and wrecks it in the process. because he's after money for his museum from her wealthy aunt. Grant's resulting facial contortions give good strike that great ‘funny’.

lrnplosive anger is even better yet. Black. boiling self-destructive anger is hilarious. lt's funnier than murder. Let's talk Wit/mail and I. The fear and loathing that Richard ['2 Grant's out-of-work thesp cum ferocious alcoholic chokes down in this blackest of comedies is astounding. It boasts some of the finest outbursts of bad language yet committed to film. particularly the scene in which Withnail has a go at his doting. sweet. poofy uncle. exclaiming: ‘Monty. you terrible cunt!‘

So. exactly how funny can anger in film be'.’ Well. anger can be so funny it doesn‘t even have to feature in a film of the comedy genre. I give you Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Stephen King‘s novel The Shining. one of the funniest films about homicide in a haunted hotel ever made. The climactic scene in which a totally deranged Jack Nicholson pads up the grand staircase of the Overlook. following his quivering wife who‘s so utterly terrified she can barely keep a grasp on the baseball but she‘s carrying. is either chilling as hell or as rip snortin' as a whorehouse in heaven.

When Jack says to his wife (and l paraphrase): ‘You didn't let me finish. lightness of my life. I'm not going to hurt you. I'm just going to bash your brains in.‘ those lines have half the film's audience rolling in the aisles. Not because bashing someone's skull in is funny (it isn‘t it’s serious shit). but because as he spits them out. Jack's suppressing a rage that is eating him inside out. just like a cancer. Now. you know what they say about cancer and comedy . . .

Anger Management opens Fri 6 Jun. See review, page 24.

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File under Sacred Music

DO YOU WANT TO TURN your short film into a feature? Well, get yourself down to the Shorts to Feature seminars in Glasgow and Edinburgh, where an esteemed panel of experts will offer advice and help as part of a scheme supported by the Scottish Executive to encourage fresh talent. The free seminars are on Tue 10 Jun at Scottish Screen, 249 West George Street, Glasgow, 6.30pm and in Edinburgh Wed 11 Jun at the UGC cinema, Fountainpark. 7pm. For more information log onto www.scottish

screen.com or email xanthefilm2onetel.net.uk

IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN dance on screen yOu may want to Check out The Truth at the Dundee COnIerrrpOrar; Arts DC!» on Thu 12 Jun, 6.30pm Directed by Katrina McPherson and choreographed by Paulo Rrberro and Frn Walker. The Truth was commissioned and produced h, chochet dance productions Three shons .wH a!so be screened alonQSrde the frl'n

One of the highlights of this year’s Highland Festival is the premier of American Cousins, a romantic comedy about two American mafiosi on the run in Glasgow. It stars Dan Hedaya, Vincent Pastore (Pussy from The Sopranos) and Shirley Henderson. There will be red carpet and celebrities at the special BAFTA screening on Sunday 8 June at the Eden Court Cinema in lnverness. It is the first film premier to be held in the city since Loch Ness in 1994.