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March 08, 1968 - Image 2

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The Michigan Daily, 1968-03-08

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Page Two

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Friday, March 8, 1968

Pa e woT H 1C H ( f AI Y ri ayM rc"8 1 6

A look at.
'Charlie Bubbles'
by Daniel Okrent
Back in medieval England, small bands of actors would
tour the countryside, stopping from time to time in one town
or another to present neat little plays for the gathering towns-
people. Generally directionless save for a knotting-up moral
attached to the end, these plays were collages of short scenes
pasted together, and often derived their popularity from the
very fact that they were entertainment, and not from the quality
of entertainment.
Charlie Bubbles, which opened last night at the Cam-
pus, is the same thing, updated. Starring Albert Finney in the
title role as the plug-in, wind-up, watch-'im-go star of the
British literary world, this film moves from the same no-direc-
tion, no-goal premise that England's touring minstrels used 700
years ago. Charlie the writer, the boy from Manchester who made
it to London and The Big Time, yawns through life, empty, anti-
climactic, bored; he doesn't get involved, he makes no comment.
Finney, whose portrayal is really quite good considering
the scripted-in blemishes, also directed the film, his first effort
at that art. Well, can Albert Finney, whom everyone iust agree
does a consistently good job of acting, direct a production as
well? The fact is, his dual function in "Charlie" doesn't give
anyone a chance to evaluate his directorial talents. As Finney
the actor planned to play this considerably difficult role' with
the loads of ennui that oozed from his blank eyes and shrugged
shoulders, he had no one around to tel him otherwise.
What results from the efforts of the Janus-like Finney will
be considered by many to be a quite good film; some may even
find it great. There will certainly be those who will'contend that
the lack of plot, excitement or climax is entirely in keeping with
the purpose of the film, that this Antonioni-like blandness sup-
ports the psychological mood of the no-meaning-in-life Charlie.
Nevertheless, an invasion of the mind does not surface
through Charlie's ho-hum world. Rather, each little part of his
life - the trip to the football game with his son, the TV watch-
ing with his ex-wife, the expressionless billiards playing on a
24-hour drunk with another writer - does not mesh. You keep
waiting for something to happen.
An equally effective attempt toward the same end might be
achieved by setting up a camera in a suburban home, and focus-
ing on Dad and Mom watching the tube, munching Fritos, send-
ing the kids upstairs to sleep, then slipping into twin beds sep-
arated by a lamp table. Then, we could all see how empty their
lives are..
I think that the whole problem of the empty-life alienation
movie like Charlie Bubbles is the same type of thing that hurt
the effect of The Graduate. It is one thing not to like what is
going on around you, to feel a certain despair. But the Charlies
and the Benjamins never stop to even define what. is wrong.
It is clear by their actions and their expressions, whether mani-
fest in Behanesque boozing (Charlie) or in extra-conjugal bed-
ding down (Benjamin), that these men realize the presence of
a void. But we never see them stop and think and question their
droning existence. They lie down on air rafts in swimming pools,
or they speed "Rolls Royces across the English countryside. And
then they close things up and tie their knots, either by marrying
their own true love (believable, at least) or by walking out of
their ex-wife's house and stepping into the gondola of a wait-
ing balloon, as does Charlie (absolutely preposterous).
All that I wish is that the despairing hero should at least
ask what he can do to patch up his life, and not just sit back
and grouch around.

MUSICe
Phdlharmoia Balances the Bombast

f

...

Department of Romanzce Languages
EL CONCIERTO
de SAN OVIDIG
drama by ANTONIO BUERO VALLEJO

By JIM PETERS
It must have been an early var-
lety of spring fever that sparked
the University Philharmonia last
night at Hill Aud. Conductor Theo
Alcantara's program was well-
planned, the orchestra performed
masterfully and from the music
there came an undeniable feeling
of power.
The compositions performed
weren't all the bom-bastic, "big-
sound" splashes that can manu-
facture this power by pure volume;
rather, sound was balanced with
intricate rhythms and melodies.
Yet each piece in its own way
contributed to the robust, almost
masculine, mood of the evening.
Brahms' Academic Festival Over-
ture is unknown to very few. But
too often only the loud "brass
band" aspect is heard; the music
has strength, but there is also,
Brahms' expert musical develop-
ment which is often buried. From
the very first notes, when I
actually heard the soft cymball
roll underneath all the strings, the
orchestra was aware of the sub-
tleties of exposition as well as the
broad outlines which pile sound
upon sound. Analytically, the
overture consists mainly of sus-
penseful wanderings and hintings
leading up to the two big theme
splashes which seet inevitable.
Alcantara emphasized this sus-
pense precisely by clarifying each
relationship, strings against winds,
brass and strings in contrasting
rhythms. The muddy sound was
gone, the cosmetic rush to reach
the big sound at the end was re-
placed by sustained tension which
really exploded into the majesty
of the finale. A fresh interpreta-
tion of an old standard, and the
Philharmonia lacked none of the
needed craftsmanship.
But the sharp contrast of the
second offering did not destroy
this presence. Prof. Francis Bun-
dra blazed through Walter Pis-
ton's Concerto for Viola, com-
posed in 1957. The unfamiliar
piece contains sections of 19th
century lyricism - the pungent

sound of the viola floating over
jumpy 20th century syncopation.
The difficulties for the soloist in-
volve this shifting between sen-
sitive flowing lyric passages and
the chromatic, unpredictable rhy-
thms.
The orchestra is a subdued ac-
companiment in the first two
movements of the Piston piece,
sparkling with flashes of harp,
and flute. But the third move-
ment calls upon timpani and per-
cussion in a wild whirl of sound.
The fabulous technique of Prof.
Bundra proved valuable here, but
he was always sensitive to the
subtleties - a quiet zeal in the
second movement, adagio con
fantasia.
The second symphony of Jean
Sibelius provided no weakening,
no break in the aura of power. I
object to the speed of the first
movement, but even this fit well
with the viewpoint of the entire
performance.
All night it was the brass, but
especially so in the Sibelius. Bit-
ing, growling, blaring, horns and
trumpets and trombones and bass
brass instruments unified the
fragmented second movement
with their menacing warnings.

The entire brass section of the or-
chestra responded to the conduc-
tor's plan.
Alcantara's Sibelius may have
lacked some of the lyricism usual-
ly connected with the first move-
ment, but as in the Brahms he
used a building technique, grad-
ually reaching the level of in-
tensity Sibelius demands. That is
why I wish he had joined the
second and third movements to-
gether, as is customary in this
symphony.
The seeds of the final move-
ment are planted quite slyly in
the second movement, and any
break in the continuing develop-
ment strains too much the fragile
construction of the second move-
ment and detracts from Sibelius'
slow build to the grand theme of
the finale.
The Philharmonia had some
troubles with ensemble in strings
and brass, and the double-basses
were thin and weak in several
places. But the drive and enthusi-
asm which I found. evident in
their overall performance dwarfed
these purely technical matters.
And all this from the music
school's freshman . orchestra?
Compared to the tremendous un-

dertaking of the University Sym-
phony'A performance of Gustav
Mahler's Ninth Symphony under
Joseph Blatt, the more standard
repertoire of the Philharmonia
last night may seem quite unin-
spiring. But the strings of the
Philharmonia were not unsure
and shaky in intonation in the
Brahms as were the Symphony's
strings in the poor first move-
ment of the Mahler, and every-
one seemed much more at ease.
It may have been the pressure
of such a momentous task as
Mahler that tarnished their per-
formance, but the University
Symphony Orchestra must take
second-place to the Philharmonia,
looking at these two recent con-
certs. The Mahler, of course, is
more difficult, but then a num-
ber-one orchestra is expected to
work hard. Perhaps the second-
place Philharmonia just tries a
little bit harder.
*SATYRN4
INC.
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available Today through
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POWER!

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.....

THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
SCHOOL OF MUSIC AND DEPARTMENT OF ART
PRESENT SMETANA'S COMIC OPERA
"THE BARTERED BRIDE"
(English Translation by Josef Blatt)
March 21-24, 8:00 P.M.
Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre
All Tickets-$3.00
Mail orders accepted now. Make checks payable to "Uni-
versity of Michigan." Send self-addressed, stamped envelope
to School of Music Opera,'Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre, Ann
Arbor, Michigan 48104. Box Office opens Monday, March
18, 1968, 12:30 P.M.

NOW !

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SIXTH ANN ARBOR
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TONIGHT: Last night of screenings.
2 different shows - 7:00 & 9:05
"COMMANDER CODY"-6:00-7:00

TOMORROW: Matinee, 2:00 p.m.-last screening.
Winnrsan hno- 7:0. 9:0< & 11 :00

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