THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Tuesday, October 1, 1968
PQge Two THE MICHIGAN DAILY Tuesday, October 1, 1968
Rachel: Ode to schoolhouse sex
A musical journey eastward
By HENRY GRIX
Like the ballad of Bonnie and Clyde, Rachel, Rachel (now
showing at the Michigan) is rooted in the good earth of America.
Director Paul Newman's first film, is outwardly an ode to the red
brick schoolhouse, the revival meeting and a night in the park.
But Rachel transcends its nostalgic finish with an attention
to the classic American themes of death vs. the fulfillment of
promise, and innocence vs. stagnation.
Rachel (Joanne Woodward) is stagnating in the undertaker's
house on Japonica Street where she has always lived. Her period of
"ascendancy" has ended and the horror of her approaching decline
is cushioned only by the American -dream she has been nursing for
Her dream, a hopelessly romantic and covertly passionate de-
sire to love and be loved nourishes her, allowing her to live out
each grueling day despite the fantasies of destruction that plague
An indomitable midwesterner, Rachel is "like a trick birthday
candle that won't blow out" (in the words of the mortician who
bought out her father's business)..
For Rachel, the daughter of a gentle undertaker (APA star
Donald Moffat), death lurks both in the gentle past and the fearful
future which holds her salvation. But the beginning of another
summer of her discontent, calls for a renaissance of the spinster
teacher. In her "last ascending summer," she hopes to bloom and
flee from the cage where she lives ensnared by her mother (Kate
Obviously, Rachel is an exclusive American creation-a poten-
tial Leor'a Tozer with the hang-ups of a Hepzibah Pyncheon. If her
intentions were not so pure, and the quality of the film not so
straiglitforward and incurably honest with itself, Rachel, Rachel
would fail in its admittedly hackneyed conception.
But it is sincere. The performances are tempered so beauti-
fully that the characters emerge as people who might dwell and
thrive in Pinckney and Dexter. Although Newman gambled by se-
lecting such a sentimental story, the brilliance of his wife's perfor-
mance so dominates the film that it is easy enough to interpret
the production as an exquisite character study.
But to view the film in such a way, is to undercut the consider-
able efforts of Newman, the superb, if unsubtle, editing of Dede
Allen, and the sensitive script of Stewart Stern.
Rachel, Rachel's unadulterated virtues are many. The film
lavishly displays some of the most beautiful footage of rural
America I have seen. And Newman uses children with a grace strik-
ingly like that of Truffaut. The camera dwells on detail: trophies,
a rosary draped over a cross and family portraits sharing a bedside
-table; the curlers and chin strap adorning Miss Harrington's
grosteque face, embalmed in cold cream; Miss Woodward's slip,
hanging an embarrassing shade below her skirt.
But American films have seldom succeeded as displays of
directorial excellence. The ultimate success of Rachel, Rachel is
in its plot.
Rachel's quest for love drives her to join her lesbian friend
Calla (Estelle Parsons) in seeking dependence on God.
When Rachel finally is loved, her dream is once again shat-
tered. It is not because the body she loved leaves her, but rather
because the child she felt growing inside her is only a cyst. Fol-
lowing an operation to have the growth removed, Rachel quips to
an incredulous nurse "How can I be out of danger when I'm not
But the danger for Rachel is just beginning. She has run the
full cycle and the summer is nearly over. She decides to leave
the house on Japonica Street and head West-a new Nick Carra-
way seeking purity and promise.
Rachel does not try to abandon her old life; mother even
tags along to start out fresh with her daughter. But in a final
soliloquy, straight out of the closing paragraphs of F. Scott Fitz-
gerald, Rachel displays her ever present innocence and honesty.
"Maybe I'll find a friend," and she means a husband; "Most
of the chances are against it, but not, I think, are all."
By E. BANKAUSKAS They d
Two new Nonesuch recordings , of the1
offer as fine examples of Indian tainlyi
classical music as one could ask Thef
for. Presenting the vocal tradi- employ
tion of Karnatik music of South beat rh
India, they are almost unique of the
in the catalog of currently Indian
available LP's. The three p e r - love po
formers, furthermore, are all The pe
first class musicians. swamy7
K. V. Narayanaswamy, com- lyrical,
ing from a long line of Kerala serious
musicians, carries on the tradi- The1
tion of the great Aiyangar. Pal- song ha
ghat Raghu, one of the truly dance
great South Indian drummers, Naraya
inherits the tradition of the tremely
famous mridangam virtuoso nouncia
Palghat Mani Aiyar. V. V. Sub- and hi
ramaniam is one of South In- believa
dia's finest young violinists, listen. 4
both as accompanist and as Thes
soloist and he has often ac- votes a
companied the nightingale of two pe
South Indian vocal music, Shri- of mus
mati Subbulakshmi. "mridan
The first record (2018) is de- thm b
voted to the vocal artistry of Ons
Narayanasamy. He sings three ceives t
Kritis, a Javali, and a Tillana. of arti
The Kriti is a major South In- accomp
dian art-music form, usually fully.
preceded by a prelude in free shorta
rhythm. Composed of a devo- unal, t
tional poem, the Kriti is very by Dik
expressive musically, of serious with g
nature and expositive strength. giving1
The first Kriti is by the 19th Subram
century composer Bharatiyar, former
the second by the greatest'com- A w
poser of South India, Tyagara- physica
=a, and the third by Muthu- wonder
swamy Dikshitar. purely
The second and third pieces ance, i
are noted by strong svara kal- all Sou
pana, which are fast improvisa- is voca
tions of melodic and highly strume
rhythmic nature, employing the nique
first syllables of the names of voice;
the notes in the Indian octave. respeeb
demand fierce virtuosity
performer and they cer-
receive it here.
fourth piece is a Javali,
ing a less common four
,ythin. A JTavali is one
lighter forms of South
music, usually having a
oem as the main theme.
rformance of Narayana-
in the piece is sweet and
quite different from the
mood of the Kritis.
last song is a Tillana, a
hose origin lies in the
music of the region.
naswamy's voice is ex-
y well-trained, his pro-
Ation fast and flawless,
is technique almost un-
ble. He is truly a joy to
second record (2019) de-
a side each to the other
rformers of this fine trio
icians. Side one offers a
agam solo in 4-2-2 rhy-
y Raghu. I
side two, the violin re-
the focus, and the echoes
stry heard previously as
paniment are brought out
The first piece is a very
and lovely Kriti by Tir-
he second a longer Kriti
kshitar; both are played
great depth and melody,
tribute to the quality of
maniam as a solo per-
ord about the records as
;l entities. For those who
xWhy texts accompany a
it must be understood that
ith Indian classical music
al in character, with in-
nts imitating the tech-
and expression of the
the most often heard and
:ed' concert musicians are
vocalists. The instrumentalist
has the same repertoire of
melody and song as the vocalist.
These Nonesuch discs are
magnificent in every detail.
Front covers are a model of
crisp, clean commercial art,
with fine lettering and stylish
drawings. Both records provide
complete translations of texts;
photos of all artists are provid-
ed, as well as the scales of the
ragas and the structures of the
talas. Processed by the revolu-
tionary Dolby noise-reduction
system, the discs sound finer
than almost any other Indian
recordings available. At $2.50
list price, Nonesuch is practi-
cally giving their wares away.
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And we'll have Funn, Funn, Funn
By LITTLE SHERRI FUNN'
A great deal of poof has hit
the fan during the last few days
in regards to several record and
concert reviews I've written, and
my critical guidelines in general.
A bearded fellow for example,
stopped by The Daily Saturday
night to instruct me in no un-
certain terms, to "Go to hell."
A young lady at a party, later
on said I was"incredibly stupid,
unaware," and totally devoid of
any personal quality, that might
be construed as "taste." Letters
have arrived describing me as
a "hysterical 123 student," a
"disgrace," and a "nincompoop,,"
So now, instead of blithely
going ahead and infuriating
still more people with more sup-
posedly stupid reviews, , I'm
going to tell you why I do the
things I do. And, after that, if
I'm still infuriating you, call
me up and let's rap about it.
I'd like to begin with what
the bearded man said after he
was through with the "hell"
business. He told me that a lot
of his friends, who are allegedly
well-versed in rock, music, felt
that I "know nothing about
music" and I was "putting down
a lot of people who shouldn't
be put down."
His first remark has to do
with my essential qualifications'
as a valid rock critic and the
second with my criteria for
determining what makes a
"good" rock album or perform-
ance and my general outlook
on the rock scene today. We'll
take these one at a time."
As far as knowing "nothing
about music" goes, all I can
say that I was a member of a
rock band for two years, I have
loved and lived rock since my
elementary, school days,' I have
talked about, thought about, and
read about rock intensively for
half my life, and I listen to
nearly every rock album that is
If that makes me musically
ignorant in the eyes of some,
then you must forgive me,
gentle readers, for I know not
what I do.
Then, assuming we have es-
tablished that possibly I have
some idea as to what the spec-
trum of the rock scene entails,
what do I go by when I judge
a rock album or performance?
when they made the album.
Sometimes this is painfully un-
Because I hold honesty to be
so essential, then I can become
as completely blasted by U.S.
Bonds' "Twist Twist Senora,"
a crude, crude rock recording,
as I can by the sophistication
of Buffalo Springfield's "Broken
Arrow" or The Collectors' "One
Act Play." None of these re-
cordings have anything in com-
mon: except for a deep rooted
feeling and compulsion to state
how a human being feels, in his'
own special way, about aliena-
tion, groupies, or how great it is
to do the twist with your baby.
Of course I am aware of the
technical aspects of recordings
such as musical proficiency,
studio work, and various record-
ing techniques, and I do deem
these important. But no amount
of synthezising, compressing,
4iixing, or whining "E" strings
can fill in an essentially dis-
honest album and make it truly
satisfying to the listener over a
long period of time.
I have mentioned Cream in
several reviews, always in a de-
meaning manner, and thereby
alienating the huge crowd of
Cream fanatics in Ann Arbor.
I a-ever said that I haven't en-
joyed an occasional Cream ef-
fort because, in actuality, I
have; but they exemplify per-
fectly to me what is rancid
about today's rock scene.
What I have said is that it's .
too bad that a group I consider
to be so dishonest, so overly
Madison Avenue slick, and so
creatively sterile, can have a
number one selling album while
so many much more rewarding
efforts nestle near the bottom
or stay off the charts.
I can only say that I realize
I'm not a wondrous fount of
rock knowledge, just waiting for
the opportunity to shower good
taste on the peasants below me.
I realize I'm not the final rest-
ing place for rock criticism and
that my opinions may indeed be
stupid in your mind.
I'm not trying to tell you
what to like, as some of you
appear to think, and I am not
trying to make you angry. I'm
just trying to react as honestly
as I- can, as clearly as I can,
to some of the music we call
contemporary. That's all.
ot 7 & 9
"Yes, 'Belle de Jour' is sensational.
It does--let's be honest about this-turn you on!"
t.i---Lfe o, zn
IGER RoDDy ...%U .'Y'
STED[S McIXJWII i~FT- FAllWAY ROBERTS
First and foremost, I con-
sider the honesty of the per-
formance, and I believe abso-
lutely that this is the only truly
valid ground on which an al-
bum can either be praised or
condemned. That is to say, when
all of the electronic effects are
sorted out, when the words have,
been defined, when the per-
sonal prejudices and opinions
of the listener 'have been dis-
pensed with, what remains is
what is honest about the album,
and that is something I believe
cannot be disputed.
I'm not saying I have to agree
with the content of the message
the artists are conveying to me
for that, in many cases, is ir-
relevant. But I must prove to
my own satisfaction that the
effort has been an honest one,
an honest attempt to accurately
recreate in my mind what was
going on in theirs when they
made the album. (Of course I'm
assuming here that something
was going on in their heads
ROBER a n MN AI
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