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January 28, 1979 - Image 10

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1979-01-28
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The Michigan Daily-Sunday, Ja

Page 2-Sunday, January 28, 1979-The Michigan Daily
IAMRLINGS/brian blanehard

FILM/owen

gleiberman

T HERE ARE THOSE who regard
letter writing as an art form.
Then there are the remaining ninety-
five per cent of us, who may care
enough about letters to write them but
not enough to bother spending more
than forty-five minutes (or-half an hour
at the typewriter) completing the task.
My formula, refined over years of
practice, goes roughly as follows:
mechanically refer to comments from
the last letter received from my friend,
then inquire into his or her affairs. Then
toss in a general comment about my
world, followed by a perfunctory aside
characterizing hopes or school
problems, another statement on my
courses, or a platitude about the state of
higher eduction, a joke about my
sporadic class attendance record, and
any information about myself or com-
mon friends (which I can generally
state in about one sentence). I always
close by apologizing for leaving so
much to say, and speculating on when
we'll next meet. Love,...
Off it goes, into the squat, impersonal
box, and I wait for my deserved respon-
se-like a retiree who has nothing but
the mail and a favorite radio program
to mark his days. Once in a while, the
anticipation is satisfied by what I con-

sider good mail, most often from those
who write me "news," calmly
describing what they are doing and
feeling, and asking me the same.
More often, though, I wonder why I
take my mail so seriously. An old
girlfriend from high school writes me
on occasion, and I've come to realize

such messy script, but maybe she'll
write more soon.
Looking for something new, I run my
eyes over each sentence-forgiving the
brevity, per request-and drop it into a
drawer full of such notes.
Conpare her formulaic, but con-
crete, dispatches to the prose sent to

'I'm as disappointed in the letter-writing efforts
of my friends as I am in my own. We can 't even mock,
the E.B. Whites and Chekhovs, who spend long lives
worrying about who ought to go into their next letters.'

since he writes infrequently. Then both
write, F believe, to encourge me to
think about them and to prompt respon-
ses. The same effect could be achieved
with bulletins: "25 Janury '79. Still
here. Please write. Love, X."
I'm as disappointed in the letter-
writing efforts of my friends as I am in
my own. We can't even mock the E.B.
Whites and Chekhovs, who spend long
lives worrying about who ought to go in-
to their next letters. Correspondents
like myself and my friends write only
for this generation, and primarily for
only one member of it at a time. My
friend, after all, does have her bio to do.
The problem, I suppose, is that unlike
the literati, most of us take more
pleasure in the reading than in the
writing. My old girlfriend, I know,
doesn't want to apper a dilettante, and
so refrains from heavy musings. My
friend from home, on the other hand,
wants to avoid the dry facts, and in-
stead lets me know what's really going
on in his life. Both, of course, want
something back.
So I'll keep writing my form letters,
and sifting through the mass-addressed
envelopes to find the unsatisfying let-
ters my friends send, searching for the
hidden messages that aren't there.

the occasion must amount to a notation
in her datebook: "Write B.B., finish
calc and bio, do laundry." She's in a
terrible rush with so much to do, she
writes, and she's not sure what she'll be
doing come summer, but it's probably
too early to worry about it. On the
second colored page, she wonders how
I've been and whom I've heard from
lately, but she really has to go, she
writes in her closing paragraph, and
hopes I'll forgive such a short note in

my box by a close friend at home. He
describes in carefully edited detail the
emotional house in which he finds him-
self at the moment. And he moves of-
ten. He loathes love because it traps
him; he's fallen in love because she's
set him free. He's sworn off drugs since
they deceitfully dominate his life; he's
back to drugs-t-hey don't lie. It's tiring.
THE FIRST LETTER writer prob-
ably doesn't like to write letters;
the second seems drained by his efforts

Sunday' imaigazine IEIHi P UZZLE

Rock and roll onreels

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BY
S TERHEN J.
POZSGAI
Copyright 1979
INSTRUCTIONS
Guess the words defined at the
left and write them in over
their numbered dashes. Then,
transfer each letter to the cor-
responding numbered square
in the grid above. The letters
printed in the upper-right-hand
corners of the squares indi-
cate from whatsclue-word a
particular square's letter
comes from. The grid, when
filled in, should read as a
quotation from a published
work. The darkened squares
are the spaces between words.
Some words may carry over
to the next line. Meanwhile,
the first letter of each guessed
word at the left, reading down,
forms an acrostic,'giving the
author's name and the title of
the work from which the quote
is extracted. As words and
phrases begin to form in the
grid, you can work back and
forth from clues to grid until
the puzzle is complete.
Answer to last week'siuzzle:
"Whoever denies the
existenee of the uncon-
scious is in fact assuming
that our present knowledge
of the psyche is total and
this belief is cleary just as
false as the assumption that
we know all there is to be
known about the natural
universe."
Carl ° Jung, Man And His
Symbols

0 NE OF THE transcendent mo-
ments in rock and roll is the
opening drum riff of the Ronettes' "Be
My Baby," a resounding figure that
beautifully ushers in Phil Spector's
luminous world of teenage roman-
.tidism. The powe of that moment is
augmented when, at the beginning of
Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets, it is
played with the visual accompaniment
of Harvey Keitel, sinking back on his
pillow and escaping into the dank bluish
light of his dreams.
It is a vision of extraordinary power,
drawn directly from the music-from
the emotions of the song itself, and the
way that image at once affirms and
belies those emotions. Mean Streets
certainly wouldn't adhere to anyone's
strict definition of a "rock film"-the
story is a cinema verite'nightmare
about Mafia hoodlums in New York's
Little Italy-yet it reverberates with
the voluptuous energy of rock, with the
music's rebellious arrogance, spon-
taneity, and promises of liberation, like
few works I've encountered in any
medium.
Scorsese's film is but one example of
a paradox surrounding the meeting of
rock and roll and the movies: the
degree to which films evoke any of the
revelatory spirit of rock often bears
tenuous relation to how directly they
treat the subject. On the other side of
the coin from Mean Streets is FM,. a
story of a rock radio station with as
much musical vitality as a documen-
tary on the inner workings of your
neighborhood post office.
When you think about it, rock and roll
and the movies are so made for each
other that the wave of rock films that
graced the theatres last year barely
scratched the surface of possibilities.
We got films about radio stations (FM),
the birth of rock and roll (American Hot
Wax, The Buddy Holly Story, I Wanna
Hold Your Hand) disco flicks (Saturday
Night Fever, Grease-that's right,
disco-. Thank God It's Friday), and
Sgt. Pepper, which seems un-
classifiable except perhaps as some
heretofore undiscovered form of
sewage.
Yet few of these movies contain what
I like to call rock epiphanies, magical
moments in which music and celluloid
fuse'in rebellious celebration. I'm
talking about moments like the "Be My
Baby" sequence in Mean Streets, the
scene with John Travolta guzzling beer
and squealing his car tires with Ron-
stadt's salty version of "Heat Wave" in
the background in Carrie, Jimmy Cliff
shaking to the seductive reggae beat as
he sings "The Harder They Come," or
the sequence in Saturday Night Fever
with Travolta swaggering down a gritty
Brooklyn sidewalk to the insistent beat
of "Stayin' Alive."
A LL THESE scenes are rooted in
their sociologicalrcontexts, but
the music sets them afire. Because a
soundtrack, however, is only a soun-
dtrack without the creative impulse of a
director, the current outpouring of rock
films divides itself into two cateories:
those that simply use rock (or the
"world" of rock) as a setting, and those
whose creators have been shaped by
the music and explicitly deal with its
implications. Of the films mentioned
Owen Gleiberman is co-editor of
the Sunday Magazine.

above, FM, Sgt. Pepper, I Wanna Hold
Your Hand, Thank God It's Friday, and
Grease all belong to the former
category. The rest attempt, in one way
or another, to amplify their soun-
dtracks visually, by exploiting elemen-
ts of the sound and-this is what takes
real talent-treating it as thematically
and spiritually integral to the story.
Certainly, as a collection, these films
have not distinguished themselves as
any sort of definable "genre"; there is
more spiritual' continuity between
Mean Streets and Saturday Night
Fever than between Fever and The
Buddy Holly Story. Yet there is no

Your Hand, although an interestin
footnote to that is that the actual titlec
the Beatles song is "I Want To Ho
Your Hand"-a rather negligent slip-u
in the title dept., I'd say. The remainin
pictures-The Buddy Holly Story
American Hot Wax, and Saturday Nig
Fever-regardless of their failings an
compromises, emerge with enoug
formidable rock and roll power to b
considered healthy seeds of a genre-t
be.
Both Hot Wax and Buddy Holly hav
few evident qualms about tamperin
with. history. American Hot Wax turn
the rather slimy figure of Disc jock
Alan "Payola" Freed into a ro
messiah, in much the same way Fre
did to himself when piecing togetherf

g the parents a
of panic and shc
d like wild a
ip maniacal enei
ng scene carries
y, similar scene
ht where a reco
d young rhyth
h everyone in ti
be exuberant jam
o-
ATURDA
ve best ficti
g with rock and
ns the best ever).
ey since the title
ck at first to deny
ed fide rock film
el their words, t
but liked the
always thoug
board anywa
rumble, gang
Stephanie all
have been a
into the ferve
kids in the sev
But John Tr
and the interm
of John Badha
commercial t
began as a p
package-con
music, and a h
ploited to deal
ferocious pa
powers of roc
picky and cla
"Night Fever
Woman" are p
easy vulgariz
and roll. But t
like all three t
part of the fi
Saturday N
unquelchable
their cataclysi
2001 Odyssey,i
or "seventies
uniformity of
In fact, an &
the rabid a
bothered to ex
a modern gen
fustrated actir
spite of) the si
mass culture.
listened to Li
their parents
rebellion with
er erasing gener
er codes. The s
k people a relati
sonal freedon
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n tainly brimmi
er early rockers n
e The security
re our culture i
when a grou
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a the lips of ev
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n force of ind
to Travolta's ec:
ut Saturday Nigh
e picture's awk
e bittersweet re
ve of salvation f
d- compromise.
Although in
mn sensibility, Ho
ly realized the i
', youth market
Fever have. V
'k See

A. Questionable; malodorous
B. Futility:ineffectuality
C. Sea monster
D. Lasting; established
E. Science (2 words)
F. Modify; replace
G. Straighten
H. Triangular pyramid
I. Producina effects
J. Allow for extra expenses or
cutbacks (3 words)
K. Closed; dense

24 61 36 79 67
25 1 44 94 98 103 119 135 144 164 169
43 63 158 116 140 9 15 183 56
- - -- - -- - - - -- - - -
60 105 23 54 87 97 120 118 147 131 193 73
4 72 103 88 124 134 150 191 53 168
12 165 171 179 14

L-Blotter; sponge
M. Scienceofmetaphysics
N. Cigarette butt
0. Desert refuge
P. Body cycles
0. Interval between on order
and its delivery (2 words)
R. Nihilist:vandal
S. The appearance or
semblance of truth
T. Having two equal sides
U. Trying to look wise
V. Movements that break with
tradition (2 words)

11 50 92 145 160 81 166 76 177
22 30 130 151 188 163 101 70
33 157 75 138 98
38 59 8 133 155
42 61127146 162156 113174 89 55
68 80 90 31 106 129 47 153
7 21 149 49 192 415 143 170 136 78
62 13 34 52 74 84 141 112 128 189 161 175
185 100
32 10181 19132 66 95 108 137
57 182 111 41 83 45
5 35 58 172 69 190 86 96

46 91

denying this eclectic group a unifying
spark, which may someday burgeon a
genuinely innovative style in motion
pictures. And at least several of these
movies offer viable proof that rock is as
salable on celluloid as it is on vinyl.
One film I consciously omitted from
the list is The Last Waltz, the Band's
final concert, directed by Mean Streets
director Martin Scorsese. For one
thing, both Scorsese and the Band are
independent enough from their per-
spective establishments to qualify the
film's appearance last summer as
unrelated to that of the other rock
movies. But beyond that, The Last
Waltz, widely praised as "the best rock
concert movie ever made" and Scor-
sese's "most personal film"(!), is an
overblown failure, a welterweight con-
cert recorded with lax, glossy
camerawork that fails to bolster the
music with anything strikingly
cinematic.
As for the other films, I think we can
easily dismiss FM, Grease, Sgt.
Pepper and TGIF as disqualifying
themselves for serious consideration on
the basis of ineptitude alone, not to
mention vainglorious Stigwoodian hype
tactics. I haven't seen, I Wania o

2 184 186 26 40

cheapo rock flicks like Mist
Rock'n'Roll during the fifties. Th
Buddy Holly Story takes some rath
inexplicable liberties with the roc
pioneer's biography: where in th
movie Buddy courts his future wife ui
der relatively ordinary circumstance
the real Holly actually proposed to h
the day they met-a ready-made piec
of Hollywood tomfoolery if ever then
was one.
Despite its smaller quotient of a
curacy, American Hot Wax is
smoother, slicker piece of filmmakin
The Buddy Holly Story is a medium
rare patchwork job from beginningt
end, with the'exception of Gary Busey
crackling intensity in theltitle role. Bt
both films capture the flavor-if not th
essence-of their music's explosiv
spontaneity. In the opening of Budd
Holly, Buddy and his group are broa
casting a country number locally fro
a roller rink when the camera sudden
jets around them and they ignite a ve
sion of "Rock Around With Ollie Vee.
What ensues is fairly commonplace f
tijsort.f,scene.the kids go beser

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18 126 93 152 117 85 123
37 29 77 104 107 125 142 82 122 167 173 180
3 17 109 27 39 51 64 139 154 187 178 159

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