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March 18, 1979 - Image 6

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1979-03-18

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Page 6-Sunday, March 18, 1979-The Michigan Daily

WINNERS of the 17th Annual
Ann Arbor 16mm FILM FESTIVAL
Highlights from the 17th Annual Ann Arbor 16mm Film Fes-
tival. Three completely different shows. Program notes will be
available.
WED. Michael Cocoyannis Festival-
THE TROJAN WOMEN
3 Different Shows Angell Hall Aud. "A"
7:00 & 9:00 & 11:00 $1.50

The greening of

Elvis Costello

A lecture in honor of
FANNIE HABER
PROF. JUDITH SHUVAL
Tel-Aviv University
"Adaptotion of Soviet
Immigrants in Israel:
A Case Study"
8:00pm MARCH 20
RACKHAM AMPHITHEATER
Sponsored by Programs in Judiac Studies

jVEIIFY ( USICAL '8OCIETY presen

By MIKE TAYLOR
Elvis Costello deals in greens. Not the
pretty greens of the spring that will
soon be upon us; mind you, but the
ghastly greens of vomit and ghouls.
Thus it was perfect that so much of the
rock'n'roll show he brought into
Masonic Temple in Detroit Friday
night was lit by unearthly green lights.
Elvis has always seemed an alien in
rock, much stranger than David
Bowie's character in The Man Who Fell
to Earth, but Friday night he seemed
determined to prove it once and for all
with his devious lighting schemes.
Everything stood out in vivid contrast;
when Elvis and the Attractions were
glowing green, lamps were tinted pur-
ple, red, or blue shot out from the back.
When he was red, his backdrop was
white, blue, or green.
WE WERE NOT prepared for the
angry purple search lights that flashed
on at the beginning of "Lipstick
Vogue," sending the stage into an erie,,
smoky darkness not unlike the final
sequence in Close Encounters Of The
Third Kind. Many of us felt attacked; a
friend later told me she thought a car
had rolled onto the stage. I've always
been reminded by Pink Floyd's "Set the
Controls For the Heart of the Sun" by
this song; this time Elvis's spaceship
lighting and Steve Naive's lyrical organ
made the illusion complete.
I WRITE FIRST about the lighting
not because it was the most striking
aspect of Friday night's show, although
it was, but because it seems to capture
Elvis's contradictory personality even
better than his music does. He is a man
of many emotional extremes, running
from impassioned rage one moment to
sensitive tranquility the next. He sings
of hate and love, mostly hate, but his
vicious songs, like "Oliver's Army,"
are upbeat pop tunes, while "love"
songs like "Two Little Hitlers" are
more somber.
Elvis was ,in surprisingly good
humor, sprinkling mild remarks bet-
ween songs as he ran through an hour's
worth of material taken mainly from
This Year's Model and Armed Forces.
He opened with a slowed-down version
of "Hand in Hand" that seemed more
uninspired than anything else, but, the
pace picked up quickly as he jolted into
"Goon Squad." By the end of this
pessimistic number, Elvis and the
band, Steve Naive on breezy keyboar-
ds, Pete Thomas on drums, and Bruce
Thomas on bass, were kicking out
torrents of evil sound.
"l') LIKE TO do a song dedicated to
all the boys in no-man's land working
behind enemy lines," Elvis muttered "

before a disappointing version of his
song about mercenaries, "Oliver's Ar-
my." While the version of Armed For-
ces sports a spritely keyboard line of
which the Beach Boys would be en-
vious, here it was lost in a plodding din
of brass and guitar.
"Green Shirt," on the other hand,
was Elvis at his best, putting the band
through carefully arranged patterns as
he, washed in bright green lights, at-
tempted to find meaning in utter
desolation.
The evening was very playful, as
Steve Naive's stray keyboard riffs ad-

ded a sense of amusement to almost
every song. "What's So Funny 'Bout
Peace, Love, and Understanding?"
benefited from this lightness, and other
tunes, like "The Beat," "Watching the
Detectives," and "Pump It Up" gained
from a relaxed attitude that permitted
short instrumental forays.
Fast songs like "Radio Radio," "You
Belong to Me," "(The Angels Wanna
Wear My) Red Shoes," and "Accidents
Will Happen" were the order of the
evening, but "Alison," in all its
breathtaking glory, more than held its
own against these speed demons.

Paxton has them Raven

By ERIC ZORN
THOUGH IT SOUNDS like a nasty
thing to say, Tom Paxton is a big fish in
a small pond: As a folk singer-
songwriter who regularly makes short
tours through the country, he is one of
the most popular performers of not
very popular music. "Sure, I'd like to
do a big TV show-Saturday Night or
something-as long as they don't ask
me to change what I do," he says. "The
kinds of songs I do have been keeping
me off of Donmy and Marie for years."
Friday night at the Raven Gallery in
Greater Detroit-a restaurant-

nightclub which is about as close as
suburbia gets to a place like the
Ark-Paxton spun through a delightful
and all too short set featuring a tasty
mix of poignant and gut-busting folk
songs. After an appearance at the
Raven tonight, Paxton will be in the
Manchester Black Sheep Repertory
Theater for evening engagements
Monday and Tuesday.
The balding, serious-looking Paxton
was a greater influence on the
American music scene back when folk-
protest songs were in vogue, and he is
remembered along with Joan Baez,
Phil Ochs and others as important

cultural influences in the more tur-
bulent sixties. "The Death of Steven
Biko," a driving ballad lamenting the
horrible prison death of a South African
black leader proved that Paxton is still
writing songs which can move people
more effectively than hours of angry
harangue.

The audience was surprisingly sub-
dued, but even this didn't seem to
bother Elvis. He merely joked at the
beginning of "Pump It Up,' the finale,
"We have heard over in England that
Detroit is a rock'n'roll town. The only
thing puzzling to me is I never have
seen a lot of rock'n'roll done sitting
down. This song is called 'Pump It Up,'
as in standing up." The crowd,
seemingly bewildered, rose to its feet
and made a feeble attempt to dance.
Elvis must have been laughing behind
his stoic veneer, but if he was, he wasn't
letting us know.

FESTIVAL[
of RUSSILAN DANCE
A KALEIDOSCOPE OF DANCERS FROM
THE REPUBLICS OF THE SOVIET UNION
Don't miss this exciting performance with 90

dancers and musicians selected from the best
folk ensembles in Byelorussia, Georgia, Lithuania,
Moldavia, Russia, Ukraine and Uzbekistn. The
performance is at 8:30. Tickets are $5, $7, $8,
and $9 at Burton Tower, ,weekdays 9-4:30,
Sat. 9-12. 665-3717.

The Contemporary
Craftsman
as Artist
slide lecture
Julie Hall
March 21 8:00 p.-m.
Kuenzel Room
MICHIGAN UNION 763-4430
Open to the public
free admission
UNIVERSITY ARTISTS
and CRAFTSMEN GUILD

Celluloid Tolkien
lacks LOCTR power
By ALISON DONAHUE
Having never read any of J.R. R. Tolkien's classics I had hopes that seeing
Ralph Bakshi's film version of The Lord of the Rings would give me some clues to
the book's popularity. After seeing the film I was anxious to pick up the book, not
out of inspiration but desperation; I had to have something to help me decipher the
movie. i
The plot of both is simple enough: a hobbit (a creature Tolkien introduces in
his first book The Hobbit) named Frodo inherits a ring which gives its bearer the
power to rule the world, while at the same'time it works to break him down with its
corruptive forces. To keep the world safe from evil, Frodo must take the ring to a
place where it canbe destroyed. His adventures during this journey make the
story, and in the book, Tolkien's penchant for detail gives it richness. He teels us
everything about each creature's physical appearance, social habits, and family
tree. This is a tall order for Bakshi to fill, and because he is dealing with the con-
tinuous medium of film there are problems. Words are spoken and then they are
gone. As a result, the viewer may still be trying to figure out who is the son of the
great-grandson of whom, long after it has been mentioned in the film. There are so
many names floating around; elves, ores, halflings, hobbits, etc., it's hard to put
them with the right body if you're not already familiar with them from reading
the book.
BAKSHI'S INTERPRETATION of Tolkien's story may be confusing, but the
way it is animated can be downright annoying at times. In this film Bakshi in-
troduces a new style of animation which involves the shooting of a live-action film.
The people in this film are colored in artifically frame by frame. More conven-
tional cartoon characters are then drawn into the film so that they may interact
with the real people. Finally backgrounds are added that can be changed indepen-
dently of all the characters. The benefit of this technique is that the live-action
characters have a fluidity of movement that is very difficult to achieve with con-
ventional animation methods. However it is ultimately disappointing becaust the
people in the film look like just what they are; black and 'white photographs with
color washed on over the greys.
We are used to seeing cartoon chargcters exist alongside real people from
movies like Walt Disney's Mary Poppins and The Incredible Mr. Limpett. In these
films, however, each character came from and returned to his own separate
world. Bakshi seems to think that by giving the real people a little artificial color,
he can make them interchangable with the cartoons. It doesn't work. For example,
in one scene we see the face of a soldier (live-action) who is waiting for the enemy
to attack. In the next shot, we see the same soldier from a different angle, only this
time he is a cartoon. The difference in representation is so striking it's distracting.
If you've given up on trying to follow the story, one way of making it through is to
try to pinpoint when Bakshi uses real people and when he draws them in.
Sometimes, the differences are hard to pinpoint, but more often they are painfuly
obvious.
THE FILM'S BATTLE scenes provide plenty of opportunities for this pastime.
While Tolkien needed more than 1,000 pages to tell this story, the 2 hours and 15
minutes (Bakshi's film cover both The Lord of the Rings and part of The Two
Towers) Bakshi uses are at once too much and not enough time to express his ver-
sion. He zips through background information but can't seem to spend enough time
amassing vast amounts of live-action troops for battles that take forever to get off
the ground. Like the banquet speaker who continues to inspire himself long after
he has bored his listeners to sleep, Bakshi seems so taken with his new animation
invention that he doesn't know how to use it with discrimination.
BAKSHI FARES BEST in the scenes in which he deals only with cartoon
animation. Not without flaws, they have borrowed some of the Disney studio's
cutesiness, and at times their facial expressions are exaggerated. Still, their sub-
tlety of movement is refreshing to one who has been brought up on the klutzy stuff
Hanna Barbara has offered over the years. In one scene, when the broken-down
Gollum grovels at Frodo's feet, the Hobbit's look of disgust is a great moment in
the film. It lets us know, wordlessly, just how Frodo feels.
Another point to Bakshi's credit is that he uses backgrounds to enhance
dramatic situations. For example, there is one scene in which the Black Riders are
attacking with swords what they think are the hobbits alseep-in bed. As the Riders'
violence intensifies, the background of a cozy inn gives way to a swirl of fiery reds
and oranges. Later when the riders chase Frodo, as his sense of security vanishes,
so does the realistic backdrop, with its normal spatial relationships. The chase
takes place on a flat background of continually changing colors, emphasizing the
nightmarish quality of Frodo's predicament.
Although Bakshi's film is flawed, one has to admire him for taking on a project
that other great animators like Walt Disney felt too difficult to attempt. However,
in spite of Bakshi's ambitious effort he does Tolkien a disservice ultimately.
Because the film fails to awaken the viewer to the merits of the original story, it is
unlikely that Tolkien will gain any new fans as a result of this film's release.

Tom Paxton

SAT., MARCH 24.
in HILL AUDITORIUM
in its 100th Seasoq!

THE FRIDAY afternoon demon-
strations at the University of Michigan
were of special interest to Paxton, and
he recalled after the show a benefit he
did for a Berkeley, California
movement to have the whole town
divest its South African holdings. "It's
not my one single cause or anything,"
he stressed. "I do sing about all kinds of
things."
Indeed, displaying a rich, even voice
with remarkable pitch and range, Pax-
ton ran through some anti-coal mining
songs, drinking tunes, and a sparkling
lullaby for his young daughter. Par-
ticular favorites with the audience,
which, at the 'Raven Gallery, spans all
ages, were the "realistic" love song
"Not Tonight, Marie," and a paen to
Anita Bryant which included the bold
challenge, "If you don't believe in
fairies, they won't believe in you."
"The love song is a very powerful
form of communication," he claimed,
tongue slightly in cheek. "All of us have
at least one love song which reduces us
to a sodden lump almost instantly. They
are almost always very bad, but they
hit before the critical faculty sets in."
Paxton's love songs, including "The
Last Thing On My Mind," that easy-
listening number which has been
recored by everyone from Peter, Paul
and Mary to Jose Feliciano, are tasteful
and simple, rarely invoking trite
cliches and hackneyed images such as
open roads and limpid, tear-wettened
eyes.
So, in a sense, Paxton's works are
popular, but the fairly ordinary
troubadour who sings well and plays a
solid but not especially flashy guitar
has always left it to the big, multi-
media entertainers to disseminate his
talents. Of course, making it really big
may have once been a possibility, but
now it is the last thing on his mind.
Sorry!
The Actors' Ensemble has not for-
saken its independent status, as was
reported last week on the Arts Page.
We regret any embarrassment our
error might have caused.
PACIFIC ART
'WASHINGTON (AP)--"The Art of
the Pacific Islands," an exhibition
focusing on the visual arts of Polynesia,
Micronesia, Melanesia and New
Guinea, will be on view at the National
Gallery of Art July 1 through Oct. 14.
More than 400 works will be shown.
They will be devoted to the major
achievements of the islands' visual arts
in a variety of media including wood,

Aession Workshop to
Organize Student fiction
for
Student Involvement in Tenure Proceedings

10 am-12 pm-MARCH 20th
UNION CONFERENCE ROOMS 2,

3, 4,
I pin)

& 5
and other

Featuring MICHELLE RUSSELL: Community organizer,
active student figures on campus.

(

Sponsored by: Samoff Student Support Committee
and People's Action Coalition
MSA & LSA-SG

adyo ka~Ud t ody.. .
UNIVERSITY OFMICHIGAN MEN'S GLEE CLUB
in Concert

[I

INTERESTED IN JAZZ?

l rucblo'd I iiC.,iiC;8 I'
Tickets $2 at P.T.P. Office
in The Michigan League
764-0450

RED
ROSES
FOR
ME

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