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January 13, 1971 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1971-01-13

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Page Two

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

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Page Two THE MICHIGAN DAILY

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"ian'Carlo mentti
The
Medium
Thurs. 4:10; Fri.-Sat. 8:00
Box Office Opens at 12:30
Frieze Arena Theatre

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-Daily-Tom Gottlieb

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$1.50.

cinema'

Pieces': A

study in Nicholson

By NEAL GABLER
Many people react to Five
Easy Pieces by trying to find in
it some one elemental American
truth or by fitting it into one
of the great American genres.
Some call it a road picture in
the Huckleberry Finn - Easy
Rider tradition. Others see Bob-
by Dupea as the alienated anti-
hero. Still others read its mes-
sage as the decline of art in the
technocentric society. There is
probably some truth in each of
these claims, but most of us
instant analyzers are victims of
an old American penchant for
quick categorization and of a
more recent penchant for dig-
ging out the relevancy of just
about everything and explain-
ing why things belong uniquely
to our times.
The search for relevancy is a
dangerous practice which can
over-look' universality for tren-
diness. Indeed, one of the most
refreshing things a b o u t Five
Easy Pieces is that it is not
simply a "road" picture or an
"alienated hero" picture; it is
not, thank God, this year's Easy
Rider; and it is not a film fu-
ture generations will look at to
untangle the 70's. Rather, it is
an old-fashioned filh about
struggle-the kind of struggle
that has been with us for thou-
sands of years and that I sus-
pect will be with us for thou-
sands more if we somehow man-
age to survive.
The struggle is, essentially,
between environment and tem-
perament, and it is staged by

reversing the old Horatio Alger
tale of the poor boy who,
through diligence and natural
skill, becomes one of the world's
great concert pianists. Robert
Eroica Dupea (Jack Nicholson)
has been raised in a family of
musical geniuses on a small
island in Washington's Puget
Sound. But Dupea is a misfit for
the kind of life he's been trained
in. He lacks the talent and,
more importantly, the disposi-
tion to follow in his parents'
and siblings' footsteps. So he
drifts into the America of trail-
er homes and diners and bowl-
ing alleys and C&W music. He
settles down with waitress Ray-
ette Dipesto (wonderfully play-
ed by Karen Black), goes to
work at an oil rig, guzzles beer
and tries to lose himself in a
new environment.N
As the film begins he is living
with Rayette in an existence
that alternates between cruelty
end physical affection, with a
social life consisting primarily
of fooling around with his hill-
billy compatriot Elton. Tiring of
it all, he quits his job at the rig
and drives up to Washington,
at his sister's insistence, to make
peace with his father who's
been debilitated by a stroke. On
the way, in one of the film's few
comic moments, he picks up two
lesbians who are escaping to
Alaska where it is "clean and
white." Once on the island, he
meets Catherine, his brother
Carl's fiance. Rayette appears.
A short time later, with Cather-
ine refusing his propositions

and with Rayette pregnant, he
drifts away again. And thats
how we're left.
Since Marx always seems to
wiggle in, it's been common to
mistake Dupea's drift for aliena-
tion. But Dupea's problem is
much more. He is not repressed
by class or capitalism or tech-
nology so much as by his own
nature. As a result, he is more
classic tragic hero than modern
anti-hero. He is suspended be-
tween two cultures, each of
which he has roots in but neither
of which he can be assimilated
into. Talking about his musical
ability, he tells his father, "We
both know I wasn't that good."
And yet he rebukes his friend
Elton as "some cracker asshole
who lives in a trailer camp try-
ing to compare his life with
mine."
Director Bob Rafelson con-
structs his film around these
antipodes. On the one side are
a sleazy California town, a re-
frigerator full of beer, Tammy
Wynette records, and his girl-
friend Rayette. On the other
side are the lovely Washington
island, chilled wine, Chopin, and
Catherine. For all its shabbi-
ness, the one side has a certain
genuineness, spontaneity and
strength. For all its beauty, the
other has a certain detachment,
calculation and weakness.
Joseph Morgenstern views this
typology as anti-intellectualism
in action, and there is no doubt
that Dupea rejects the intel-
lectuals; in one scene he ex-
coriates a group of his brother's
pseudo-sophisticate friends with.
"You're totally full of shit."
What he really rejects, how-
ever, are not ideas and intelli-
gence, as Morgenstern believes,
but the dispassion and sterility
that come with the severance of
heart from mind. He seeks feel-
ing, and he despairs that the
artists and thinkers have pro-
grammed their emotions and
thereby lost them.
Cut off from the intellectuals,
Dupea's concundrum is that he
f Delta Sigma Delta
STG
Fri.-Jan. 15
6-9
1502 Hill St.

cannot fully embrace Rayette's
culture either, though he affects
its life-style as if to compen-
sate for his artistic inheritance.
He swears, brawls, gambles,
drinks, bowls, goes to work at
the oil rig. But he is no more
like Elton and Rayette than he
is like the intellectuals; he is
not all muscle and unmediated
emotion. He respects their truth-
fulness but must ultimately re-
ject them because, like the in-
tellectuals, they are confined by
their sensibilities. They will
never be able to understand his
other half, his Washington half.
The inability of either culture
to reach beyond itself reinforces
Dupea's half-breed status and
hisdimmiscibility. He wants to
find a place where he'll fit,
where each of his parts will be
understood. Yet condemned by
temperament not to accept for-
mula for feeling, and con-
demned by environment not to
accept the purely visceral, he is
resigned to failure. He must
exercise his emotions and hide
in a hard-bitten cynicism that
compels him to curse when he
is moved.
It may be a bleak portrait,
but like other tragedians Rafel-
son will not relent: You cannot
belong to two cultures. (Note
that I am speaking of approach-
es and not of education, class,
age, etc.) Catherine, Carl, Ray-
ette, Elton may be happy be-
cause they have found their
niche, and Dupea will never be
happy until he commits himself
to one of his halves and sheds
the other. That's what it is all
about. You can either be sensi-
tive or be happy, but you cannot
be both; to try to bridge the
See FIVE, Page 7
BEST FILM OF 1970
DIA L
662-
Cott 18 A ' ' PIS .,'.1- 8S Pod.
JACK NICHOLSON
NOW at the State Theatre
Shows at 1:15-3-5-7-9 p.m.

APPLICATIONS NOW BEING TAKEN
TO FILL ONE VACANCY
STUDENT GOVERNMENT COUNCIL
MEMBER-AT-LARGE SEAT
AND
3 STUDENT OPENINGS ON
UNIVERSITY COUNCIL
(Proposes conduct regulations & considers policies
concerning police on campus)
Pick up applications & sign up for interviews at 1546 SAB
STUDENTS FROM ALL SCHOOLS & COLLEGES ARE URGED TO APPLY
950% OF THE READING POPULATION READS ONLY 250 TO 300 WORDS PER MINUTE OR LESS
FAST READING IS NOT DIFFICULT TO LEARNI
All those who completed courses held this
past year at the Bell Tower Hotel achieved
speeds of 800 to 1800 w.p.m. with the same
or increased comprehension they had at their
slower reading rates.
SEE HOW EASILY YOU CAN:
-save hours, use your time more efficiently
-learn to read 3 to 10 times faster than
you do now
-improve your comorehension and increase your
enjoyment of reading material
at a cost less than HALF that of nearly all
other commercial reading courses!
Bring a book to a free, live demon,tration of the reading skills which will be taught in a GUARANTEED
course offered this semester.
Demonstration This Week-Tues. & Thurs., Jan. 12, 14-7:30 P.M.
at the Bell Tower Hotel, 300 So. Thyer St., across from Burton Tower
CHECK THE
SeaTramn
on Capitol Records and on
SATURDAY NIGHT, JAN. 16-HILL AUD.
WITH
DAVID BROMBER
tickets on sale now Union Lobby
$2.50 $3.00 $3.50 Students International
Discount Records
Presented by ffi(1 IQOUSB
an International Liberation Studies project
CHNA WEEK JAN. 10-16, 1971
THURSDAY FRIDAY SATURDAY
-

r

FIDDLER
BEERS
founder of the
Fox Hollow
Folk Festival
Columbia
recording artist
fiddle psaltery
Thurs.-
Peter Bowen
75c
Sat,, 2 p.m.--
Workshop (free)
Sat. nite late-
After hours with
MICHAEL COONEY,
ALY BAIN and others

Menotti s Medium' to be
presented by 'U' Players

University Players will present
Gian Carlo Menotti's two act
opera, The Medium, Thursday
afternoon, Friday and Saturday
evening, January 14, 15, and 16.
The Medium centers around
the confusion of Baba, a phony
medium who uses her daughter
and a deaf-mute accomplice to
concoct "supernatural" happen-
ings for paying customers. A
crisis develops when Baba hears
"real" voices and feels a hand at
her throat during one of her
performances. She tries to re-
pent and return the money to
her customers, but they refuse
to believe she is a fraud. Still the
..

voices continue, driving Baba to
violence.
Difficulties over royalties forc-
ed the postponement from last
fall when the show was planned
in an excerpted form for the
Student Laboratory Theatre.
Rather than abandon the p r o-
ject. it was decided to present
it for a paid audience in addi-
tion to the regular University
Players season. Admission will
bs one dollar.
Curtain times will be 4:10 p.m.
Thursday and 8 p.m. Friday and
Saturday. ePrformances will be
held in the Arena Theatre
(Frieze Building).

Awr WED. 'Sol

mixed media/workshops
"CHINA:
ON E-FOURTH
OF HUMANITY
mixed media event around Edgar
Snow's unique color documentary
of 30 years Chinese Liberation
Struggle
-WORKSHOPS-
"FOREIGN POLICY"
"WOMEN IN CHINA
AND AMERICA"
"PEOPLE'S MEDICINE
IN CHINA AND
AMERICA"
7.30 p.m. adm. $1
FIRST PRESBYTERIAN
CHURCH (basement)
1432 WASHTENAW
(off S. University)
arrangements courtesy of Ecumen-
ical Campus Center

mixed media/panel/workshops
"CULTURAL.
R EVOL UTION"

mixed media event around
News color documentary
-PANEL-
Robert Williams
William Hinton
Orville Schel'I
Leni Sncair

CBS

-WORKSHOPS-
"EDUCATION FOR
LIBERATION"
"ART, MEDIA, AND
CULTURE"
"COMMUNES AND
COLLECTIVES"
7:30 pm. adm. $1
NATURAL SCIENCE
AUDITORIUM off diag

film/address/panel
"UNITY AND
STRUGGLE"
SHORT FILM: Robert Williams
in China
Addresses by:
WILLIAM HINTON
ROBERT WILLIAMS
-PANEL-
Robert Williams
William Hinton
Chuck Holt (NCCF)
Mark, Selden (CCAS)
Brian Spears (SGC)
7:30 p.m. adm. $1
TRUEBLOOD
AUDITORIUM
in Frieze Bldg.

I

WINTER TERM OF THE

I

I

Missed "Harvey"?-Don't Miss THIS
SPECIAL STUDENT DISCOUNT!

A

PROGRAM IN JEWISH STUDIES

* THE HASSIDIC VIEW ON THE EXISTENCE
AND PURPOSE OF THE UNIVERSE
" HEBREW FOR BEGINNERS
" HEBREW SPEAKING CLUB
" INTERMEDIATE HEBREW
" ADVANCED HEBREW
" THE HOLOCAUST: A Psychological,
Thelogical & Literary Approach
" THE ARAB-ISRAELI CONFLICT:
Historical, Social, & Psychological Issues
Registration Tues., Wed., Thurs.
Jan. 12, 13, 14 7-10 P.M.

* JEWISH MUSIC
9 YIDDISH
* MARTIN BUBER
* SURVEY OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE
Job, Psalms, Prophets
* BASIC JUDAISM
+ JEWISH COMMUNITY IN AMERICAN
SOCIETY
. CONTEMPORARY CRISES & JEWISH LAW
* ISRAELI EXPERIENCE GROUP
Hillel Foundation

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