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December 06, 1974 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1974-12-06

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Friday, December 6, 1974 THE MICHIGAN DAILY Page Five

Friday, December f, 1974

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Page Five

I Er

1I

crnema

weekend

SUBSTANCE
THEORY JOFIFLA

Pick of the Week:
Viva La Muerte a
Cinema Weekend, Aud. Aa
Sun., 7, 9:30
Viva La Muerte director Fer-
nando Arrabal will be appearing
after showings of his film this
weekend to answer audience
questions. In addition, Arrabal
will participate in a panel dis-
cussion on "Surrealism in The-
atre" Monday at 4 in MLB. Aud.
4.
The perfectly structured and
impeccably produced films of
the ,1930s Hollywood spawned
surrealism, a fascinating genre
of experimental cinema that
eventually transcended motion
pictures and affected art and
literature in general.
Although both surrealists and
the early Russian directors (like
Eisenstein) attempted to as-:
similate psychological themes
into an editing theory grounded
in juxtaposition of disparate im-
ages, surrealism was one step
advanced: it included an over-
riding sense of satire on the I
film medium itself. (Hence the!
famous shredding of a woman's!
eyeball in Bunuel and Dali's Un
Chien Andalou.)
Nevertheless, because sur-
realism is not only an approach:
to filmmaking but an all-en-
compassing philosophy as well,
it attracts the broader and more1
divided range of critical and
audience opinion. Indeed, sur-!
real film experiences can be ex-1
citing and interesting evenings
at the movies - although they
are definitely not for the:
squeamish.
Fernando Arrabal's Viva La ,
Muerte is a good choice for the!,
cinemagoer unfamiliar with the i
surrealistic movement to begin:
with. The juxtaposed nature of ,
surrealism makes it often diffi-
cult to comprehend - e.g. "Vi-
va Le Muerte" roughly trans-
lates to "Long Live Death" -
but Arrabal's effort is a fine
and relatiely straightforward
(if provocative) look at the in-
dividual and society.
But be forewarned: surreal-
ism is different. It is one of the I
most troubling - yet at the
sametime challenging - move-
ments in the whirlwind history 1
of the experimental film.
x-David Blomqust
Burn!
New World, MLB
Sun., 7, 9:30
Very few film directors can,
hold a valid claim of making l
successful attempts at merging
politics into film. Godard does
it, but alters the medium to
such an unprecedented pinnacle
that it justiifes reclassification.
Costa-Gavras has a geniuine
concern, but warps his films
with their melodramatic nar-
rowness.
Not since Battle of Algiers
has political revolt been so per-
ceptually laid bare as in Gillo
Pontecprvo's Burn!
The film is set on a fictitious
island in the Caribbean, where
a provocation on behalf of the
British Admiralty insights a re-
volt of slaves against masters.
Marlon Brando as Sir Wil-
liam, the British agent sent to
the island to coordinate the ac-
tivities, is confusingly effective
as the unpurposely motivated
activist. Upon completion of the
task, Brando leaves the island,
and tensions between the now
ruling British and quasi-free
slaves mount.s
.Brando's character is offered

as one of political loyalty over!
personal misgivings. It is a
bizarre clash that takes on an
untimely tone in this pre-Water-
gate film. Pontecorvo's deliber-
ate philosophical contradiction
on behalf of Sir William is no
mistake; it is simply the result
of noncollinear advancement in
This K#KD
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conflict with a collinear ideol-
ogy.
The film is one of immacu-
late construction, from Ponte-
corvo's tight d i r e c t i o n to
Brando's inspired characteriza-
tion of the encapsulated Sir
William. Burn! is a total film
that overcomes the usual po-
litical - cinematic pitfalls, and
one which emerges a provoca-
tively acute film by a director
of considerable awareness.
-Jim Valk
Sounder

a troupe touri
offers up a lot
Iwell.
Treasui
Sierre

ing rural India)
of the Bard as
-Sarah Polarek
't Y
re of the
Madre

Bursley Hall Enterprises
Bursley West Cafeteria
Sat., 9
Sounder is the film that es-
tablished director Martin Ritt's
reputation as the most socially
cons c i o u s of today"s film
makers. Follow this success
with Pete 'n' Tillie and Conrack,
Ritt has ambitiously adopted the
power of interpersonal com-
munication as his major theme.
Widely acclaimed by critics
and a box-office smash as well,
Sounder follows the emotional
growth of a black sharecrop-
per's son as his close-knit fam-
ily encounters injustice and
separation in the deeply biased
South of the '30s.
The film, which draws its
title from the name of the
young boy's dog, is uniformly
well acted by stars Paul Win-
field and Cicely Tyson (both
Oscar nominees in the roles of
the parents), with ~a stand-out
performance from Kevin Haoks
as the youth.
Though a richly detailed por-
trait of the sharecropper's life-
style, Sounder is too fragmen-
tary in its storyline to indelibly
etch into the filmgoer's mind.
Ultimately, Sounder's signifi-
cance to film vocabulary will
be historical, not literary.
-Chris Kochmanski
Shakespeare Wallah
Cinema II, Ad. A
Sat., 7, 9:15
Tradition and progress, yoing
and old, are in conflict once
more in this story of a romance
between a young British girl
who is part of an acting troupe
touring India and an Indian
playboy who keeps an Indian
movie star as his mistress on
the side.
Shakespeare Wallah ("wallah"
is Hindi for peddler) throws in-
to sharp contrast the India of
colonial days in which the
Shakespearean troupe had its
heyday (though it is now re-
duced to the girl's parents and
herself), and the modern India
of the boy and his mistress.
The romance, so touching in
its early stages, becomes brittle
and ultimately goes the way of
all love-triangles - though it is
significant to note that film
triumphs over theater as the
movie star rescues her man
while the young English ingenue
takes a boat to the Britain she
has never seen.
American d i r e c t o r James
Ivory combines British and In-
dian in the cast to investigate
the various relationships be-
tween the characters, while the
acting troupe (which is actually

New World, MLBI
Sat., 7, 9
It really isn't surprising that
The Treasure of the Sierra
Madre wasn't a commercially
successful film. The public, evi-
dently yearning for more saloon
keeper-rough-guy antics f r o m
Humphrey Bogart, didn't get it
in this post-Casablanca film. In-
stead, they got a performance
from their hero that offered
such power and depth that they
didn't recognize it as Bogie.
Working from an Academy
Award winning screenplay (as
if that means anything) based
on B. Traven's novel, director
John Huston takes a laissez
faire approach to thishtale of
three stranded men who strike
it rich in Mexico. Allowing Bo-
gart and his companions, Wal-
ter Huston and Tim Holt, to
feel their way through the
framework of the script, Huston
has created one of the most
memorable American films of
its decade.
This is prime cut Bgte-a
departure from the stereotype
that the public so loved. It's a
sad commentary, though, that
this film was so meagerly re-
ceived in 1948. Yet John Huston
was awarded the Best Director
award, making him pernaps the
only film director in the history
of the Academy Awards to win
for what he didn't do.
--Jim Valk

is none. The movie is utterly ee-
void of cinematic talent and
completely claustrophobic.
The screenplay by David
Ward is strictly third-rate stuff
-most of the "plot tricks" are
about as hard to figure out as a
three letter crossword ruzle.
Stars Paul Newman and Robert
Redford smile, sweat, swear
and swing a lot, but you know
underneath it all they're just
bluffing until the paychecks are
c a s h e d and the percentage
money starts rolling in.
The saddest thing about The
Sting, however, is the direction.
George Roy Hill used *o make
fairly decent pictures like Toys
in the Attic (1963) and The
World of Henry Orient (1964),
but ever since he became a
commercial success with Butch
Cassidy (1969) he substituted
nonsense for talent. But fear
not, dear reader-The Sting will
doubtless be back - the only
question lies in possible tides.
How about Son of Sting? The
Bride of Sting? Or perhaps
Don't WorryA b out Talent,
We're Wearing Tuxedos?
-Michael Wilson
Of Human Bondage
Cinema Guild, Arch. Aud.
Fri., 7, 9
Late-late-show freaks will no
doubt love this 1934 RKO ver-
sion of Somerset Maugham's
classic novel, but everyone else
might just as well stay Iome.
Even though it headlines top
talent and a fair director (John!
Cromwell), this first of three:
versions to date of Eoidage
simply never gets rff the
ground.
Most of the blame rests
squarely with Leslie Ilowird,
who plays Philip Carey, the
voung man who gives up a
frustrating career in art to
pursue an equally frusrrating,
career in medicine. '-oward's
performance is far too rjgid-
he plays Carey with an overly
melodramtic touch, almost com-1
pletely forgetting the charac-r
ter's pathetic side.
--David Blomquist
Trial of Billy fack
Fifth Forum
Four years ago, an unheralded
low-budget film called Billy
Jack was released to American
theaters. Originally ignored by
critics, Billy Jack went on to
become one of the most enor-
mous "sleeper" successes of
cinema history.
Now, Tom Laughlin, who
wrote, produced, directed, and
starred in Billy Jack, returns in
the sequel, The Trial of Billy
Jack. Unfortunately, the modi-
cum of simplistic charm and,
strength which was evident in
the original is now lacking inI
the sequel.

At just under three hours,
The Trial of Billy Jack is just
one long, simple - minded, pre-
tentious ego trip staged by
Laughlin. The pace is excruciat-
ingly slow and only picks up
when Billy. Jack practices his
karate on the local baddies.
Laughlin and his wife, De-
lores Taylor, who returns in her
role as the leader of the Free-
dom School, once again are re-
sponsible for an amateurish
screenplay which lacks any plot
development and structure.
References to Kent State and
My Lai only add to the ridicu-
lousness of the film's message
of non-violence.
The Laughlins' son Frank di-
rected, and their daughter The-
resa has a major role. The
Trial of Billy Jack presents a
strong argument against nepo-
tism in the cinema.
-Michael Broidy
The Savage is Loose }
The Movies, Briarwood
Nothing seems to bring the
masses into movie theaters like
a little bit of controversy (re-
member The Exorcist?). Per-
haps that's why George C.
Scott decided to carry his fight'
to get Savage is Loose re-rated
from R to PG into the public
arena. It certainly couldn't
have been because he thought,
Savage was a classic movie.
"They maintain a major
theme of the movie is incest,"
states Scott in a one-page hand-
out distributed by Briarwood
ushers after -each showing of
the film. "We contend that
there is no incest in the picture,
that it is about survival and
celebrates the triumph of love
and life over despair, hatred
and death."
Well, technically speaking,
that's true. There isn't one
frame" of actual incest in
Savage. But the implications of
Max Ehrlich and Frank De-
Felitta's screenplay are pretty
clear, I think.
Scott plays a circa 1910 na-
tural science professor travel-
ling with his wife (portrayed
by Trish Van Devere) and
young son by boat across the
Pacific Ocean. En route, a
storm grounds the boat on an
uninhabited island, forcing Scott
and family to fend for them-
selves in a totally unfamiliar
setting.
Well, one day the young boy,
David (played at this point by
Lee Montgomery), discovers
two turtles in the sand-and you

know what turtles do in the
sand. Having made this brilliant
scientific conclusion, David de-
cides to watch his parents after
bedtime one evening-and you
know what parents do after bed-
time.
From this we dissolve to an
18-year-old David who obviously
shows the effects of having
learned about s-e-x several
years earlier and living on a
deserted island with just his
mother and father. (Or, as his
mother succinctly puts it,
"We've got a lusting male on
our hands.")
Not satisfied with a pseudo-
female substitute he constructs
from cocoanut shells, David de-
cides to go after the only true
female on the island: his
mother. And if that's not im-
plied incest, I don't know what
is.
Scott's direction of this sexed-
up Swiss Family Robinson tale
is adequate, if definitely influ-
enced by the J. Lee Thompson
school of directing: "When in
doubt, move the camera." Van
Devere and company turn in
fair performances, if hampered
by the inadequacies of Ehrlich
and De Felitta's script.
But in the end, I felt cheated
by Savage. I got too much
jungle and too little of the
"microcosm of society" film I
had been promised. I'm afraid
the best film about sex and the
tropics is still Lord of the Flies.
-David Blomquist
* *
Odessa File
The Movies, Briarwood
The Odessa File is an excel-
lent dramatization of the Fred-
erick Forsyth suspense novel.
Jon Voight gives a marvelous-
ly intense portrayal of a report-
er who tracks down- former
Nazi SS officers. His infiltration
of Odessa, the secret network of
the Nazi officers, provides for
very exciting viewing. Maximi-
lian Schell also gives a fine per-
formance as Voight's quarry, a
leader of the SS ring.
There is a quiet, yet shatter-
ing tension throughout the film.
Still it avoids the gratuitous sex
and violence of many of today's
thrillers. Much of this is due
to the fine direction of Ronald
Neame, who re-establishes him-
self after the disastrous Posei-
don Adventure.
The Odessa File's action,
while low-key in many moments,
will leave the viewer breathless.
-Michael Broady

Semiotics,

Politics, Journals

Phenomenoogy,

At: BORDER'S-$2.25
and: University of Wisconsin,
Madison, Van Hise Hall
"A collection of some of the most prova-
cative and exhilarating film studies being
done today."-David Bordwell

Semiology,

i,

The Letter
Cinema Guild, Arch. Aud. I
Sun., 7, 9
When two established film
craftsmen combine -heir for-
midable skills, one ,xpets a
polished product to result. The
Letter, starring Bette Davis and
I directed by William Wyler, is
exactly that.
Following a sympathotic per-
formance as a doomed youngI
woman (a la Love Story) in the!
I moving Dark Victory, Davis:
does a complete turnabout by
tackling the unsympathetic role
of a murderess who ruthlessly
attempts to mask her crime as
self-defense.
The film's dramatic climax!
provides the screen siren the
chance to chew up scenery in
unique fashion, and she re-
sponds well. The ladies, for-
tunately, will not be disap-
pointed.
Yet it's tropical settings and
lush photography that distin-
guish this 1940 drama frnm run-
of - the - mill "women's corfes-
sions" pictures. Multiple Oscar
winners Davis and Wyler are to
be commended for raising this
rather standard fare io high
artistic levels.
-Chris Kochmanski
The Sting
State
The fascinating aspects of The
Sting are limitless: you cauld
spend days trying to figure out
what makes this film so suc-
cessful and never come up with
the right answer because there

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