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February 02, 1974 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1974-02-02

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Page Five


9 J




1 " 'i, l comi:: in the mid-
the 20:i century has his
d fll in trying to under-
_, d then describe, and
en n : ke funny, much of Amer-
n Reality. It stupefies, it
k Ts, nd the actuality of Nix-
on and Billy Graham married by
some obscene preacher to the
politiul destiny of the land is
even a kid of embarrassment to
one's own meager comic imag-
Woody Allen's films and writ-
s, with a lucid and high-pow-
ered sense of paranoid sensibil-
, are very close to articulating
the atmosphere of this larger-
n-life joke, and wih his new
flm, Sleeper, he has integrated
the best of his many talents as
actor, writer, and director to
create a futuristic fantasy that
iaks with Chaplin's Modern
Times a a comic masterpiece.
The premise of his new film
it mn goes into the hos-
il for n uler operation and
wnds up being wrapped in alum-
iu and frozen for two
undred years. It is this re-emer-
in American culture that
proides Allen's vehicle for his
ieT_,gindignance about the
idd ::lues prized by all
ar vnd hm.

Two wmnje-or nl'
tion of "N
partrnent ta d iiv

1 r~ r'e 'ie

Henry Miller once said that
"nearly everything which we call
life is just insomnia, an agony
because we've lost the habit of
falling asleep. And so the gaze
of a 1973 man who owned a health
food store is turned upon the
world two hundred years f r o m
when he knew it, and the looks of
it are Clockwork-Orangeish and
the people act strange enough,
but what has endured is the
Poetry of Rod McKuen, Mc-
Donald's hamburgers, etc.
Just as the opening sh)t of
Play It Again, Sam, was a close-
up of Allen in a catatonic Bogart-
induced trance, he is thrown in-
to Sleeper by the doctors who
revive him and allow him to
stagger about the laboratory like
a dishrag version of Franken-
stein. It is a great opening
scene, and Allen's physical gyra-
tions of jelly-like helplessness
while the doctors are trying to
teach him to talk is -remarkably
good visual comedy.
In this film Allen is m o r e
confident of his film-making tal-
ent and allows the jokes to de-
velop more easily out of the nar-
rative, while before in Bananas
he would fall back on his ',ril-
liant one-liners, and the e n d
effect was one of having been
bombarded rather than brought
point in the lyrics the first time
in the slow version, he does it
again as a rock song that stresses
the great melody.
But the real message is in the
rollicking good-natured rock of
the "cast-iron songs" and the
slowly-swinging folk of the
"torch ballads." "On a Night
Liko This" is a great introduction
with a captivating vocal, fantas-
tic harmonica and The Band
giving it -all sorts of incredible
"Tough Mama" is the best
rocker, the kind that would be
great to hear in concert, with
Dylan's voice beginning with a
harsh "tough mama" and ending
o a "sweet beauty" with his
full and flexible singing taking
the listener through all the
changes in between Garth Hud-
son's organ and (especially) Rob-
bie Robertson's guitar.
"You Angel You" is a happy-
go-lucky love song that really
does "want to make you sing"
and the wonderful "Something

along as smoothly and coherent-
ly as in Sleeper.
But for all the evidence of Al-
len's complete control over the
film (he even wrote the music,
jazz tunes done by the Prese.-\a-
tion Hall Jazz Band from N e w
Orleans), there is still the water-
mark of his madness, his self-
consciousness of his positio as
contemporary comic, a nervous-
ness in his style that parts cam-
pany with Keaton or Chaplin.
A great comedian of the cin-
ema today could hardly be ex-
pected to work with the graec'ul-
ness of Chaplin or Keaton. They
were reacting to a somewhat
more simple set of stimuli, their
fringe-of-society film per onas
were innocents; their confused
confrontations with the brutal
world of "bullies" resembled that
of the romantic immigrant who
keeps a hard hold on his hu-
manity during the onslaught of
Today the "brutal injustice"
that former film comedians were
dealing with is no matter of
blacl-and-white. For the comed-
ian at the fringe, there a r e
hardly any firm values to up'iol:d
except those of the vitality if life
itself, and doesn't Allen point ;-
ward this new role for the comic
in Take the Money and Run when
There is About You" brings back
the feeling and "long forgotten'
truth" of such classics as "If
Not For You" and "Love Minus
Zero No Limit."
Planet Waves is one of the
tightest and most realized re-
cordings in Dylan's long and
fruitful 'career. His voice and
harmonica have acquired a new
resonance that speakes not so
much with authority as with
As the lyrics stress, he has
left the 60's ("I have to cut loose?
Before it gets late") and is con-
tent with making music and love
and is confident about moving on.
The Band is perfect in its sup-
porting role-justifying in every
way the anticipation of fans who
have been long-awaiting a studio
And Dylan gets the message
through-he's not the outcast,
rebel, leader, cult hero or pro-
phet. He's just the master musi-
cian he was all along.

he gives us a criminal who robs
banks and manages to draw our
sympathy while doing it?
We are to a degree enmeshed
in a morass of gargling amb&gu-
ity that the comic cannot simn.
plify - and part of Allen's gxn-
ius is that he does not try to do
so. We are vaguely aware of the
sickness being within, of being
somehow polluted or derailed by
having our real allegiances hid-
den by our profusion of opinions,
as in the bitter cartoons of
Jules Feiffer.
Woody. Allen is perpetually ul
luding to this psychological ganig-
mire when he puts his finger on
the particular schizophrenia of
counter-cultural oblivion, as welea
he alludes to a girl he used to
know who "used to be a Trotsky-
ite but changed into a Jesus freak
and was arrested for selling por-
nographic literature in the Vil-
Norman Mailer speaks in Exist-
ential Errands of the gray col-
lective soul of the room after an
evening of TV, and leads the
way towards a vague indictment
of the media for "robbing is of
something": "Emotions are mod -
ulated (rather say: strangled, fil-
tered, choked) while passing
through the electronic waves of
the transmitter and the, set.
Something leaves us each night
we spend in attendance on the
Pop culture w h i c h rules the
roost on giant screens in Sleep-
er, plays with meanings in d
emotions until words themselves
are emptied of their value, as
Allen comically portrayed in the
endless intimacies of conversa-
tion he would have with Louise
Lassen in Bananas - "I know
you love me," she would say,
"but do you love me?" T h e
contemporary experience of love
has to get behind the society's
constrictions, even behind the
words themselves, behind the
empty chatter that Allen satiriz-
es in Sleeper in his abrupt ,cut
from the chattering teeth cf th .
joke-shop to a shot of Nixon
What has "left" the character
that Woody Allen is continually
portraying is his sense of sell,
which has been absorbed by the
Giant Sponge of Culture. He is
Society's Child gone mad, w h o
believes the adages and gim-
micks so thoroughly that wheni
informed in Sleeper that ever!-
one he ever knew has been dead
over one hundred years, he ex-
claims that "it's impossible, they
all ate organic rice."
In Sam, he was the lovabl a
schnook who believed everything
the movies told him, and his in-
sistence on living with Bogart

A U.

as his alter-ego doomed him to
failure with women, until of
course he mutters the lines trom
Casablanca at the finish with
the fog swirling and break; the
curse, for we must recognize the
enemy, make our delusions con-
scious, and this is the essene
of Allen's great comedy.

- '.Y (y:
.. 4 .. A

k.h.. sue! ,_,,

f '

It looks like a bootl g. But ats
more thani a basemnt tp x
three-day scssion witPh 'F h Ba
Bob Dylan's fIrst release on a
new label, Pianet Wave's (Asylm r
7E-10031, is the reel tigast
of ten new songs Pha. ari q. t
possibly the mnos sig2iian t
have come out in the 72 s
This is lreydeiv
D\ In os t 'is
frs s r b
I he ftsis i 'h
written si ce ohW .y --
ing he takes us
starting po i"a
humoros causl s
career and thi g'r
li mnains tssi:f
port thow o tn ~n
least for of tesi', e1
directly or partially ad1 >
listener adin the la ons

'I *~ I''- 11

s e1to us that "I hate myself
ani', fou And the weakness
t howed You were just a
fur pated face On a trip down
r suicide road."

.' I
- ',

" .

I "' is rIn..
~. t ,. ,
* . ~!11 1' 50 ''

u he other 'folk" song,
We Song is the flip side
f tat coin. ie exaults in the
true love for his wife that is his
on personal salvation with such
at ies as "I love you more
than blood and the two that end
he album: "I love you more
t a ever Now that the past is
"Forever Young'' is Dylan's
ollimate recognition of and recon-
ciliation with, his audience:
"May God bless and keep you
always/May your wishes all
come true . May you stay
forever young.

. Woody Allen
There is, however, the hint that
there is no core of reality at the
bottom of his comic nightmares.
In Take The Money, he insisted
to the end on thinking of him-
self as a gangster, and in Sleep-
er's finest segment, he is given
a serum to counteract the condi-
tioning of the Dictatorsho a n d
plunges into a dreamlike rendi-
tion of Blanche Dubois. The ;m-
age of the Tennessee Williams
play working itself out along the
lower layers of the Allen psyche,
while he adopts the posture of the
aging Southern belle, is vintage
Allen's comic descent into the
perverse undercurrent beneath
the plastic reality provided the
material for Everything You Al-
ways Wanted to Know About Sex
in which Reuben's book is attack--
ed on the grounds of its ridicul-
ous pretensions to shape sexual
attitudes in the casual fun-read-
ing-cutesy style that is such a
sickening insult. The film includ-
ed a gamey daytime sh )w call d
"What's My Perversion?" on
which the guest of the day a
rabbi) has his sexual fantasies
His indictment of Reuben was
most explicit in the segment
about the Italian director whose
wife cannot enjoy sex unless it
is done in public, setting off a
series of bizarre enz,)unters at
cocktail parties and in the Zal-
lery of a museum.
It presages the treatment of

sex in Sleeper, in whic:a couples
merely use the orgasnatr a to-
gether, since every woman is
frigid in the B. F. Skinnerian
nightmare of the future. Much of
the serial satire in Everything,
if it was funny, was vi.-ous-fun-
ny, Lenny Bruce-fun iy, and it
is obviously not Allen's metier.
In the new film he has returned
to an exploration of his own
character, and produced a great
Like Groucho, a ma:er of the
one-liner, the jibes are directed
inward, and hardly ever to insult
as were most of Grousho a best
moments. No, the ego of a Field-
ing Mellish is a most fragile
one, and he makes 'ne always
aware that he nows ne is alone,
as in Take the Money when the
prison break was callJ3 off, but
he did not hear about it an'd
wound up by himself in the court-
yard with the .convicts taughing
at him inside. Somehow, though,
he is always caught u.,)iii the,
intrigue of politics and revolu-
tions, never with any convictions
except to Get the Girl, played
again in Sleeper by .Diane Kea-
For on the one hand is the
famous Allen reluctance. He does
not want to get involved in the
revolutionary movement because
he says he cannot stand torture,
he always talks; sim'.larly, in the
last episode of Everything, the
reluctant sperm cell (Allen) is
having second though's about
leaving his home in the penile
space-capsule. And on the other
hand is his reckless sexual aban-
don, his boundless eae:gy, all
while wheezing asthmatically
and crying for help.
And the whole jbusiness is lent
an oversized importance by his
messianic complex (remember
the dream sequence from Ban-
onas?), which surfaces in Sleep-
er, making him, freckled and
hesitant, the savior of the Ideal,
which is to Allen, as he reveals
in closing, his belief in sex and
death, the distinction being that
after death "you're not naus-
eous." The hurried sweep of the
storyline gives us the feeling that
something fast, if not ur'gent, i'
developing, like Allen's line from
Everything in which he plays
the court jester and says he must
hurry because soon "the Renais-
sance will be here and everyone
will be painting."
If life is a tragedy to those
that feel and a comedy to those
that think, then Allen is a comic
thinker of the first rank who still
manages to feel, to remain ?ot-
ally vulnerable, and that touches
all the bases, as well as his aud-
ience. Sleeper is, well, it's the
best comedy film Hof the last few

at s; bL lie even subtlely reminds one
GCno" such soups as 'mvowin' in t'he
ind" a.d ''The Times They
Are A' Changin' '' in the line
'm 'one "day you have a strong founda-
Wthe winds of changes
ve, con- shif " And if we didn't get the

4 ,T -N iff
it ; i . l F r fi r u c t


Ib seous

mas terworks

An Arbor has lng been a cul-
ural han. The city has hosted
pi ms l musical greats,
we s offering top quality
land inema. What is not
kmwn is that Ann Ar-
S s lo ben a great center
o itig and sculpture.
The city boasts ownership of
ScI world renowned master-
ieces, he by some to be the
epitome of the recent Babaist
tradition. Ao do't rush over to
the University Museum because
S 'tfi nd them there.
In fact, these monumental
works an befoundJ in only the
isunlikely places: behind al-
inistration buildings, blocking
your way to class, destroying a
lae of natural beauty, placed
ver treets bl>cking out the sun
d , and so on. What are
they Vaking structures.
atures, despite
it probably wil be reader dis-
j woval, by all means can be con-
ered works of art. They fit
the usul a4hetic criteria of
n, character and dimension,
wel a eliciting the oft heard
_sion from art viewers: "Why
e hel was that done!?" And
wen you take into account the
fact that the structures look tot-
So of lace no matter where
yare plced, one sees that
s far from the I-
t readymades of the early
be made clear that the
Ba-it tradiin from which il e
Srcures came is a direct de-
sdnt of adaism. The differ-
cuceis hatBabism tries notl
onlyjtoplay jokes on the mu-
scu por ard the middcla ,
bton everyone. As mu n, 'a-
.i'ed rcady-niades'' of th>; peur'
'.r awas funnd wheae ])eople
litct be an try to Sniae te

ty funny, wouldn't you say?
Ann Arbor is unique in that
strictures of other cities have
not worked artistically. Mainly
these others have been geare l to
blend in with their environments
and often are disguised from
view. In short, they w ere func-
And this was their proolem, as
no one knew they were parking
structures. Things were s: ?bal
that one man walked int') a strtlc-
ture and bought out the ground
level, thinking it to be a Wool-
But the founding fathecs of our
great city thought better of these
failures and called in the world
reknowned Babaist, Matell Da-
Chimp, to design strucu. es lit-
ting to Ann Arbor. No disguises

and coverings for the public. Let
them know what they are getting
for their taxes!
Besides, the imagery of little
cars ceaselessly entering d a r k
building portals they found both
lewd and disgusting. The result
was the uncovered, co0nintusly
lit structures which we find now,
entitled by the artist: Barely
At present there are between
six and eight of the Barely Con-
crete components in Ann Arbor,
the last one built being of a fer-
ris wheel variety, located next to
St. Joseph's Hospital.
It was figured that to help keep
the hospital in Ann" Arbor one
would have to keep the Hospi-
tal's beds full. So the ferris
wheel structure was originally de-
signed to take both drive" and

car to the top and then dump
them. This plan had to be ditch-
ed when they could not figure
out how to get the cages back
down after being relieved of
their contents.
Future plans? It is reported
that plans are now being readied
for a Spring structure. This
Spring structure, unlike others
of its kind, will be in operatioa
the whole year and use real
Thus it is necessary to have a
minimum number of cars on
each tier to keep the structure
from collapsing, thus s.lnash-
ing all cars and people into
pancake-like objects, wi in
turn would be served at any
of Ann Arbor's fine restaurants.
A fine compliment to any meal,



' 1

A mature, immensely entertaining movie!"

"Rohmer's thloe' is beautiful! "Rohm
Extraordinarily alive! A con- of very
stant pleasure to watch!" tradictio
N.Y. Post inensely
"Ag.ow' with atmosphere and
ambience. Beautiful cinema- e <Chlo
tography-all of it by the bril- joys to
liant mind of the filmmaker." oyemt
ci nema.
New York Magazine
"A warm, witty, sophisticated "Undot
comedy about love and com- most w
mitment." York!"
Chloe iUthe
A fternoon,

er's 'Chloe' is a comedy
funny, complex con-
ons between action and
mage and sound. Im-
v erotic."

New York Times
c' is among the greatest
be f o u n d in current
Gannett News Service
ubtedly one of the films
o r t h seeing in New
Village Voice
Selected to
open the 10th
New York
Film Festival

MATINEES 1 and 3-$1.25



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