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February 26, 1978 - Image 11

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Michigan Daily, 1978-02-26
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Page 6-Sunday, February 26, 1978-The Michigan Daily

F/ILM/christopher potter

A S OSCAR TIME in Tinseltown
creeps ever nearer (nominations
were announced this week), I conclude
my own rather expanded list of movie
achievers and' non-achievers for the
year just past:
ING FILM: Close Encounters of the
Third Kind.I'm willing to forgive this
picture for all its irritations, inconsis-
tencies and illogic, because it managed
at least briefly to transform this critic's
overbearing cynicism into a quasi-
belief that there just may be some ex-k
tra-terrestrial messiah lurking out
there in the darkness, yearning to com-
fort and calm us all. My thanks to all
concerned for rekindling my sense of
FILMS: Airport '77 and Exorcist II:
The Heretic. So the former is so much
Bermuda Triangle - plastic airplane
nonsense, while the latter comes across
as the most super-inflated Raid com-
mercial in history. Both these pictures
know the secret of salvaging a bad
film: Flaunt what you got. The result in
both cases is a looney tribute to
exuberant nonsense, whose entertain-
ment value couldn't be approached by a
dozen "serious" films.
Women and In the Realm of the Senses.
3 Women is a good example of the
above-mentioned "serious" film-the
type that sends critics scurrying to--
scrounge up profound meanings to fit
into a yawning void. Altman claims his
picture was inspired by a dream he
had, an explanation that seems quite
believable upon viewing the "arty"
tedium he has extracted from it. 3
Women is a shameful self-indulgence,
an exercise in baroque catatonia whose.
pretentiousness is exceeded only by its
torpidity. Bad dreams should be shared
with one's psychiatrist, not with the un-
suspecting (and admission-paying)
world at large.
In the Realm of the Senses is a hard-
core and brainless sex import from
Japan: It's not a bad product as sleaze
generally goes, but who would have
believed the through-the-looking-glass
cultural self-flagellation of an alarming
number of big-name critics as they
strove and strained to exalt Senses as




I - .

the country rube image, we may have a
'70s Cary Grant on our hands.
FORMANCE: Robby Benson, .One on
One. The high point of Robby Benson's
thespian career was a Clearasil ad with
Wolfman Jack several years ago, a
masterwork of typecasting; it's been
downhill ever since. Milking his Bambi-
eyed countenance and his halting,
super-goo vocalizations, young Benson
transforms what would have been a
slick but entertaining depiction of a
youth's introduction to the pressures of
big-time athletics into the very put-
down of low-IQ jocks that the film was
obviously striving so hard to avoid.
Perhaps a face lift or a remedial lear-
ning course could lift Benson out of his
current cultural-mental abyss; but
whatever the remedy, something
clearly should be done soon. This kid
needs help.
ING: Sorcerer. For reasons known only
to God and perhaps his own personal
muse, director William Friedkin spent
312 years and $26.5 million in South
American jungles putting together this
remake of the 1955 French thriller, The
Wages of Fear. Sorcerer - not a bad
film by any means - has thus far made
back about four million; Paramount
may be borrowing for the next 50 years
just to break even.
YEAR: Saurday Night Fever and The
Turning Point, -respectively. The for-
mer is saddled with mediocre dance
numbers surrounding a mouse of a
story, but comes to life through its
determined unpretentiousness and the,
sizzingly committed performances by
its principals. Turning Point is saddled
with mediocre dance numbers
surrounding a mouse of a story, but is
most thoroughly squashed by an in-
flated sense of pomposity over the
"most sublime art," and by perfor-
mances from a group of rich oldsters
and untalented youngsters (save, em-
phatically, Mikhail Baryshnikov), all of
whom seem simply to be going through
the motions.
Oh, yeah-Star Wars. Just wanted
you to know I didn't forget.

By Brian Blanchard'
By Donald Hall
Harper and Row, $10.00
THE BRIEF introduction to Remem-
bering Poets all but dismisses the
literary value of personal reminiscen-
ces about authors. Poet and former
University Prof. Donald Hall writes
that during his meetings with four
famous poets he didn't pick up "a
critical thing" about poetry. Hall's
book is an absorbing, approachable
distillation of those encounters intended
for readers who are curious about the,
poets whose poems they love.
Yet no matter how often we're told to
separate the biological poet from his or
her poems, how can Robert Frost's
countryside writing ever read the same
after a passage like this:
(Harvard) undergraduates ask
questions about Yeats, Eliot,
Pound. The corpses of Yeats,
Eliot, and Pound litter the floor of
the housemaster's living room.
Brian Blanchard is Book Editor
for the Sunday Magazine

something about
both, Hall suggests
that we ought to


The sorrows of

we kn o w


The Michigan Daily-Sunday
old ~



not thepoet...

mity, Fa
that's not
stuff. Dui
found time
poetry fA
with Rob
death of
sing para
park bef
Eliot; ai
streets o
Hillyer, a
one spot
to encour
tative, ai
"Some o
Bellow a
brought a
and muc
from the:
This sc
These pr
because t
fate of o
Pound. B

Someone mentions Robert Lowell's
name. Frost says he guesses Lowell
is pretty good. Of course he's a con-
vert, he says, he lays the word out
like a frog in a biology lab. Frost
remembers a story. Because he
smiles when he remembers it, his
audience understands that it is a
malicious story.
When we know something about both,

Hall suggests that we ought to "trust
the poem not the poet," particularly
when the poet is childish or self-
serving. There is Frost, glowing with
pleasure to find Hill Auditorium sold
out during an Ann Arbor visit in 1962,
crying "remember me" to the crowd as
he leaves, and fervently hoping as the
car pulls aways from the curb that
some of his poetry will "stick" in
literary history. When the poet appears
vain, Hall cautions, we might be con-
fusing vanity with that last noble infir-




a cinematic Lady Chatterly-a distor-
tion which only shows how desperately
starved we are for non-learning,
unabashed films dealing with sexuality
and the human condition.
None. It seems like every maligned
cinematic entry last year pretty much
deserved all the arrows and brickbats
flung their way.
FORMANCE: Burt Reynolds,
Semi-Tough. What a pleasure it is to

watch this performer evolve out of
smirky parodies of himself and into the
maturity of a deft and graceful comic
actor. Semi-Tough provided a choice
baptism of fire, with Reynolds slogging
determinedly through director Michael
Ritchies dim, arch distortion of Dan
Jenkins' pro football novel, lending
such unflagging good humor that he
succeeded almost single-handedly in
transforming an /otherwise total
disaster into at least tolerable enter-
t inment. If Burt can shed a bit more of

Piercy's'prose -shows
the hi gh cost of writing


(Continued from Page 3)
L ESLIE'S decision, however, is not
a heroic one. No sooner does she
leave a tearful Honor, who, we are told,
has been crushed by George's indiscre-
tion, than she hurries off to the villain,
"the lord who'd given her a job, her
powerful protector and friend. Her
owner." When pushed to the wall Leslie
is forced to acknowledge that she can't
sacrifice George because he stands for
her "security, a well-paying job even-
tually, work she wanted to do.
"That's what it came down to,"
writes Piercy. "She was not ready to.
give him up. She wanted what he had
too badly. She had to stop wanting that,
and she could not stop. Not yet."
Crucial here is the fact that Leslie
would not have been out of work had she
dumped George. For weeks a friend of
hers, Tasha, had been imploring Leslie
to teach history at a women's school she
was opening. Leslie refuses, however,
and hesitatingly consents to offer only
one karate course. By the last page of
the novel, Leslie must acknowledge,;
"She wanted to live, in Tasb's,worl
only in her spare,time.", . ,

What is so disturbing about the novel
is that Piercy tells us there can be no
happily-ever-after for women like
Leslie. Although George - an exposed
scoundrel, safely American in his ex-
ploitative ways - is allowed to carry on
without criticism; Leslie - the only
character in the book who seemed truly
virtuous - chooses ultimately to sacri-
fice her standards, first by sleeping
with Bernie and finally by returning to
George. We are left with a complete
sell-out and Piercy's message that for
Leslie, feminism is practical only as a
hobby, and homosexuality is okay as
long 'as it doesn't get in the way of a
good heterosexual encounter.
In a larger sense, it is unsettling that
popular literature in general has not
progressed to the point where it will
easily allow a gay heroine. Unless a
book is properly labeled "feminist liter-
ature" and can be consigned to the book
shelf that says "Women," there is little
hope for fictional gay bliss. Writers ap-
pealing to a mass readership must pre-
dictably save their happy endings for
people liie .George. Aud that, fqr Pier-
cy, is thehigb Bos~t of writing.

By Marge Piercy
Harper andRow: New York
ESLIE IS everything that eventual-
lymakes us leave Ann Arbor. Her
red hair is long and straight, her blue
jeans faded. For breakfast she eats
yogurt with honey, apple juice with two
tablespoons of nutritional yeast, and
Red Zinger tea. She is a feminist, she is
a lesbian, she is a black belt, she works
a rape hot line, and her bed is a mat-
tress on the floor. She is a PhD can-
didate doing research for a loose-
limbed professor who wears patched-
elbow jackets over corduroy jeans, she
makes a point of sitting crosslegged a
lot, and (I swear to God) reflects on
how warm the sun feels through her
Gertrude Stein tee shirt.
She is the heroine authors can't avoid
writing into their first novel - the one
they later throw away. But for Marge
Piercy, a University graduate, there is
no excuse. This is her fifth work of
prose and she's still writing as if she's
bucking for another Hopwood Award.
There comes a time when we all have to
leave home, but for Piercy that time is
still at least a novel away.
Ann Marie Lipinski is a former
Daly co-editor

Ironically, if.Piercy's characters are initially that Leslie is committed to her
cliches, the plot of The High Cost of feminism and sexuality, and needs only
Living is anything but well-worn. The support for her ideals.
plot is, in fact, a wildly improbable one Honor, meanwhile, avoids the issue.
even for Piercy's backdrop, the streets Bernie convinces Leslie to suspend her becomes
of Detroit. The novel is, basically, the beliefs, (as he deserts his) and follow measure,
story of a lesbian student, Leslie, a gay him to bed. Her lesbian friends, who search
street product, Bernie, and their tan- could offer support, choose instead to pression
dem pursuit of a virginal high school question Leslie's pursuit of a quan- Honor, c
senior whose real name is Honor but titative history degree which seems so reduces
who insists on Honoree because "I'm disgustingly male to them. Confir- several e
going through my French phase." mation that Leslie will never really be couch he
Pieced into this already kinky mosaic the feminist she tries to be comes in the he doesn'
is a brief sexual encounter between last three words of the novel which fin- nificantly
Leslie and Bernie - who has had a ds her "headed for George." owner of a
rough time making it with most women On the face of it, there is nothing Leslie en
except his sister, Ann-Marie-several terribly wrong with heading for maintains
weeks of gay bar prowling for Leslie, George. As her thesis advisor and proves sti
and finally, a soap opera affair between sometime-friend for several years, ideals. WI
Honor and Leslie's married thesis ad- George has been one of the few constan- her job
visor, George. ts in Leslie's life. But George also rep- protesting
A LL OF THIS is a vehicle to demon- resents everything Piercy, herself a Leslie is
strate the emotional evolution of proclaimed feminist, seems to say is question
Leslie who is recovering from a recent evil about men. He gets his wife to, "Some re
separation from her gay lover of three agree to an "open marriage" and takes writes Pi
years. Leslie, however, develops very greedy advantage of the option :But she had ro
little in T.the. ,oyk Jaiercy. .teels. >. . . w n she picks up.one of his.students he

By Ann Marie Lipinski

Daily Photo by WAYNE CABLE
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