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August 12, 1978 - Image 8

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Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1978-08-12

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Page 8-Saturday, August 12, 1978-The Michigan Daily
Laura Mars': Cinematic vacuum

By CHRISTOPHER POTTER
Virtually the only intriguing thing
about the just-released Eyes of Laura
Mars is exactly how it ever came into
being in the first place. This self-
declared thriller has so very little to say
about anything at all that it would seem
the only excuse for filming it was to
make a lot of money and further the ca-
reer of producer John Peters, more
famous as Barbra Streisand's live-in. Des-
pite the film's extended promo and press
blitz, despite the frenetic TV and theater
commercials geared to make Brian De
Palma's bizzarest works look moribund
by comparison, Eyes of Laura, Mars
turns out to be one on the most limp, ar-
tistically anonymous films in recent
memory.
Eyes' meandering but simple plot
gauzily focuses on the world of Laura
Mars (Faye Dunaway), a superstar of
fashion and glamour photography with
prediliction towards sado-masochistic
tableaux in her celuloid creations a la
Helmut Newton (who actually took
most of the photos depicted in the film).
Laura's sphere of stylized mock violen-
ce suddenly turns shudderingly real
when she finds her chic existence
subliminaly terrorized by a
psychopathic murderer fond of offing
his victims through the eye with an ice
pick.
THROUGH SOME never-explained
or even broached telekinetic osmosis,
Laura finds herself able to "see"
through the eyes of the killer every time
he stalks and dispatches a new quarry.
Each victim, of course, turns out to be a
friend of Laura's, a fact one assumes
would soon make her about as popular
as Legionnaire's Disease. However, all
her compatriots - the living ones at
least - are sweetly supportive to her in
her time of ocular crisis, especially a
handsome young police detective
(Tommy Lee Jones) assigned to crack
the bizarre and perplexing case.
Naturally, cop and heroine soon fall
madly in love in a coupling that's at

least slightly less preposterous than
Dunaway's bondage-inspired fling with
Rob Redford in 3 Days of the Condor.
Though their romance proves little
help in solving the ongoing murders,
Laura hangs in there gamely, until the
inevitable moment her personal TV
network picks up none other than her-
self being stalked by our friendly urban
maniac, who approaches closer, closer,
then...
ONE SEARCHES vainly for a thread
of purpose running through these wan
horrifics. IsEyes meant to be a stylized
denunciation of media-glamorized
violence? Clearly not - Laura har-
bors no guilt feelings over her kinky
camera creations, nor does the movie.
If murder lurks in the heart of the city,
the fault must lie somewhere with
sewer rats or TV violence - Laura
remains Pollyanna pure.
Is the film intended as an
authoritative peek into the exotic,
erotic jet-set world of glamour
photography? If so, then one would
have to re-evaluate the entire fashion
mystique, since director Irving Ker-
shner limits his Beautiful People
scrutinization to a few panoramas of
slightly dingy studios and stiflingly
cramped portable dressing rooms.
MORE IMPORTANTLY, Eyes
doesn't fit the suspense mold either on
the cops-and-robbers or the super-
natural plain. Kershner exhibits
minimal talents as a tension-builder,
and the film's studied shocker ending is
telegraphed long before it
laboriously peaks. Laura's extra-
sensory gifts arouse neither sensation

Tommy Lee Jones and Faye Dunnaway star in "Eyes of Laura Mars," a vapid
thriller currently at the Campus Theatre.

Fcficti a a on fuse
in this clone tale
In His Image: The Cloning of a Man,
By David Rorvik, Lippincott, 208 pp., $8.95.
By Stephen Pickover
W S. GILBERT cattily wrote, "things are seldom what they seem."
. Yet when fiction carelessly masquerades as non-fiction the jbke has
gone far enough. Surely David Rorvik does not expect very many people to
believe his superficially beguiling, but scientifically shoddy piece of
propaganda, In His Image: The Cloning of a Man.
Despite his name-dropping habits, his attempt at science is practically
non-existent, making the book useless for the layman or as a reference for
scientists. And it's unfortunately written, not even worth a perusal in the
John.
What is cloning, this concept surrounded by mystery? The frog, first suc-
cessfully cloned by Dr, Gurdon, provides an example of how the process
operates. Normally, the female lays eggs which are then fertilized by the
sperm of the male. Each of the pronuclei (sperm and eggs), as theya re
caled in the jargon, contain half the DNA normally found in a happy adult
frog, so that when they unite they form the full compliment of DNA.
DNA is deoxyribonucleic acid, the mysterious intertwined chains of
proteins that contains genes, the biological signals that instruct individual
cells how to develop-into slimy skin for frogs and fingers and toes for
humans, for example.
Each creature's DNA is different, so when male frog DNA fuses with
female frog DNA, a unique tadpole is formed. Now, suppose all
See BOOKS, Page9,

nor skepticism among either her frien-
ds or the authorities; while a De Palma
film would compound such powers
with governmental paranoia and com-
munity apocalypse, the people of Eyes
barely bat an eyelash over their
acquaintance's mystic endowment,
treating it as if they'd perhaps
discovered she had perfect pitch.
The cops make no use of Laura's in-
sight to-help nail their killer, nor does
Laura herself, even though she realizes
quite early on she is the maniac's
ultimate target. Instead she spends
most of the film simply standing or sit-
ting sround, nervously and unresour-
cefully awaiting her dark-alley ar-
megeddon. Thus Eyes settles dismally
into the familiarity of the routine
whodunit, with Kershner relegating
Laura's telepathic energies to no more
than a gimmick to advertise the film.
EYES WORKS least of all on the level
of characterization. Writers John Car-
penter and David Zelag Goodman
choose not to provide the remotest in-
sight or deal into any of their
protagonists, not even the trivia of
everyday likes and dislikes. We know
that Laura is a photographer, that most
of her compatriots assist her profession
in one way or another, that she has an
ex-husband who isn't very nice, that her
new lover moonlights as a cop. That's
essentially all the information we're
fed, and at film's end we're still at
ground zero.
You couldn't even call Eyes' charac-
ters cliche-ridden-they're all
delineated with such a bare-bones in-
completeness that sometimes they
seem scarcely to exist at all. And who,
confronted with such human ab-
struseness, could really give a damn if
all these clouded, vaguely unpleasant
shadow people are getting bumped off
left and right anyhow?

ONE KEEPS hoping to spot a train of
campy hilarity weaving through the
dramatic vacuum. On a woodland tryst
with her policeman, Laura exclaims:
"It's incredible! Amidst all of this (the
murders), I can't stop thinking of you!"
It's a line to savor and treasure, as is a
subsequent sequence when Laura,
temporarily blinded by a murder
vision, careens her automobile through
sidewalks, other cars and eventually
buildings in a sequence to rival the best
of the Keystone Kops. Unfortunately,
such wonderments occur far too
sporadically to effectively lift Eyes'
dominant anesthesia.
Needless to say, the film is not an ac-
tors' showcase. Dunaway is forced
throughout to descend to the level of the
Davis-Crawford fallen idols horror
genre set; She gets lots of chances to
roll her psychic eyeballs close up at the
screen, is thrown two or three
hysterical breakdown scenes to munch
on, but since she's been given no per-
sonality to develop and also no active
role in solving her own case, her
character thus remains stillborn in both
the passiveand active sense.
NOT THAT anyone else fares any
better. Tommy Lee Jones solidifies his
standing as Hollywood's leading
catatonia case, paralyticallymumbling
his way through a performance that
would make John Beck's dim romantic
turn in The Other Side of Midnight look
Vafentinoesque by comparison. Brad
Dourif (Cuckoo's Nest's Billy Bibbit)
skulks scruffily around the edges of the
plot as Laura's seedy chauffeur,
looking for all the world like he's just
finished watching Michael J. Pollard in-
Bonnie and Clyde ten times ina row.
Raul Julia looks and acts Franken-
steinish as Laura's cad of an ex-
husband, while models Darlanne
Fluegel and Lisa Taylor are
See FILM, Page 9

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