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August 06, 1976 - Image 10

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1976-08-06

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Poge Ten


Friday, August 6, 1976


HAPPENINGS film reviews
are written by Kim Potter.
All week long
Harry and Walter Go to New
York - (The Movies, Briar-
wood) - An unswervingly triv-
iat farce about a pair of turn-
of - the - century vaudvillians
(James Caan and Elliott Gould)
who attempt to beat a million-
aire safe cracker (Michael
Caine) to the punch in robbing
a Boston Bank. The motivations
for the heist are exceedingy
murky, and tend to undermine
whatever comic invention may
be present; but this was such
a throwaway project to begin
with that it doesn't really mat-
ter anyway. Gould is surpris-
ingly funny as the dumber of
two heroes, and Caine is the
epitome of suave chicanery.
But Caun seems out of his nor-
mal action element, and Diane
Keaton, as a muckraking jour-
nalist, proves again that what-
ever her element is, it certain-
lv does not lie within the boun-
daries of show business. **
Bugs Bunny Superstar-(Cam-
pus) - An interesting compend-
ium of works from the some-
times hilHarious, often violence-
prone Warner Bros. animation
school Guided by the great Tex
Avery and others, the studio
:onsistently outdid the Disney
amalgamate in both humor and
imaginative verve, but wheth-
er this inspiration was always
utilized to the healthiest ends
will remain forever open to
Ode to Billy Joe-(The Mov-
ies, Briarwood) - This Deep
South offering unravels at last
the long-awaited (?) riddle of
Bobbie Gentry's decade-old
song. According to the movie,
Billy Joe took his plunge off
Tallahatchie bridge for reasons
more Freudian than Mansonian,
but the film suffers not so much
from its rather doll solution as
from an insufferable saturation
of situation comedy cuteness.
Directed by Max Baer (late of
The Beverly Hillbillies), Billy
Joe is gorged with an army of
precocious, post-adolescent cher-
ubs mouthing cutely-risque wit-
ticisms (there must be 700
breast - development jokes),
while the adults shake their

heads and smile adoringly.
The film's acting ranges from
mediocre to maladroit. Glynnis
O'Connor proves only moderate-
ly unskilled in the role of the
protagonist, Bobbie Lee; alas,
the same cannot be said of a
sublimely ill-conceived lad nam-
ed Robby Benson, who trans-
forms the role of the charismat-
ic Billy Joe into an approxima-
tion of Donny Osmond doing an
imitation of Jerry Lewis. Young
Benson's heretofore most mem-
orable theatrical achievement
was the Wolfman Jack TV acne
commercial, an endeavor for
which he seemed far more
physically and dramatically
qualified. *
Silent Movie -- (Michigan) -
A down-and-out Hollywood di-
rector decides to make -a silent
picture to financially rescue a
beleaguered studio boss, with
wild complications resulting.
Mel Brooks' film may appear
on the surface a parody of the
silent genre, but really isn't at
all; it's a full-fledged member
in good standing of the word-
less art, ready to take its place
beside the best works of Kea-
ton, Chaplin and the other geni-
uses of the field, to which
Brooks' name must certainly
now be added. Masterfully hil-
arious. **
Take the Money and Ran -
(Ann Arbor Film Co-op, MLB
3, 8:45 only) - Woody Allen's
funny chronicle of vicious con
Virgil Starkwell's descent into
crime and degradation. The
first Allen-starring Allen-direc-
ted film is a bit rough around
the edges, but its very free-
wheelingness often makes it
more effective than Woody's
more opulent later efforts. ***
Love and Death - (Ann Ar-
bor Film Co-op, MLB 3, 7 &
10:30) - What would possess
Woody Allen to play variations
on Tolstoy? Better he tackle
bank robbers, futuristic robots,
even gianut breasts. Simply put,
Love and Death is a botch. Not
just a botch by Woody Allen
standards, but by those of far
lesser humorists than himself.
Perhaps Woody felt the ever-
enlarging spectre of Mel Brooks
breathing down his back, and

thus felt compelled to write
something deep and profound
and universally humanistic. If
so, he clearly bit off more than
he could chew. Allen's creative
abilities have matured in re-
cent years, but his premary tal-
ent remains that of comedian,
not cosmic philosopher. And his
apparent attempt here to grasp
for the latter plateau results
in Love and Death's containing
some of the most sustainedly un-
funny passages of any of his
Things are not helped along
by the once-again presence of
the absolutely numbing Diane
Keaton (Louise Lasser, where
are you?), but the prime blame
for this cinematic mess must
fall squarely upon the shoulders
of the most gifted comic artist
of our time, who for the mo-
ment appears unwilling to set-
tle for that much-deserved title.
Experimental Animation Night
- (Ann Arbor Film Co-op, MLB
4, 8 only) - A collection of
various conventional, surreal
and abstract works spanning 70
years of filmed animation, and
vividly demonstrating the al-
most limitless boundaries of
this particular medium.
Au Hasard Balthazar - (Cine-
ma Guild, Arch. And., 7:30 &
9:30) - A 1970 film by Robert
Bresson, the currently reigning
god of the auteur school. From
what I can vaguely gather, it's
about the wickedness of the
world, as seen through the al-
legorical eyes of a donkey. Hope
it's better than Dumbo.
Nashville - (Cinema II, Ang.
Aud. A, 7:30 & 10:30) - Robert
Altman's giant country epic
back for a return engagement.
The most hotly-debated Ameri-
can film in years: It is a soul-
searing X-ray of our society, or
a smugly simplistic nose-thumb-
ing at Middle America? You be"
the judge, but either way a gen-
uine original, and not to be
missed. ***
Medium Cool - (Cin. 1I5
Ang. Aud. A, 7:30 & 9:30)-This
fictionalized documentary about
the moral and political awaken-
ing of a cynical young TV news
photographer during the 1968
Chicago Convention riots in per-
haps the closets thing to a genu-
ine radical film ever produced
by a major American studio -
although the producers probably
never realized what they were
getting into.

Director Haskell Wexler play-
ed a hunch that something was
going to boil over in Chicago
that summer, then created a
dramatic plot along the way to
blend into the actual events.
Conspiracy is the keyword, as
the initially hardboiled camera-
man is slowly drawn into a web
of governmental secrecy and
paranoia, culminating in police-
protester violence terrifying in
its authenticity.
Medium Cool doesn't complete-
pletely hold together: Some
domestic subplots don't work,
and reality is occasionally bent
too far to meet the dictates
of the screenplay. But it is
a remarkable experiment, stun-
ningly photographed. Not unsur-
prisingly, Wexler never receiv-
ed another directorial assign-
ment, and was recently indicted
by a grand jury for his partici-
pation in the radical documen-
tary, Underground. It would
seem a little artistic and politi-
cal courage can be a very un-
healthy thing.*""*
Downhill Racer - (Cinema
Guild, Arch. Aud. 7:30 & 9:30)
- Quite simply, the best dra-
matic film on sports ever made.
Alexander Nevsky - (Cinema
Guild, Arch. Aud., 8 only) - Ei-
senstein's saga of the warrior-
savior of Thirteenth - Century
Russia is visually the remark-
able battle epic ever conceived:;
unfortunately, a lumbering,
platitudinous script deprives the
film of an otherwise deserving
place among the cinematic
greats. Still well worth seeing,
and admission to it is FREE.**
Nothing scheduled.
Enter the Dragon - (Ann
Arbor Film Co-op, Ang. Aud.
A, 7 & 9) -sThe best of the
kong fu epics, although that
fact must of course be taken in
limited perspective. However
one may feel about how Bruce
Lee utilized his talents, he was
an unqtuestioned poet of body
movements; and if one doesn't
mind the lack of any kind of
coherent script or directing,
Enter the Dragon manages to
project a kind of puerile grace
uniquely its own. ***

Trash - (Ann Arbor Film Co.
op, Ang. Aud. A, 7 only) -- A
product of the Warhol-Morrisey
Cinema of Langour, featuring
the torpid wanderings of super
hung-stud-zombie Joe Dellesan-
dro. Never seen by this critic,
but in its own abnormal way
doubtless some kind of classic.
Marat/Sade - (Ann Arbor
Film Co-op, Ang. Aud. A, 9
only) - Peter Brook's screen
rendering of Peter Weiss' fa-
mous asylum drama about the
assassination of the French
revolutionary, Marat. Although
it's virtually a photographed
stage play, Brook's consuming
insight reveals Weiss's work for
the first time not as a politi-
cal call to action, not as a met-
aphor for idealism vs. cynic-
ism, but simply a demonic in-
quest into The Beast that Lurks
Within us all. Terrifying and
brilliant. ****
Cries and Whispers - (Peo-
ples Bicentennial Commission,
MLB, 7 & 9) - Ingmar Berg-
man's psychological study of
three sisters and their servant
girl variously pitted against
each other amidst the trap-
pings of an isolated summer
estate. Many critics have hail-
ed the film as the Sewidish di-
rector's greatest achievement,
but from my perspective, it's
a thoroughly pretentious bore.
Overwritten, floridly direct-
ed, poorly acted (save Harriet
Andersson as the dying sister),
Cries and Whispers comes
across as almist a parody of
Bergman's other works. It
strains and strains for profun-
dity, but strikes one as noth-
ing so much as a master di-
rector running scared, trum-
peting his greatness to a pub-
lic which has already- adknow-
ledged it long ago. *
Love and Anarchy - (Ann
Arbor Film Co-op, Ang. Aud.
A, 7 & 9:15) - One of the most
stunning films of recent years:
A solemn, almost Christ-like
Italian peasant (Giancarlo Gia-
ninni) sets out on a mission to
assassinate Mussolini, while a
young prostitute he meets and
loves tries to dissuade him from
his suicidal quest. Lena Wert-
muller's.film builds and builds
in heroic, almost grand-opera
style, then reverses gears com-
pletely in one of the most ironic
and unexpected finales in film
history. This exquisite work
firmly established Wertmuller
in the vanguard of new young
directors - a position now con-
siderably solidified by her more
recent works.****
Antlers on most deer grow
straight up, or out from the
side of the head. The caribou is
the only deer i nthe United
States whose antlers grow to-
ward the deer's nose.

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