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January 12, 1980 - Image 5

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1980-01-12

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The Michigan Daily-Saturday, January 12, 1980-Page 6

"ROSE"SMELLS SWEET.
Midler's debut clicks

By DENNIS HARVEY
The Rose is a vehicle with all of the
trimmings for the peculiar talents of
Bette Midler, and without her it would
be as plushly useless as a Rolls-Royce
without an engine.
Midler isn't an actress, exactly; the
role of the Rose seems to fit her so well
that she doesn't need to act. When the
part calls for drunken hysteria (and
s being a traditional star-on-the-
ids story, there are plenty of such
moments), Midler dredges up more
drunken hysteria than you're likely to
encounter during a bad year at Rick's.
She isn't a subtle performer, but she's
powerfully effective, and for all of its
faults The Rose does provide Midler
with an ideal showcase for her flashy
emoting.
Frotn her initial entrance-emerging
from a private jet, hazed by the
nlight and dazed by booze-Midler is
unningly right. It's difficult to think of

The Rose, Midler's character, goes
down the depressing Star is Born trail
of drugs, booze, and despair in familiar
Hollywood fashion, although director
Mark Rydell does manage to dress up
the cliches in a believably nightmarish
rock-concert atmosphere. As the film
opens, the Rose is burned out from her
usual endless procession of exhausting
concert dates. She begs her unsym-
pathetic manager (played by a
somewhat off-form Alan Bates) to let
her have a year off in order to get some
rest and drop several dozen unhealthy
habits she's picked up, but he has her
future tightly bound -up in a contract
and refuses to let her go.
The rest of the movie charts her
headlong plunge toward destruction on
this final tour. The road to theatrical
doom is slowed a bit by Houston
(Frederick Forrest), an AWOL Army
man whom Rose picks up and drags
along with her for a while. Houston tries
to provide some stability in her life, but
he can't withstand for very long the
constant pressures of the tour.
THE ROSE is a crude and, at times,
clumsy film. Rydell doesn't have much
of a feel for the '60's milieu, and his
staging is sometimes flat, particularly
at the beginning of the movie. The
film's wildly melodramatic highs and
lows are generally well suited to the
Rose's equally frantic emotional crises,
but there are a few too many sequences
that seem to have dropped from the sky
into the plotline, included for their flash
value without much concern for con-
sistency or logic. Sometimes this in-
congruity is amusing enough to be
forgivable (as in a totally unnecessary
but still dazzling set piece in which the
Rose performs with a group of female
impersonators, including a "Rose" in
drag), while at other times the in-
trusion is merely jarring (such as a
lesbian subplot that is suddenly in-
troduced, rather luridly, then.

AETSl

r '

mysteriously dropped for good five
minutes later).
But Rydell doesn't fumble his trump
card-Midler is given all the room she
requires, and more, to do backflips on
the emotional scale. She may lack skill
and discipline, but there's so much
unharnassed energy in her peformance
that even such golden oldies of
cinematic soap suds as the inevitable
heartbreak phonebooth scene (calling
Mom and Dad through tears and a
druggy haze) punch through with
devastating force. You leave the
theatre exhausted; Midler pours so
much of herself into the role that she
drains the audience as well.
THE PART OF the Rose is so perfec-
tly suited to Midler's dramatic
capabilities that it's difficult to guess
whether the star will be able to handle
more subtle roles. The Rose offers no
hint of how she might be equipped to
play comedy (in concert, Midler leans
heavily on her camp sensibilities for
laughs; but it's difficult to see how a
film could be built around that limited
style), and through her singing here is
certainly exciting, due mainly to her
stage mannerisms, she can't be said to
have a terrific voice by any formal
standard..
Still, there's no doubt that in The
Rose Midler creates the kind of 'per-
forming electricity not seen since
Barbra Streisand's film debut.
Streisand, of course, tried the show-biz
tragedy bit herself in the latest remake
of A Star is Born, but by that time she
had lost the all-stops-out bravado of her
early films and had become a sticky
pro. Streisand's rock singing the film
was just a polite Hollywood imitation
(with "rock" songs by Paul Williams,
yet), and her emotions didn't ring true
because she always managed to keep
the audience terribly aware of the fact
that she was acting like mad. ,
In The Rose, Midler doesn't quite act,
and her singing is far from letter-per-
fect. Hers may not be a flawless per-
formance, but it's astonishingly good,
and it makes this fair-to-good vehicle
something to be seen.

Play it again, David

y performer who has ever held up so
ell under such a heavy load of pathos
as the Rose calls for. By turns
desperate, antic, doped, furious and
coy, she's at once mind-bogglingly
schizoid and totally convincing.
THE STORY, fortunately, bears only
a superficial resemblance to its alleged
source, the lifeand premature death of
blues-rocker Janis Joplin. Midler does
attempt to imitate Janis' scowling
-Vocals (and, surprisingly, this works so
*ell that her singing finally has an edge,
of excitement that is never had before),
but the official likeness ends there.

Coming up Sunday.at the Power Cen-
ter, the University will host the Third
Annual Ann Arbor Folk Festival-an
event which acts both to expose local
residents to a wide range of performers
and to provide a well-deserved moral
and financial boost for the Ark, Ann Ar-
bor's folk music coffee-house.
The event will feature a wide range of
performers loose tied under the um-
brella "folk" label. David Bromberg, a
singer-guitarist, will headline the
festival once again. He has received
nationwide recognition not only for
lyrical and instrumental folk song in-
terpretations, but for ambitious ven-
tures into jazz and pop-rock styles. In
addition, Leon Redbone will appear,
along with Owen McBride, Hedy West,
John Hammond Jr., the Red Clay
Ramblers, and Mary McCaslin and Jim
Ringer.-,
Festivals like this tend to be as
educational as they are enter-
taining-as the sudience can observe
the many diverse styles in one day, and
the many contrasts between them

Japan invokes measures
to reduce oil consumption

TOKYO (AP) - Japanese are being
asked to live in cooler homes and drive
their cars slower. Store owners are to
turn off their lights at night. Electric
companies are being rewarded if they
switch from oil to other fuels.
These are measures included in a
new energy-saving package approved
by the Japanese government to cut this
nation's oil consumption by seven per
ent, because of anticipated cutbacks in
lsupplies.
TEMPERATURES in homes, offices,
hotels, and stores are to be set at 64
degrees Fahrenheit. Offices and stores
are to have their lights turned off by 10
p.m. Restaurants, cabarets, and bars,
which line the streets of Japanese cities
with neon signs, are being asked to
close by midnight.
Maximum speeds of 31 mph for cars
*n city streets and 50 mph for vehicles
n expressways will be enforced.
If these measures seem severe, of-
ficials warned, their next requests will
be even more drastic, including a ban
on the use of privately-owned cars in
major cities.
"IN EFFECT, what we're doing is in-
troducing rationing to Japan," said
Seiichi Kondoh of the Natural Energy
and Resources Agency. "These
measures are severe but necessary."
- The government said it expects "100
w er cent cooperation" from the people,
'although the measures aren't com-
pulsory. Sunday gas rationing, in effect

for a year, is 99 per cent effective, of-
ficials say.
The latest measures, adopted in
response to sharp increases in oil prices
by the Organization of Petroleum Ex-
porting Countries (OPEC), are part of a
series to help this highly industrialized
nation, 99 per cent dependent on impor-
ts for its petroleum needs, through the
1980s.
JAPAN IS the world's largest impor-
ter of oil after the United States, with 70
per cent of its needs supplied alone by
the Middle East.
The new steps go into effect im-
mediately. Combined with steps taken
earlier, the government hopes' to
reduce significantly the nation's
surging fuel import bill that leaped
from $23 billion in 1978 to an estimated
$35 billion last year. In oil terms it
represents a saving of 125.8 million
barrels out of the 1.76 billion barrels
that Japan imports each year.
Electricity and gas companies are
seeking approval to boost power rates
60-70 per cent to offset soaring oil
prices. This is one development, the in-
fluential ministry of international trade
and industry says, that is certain to bite
into people's lifestyles.
Another measure is an end to all
television broadcasting at midnight,
meaning a saving of electricity,
although minimal in terms of overall
consumption. Late night TV consists
mostly of films.

MARX BROTHERS in 1937
A DAY AT THE RACES
Groucho, as Dr. Hackenbush, a horse doctor who is mistakenly
given charge of a rich hypochondriac sanatorium. Chico plays
an ice cream vendor and Harpo is a lucky jockey.
Sunday: Chaplin's THE GREAT DICTATOR
Monday: Bergmann's PERSONA
Tuesday: ZERO FOR CONDUCT (Free)
Wednesday: THE TRIP & HEAD (written by Jack Nicholson)

r
t

, CINEMA GUILD

TONIGHT at
7:00 & 9:05

$1.50
OLD ARCH. AUD.

~-INEMAlII
PRESENTS
THE HARDER THEY COME
(PERRY HENZELL, 1973)
An exotic glimpse of Jamaican life in this first film from the isle of reefer. A
Violent tale of a young innocent who seeks his fortune as a pop star and
ends up as a renegade desperado. Based on a true story, Reggae music by
Jimmy Cliff, Toots and the Maytals, the Sickers, and others throb with
vitality throughout the film. THE HARDER THEY COME has more guts, wit,
humor and sheer exuberance than most movies you'll see in any one
year of movie-going."-Vincent Canby. In Jamaican dialect, with subtitles.
(1O min.)
Angell Hall $1.50 7, 9,11

1
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Tomorrow: THE THREE PENNY OPERA

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