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March 15, 1980 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1980-03-15

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'Lingo'

,Olezso highlight

The Michigan Daily-Saturday, March 15, 1980-Page 5
Thursday films

By OWEN GLEIBERMAN
Spending an evening at the Ann Arbor
16mm Film Festival one witnesses an
e ilerating collision of opposites.
eWnology and primitivism, abstrac-
tion and realism, highbrow chic and
pop-art vulgarity-they're all packed
into, a fantastic display of human
imagination defined as much by its
eclecticism as by the central bond of
the film medium. Even the most
tawdry, tedious movies are bearable
because, like scraps of old newspaper
in a Rauschenberg collage, they're part
of a larger ongoing celebration, part of
* evening, a festival-a
culture-that's shared and debated and
experienced is as many ways as its
makers approach their art.

The folks who schedule each night's
program are masters of the creative
mix-and-match, and Thursday's three
shows were no exception. We had five
animations, three documentaries, a few
anecdotal narratives, a bunch that
toyed with seductive, state-of-the-art
photographic techniques, and a grab-
bag of oddities that ranged from gory
six o'clock News parodies to a struc-
turalist essay comprised of static
autumn landscapes.
ODDLY ENOUGH, the evening's
highlight was a documentary, Lingo- a
fascinating portrait of a sort of self-
proclaimed Rocky Mountain Socrates
who, along with a cult of young, wor-
shipful followers, claims he has suc-

Musical school stages
fine 'Carmina Burana'

cessfully harnessed the astonishing
"brain power" that lies dormant in all
of us. The first third of the movie is a
tongue-in-cheek howl, for laughter
seems the only appropriate response to
a man who wanders around in the nude,
fondling actual human brains and
spouting such gems of self-taught
philosophy as, "The frontal lobe ex-
perience is available to everybody."
But as the movie craftily reveals,
Lingo is more than a wilderness looney
with a cerbellum-fixation. He's a quick,
benevolent fellow with a dry sense of
humor, plump-faced, Paul McCartney-
ish good looks, and a smalltown
politician's folksy charmisma. (He's
also a decent country musician who
scraped together a few television spots
in the late fifties; shown here on You
Bet Your Life, he looks ready to cry
with confusion when he accidentally ut-
ters Groucho's "secred woid."')
THE MOST INSANE portion of
the movie is Lingo's rather bi-
zarre explanation of just how one
goes about summoning up our
reserves of frontal-lobe power. The
thought processes, explains Lingo,
leave us with an unwanted residue of
useless mental material which must be
excreted. And how, pray, is this ac-
complished? Why, multiple orgasms, of
course! Lingo's theories of advanced
sexuality are the most wildly dubious
parts of his brainy master-plan (though
considering that he's stranded in the
hills with several, as Dr. Strangelove

might say, "highly steem-ulateeng"
young students, one can hardly blame
him for experimenting). But the man
has such deadpan conviction that, like
some Old West medicine man with a
great sales pitch, he's irresistable.
Technically speaking, the movie is
merely competent, but kudos to makers
Robert Kirk and Peter Garrity for
picking a wonderful subject.
Unfortunately, the same can't be said
for Edward Gray, whose documentary
Elvin Jones: Different Drummer was a
dull-witted bore. Jones is a great
drummer, but his personality is less
than sparkling; worse, the movie's let-
the-music-speak-for-itself approach
denied us exactly what we want from a
documentary: Historical background,
critical analysis, a portrait of the artist
as a well-rounded human being. Direc-
tor Gray either didn't get enough finan-
cing, or he was just too lazy to do his
homework.
GOOD OR BAD, documentaries
always seem a little out-of-kilter next to
the mish-mosh of personalized creative
efforts that dominate the festival. Drew
Moray's This Is the Title of My Film, on
the other hand, the most successful one-
joke movie of the night, might have
been conceived with virtually no other
viewing context in mind. The movie is
based on an ingenious witty idea; The
characters run through a numbingly
ordinary soap opera, but instead of
spouting realistic dialogue, they reel off
the banal psychological motives behind
each line, amounting to a hilarious
assortment of naked cliches.
What was so stingingly appropriate
about This is the Title of My Film is
that almost every straight narrative
film in the Festival trafficks in the sort
of broad cliches it parodies. There's a
sense that the filmmaker is alive to the
inherent absurdity of concocting fic-

tions in the first place-trying to wring
some new, vaguely fresh dialogue out of
the same damned situation.
But it's an absurdity that is tackled
time and again, and a number of films
managed to squeeze a little more juice
out of those same old cliches. John
Francis' Backabout used another
ingenious (and ingeniously simple)
idea: Francis filmed a bland little story
about a bearded motorcycle ruffian
who wrecks havoc in a roadside bar,
then ran the film backwards, having the
ruffian narrate the new "backwards"
story in voice-over. The best moment
has our hero standing by one of the
bar's red-neck patrons, noticing his
empty glass, and filling the glass with
beer by holding it to his mouth.
ALSO NOTABLE was The Cretin,
"An intense anthropological study of
the nature of human idiocy." Those ex-
pecting the adventures of a standard
horn-rimmed nerd found instead, to
their dismay, a mock
-documentary about an immobile
vegetable in a wheelchair who drools
great gobs into his lap, and breaks vast
quantities of wind, until, after "several
years of constant tr'aining," he
becomes a successful business
executive-and proceeds to carry on as
before, only now, in his plush office,
with ballpoint in hand.
There was more jovial social satire
with Bob and Louise Go on Their
Honeymoon, directed by Ann Arborite
Phil Siegel and featuring local theater
celebs Jane Kinsey and Tom Simonds
as a young couple taking a nuptial
odyssey from Roma Hall catering
palace to Howard Johnson's to dingy
and dangerous Detroit. Siegel's hand-

held camera was a bit excessive in
places-sometimes, I wished he'd
thrown in some more long tri-pod takes
for clarity's sake-but he spiced up this
lively little film with some catchy tunes
including "Downtown" and a zany bit
from Midnight Cowboy.
Following the live presentation that
opened the 9:00 show (one of those
dreary, beatnik-ish fiascos with four
dancers cavorting before slides of a
chest x-ray), we got a short narrative
film with more ominous overtones than
the cracked antics of This is the Title or
Bob and Louise. Russell Hopkins' Blue
Afternoon is a mystical, metaphysical
anecdote about a young man whose
stalled car leaves him stranded on an
overcast country road. Filmed with
riveting Hitchcockian precision, the
movie spun off from Rashomon by
showing the same events twice in rapid
succession, slightly altered, thus,
leading the audience from a straight,
simple story into a threatening vortex
of uncertainty.
THERE WERE TWO absolutely
stunning animations-Howard
Danelowitz's Inside Out and Chris Ben-
ton and Mick Griffin's 4/7/74, The
festival judges should be shot at dawn if
at least one of these animations are
not replayed on winners' night. As with
past years, animations are surely
among the festival's most exhilerating
triumphs, for in addition to sprouting
out in a multitude of directions,
animators continue to improve with
astonishing consistency-both
technically and creatively. UBI Cubes,
a geometric animation by Paul Aaron
and Fred Horowitz, proved that sheer
See FILM, Page 8

By ED PRINCE
When Carl Orff came to North
America in 1962, his name was already
familiar to the concert going public
through his scenic cantata, "Carmina
Burhna." Since its American pemiere
in 1954, ."Carmina Burana" has met
with consistent success and remains by
far Orff's most popular work. Such a
success was achieved in Ann Arbor in
P when the University of Michigan
chool of Music staged it along with
William Albright's "Seven Deadly
Sins." This combination is being
repeated this week at the Power Center
and it must surely be the finest produc-
tion the music school has presented this
season.
"Carmina Burana" is a setting of
13th century poems by wandering
Bavarian monks and scholars, called
"goliards." The poems are of a
dedly secular nature, dealing with
ejects such as drinking, love, lust and
fortune. Orff's work calls for orchestra,
chorus, soloists and as he put it, "magic
pictures," or dance. The music was
written in 1935, yet it bears little
resemblance to anything which was
being written at the time, and less to the
music of the' romantic period which
preceded it. Orff discarded all the com-
plexities of modern and romantic music
r a style which is simple, direct and
inently understandable. There is no
counterpoint, only simple melody and
harmony, and elementary but lively
rhythms predominate in the score.
TO THIS ELEMENTAL music
Elizabeth Weil Bergman has
choreographed a series of illustrations
of the text which are danced by mem-
bers of the University Dance Company-
and guest and faculty soloists. Much of
Ms. Bergman's conception is highly ef-
fective and imaginative, and the
leening section depicting the rule of
Fortune is especially inspired. The
danlcers all do a fine job of conveying
the many and varied moods of the
work, ranging from the joys of love to
the-agony of a swan roasting on a spit in
an inn. However, the subjects being
depicted are not always clear, because
the text is in Latin and German and
there are no complete translations
provided.
The set, which was designed by Alan
4l1ings conveys the atmosphere of the
Middle Ages quite well, and includes a
transparent curtain which is used with
great effect in the opening and closing
sequences. The effectiveness of the set
is diminished somewhat by the lighting,
though. For some reason Mr. Billings
chose to leave the lighting apparatus
plainly exposed to the audience, and
this was a mistake. Such a gesture
might be appropraite for a work on a
,odern theme, but it is clearly out of
Sace here and dimishes the medieval

atmosphere considerably.
There was nothing objectional about
the musical side of the production,
which was performed by the University
Symphony and Chamber Choir along
with soprano Eva Likova, tenor
Lawrence Vincent and baritone Leslie
Guinn, all under the direction of
Thomas Hilbisch. The performance
was generally quite good for a student
ensemble, but there were problems.
There was a lack of balance between
the orchestra and chorus in several sec-
tions, and also between orchestral
divisions at times. On top of this, the,
solosits all turned in less than perfect
peformances, though in the case of Mr.
Guinn it was simply a case of the music
being outside his effective range in one
section. Despite these shortcomings,
-he performers did an admirable job for
such an ambitious work.
PRECEDING THE "Carmina
Burana" was William Albright's
"Seven Deadly Sins," a work of much
more modest proportions which is also
based on medieval subject matter.
Albright conducted his work with the
Contemporary Directions Ensemble
and the choreography was done by Gay
Delanghe. "Seven Deadly Sins" is a
series of illustrations in music and dan-
ce of an English Renaissance poem of
the same name which is presented by a
narrator.
Albright's music is made up of a
variety of styles ranging from atonality
to ragtime and is very successful in
portraying the subject. Sloth and Greed
are perhaps the best of the musical
characterizations, each capturing per-
fectly the essence of these sins. Sloth is
represented by slow moving music
which features the heavy tones of the
bass clarinet, cello and low register of
the piano, and greed is represented by
quick, sinuous music-which amply con-
veys a sense of pernicious
acquisitiveness.
The choreography and costuming are
also excellent and contain many in-
teresting touches and surprises. All
seven of the dance soloists who
represent the sins turn in vigorous,
convincing performances and in the
finale they all dance together to a
rowdy gallop in an orgy of sin.
The "Carminea Burana"/"Seven
Deadly Sins" production is a winner. It
is a joining of the art Middle Ages with
art of the twentieth century which is
easily accessible and enjoyable, and
much of this is due to the fine concep-
tions of Gay Delanghe and Elizabeth
Weil Bergman. It's no wonder the 1975
production was such a great success,
and it is to be hoped that productions of
as high a quality as this will continue to
be presented by the musicischool in the
future.

kL

Daily Photo by CYRENA CHANG
What can you say about Chuck Mangione? People seem to either hate or love
his pop/jazz synthesis, but the capacity crowd at Hill auditorium Thursday
warmly welcomed Chuck, his flugelhorn, and quartet back to Ann Arbor.
the
DAVE BRUBECK
QUARTET

CElIWE~t Fish
Ca6 "a

i
'F ___

TONIGHT March 15 at 8:30 pm
Slick Valenfino presents
A ROCK & ROLL REVOLUTION
with SAI LCATZ
introducing REV E RB

r

f-v
Ponderosa is having a fabulousfish fry.
For just $2.99, you can enjoy all the fish fillets
and salad you can eat. Dinner also includes
baked potato or french fries and warm roll
with butter. Catch this outstanding value
at Ponderosa.

M

special guest
peter 'madca' fruth 1

I

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