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April 13, 1980 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1980-04-13

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The Michigan Daily-Sunday, April 13, 1980-Page 5

John Denver's fame has been
acquired through exploiting the human
emotions, and his music has received a
rather unsavory reputation for being
tear-jerking sentimentalism. Largely,
iis tunes have dealt, almost ob-
sessively, .with the wonders of nature
and the "rightness" of love and peace.
Now, I'm no sentimental fool, but it
wouldn't be too far off the mark to say I
was, well, transformnd listening to Den-
Ser speak on world hunger Friday af-
ernoon at the Michigan Theatre and
hearing him sing later that same

naturally high

on John

evening at Crisler Arena. The man just
got to me. And in both lecture and per-
formance, Denver's fanatical
religiousity attracts and yet repels me.
Actually, Denver didn't speak direc-
tly to the issue of world hunger per se
(though he is a member of the
Presidential Commission on World
Hunger) Friday afternoon; he spoke on
a wide variety of pressing human
problems 'in the evangelistic, yet
hopeful, voice which is not unlike the
overall tone of his music. He's the only
person in the industry today that can
sing about the plight of the whale (as in

"You Say That The Battle Is 'Over") or
"more people/more scars upon the
land" ("Rocky Mountain High") and
still be smiling. But Denver addresses
these issues with every ounce of
seriousness, ever optimistic that we
will help him right them. And yet, he
never comes off quite as preachy as
Harry Chapin, Crosby-Nash, or born-
again Bob Dylan do while furthering
their respective causes.
AN OLDER, more mature crowd of
14,000 filled Crisler Friday night, and a
few times during the evening I thought

I might be at a Tom Jones or Frank
Sinatra show for the numbers of
station-wagon loads of well-dressed,
middle-aged women and men (though
primarily the former) that were in at-
tendance. Denver's crowd is respec-
table, and respectfut: they are silent.
when he chats between songs, there is
no aisle-rushing, and they stand only t
applaud for an encore. This orderliness
is refreshing; never once did I have to
pick some drunk or drug-crazed con-
cert-goer off my lap or tell someone in
front of me to plunk his butt in a chair.
It is to Denver's credit that his audien-

Will 'Kramer'

(yawn) sweep?

When you compile. an Academy
Award prognostication list, you must of
necessity dichotomize between the
probable winners and the deserving
winners. Though this Monday night's
festivities contain fewer outrageous
r minees than is traditional for the rite
jorevious Best Picture candidates have
included Airport, Dr. Doolittle and The
Towering Inferno), the contrast bet-
4een fact, and inanity protrudes. as
always. I've herein scrutinized Oscar's
three most charismatic categories (Best
Picture, Actor, Actress) and would have
dpne more except my neck hurts too
much from wrenching it yesterday, and
the world as a whole is hurting too
much anyway to retain what transpires
in Hollywood tomorow evening.
Likely winner: Kramer vs. Kramer.
t's trendy, it's 'in" and it seems to
ave a hammerlock on the Oscar. Its
creators ingeniously applied an artsy
yeneer atop a schlocky plot-thus,
Academy members can proudly cast
their votes for a "serious" film even
while responding to its soap opera in-
nards with salivating enthusiasm.
All That Jazz, bolstered by a sur-
prising nine nominations, prbably rates
the best chance for an upset; watch for
4qn early trend with the two films' head-
o-head competition in the
cinematography and editing
categories. Breaking Away is a dark-
horse possibility, but "small" pictures
are rarely acrled top no ~rs (Rocky
received a t nnufadttFes so must
pre- and pO-release hype that by
Oscartime it seemed anything but
d iminutve).
Apocalypse Now is the best film
of this or practically any other year, but
ts fate was sealed long ago by critics
Wnd industry alike; Francis Coppola is
the new whipping boy of Hollywood,
Ond they're not about~to let him off the
hook now.
Norma Rae is this year's official non-
bense nomination and, ike its annual
predecessors, has no chance. Inanity
bas its limits, even in LA.
: If i Were Voting: 1. Apocalypse
Now --Comes as close to living up to its
pre-release charisma as any film
umanly could. An emotionally,
philosophically and cinematically shat-
tering work-its time will surely
2. All That Jazz-As audacious,
unapologic a film as has ever come out
of the industry. Bob Fosse commits
every sin of pride ever conceived, yet
gets away with it through sheer, con-
suming pizzaz. Jazz is a once-in-a-
lifetime artifact, whose creator should
either win the Oscar or be tarred and
eathered-perhaps both.
3. Breaking Away-This exhuberant,
golden-hued celebration of Middle
America is the most infectious change
of pace from the movies' New York-
L.A. thematic monopoly imaginable.
It's a "feel-good" film with in-
tegrity-and frankly, I can't think of
another one.
4. Kramer vs. Kramer-A picture'
whose domestic intensity seems almost
o require a positive response. I saw it
ast December, left the theater
saying, "Boy, that was a good
film"-and haven't felt the remotest
desire to go see it again. (I saw All That
Jazz three times in eight days).
Kramer doesn't beg your sympathy so
much as it sternly demands it; it
smugly basks in its own goodness,
righteously daring you to question its
virtue and wisdom. Any movie which
elicits the primary response that "I
fight to like this" out to be examined
With meticulous care-beneath a self-
congratulatory surface usually lurks a
slightly desperate self-doubt.
5. Norma Rae-This cinematic trium-
ph-of-the-workingman is a poignant
liberal dinosaur that only the Academy

and the ADA could love. Unfortunately,

unions don't win elections any more and
films aren't made this way any more
either. We're in the age of Dawn of the
Dead and Ronald Reagan, and
mankind's victories fdon't come in tidy
packages any longer. Under the gosple
of the 80's, survival is victory enough.
Likely Winner: Dustin Hoffman,
Kramer vs. Kramer. How can he miss?

ce feels as if they are sitting in his living
room, and it reminded me of the way
Paul Simon commanded a similarly in-
tent audience on his solo tour a few
years back.
Denver's show was 'in the round' at
Crisler; there were six main floor sec-
tions surrounding a stage not more than
10 feet square wherein John was
flanked by the musicians from his 1978
album, JD. If Denver's self-professed
love for and comfortableness among
nature is as full-blown as he says, then I
really can't fault the guy for decorating
his stage as if it were a cleavage in a
mountaintop: ferns, flowers, and
monitors disguised as rocks. Denver
was elevated slightly above his band,
and positioned himself and his mike in
different directions' frequently
throughout the show; in effect, he faced
in you direction every fourth song.
Wouldn't a slowly revolving stage have
been better?
RESPLENDENT in fringed white
satin, Denver offered tunes from his
already expansive collection of albums,
sampling some from his recent effort,
Autograph, between better-than-the-
original renderings of his hits (con-
spicuous by its absence, however, was
"Sunshine O'n My Shoulders").
"Leaving On A Jet Plane" flowed
predictably into "Goodbye, Again,"
and Denver and band rocked out on
"Mother Nature's Son" and "Take Me
Home, Country Roads."
Themes of sincerity and sentimen-
tality are fading fast from today's pop
music, and when Denver sings "make it
a part of you to be a part of me"
("Follow Me"), it is nowhere as ob-
scene and demanding as how The
Your aprtment

Knack, for instance, sing it. If sex is a
more frequent topic in today's music,
then Denver has turned it into an
almost religious, implicit experience:
on "How Mountain Girls Can Love,"
"Grandma's Feather Bed," and "An-
nie's Song" he is never blatant, yet you
know exactly to what he alludes.
Listening to his jubilant musings on the
"Colorado Rocky Mountain High"
Friday evening, I got the impression
this cute, pug-nosed kid could orgasm
just by breathing high altitude pine air.
BUT SOME of Denver's humility
boarders on obnoxiousness, as on "The
Garden Song" ("inch by inch/row by
row/someone blessed these seeds I
grow"). Does John Denver want to be
Mr. Rogers when he grows up? At the
end of Friday night's show, he stood
alone on the stage and thanked a list of
cast and crew that would do the Oscar
telecast proud: sound men, lighting
crew, ushers, set builders, even the guy
who brings him his tea onstage. I won-
der if Denver's est training has whittled
away his sense of self.
Denver's current tour began the last
week of February and will encompass
109 concerts in 89 cities before its com-
pletion in mid-September. Denver's
concerts and accompanying press con-
ferences and lectures are to promte the
fight for world hunger, and even with
all of -his speaking engagements, his
voice, as demonstrated at Crisler, is ii
surprisingly good form. And when ,did
that voice rang out "how sweet it is to
love someone/How right it is to care".
during "Poems, Prayers, and
Promises," I turned into the sentimen-
tal fool I thought I could not be.
The University of Michigan Men's Glee Club
LeonardJohnson, Direcfor

fman wrings both laughter and tears
from a script which might easily defeat
a lesser thespian; Monday's Best Actor
verdict will mark one of those rare,
refreshing occasions when the
Academy's most popular choice will
also be the best choice.
2. Jack Lemmon-His guilt-ridden
nuclear technician in China Syndrome
is overdone in spots, but remains a
scorching performance from an actor
who has shackled much of his career in

Divorced parents' Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep argue over custody
of their young son in, the restaurant confrontation scene from Robert
Benton's "Kramer vs. Kramer." This hit seems like a shoe-in for most
of the major Oscars in tomorrow night's Academy Awards ceremony-it's
a sentimental favorite, a center of comfortably "safe" controversy, and
a huge critical and box-office success, all of the things that traditionally
make Academy members tap their conservative toes with contentment.

hardly likely Hollywood will deny her
what judges on two continents dared
Jane Fonda gives probably her best
film performance in The China Syn-
drome, but like co-star Lemmon, she's
won twice before and Syndrome is not a
popular Academy item. Bette Midler
makes a spectacular thespian debut in
The Rose, yet Academy voters are
rarely inclined to honor a first-time
performer, especially one wht's
already made it big in another field.
Jill Clayburgh (Starting Over) may
get some mileage out of traditional
righting-a-past-wrong sentiment-i.e.,
her loss last year for A n Unmarried
Woman, when by rights she should have
walked off with the Oscar. Yet she's
still regarded as a New York-based out-
sider, and her incestuous lead in Ber-
tolucci's Luna probably didn't help
either. Marsha Mason (Chapter Two)
can bank on her and hubby Neil Simon's
popularity in Hollywood, but good-
neighborliness doesn't (usually) win
If I Were Voting: 1. Bette
Midler-Her work in The Rose con-
stitutes the most astonishing debut in
the histry of films; Midler submerges
herself in the Janis Joplin role with
such passionate committment that you
begin to literally fear for her well-
being, as if she herself might drop dead
onstage. Critics have called her per-
formance overdone, ignoring the fact
that her quiet scenes elicit every bit the
intensity of her character's loud bawdy
footlight revelries. Midler has reached
to frightening depths of her own soul to
extract an agonizing, courageous per-
formance; the fact that she won't be
honored for it Monday night will com-
prise this year's most frustrating Oscar
2. Jane Fonda-Her China Syndrome
portrait of a TV "fun-news" reporter
suddenly hurtled face-to-face with the
evils of an unfunny world is the most
subtle, sensitive work she has done in a
film. By rights, she and Midler should
be battling tooth and nail for the Oscar,
yet neither really has a chance.
3. Sally Field-One gropes to com-
prehend the unanimous adultation in
her favor; her Norma Rae performan-
ce as a textile worker-turned union
organizer is tight, workmanlike, even
occasionally memorable, yet if simply
pales beside Midler's and, to a lesser
degree, Fonda's.
4. Jill Clayburgh (Starting Over)-A
nice, ingratiating job in a lightweight
role, but not in the same league with her
Unmarried Woman performance. She
really deserves better scripts than this
Unrated: Marsha Mason (Chapter
Two). Try as I might, I just can't goad
myself into going to see another Neil
Simon movie. Call it my cultural blind
spot, and please try to forgive.
Best Director-Probable Winner:
Robert Benton (Kramer vs. Kramer).
Deserving Winner: Francis Coppola
(Apocalypse Now).
Best supporting Actor-Probably
winner: Mickey Rooney (The Black
Stallion). Deserving Winner: Frederick
Forrest (The Rose).
Best Supporting Actress-Probable
Winner: Meryl Streep (Kramer vs.
Kramer). Deserving Winner: Streep.



Read the
Daily Classifoeds
for the latest 'For Rent info.

with the Friars
Tickets: $4.00; $3.00
(Students $1.50)
Hill Box Office Opens
April14, 9a.m.-5p.m.J


He's long overdue for an Oscar,
Kramer is this year's BIG picture, and
besides all that he gives h superior, per-
formanee (in the Academy's arcanely
sentimental reasoning, this last quality
is often the least influential)..
Roy Schneider (All That Jazz) seems
the only nominee to stand even an out-
side chance of edging Hoffman, and
then only if Jazz unexpectedly sweeps
the Oscar field. Scheider is hurt,
though, by the fact that his film is a
director's showcase rather than an ac-
tor's. Jack Lemmon (China Syndrome)
is immensely popular in the Hollywood
community, but he's already won
Oscars twice in the past; also, Syn-
drome's surprise failure to win a Best
Picture nomination spells a general
Academy disfavor.
Peter sellers (Being There) garnered
a nomination chiefly on the strength of
near-unanimous raves by the critics;
yet both he and director Hal Ashby are
considered Hollywood "undesirables",
as witness Being There's near shutout
in other Oscar nominations. Al Pacino
(And Justice for All) could possibly co-
opt some of Hoffman's "long overdue"
sentiment; yet his heart belongs to the
stage rather than the movies, an
allegiance not likely to endear him to
the LA clique.
If' I Were Voting: 1. Dustin Hof-
fman-A consumate performance, both
energetic and subtle, and an
exhilirating example of an actor im-
proving on the material given him. Hof-

dimwit surburbia comedies. It's a
pleasure to watch him do what one
always sensed he could.
3. Roy Schneider-His Joe Gideon of
All That Jazz is a reserved, beautifully-
tuned performance. The fact that
Scheider manages to chisel a definitive
character out of a film so wholly
dominated by its director is high tribute
to a talent submerged too long in
gangster and monster movies.
4. Peter Sellers-His coming loss for
Being There will elicit no howl of
outrage from this corner. I can't accept
the near-unanimous critics' notion that
playing an emotional blank constitutes
tle ultimate actor's challenge; Sellers
delivers an astute, competent perfor-
mance as Jerzy Kosinski's inbecile
everyman, yet Kosinski's one-joke, one-
idea plot was easily his worst book and
transfers only fitfully to the screen. The
entire enterprise struck me as a little
smug and more than a little boring.
5. Al Pacino (And Justice For
All)-What a shame if, after spurning
all his past work, the Academy should
end up honoring him for this Pavlovian
piffle. Pacino screams and yammers
his way through a film that is so
cynically calculating, so contemptuous
of its audience, that for the first time
this spontaneous, mercurical actor
seems premeditated and dull.
Likely Winner: Sally Field, Norm
Rae. Field is clearly the people's
choice, having swept every competition
to date from New York to Cannes; it's

With JACK NICHOLSON and FAYE DUNAWAY. Styled after the
film noir detective films, the mood is pervasive, ominous, and
chilling as it explores the dynamics of power and greed. It's
also thoroughly entertainirig and was nominated for a mess
of Oscars.
7:00& 9:30 $1.50 ATOLDA& D



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