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January 18, 1980 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1980-01-18

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The Michigan Daily-Friday, January 18, 1980-Page 5


'Horseman' blows a fuse



I . _

There's an intriguing asortment of
descriptive terms being badied about
regarding The Electric Hrseman -
adjectives like "amiable,"'unpreten-
tious," "low-key" - quite a
remarkable collection of dinitions for
a motion picture whose taly laconic
style is nonetheless subtt saturated
with as much arrogance ad pomposity
as any tinsel-land concoctin in the last
'ear. Even worse, it's a quite boring
pomposity, a compendium C conceit
and tedium that eventually bcomes a
Wrangling cinematic experiene.
Horseman languidly preahes the
ideals of freedom, indiviualism,
ecology, zoology, differer-drum-
merism - a cornucopia if both
traditional and trendy virtue served
up in a pastiche of sanctnonious
hokum as only Hollywoodcan o.
Sonny Steele (Robert Redfrd) is a
rodeo star - a five-time wor champ,
no less. Yet, like other toilcs in his

of himself." Hot on his trail are not only
the sinister Ampex autocrats but also
hotshot TV reporter Hallie Martin
(Jane Fonda), who, sensing a zinger of
a story, sets out into the Great Outdoors
to lasso Sonny and his mount.
THIS STRING of events all takes
place during Horseman's first half
hour, and not a hell of a lot occurs after
that, even though the film still has three
quarters of its running time remaining.
'Hallie finds Sonny, loses him, finds him
again; the two of them then go traipsing
off on an excruciatingly endless
odyssey across the high ranges of
Nevada and Utah, with Ampex and
assorted lawmen in close but always
futile pursuit.
The cinematic predictabilities begin
to multiply like gerbils. Naturally, the
general public rallies to Sonny's
crusade; inevitably, Hallie sheds her
Big Apple swank and falls for both Son-
ny's rough-hewn idealism and bod;
and, of course, Rising Star is set loose
in horsey paradise to find himself a hot
mare. At film's end boy and girl wist-
.fully but wisely go their separate ways
- Hallie sadder but wiser about the
home-bred face of America, Sonny
penniless again but at last free to pur-
sue his own open-air destiny.
IF THIS ALL sounds awfully
familiar, that's because it is. Electric
Horseman travels through purest

The Police is a band with confused
loyalties. In this age of new wave (led
by Elvis Costello and the Clash) and
power pop (ushered in by The Cars,
Cheap Trick, and The Knack), bands
either fit into one category, or none at
all. On their second album, Reggatta de
Blanc, The Police continue to wrestle
over which side of the music scene
they'd rather be on. And that's what
makes the band's work so intriguing.
Reggatta de Blanc pays rather
blatant homage to such an unlikely
array of artists as Bob Dylan, 10cc, The
Cars and Bruce Springsteen. "Dylan
and The Police?" one might scream,

deeper into reggae, a direction which
has spawned much criticism from those
in their native Britain who viewed them
mainly as a punk rock band. "Walking
On The Moon," with its spacey twinge
from guitarist Andy Summers, and the
ominous "The Bed's Too Big Without
You" are both heavily weighted down
with the Jamaican backbeat. Similarly,
"Bring On The Night" combines the
reggae drawl with driving, Cars-like
rock and roll punch, but, like the Cars,
gets dull quickly.
rhythm line from Springsteen's "She's
The One," but, save for the aforemen-
tioned tunes and the album's first
single, "Message In A Bottle," Reggat-
ta de Blanc could sure use a dose of The
Boss' pep. The tunes that rock out -
such as the title track, "Contact", and
most of the others - aren't nearly as
convincing as the subtle starkness that
forces me to return the tonearm to
"Message" or "Bed's Too Big" over
and over again.
Rolling Stone's Critics Poll hailed
The Police as the Best New Artist of
1979. This is quite an accolade for a
band whose lyrics are generally
dispensible and outright silly ("hope
that I don't break my leg/Walking on
the moon") and whose music is only in-
termittently brilliant. (Incidentally,
Rolling Stone readers voted The Knack
as 1979's Best.New Artist. Now, there's a
band that has something to say, albeit
While juggling these incompatible in-
fluences, The Police have emerged with
a sound as distinct and recognizable as
lead'singer, Sting's voice: those squeals
from "Roxanne" (off of last year's
debut LP, Outlandos d'Amour; don't
these guys believe in English?) soun-
ded like painful elimination. Reggatta
de Blanc and The. Police defy
categorization. The dilemma remains,
however, in which section of my record
collection do I file it: New Wave, punk,
reggae. ..?

skeptically. Incredible, but true; a brief
listen to "It's Alright For You" im-
mediately conjures up Dylan's in-
cessant, monotonous rhyming on his
early "Subterranean Homesick Blues".
But The Police aren't content to just rip
off Dylan: they do it with a forcefulness
similar to The Knack, just to stay con-
temporary. Who are these boys trying
to fool?
The Police's delivery on Reggatta
resembles that of the crafty (but sadly
underrated) English band 10cc:
sparkling production and razor-sharp
musicianship long before it became
fashionable with the advent of New
Wave. And like 10cc's last foray, Bloody
Tourists, The Police have forged.

Once again, Jane Fonda portrays an enterprising television reporter with an
eye for handsome co-stars.

THE PREVAILING torpidity puts an
unusually heavy burden on Redford and
Fonda to pump all the juices of their
star charisma to keep Horseman from
grinding to a dead halt. Sadly, neither
seems up to the task: Fonda's Hallie
Martin is at best a more sophisticated,
more pallid re-hash of China Syn-
drome's Kimberly Wells. Redford, at
last given he opportunity to prove he's
the astute character actor one always
sensed he might be, largely flubs his
opportunity; he squints, twitches,
winks and scratches in a concerted at-
tempt to look impishly rustic, yet he
remains a frontiersman by way of
Beverly Hills, still the earnest blond.
pretty-boy whose golden looks remain
minimally eroded by the ongoing years.
Still, Electric Horseman's greatest

vice lies less in its monotony than in the
philosophical contempt which lies just
beneath its bland exterior. There's
something inherently dishonest and
repulsive about a work which pays
calculated lip service to ideals which its
producers would recoil in horror from if
ever put to the test themselves. Moun-
tains, plains and glorious valleys? Hell,
they'd take Vegas any day - as would
most of us.
Electric Horseman is easy idealism,
a limousine-liberal assent to lonely
courage safely encased from us in
darkened, air-conditioned theaters. I
wouldn't religiously advocate that pur-
veyors of public taste always practice
precisely what they preach, but this
particular movie is just too damnably
smug to let pass. Try roughing it a lit-
tle, fellas it just might make honest
artists out of you.


The Ann Arbor Film Cooperative Presents at MLB:
Friday, January 18


(Mel Brooks, 1974) 7, 8:40, 10:20 MLp 4
Perhaps the last word in Western Parodies. A black railroad worker
(CLEAVON LITTLE) is appointed sheriff of all-white and bigoted Rockridge
in this uproarious, contagious, outrageous, and sometimes vurgar comedy.
Next Monday:-Alex Dovzhenko's ZVENIGORA at Aud. A FREE.
m _

The outlook thes days ispretty bleak-even for cowboys. Robert Redford as
a burned-out rofo star i 'The Electric Horseman.'

If you want to continue your education,
no matter what your age, study money can
be yours.
Interested? Ask the financial aid admin-
istrator at the school you plan to attend, or
write to Box 84, Washington, D.C. 20044 for
a free booklet. APPLY YOURSELF-TODAY.
Education after high school
can be the key to a better life.
U.s' United States Office of Education

~. ' IGG

At Our Special
Saturday & Sunday
Laughs Start
at 1:00 & 3:00
Matinees Only
All Seats $1.25

iseudo-carny prfessior he can't get
no respect. Wea-y of ionoclastic ob-
scurity and it attendant financial
deprivation, he signs lis professional
soul over to Ranh Breatfast Cereal, an
appendage of' a sled, omnipotent
conglomerate tilled Anpex.
INDENTUR;D TO us new masters,
Sonny is forces to cruafy himself in an
ongoing rituaIbf publi:self-humiliation
involving tepi cerea pitches at shop-
ping centers and groesque appearan-
*es at public gatherngs. At the latter
he is forced tc cavortaround on a horse
while battery-lit likea Christmas tree,
looking luridry like cflourescent Jesus
in a South Anerican-eligious parade.
Then comes Amp's annual conven-
tion in Las Vegas, wiere we find Sonny
disillusioned, druk and desperate
within his slab-of-neat servitude. Am-
pex has purchaed a champion
thoroughbred, Risig Star, to serve as
0 kind of corporate Vlorris the Cat. Sen-
sing a fish-out-of-wter'kinship with the
horse, Sonny rides ,ie beast straight off
the stage of a Vegalfloor show, onto the
street and out of town, doggedly deter-
mined to turn Riszg Star loose in the
far hills where he:an "make sumthin'

Peckinpah country, trammled and
trussed up in the hoary-mod romance of
the Last Rebel, the Anachronistic
Anarchist doing pitched battle with a
society that has already passed him by.
It's an ancient theme, platitudinously
encased through the years in Western
garb, modern garb, even specific rodeo
garb - :e., Peckinpah's far-superior
Junior Bonner and Cliff Robertson's
equally excellent J.W. Coop.
IT'S EVEN been'done before by Red-
ford and Horseman direetor Sydney
Pollack with Jeremiah Johnson. Unfor-
tunately, Pollack is a director who
seems always to have something im-
portant to say, yet never gets around to
saying it; his films meander along with
an agonizing, self-inflated pomposity,
always heading toward some vague
resolution, yet invariably losing sight of
it in the stilted haze of their own studied
You'd think PIllack might have lear-
ned something from his stillborn Bobby
Deerfield experience; alas, he remains
the least-spontaneous filmmaker alive.
His Horseman protagonists speak and
'even walk slowly, as though encased in
the heavy armor of their own self-

Jack Clayton's 1974
F. Scott Fitzgerald's masterpiece is a story of the Jazz Age-an era in which
recklessness with money, liquor, women and fast cars pervaded the Ameri-
can consciousness. ROBERT REDFORD as Jay Gatsby is a dashing enigmatic
millionaire who is obsessed with the elusive and spoiled Daisy Buchanan
(MIA FARROW). This elegant storv was brought to the screen with meticulous
concern for language, time and place by Francis Ford Coppola.
7:00 & 9:30 $1.50

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