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October 08, 1981 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 1981-10-08

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MWMM%

ARTS

rhe Michigan Ilaily

Thursday, October 8, 1981

Page 7

Shredded wheat
has its merits

By Pam Kramer
ORDON LIGHTFOOT is a lot
like shredded wheat. He's not
the most exciting performer
ever o grace the stage, but what he
lacks in pizzazz he can usually make up
for with a healthy supply of strong
music and frequently fine lyric visions
that leave you feeling good.
Although the Canadian folksinger is
second only to God in the eyes of his
homeland audience, he has never really
made much of a splash in the States.
There have, of course, been a few well-
spaced ripples: "If You Could Read My
Mind," "Sundown," the "Wreck of the
Edmund Fitzgerald" ...
Batt that is only a meagre, somewhat
mediocre sample of what Lightfoot can
do.
This Saturday night at Hill
Auditorium, Ann Arbor will have the
chance to get a more accurate taste of
what 15 years and 15 albums have1
produced: A remarkably consistent
body of music ranging from innocuous
love songs to impressive historical
epics.
The style and content of Lightfoot's
songs have changed very little with
time. Unlike many other performers,
who seem compelled to radically alter
their material occasionally to avoid
stagnation, he is apparently happy with
the flexible folk formula he's had all
along. No, he's no6 stagnant; his music
has certainly developed and matured.
But it was so diverse to begin with that
no drastic changes have been
necessary.
Actually, Lightfoot's only big
problem is that he has been around for
such a long time, producing quality
music, that his voice just can't keep up
with his intentions and his writing.
When he started recording in 1966, he
had a flawless voice. But he's getting
old'now, and that's all there is to it. The
disintegration of his voice can be traced

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Gordon Lightfoot

Ryan O'Neal: Caught with his pants down
'So Fin e, 'i's.I
sowarped,

through his albums, and it's downright
sad-sometimes painful to hear.
In concert,'slurring his lyrics as he
strains to reach the notes, he conveys
the impression of the once golden-
haired/throated boy who's lost his
youth but refuses to forfeit his art.
And hopefully,, he won't want to give
it up for a while yet. Lightfoot is
meticulous about his art, and that's one
of the main reasons why it is so good.
He can't do the freeform, im-
provisational art that so many perfor-
mers do. He treats his music as Hitch-
cock treated films: Every song, every
note is painstakingly well-planned. In
fact, there have been concerts in which
he has halted, midsong, to tell the
audience to stop clapping to the beat
because it throws things off.
And it works, for the most part. Gor-
don Lightfoot is not particularly
stimulating, perhaps because of the
precision of his performance. But for
that same reason, he's damn good at
what he does.

By Adam Knee
THERE IS no denying that, So
Fine is a lively, hilarious screw-
ball comedy. But the film is so
warped in its attitudes towards women,
homosexuals, and people with physical
oddities that it is better left unseen.
The film's plot is certainly wacky
0enough. Professor Bobby, Fine (Ryan
O'Neal), up for tenure at Chippenango
State College, is kidnapped by some
thugs and forced to work in his father's
clothing firm, Fine Fashions. His
father, it turns out, is greatly in debt to
mobster Mister Eddie (Richard Kiel),
who demands a son along with a
business.
To make matters worse for Bobby,
Mister Eddie's young Italian wife Lira
(Mariangela Melato of Swept Away
fame) lusts after him. He soon succum-
.bs to her advances, but fears for his life
should her husband discover them.
Getting tp the bottom of the plot, Fine
is finally caught with his pants down at
the mobster's house and takes off in a
pair of Lira's very tight jeans. He. ac-
cidentally Jears holes in them, one over
each buttock cheek, and he is soon spot-
ted in this garb. The jeans are soon
praised by all in the fashion industry,
and are an instant success on the
market. Fine Fashions is saved.
It is puzzling that these jeans are only
made for women, though they are
discovered on a man. And it seems
rather odd that a disproportionate
number of ,the female characters are
depraved sex fiends, while men are
relatively calm about their desires.
Perhaps writer/director Andrew
Bergman is trying to say something
about women.
And perhaps he is trying to say
something about homosexuals when he
depicts them as inferior beings whose
existence is in itself funny.
It is all too evident that Bergman is

not clear about the social implications
of what he presents, nor is he aware of
the social responsibility he takes on in
making a commercial film.
His ignorance" of audience sen-
sibilities is exemplified by his use of
Kiel's physical presence for humor:
This giant of an actor, made famous by
his "Jaws" role in The Spy Who Loved
Me, stands seven feet, two inches tall,
and has a protruding brow and a wen in
the middle of his forehead, both of
which are often emphasized by the
angle of the camera.
Kiel is a competent actor and is en-
joyably mean* and wretched as the
mobster. Yet one cannot help thinking
about what the real' Kiel feels, about
how a man deals with mimicking him-
self for a living.
These problems are truly a shame,
because a lot of talent is going to waste
here. Bergman, who wrote the screen-
play for Blazing Saddles, manages to
give his film a tonal consistency that is
rare in today's comedies. The sex and
violence that are such an integral part
of the plot are tastefully toned down in
order to avoid upsetting the lighthear-
ted mood.
So Fine has consistently witty dialog,
a fast pace, and some exceptional
comic moments. In one scene, a lusting
Lira lunges for Fine as he finishes a
meal at a family restaurant, then
demands a room. An indignant waitress
informs her, "Ma'am, this is a house of
pancakes."
Topping the film off, the final chase
sequence, with a jealous Mister Eddie
out for blood, is totally captivating, and
at times, its quick editing almost
achieves brilliance.
,None of these merits, however, can
make amends for this film's execrable
social blindness.. The backward,
inhumane-attitudes demonstrated here
must not be allowed to grow legitimate.

music, wry comedy

t
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GALLI1POLI-
"A gorgeous film of gl
ordinary."
"Absorbing, moving, d
photographed. The ba
in Kubrick's 'Paths ofI
"Could well be the mov
'Raiders of the Lost A
splendidly acted:'
"Can take its place wit
War I classic, 'All Qui
Poi'gnant, vividly told:'
APeterWeir Film
SBilllRP&RIM HIY P ONI A I WII "P l 01 "WR
a S°PEIER W EIR R ° 3R i UlE
G l a bS
124 s. universitB
Theatre Phone 668-6416 S

owing scenes. Transcends the
-Gene Shalit,-NBC-TV "Today Show
eeply felt. Brilliantly
ttle sequences rank with those
Glory'."-Jack Kroll, Newsweek
vie of the year. As colorful as
rk' Exciting, involving and
-Dave Sterritt, Christian Science Monitor
h pride next to another World
et On The Western Front'.
-Edwin Miller, Seventeen

DISCO VEREI

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A N OPERA of both wry comedy
and provoking drama as only
Mozart could transcribe, Don
Giovanni will open the University Musi-
cal Society's season Saturday and Sun-
day, October 10 and 11, at the Power
Center.
Based on the career of the infamous
Don Juan, the opera opens with Don
Giovanni up to his old tricks again, as
he attempts to abduct the daughter of
the Commendatore of Seville. In the en-
suing scuffle, Don Giovanni kills the
Commendatore, and this is only the fir-
st of his troubles on the road to hell.
Opera of the era preceding Mozart
saw many battles waged over whether
the music or the drama should
dominate the production. Although
music and drama are magnificently
harmonious in Don Giovanni, Mozart
does direct the flow of events time and
again with his music.
Don Giovanni's copious romantic

escapades and other wonderful events
in the opera are unfolded through music
almost impossibly rich with im-
plications. One favorite is the end of Act
One, in which a scene at a costume ball
pitches at the audience wry wit, terse
revelations, and a foreboding of misfor-
tune to come - all in a flurry of music
and singing.
The music of Don Giovanni is also
remarkable for the .way Mozart ac-
commodated concert hall music for the
opera stage. One finds sonata and con-
certo structures ingeniously woven into
the opera's fabric. Everywhere oper-
atic conventions are toyed with, expan-
ded.
None of this is to make light of the lib-
retto. The combination of Mozart with the
librettist Da Ponte was one of opera's
more magical pairings.
The opera will be sung this weekend
in a new English version by the Goldov-
sky Grand Opera Theater, a company
of 50 players and orchestra.

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