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November 18, 1981 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1981-11-18

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ARTS

WThe Michigan Daily

Wednesday, November 18, 1981

..F

'Hotel' fair follow-up to 'Garp'

Page 5
es to the
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've gotta

Bruce Dern practices his art in 'Tattoo.'
'Tattoo' thrills, but
lacks any substance

By Adam Knee
TATTOO, CURRENTLY playing at
the Campus Theatre, is a flashy,
visually striking psychological thriller.
Yet, what lies beneath the surface
imagery is sadly lacking.
Bruce Dern is once again typecast as
the deranged loner who stares into
space a lot and is given to fits.of violen-
ce, He plays tattoo artist Karil Kinsky,
who becomes attached to his trade
while on military service overseas and
eventually opens-a seedy little parlor in
Hoboken.
A fashion magazine asks him to
decorate some of their models with tem-
porary tattoos for a bathing suit piece.
This leads him to date Maddy (Maud
Adams), the air-headed model of his
dreams, but he soon proves a little too
creepy for her. He lectures her on
sexual fidelity and insists on being a
"gentleman" to a ludicrous extreme.
The affair ends, and an obsessed Karl
feels obligated to track her down and
try to save her from her own
promiscuous attitudes.
Joyce Bunuel's screenplay from
director Bob Brooks' story is not
without its merits. On a psychological
level it is very rich; indeed, Tattoo
reads like a textbook on
psychoanalysis.
I arl, whose childhood experiences
with an overbearing father have, it is
implied, psychologically tattooed him,
reveals an anal ambivalence in his
alternating defiant and submissive at-
titudes and in his approach to language.
Still more evident is an anal need to
mark and possess the object of his af
fections.
Karl kidnaps Maddy, to tattoo her for
his own, and he is alternately violent
towards her and helplessly in awe of

her. +He becomes violent over their
disagreements on the meaning of the
word "love"-physical for her,
spiritual for him. He is torn between his
phallic aggressiveness and an oral fear
of engulfment. Phallic and vaginal
symbols abound.
The complex relationship between
Karl and Maddy, though extremely
perverse and not entirely believable, is
in some aspects ait effective narrative
device. If it has little else, Tattoo has
profoundly disturbing implications
about the nature of all human relation-
ships.'.-
Yet the script also has serious flaws:
clumsy dialogue and big holes in its
semblance to reality. No one searches
for Maddy, for example, though Karl is
known to her friends. Maddy herself is
surprisingly tolerant of Karl.
Brooks' handling of the script is of lit-
tle help. His directorial experience is
primarily in television commercials,
and it shows here: Tattoo is an attrac-
tive package which actually holds very
1little..
Specific scenes, sometimes just
specific shots, are visually brilliant.
Use of moving camera, zooms, and
. close-ups is exceptionally skillful. Yet
these techniques often serve no purpose
in the larger view of the film. Lighting
and compositions are consistently ex-
pressive, but they are of little use in
meaningless, long-held shots.
With the exception of a few sequen-
ces, tattoo drags. The simplest ac-
tivities are pointlessly drawn out and
given a uniform visual beauty. This
beauty serves only to make minor
flaws, such as amateurish acting in cer-
tain small roles, stand out in ugly relief.
r By the time the film's intellectual life
t picks up, the audience's patience has
f already been tried to its limit.

By James Clinton
T HE LITERARY WORLD'S major
event this fall is the publication of
John Irving's new novel. The Hotel New
Hampshire is his first effort since the
remarkable critical and commercial
response given The World According to
Garp a few years ago.
Following such a book would be dif-
ficult under the best of circumstances,
and Irving has compounded the dif-
ficulty by giving us a work of such
striking similarity that comparison is
inevitable. Thematic similarities
abound, and the line between the
grotesque and the comic is further
blurred. The characterizations, despite
the eccentric bature of the exterior, ap-
pear to be lifted from the pages of Garp.
The soapy narrtive bere follows the
Berry family through Maine, Vienna,
and New Hampshire. In addition to
surviving a life led in hotels (all inex-
plicably named New Hampshire), they
survive terrorists, gang rapists, bears,
characters named Freud, and each
other.
There are five children, all of whom
look upon tragedy in their own par-
ticular way. Frank, the oldest, is
unhappy about his homosexuality, but
will survive both the story and a bur-
densome personality to find success as
a literary agent.
The Hotel New Hampshire
John Irving
Dutton; 401 pages
Franny is younger by a year, but
she's one of those Salinger-esque an-
cient kids who spices the dialogue with
a salty irreverence that lapses into ob-
scenity. Her gradual metamorphosis
from the young girl who is raped by
preppies to a film star is one of-the
novel's high points, and throughout she
is the most colorful and compelling
character.
Considerably less interesting is John,
one year Franny's junior, and in love
with her. He, too, will survive; he'll
marry a woman who has been raped
and, dresses up as a bear in symbolic
defiance to the incident.
Less fortunate are the fates of the two
youngest children, one of whom cannot
grow and writes a famous book before
her suicide. The youngest child, Egg, is
killed early on with the mother. One
presumes Irving kills her off so theest
of the book can move on, liberated by
the passing on of the less interesting.
"The family is forced into wallowing in
death, violence, excretion, and rape,
and their capacity to deal with these
matters while remaining intact is con-
tinually tested. The action is surroun-
ded by an exterior that, not sur-
prisingly, exudes extensive domestic-
ity.
If all of this sounds familiar, it's
because Hotel is in so many ways a
reworking of the concerns that surfaced
in Garp. At the heart of Garp, though,
was the suggestion that overprotection
frequently produces an atmosphere
conducive to tragedy. No such irony is
at work here. The predominant notion
is that tragedy is inevitable, and how
we experience it and incorporate it into
a personal vision is all that matters-a
somewhat dubious and less subtle foun-
dation for a book to stand on.
The book is continually laden with the
repetitive use of its metaphors. The
employment of such tactics is in

keeping with Irving's work, but much of
its effectiveness is undermined by con-
stant reworking. While delineating a
series of actions into an oblique catch
phrase may be one of the author's
peculiar gifts, that tendency has run
amuk in Hotel.
In a thoughtful and well-played
scene, Franny is consoled by football
player Junior Jones who tells her they
5idn't get the "you in you." Franny, in
keeping ,with her verbosity, replies,
"give me back yesterday." The con-'
siderable reworking of these phrases
throughout the novel serves only to
diminish the initial tenderness of the
scene.
Similarly, when we first see "Sorrow
floats," it's a very economical ending to
a chapter. However, its continued use
stretches both its credibility and effec-
tiveness as a rhythmic device and
metaphor. In the last book, such
phrases simultaneously heightened the
tension and reminded us of the authors
considerable talent. In this work, the
frequency of all these little euphenisms
(and there are several of them) seem to
make the story conform to the phrase
rather than the other way around.
Working with such a fragile motif is
one of the dangers inherent in Irving's
work, and here he does himself further
disservice in an effort to be cute. One
also sees the limitations in the form of
the book itself and its first person
narrative, which restricts its latitude
while suppressing its voice.
In many respects, much of the humor
and the remarkable vascillation bet-
ween the comic and the tragic is inten-
sified by the similarities to Garp. Many
subjects are expanded upon with more
patience and clarity, developed wtithin
the context of a continuing work. The
prose is that of a very disciplined
writer; simple yet moving, it never gets
in the way of the story. For such a long
book, particularly in view of the fact
that much of the interaction is between
children, the dialogue is continually
engaging and speaks to us with the
blunted edge of authenticity.
Once again, Irving has created some
memorable characters and an at-
mosphere of dramatic tension, and
fused them with a succession of violent
incidents that demand the reader's at-
tention and move the story.forward. He
continues to write about rape with the
horror and empathetic concern of few
male writers, suggesting the broader
implications of violence, lust, and the
male need to control. In the process, he
creates a haunting vision of the victim

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and her subsequent fight to develop
beyond the scope of her violation.
While this book is obviously designed
to appeal to lovers of Garp and suffers
in many ways for this, it is anything but
a failure. That it doesn't quite match
the lofty standards of it's predecessor is
evident early on. Nonetheless, it's an
hoiest work by a very gifted novelist
who retains his many diverse and for-
midable skills. Irving has an enormous
narrative gift and remains a swift and
compelling storyteller, continuing to

4"An operatic basso with precious few peers .. a singer
of rare intelligence and of uncompromising taste... 99
- The Los Angeles Times
Program
A recital of music by
Monteverdi, Shubert, Faure,
Brahms, Strauss, and others.
Cesare
Siepi,
Basso
Sunday, November 22, at 4:00
Hill Auditorium
Tickets at $13.00, $11.00, $10.00, $9.00, $7.00, $5.00
Tickets at Burton Tower, Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Weekdays 9-4:30, Sat. 9-12(313)665-3717
Tickets also available at Hill Auditorium
11/ hours before performance time.
IVEkSITY5MUSICAL OCIETY
In Its 103rd Year

employ his particular techniqu
very serious topics and concer
work.
One hopes: that the next b
bypass the- dense iconograph
earlier works. We have learne
need to know of rape, bears, w
and Vienna. The continued frec
these and other favorite Irving
will bespeak limitations on th
the author too soon. This one i
lovers of Garp who know "You
get obsessed and stay obsessed

Ii
is

f

Dear Merchant.
Did you know
that Daily
readers spend

over $

25

The Stray Cats' to
prowl at the Chance

'million on
items you
sell?____
GET YOUR AD!
CALL
764-0554

I

I

HE STRAY CATS are probably one
jof the hottest punk-rockabilly-rock
and roll bands in America. Sure, the
whole rockabilly revival bores me too,
but The Stray Cats are more than just
another post-modern.rockabilly band.
The group consists of 19-year-old
Brian Setzer (ex-Bloodless Pharaoh
: guitarist), drummer Slim Jim, and Lee
Rocker (bass).
Their appeal extends beyond the
standard rockabilly audience. They
,combine contemporary lyrics with a

louder, more electrified sound than
their '50s inspirations (amonig them,
Eddie Cochran and Elvis Presley).
A discussion of the Cats isn't com-
plete without a mention of their live
performances, which are almost in-
comparable. To, capture the energy,
immediacy, and freshness of their con-
certs in words is almost impossible.
The only thing I can say is that you
shouldn't, miss tonight's show at the
Second Chance.
-Michael Huget

vey99e o e'
oti IThis spaceI

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" INDIVIDUAL THEATRES
Stn A t o l e rty 76t 410
GLORIOUS!
_ _ -GENE SHALIT

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GO TUMON. WED, THURS EVE.
GOOD THRU 11/19/81 "M"'

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