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February 18, 1981 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1981-02-18

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The Michigan Daily

Wednesday, February 18, 1981

Page 5

'Fort Apache'

-delectable urban blues

ny time a motion picture inspires an
adverse socio-political reaction quite
apart from the film itself, you can
*almost bet the movie in question is so
theatrically tepid that future
generations may wonder just what all
thefuss was about. 1959's Anatomy of a
Murder put dirty words into the cour-
troom, 1973's State of Siege cast Uncle
Sam in the role of a colonialist torturer,
last year's Crusin and Windows pro-
jected gays as psychotic killers. In
such cases the controversy has
swallowed up the film itself, splashing
garish tones of controversy over an ar-
tistically trifling work whose ultimate
purpose seemed to be nothing more
than to meekly titilate.
Accordingly, one expected little in the
way of art from Hollywood'I latest
target of public indignation, Fort
Apache, The Bronx. It seemed likely
that the coast-to-coast cries of
"racism", the organized boycotts,
Mayor Koch's denunciation of the film
would unwittingly promulgate a
"L, cipher; Fort Apache would doubtless
prove the latest piddling entry in the
faddish, bogus "urban realism" genre
of the New Centurians - And Justice
For All - Adam 12 ilk.
IT TURNS OUT the collective denun-
ciations were indeed an overreaction:
Fort Apache, The Bronx isn't too weak
for political criticism - it's too good for
it. The film is a tight, gritty,
astonishingly honest work which stands
as one of the finest cop movies ever
made and the best picture thus far of
1981. Though the film adheres to a
multi-plot scattergun format endemic
to its inferior cousins, Fort Apache
triumphs over its cliched framework
through sheer cinematic excellence in
all aspects of its craft.

Fort Apache pitches its tent in
perhaps the most desolate urban ghetto
in America - the South Bronx in New
York. It is a microcosm of big city blight,
a dilapidated collage of burned-out
buildings, crumbling tenaments, vast
acres of strewn trash and garbage con-
tributing to a setting as desolate as the
craters of the moon. Planted in the
middle of this icon of hopelessness is
the 41st Precinct of the New York
Police Department (NYPD), sar-
donically dubbed "Fort Apache" by its
employees due to its metaphoric
isolation as a lone outpost in the midst of
a hostile land.
We view this dead-end landscape
through the eyes of Murphy (Paul
Newman), an aging, unorthodox police
veteran and Corelli (Ken Wahl), his
young partner. Working an environ-
ment where law enforcement is a
holding actibn at best, the two cops
combine toughness with an idiosyn-

cratic compassion - a streetwise in-
stinct for handling the needs and eccen-
tricities of the community. They are
nimble players in a job which requires
daily improvisation.
FORT APACHE employs the brutal
murder of two rookie cops as its
catalytic focal point, then branches out
into a wide range of subplots in an at-
tempt to capture the feel of the ordeals
which plague the city and its inhabitan-
ts. Murphy and Correlli maneuver their
way through altercations with pimps,
junkies and neighborhood riots, pausing
here to coax a potential suicide off a
roof, there to deliver a baby in a com-
munity whose residents often fear
hospitals like death itself. In the
process, our two protagonists often find
themselves at odds with their new
precinct commander (Edward Asner),
a spit-and-polish advocate who wor-
ships modern police science in the face
of the contradictory reality of his new

PAUL NEWMAN (love those blue
eyes!), followed by his partner Ken
Wahl, pursues a suspect through the
streets of the South Bronx in 'Fort
Apache, the Bronx.
On paper, Fort Apache reads like
another sodden journey into TV-land
yet the film consistently avoids
platitude and banality simply by being
better than its cliches. The hoary old-
partner-young-partner format has
never been so gracefully applied -
played by Newman and Wahl, Mur-
phy and Correlli become a vibrant,
believable team, mutually respectful
and loving as they fight a largely losing
battle against anarchy. As their
tribulations multiply, the film evolves
into a grand, grimy tapestry of hope
and betrayal - a tragedy that tran-
scends its familiar conventions to
become a kind of tarnished American
No small credit is due director Daniel
Petrie, whose dubious track record had
included such dim opuses as The
Lifeguard, The Betsy, and the recent,
affected Resurrection. Amazingly,

Petrie has fashioned a tough, lean
motion picture that avoids overt sen-
timentality like the plague even as it
succeeds in wringing your emotions.
Fort Apache's multi-plot format exudes
a complexity far above the difuse
scenario of similar films; Heywood
Gould's script coils over and around it-
self, its separate stories overlapping
and eventually connecting with each
other in unexpected, ironic ways. The
film seems to be saying that God or
nature eventually work things out, by
whatever arcane and mocking means.
John Alcott photographs the South
Bronx with the appropriate muted,
haunting tones that he has brought to
Stanley Kubrick's works for the last
FORT APACHE'S performances
never miss a beat. Edward Asner's
commander emerges not as a myopic
simpleton but as a thoughtful, sensitive
man whose rule-book training has not
prepared him for the cockeyed
territory he now oversees. Newcomer
Rachel Ticotin is achingly touching as a
hospital nurse whose drug habit is
tolerated by Murphy in the course of
their love affair. Pam Grier is truly
scary as a junkie hooker who is also a
suave murderess (But will this gifted
actress ever get a straight part in a
film?) Ken Wahl, so memorable in
Philip Kaufman's neglected The Wan-
derers, resists turning his young cop's
role into a gee-whiz rookie stereotype.
His Correlli is a laconic, self-assured
professional worthy of his often
perilous beat and of the audience's af-
But above all, Fort Apache belongs to
Paul Newman. After a decade of bad
performances in prosaic potboilers,
Newman resurrects every ounce'of his
once-vibrant talent in creating a won-

derously alive, multifold character.
Newman's Murphy both hates the
world and loves it - it's the struggle it-
self that remains everything. The actor
sinks himself so deeply into his
protagonist that he achieves the near-
impossible: After awhile, you've com-
pletely forgotten it's Paul Newman,
superstar, up there on the screen -
you've become utterly preoccupied
with Murphy himself.
It is a great performance in a film
whose artistry is its own justification.
Fort Apache is hardly hopeful in the
sociological sense, nor is it required to
be by any prescribed notions of political
correctness. It is a literate, moving,
exhilirating entertainment - which
was its only requirement in the first
place. No apologies are necessary.
Sam River
can celled
Jazz musician Sam Rivers has can-
celled his February 19 concert accor-
ding to a spokesman from Eclipse Jazz.
Rivers was originally scheduled to play
two concerts in the Residential College
Auditorium this Thursday night. No
specific reason was given for the can-
cellation according to Eclipse.
Tickets for the concert will be refun-
ded at the place of purchase. Eclipse's
next concert is Chick Corea, who is
scheduled for March 12.

ibe 9 utgq
Arts Staff

Dirty Looks-they beg you to boogie all night

How many ways can you do a love,
song? Dirty Looks, the Stiff recording
artists from England, have figured out
all the angles. They displayed their
sparkling, if not clean, approach.
Monday night at Second Chance in a set
of driving, mainstream rock a la The
In all honesty, these guys are not
likely ever to get anywhere, and may
not even deserve to. Admittedly, it's all
been done before. But I like them
anyway. Their sound is neither as ec-
centric as punk, as boring as heavy
metal, or as saccharine as pop. It strikes
a nice, if not unique, medium.
THERE IS AN indescribable en-
thusiasm in their snap-crackle-pop rock
that makes their songs seem scrum-
ptious even when they're not. Dirty
Looks is more ambitiously alive and
more eager to please than the hosts of
sham punkers that have come oozing
from Britain in predatory progligacy
with increasing frequency.
Dirty Looks is first and foremost a
dance band. Guitarist/singer Patrick
Barnes has a smooth, rich voice that
just slithers and slides all over the
band's plethora of teen-band hooks. He
also writes most of the songs, which
deal with everything pertaining to and
synonymous with love.
Rivals, jealousy, doomsaying, ac-
cusations, exploitation, fickleness,
despair, and deceit ("This is a song
about deceit; it's called 'Deceit,' "
deadpanned Barnes) were covered with
vitriolic thoroughness, Barnes'
coolness undercut by emphatic pelvic
thrusts, driving knee-bends, and
leaping about-faces.
THIS BAND WILL not change the
face of music, but they have found a
cozy little niche to call their own. The

you, though. I'm not going to go out and
buy a Dirty Looks album tomorrow, nor
would I recommend that you do. They
are neither provocative, cerebral, nor
even durable. They are a fine,
exhuberant, and itchingly danceable
evening's entertainment. Check 'em
out if they should make it back around.
Their opening act, the largely-female
Roommates, didn't have quite the
polish or range to light many fires.
Their strength is the bassist, introduced
only as "Moose," whose style is a gut-
teral, raunchy sort of grunt that adds
unexpected texture to the wrenching
guitar work. And she is also an eyeful,
her expressionistic ebulliency a
welcome and natural relief from the
plasticity of lead singer Sweatty Betty.
Equipped with Rod Stewart mod shag
hairdo, Blondie mannerisms,and Bar-
bie doll movements, Betty is the band's
glaring weakness; her vocals are not as
strong as guitarist Cindy Lipstick's and
her stage prattle is annoying.
If the Roommates change chords
more often, add a little fire to the
vocals, and eliminate the Blondie-isms,
they just might find themselves turning
into quite an interesting rock 'n' roll

the ann arbor
I film cooperative 4



Patrick Barnes, guitarist (right) and Peter Parker, drummer (left) are two
of the members of Dirty Looks, a definitely danceable band that got the floor
shaking at Second Chance Monday night. If you like to boogie, catch them
the next time around.

2:00, 4:00, 7:00 & 9:00
at the

Tickets at Herb David's Guitar
Studios, Schoolkids' Records
and the Ark. No checks

closest thing I can come to ap-
proximating their sound is to envision
The Records with Dave Edmunds
singing vocals. They are just to the
right of new wave, just to the left of
pop, and just above heavy metal.
They're not brilliant, but they're fun.
Bassist Marco Sin has an energy sur-
plus waiting to flood the market, belting
out rapidly reverberating riffs that set
a torrid pace. There are no spaces or
lapses in Dirty Looks' music, which is
why it can be something borrowed,
something blue without being boring.
They never really give you time to think
about it.
Peter Parker's smacking, backbeat
drumming fills out the sound, and his

harmonies add a dab of moderation to
the sweet-and-sour combo of Barnes
and Sin.
I DON'T WANT to pull one over on


it A 0 - 41


cheering about."
Kathleen Carroll
"You shouldn't miss
Inside Moves...
an exhilarating
Judith Crist
"The wonderful
'sleeper' of the
season ...an intensely
dramatic, funny and
suspenseful film...
that makes the

"...will win some
a pretty wonderful
movie...this year
it's Inside Moves.
Joel Siegel
"The first thing
to say about
Inside Moves, is
that they don't
make movies like
this one any more."
-PLAYBOY, Bruce Williamson
"When you're in the
mood for a movie
with a Rocky punch,
Inside Moves is the


man spirit soar." right move to mak
dy Stone Guy Flatley
A GOODMARK Production
Music Composed by JOHN BARRY Film Edited by FRANK MORRISS
Production Designer CHARLES ROSEN
Director of Photonranhv IASZLO KOVACS, AS C.


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