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March 12, 1981 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1981-03-12

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily

Thursday, March 12, 1981

Page 5

U

PAUL PLISHKA:

Film school clunkers with a few
bright lights in festival

Voice of MET

By DENNIS HARVEY
How do you establish criteria for
reacting to films at the Ann Arbor Film
Festival? It definitely isn't at all like
going to see something/anything at a
commercial theatre, and sometimes it
isn't quite like seeing a movie at all.
A fair amount of the time watching
the, films is somewhat closer to looking
at the covers of Brian Eno albums or
pictures at a very modern, very chic
exhibition. We stare at the designs,
sometimes 1.) hypnotized, often 2.)
trying hard to remain politely in-
telligent viewers and not make rude
comments in our boredom.
OPENING NIGHT at the festival,
which runs through March 15, there
was the usual healthy minority of
yawningly admiration-demanding
exercises in pure technical exploration,
art-school artifacts that would be best
served by permanent projection on the
cool white walls of a museum. But the
visual stimulation of Margaret Craig's
Choreography, with its groups of short
lines changing colors and forming
geometric patterns, and the alter-
nating-image flicker of Bruce
Hogeland's After Images, had the
arresting immediacy that mysteriously
separates 1.) from 2.).
Sometimes the films are like static on
the radio; everyone seems to think they
want something else, but what may
seem meaningless from a conventional
perspective can have its own
fascination. Tom Leeser's Opposing
Views is a blitz of jigsaw-like superim-
positions in psychedelic colors; it
doesn't have any discernable connec-
tions or point, but it washes over the
viewer, drawing us into the constant
stimulation of chaos.
Once in a while there's an entry that's
closer to poetry than anything else:
music of a different sort, based around
the literary subtlety of its thoughts, in-
'Otensely personal, very serious. Sharon
Couzin's Deutschland Spiegel is an
oblique procession of B&W images -
snapsnots of the Berlin Wall, oddly for-
bidding footage of street parades -
that dreamily compliments its accom-
panying stream-of-consciousness
spoken poem. a

A FEW OF the entries are always a
bit like being back in junior high,
giggling helplessly at things you know
you're going to find hopelessly juvenile
and dumb in a couple of years. Silliness
and amateurs go well together,
covering each other's tracks. The har-
mless religious satire of Gil Gauveau's
Ex Cathedra, and Sally Kellman's I
Was a Teenage Assassin for the F.B.I.
(gum-chomping heroine Candy is sent
after Fidel Castro), are finally rather
innocuous in thier heartless cleverness
falling a bit too neatly into the one-joke
category. But you laugh anyway.
A rare film communicates with us
the way a serenely happy person can,
and god knows truly happy people can
win you over to almost anything. The
old oh-no reaction was prompted by the
title Stilt Dancers of Long Bow .Village,
and it did turn out to be a documentary,
about an annual festival in rural Gu
Zhang of the People's Republic of
China. Look, I'm a TV child too, I never
liked documentaries (too good for me),
OK? But filmmakers Richard Gordon
and Carma Hinton dodge National
Geographic straight foreign cultural
reportage. Their translations of the
villager's comments whimsically
preserve every beside-the-point
remark, every casual "Be Quiet!"; the
camera, duty-bound only to pursuing its
own raffish curiosity, may leave a sub-
ject in mid-sentence to follow a ,small
child riding by on a trike. You can feel
the artists' innate gentleness and their
quirks through the affection, innocence
and humor they manage to find in
everyone on screen. Seeing through the
eyes of someone so generously
spirited, we find beauty in places that
promised little of interest.
Oh, yeah, some of the movies actually
feel like real plain-old movies, too,
good movies - the sort that get you in-
volved in characters and what's going
on, leaving you very, very satisfied in a
pleasantly conventional way. Rick
Hadley's Quotations from Chairman
Stu is an elaborately constructed,
polished comedy, a cheery social satire
of the 1960's class-conscious Goodbye,
Columbus variety.
THERE'S NO REAL malice or indic-
tment in it, though. L*e the enduring

screwball comedies of the '30's, its
pokes are gentle, and the characters'
foolishnesses aren't ridiculed - they're
regarded affectionately, liked for their
faults. A naively radicalized son comes
home from college, bursting with good
intentions, anxious to liberate. his
obliviously capitalist father's factory.
The blissfully funny climax has the
family's palatial home invaded, during
sister's wedding ceremony, by a lot of
dancing illegal Haitian immigrants
whom Junior has protectively stashed
in the backyard. As in all the nicest,
comedies, all ends well and happily for
everyone. Neatly acted and resolutely
sweet-tempered, Quotations was the
best narrative effort of the evening.
Where else can you be pushed in
rapid succession through so many reac-
tions, most of them positive, none of
them blatantly uninteresting? Is the
general audience rumble at the
Festival conversational, or is it the
rustling sound of minds expanding?

By JANE CARL
It is said that opera is a delicate
balance between singing and acting.
Paul Plishka, in his recital at Hill
Auditorium Tuesday evening, proved
that he has achieved this balance in the
concert hall as well as on the opera
stage.
Plishka began his concert with a set
of songs by Tschaikovsky and Rach-
maninoff, which ranged from "Don
Juan's Serenade" to "Spring Waters."
A leading bass with the Metropolitan
Opera since 1967, Plishka demonstrated
the incredible projection which opera
singers are famous for.
HIS ACCOMPANIST, pianist Thomas
Hrynkiw, however, suffered from ex-
treme inconsistency throughout the
performance. Although he did have
moments of brilliancy, Hrynkiw failed
to be a supportive entity on stage,
prefering instead to burst forth into
thunderous chords at some highly inop-
portune moments.
Plishka's second set of songs contained
lieder by both Schubert and Schumann.
What could have been the highlight of
the evening, Goethe's fanciful tale of

the supernatural, "Erlkonig," instead
lost all of its dramatic propensity when
an overzealous Plishka fan clapped
before the final heart-rending line
telling of the child's death. The
Schumann portion was very effective
and truly Germanic. The Wanderlied, a
robust, fanfare-type piece reminiscent
of a German drinking song, contained a
kind of singing at which Plishka ex-
celled, exploiting his incredible vocal
range and presenting pleasing con-
trasting sections.
The first of the two truly operatic
works of the evening was the so-called
"Catalogue Aria" from Mozart's The
Marriage of Figaro. Here Plishka
presented his expressive acting
abilities by creating such a believable
atmosphere that one expected the rest
of the cast to join him on the stage at
any moment.
THE SECOND HALF of the concert
contained a group of captivating
Ukranian folk songs, part of Plishka's
heritage, which he explained to the
audience before their performance.
The songs all had a nice folk flavor
inherent in the harmonies and the flow
of the melody.
Most interesting were two pieces en-
MANN THEATRES
VILLAGE 4
315 N MAPLE
Daily Discount Matinees
Tuesday Buck Day
All seats $1.00
Nominated for 6 ACADEMY
AWARDS including
BEST PICTURE
BEST DIRECTOR
As timely today
as the day it
was written.

ills Hill
titled "Cranes" and "Days Pass"
which contained some emotions very
relevant to the current strife in the:
modern day Ukraine.
The "Four Gambling Songs" by:
Niles were in English and designed to
entertain. Ranging from the essence of.
an old English ballad to a cradle song to
a plaintive Southern lament, tpe songs
were a perfect showcase for Plishka's
diverse range of dynamics, which were
used to their maximum dramatic
potential.
Plishka ended with Verdi's "Ella
giammai m'amo" from Don Carlo,an
expressive, impressive work requiring
much stamina and control, but being
less of a blockbuster ending than was
expected. This was quickly remedied
by the encore presentation, which hap-
pened to be everyone's favorite, "Some
Enchanted Evening," and represented
yet another of the diverse and highly
entertaining musical sides of Paul
Plishka.

A ROMAN POLANSKI FILM
TESS'
® A COLUMBIA
PICTURES RELEASE

1:15
4:30
8:00

The Romantics, pictured above, will be appearing in concert this Saturday
night at Hill Auditorium at 8 p.m. Oh those boys-first they were into red
vinyl and now black leather. Bet they haven't read 'TheiPreppy Handbook.'

Nominated for
2 ACADEMY AWARDS
Nothing's going to
stand in your way.
0?RICHARD

Kinnell: The poet's view of nature

' , . DREYFUISS
-IRVING
A COLUMBIA PICTURES RELEASE lb

>1:45
4:15
7:15
9:45

By CAROL WIERZBICKI
Reading to a packed audience at
Rackham Ampitheater on Monday,
Galway Kinnell, surely one of the most
important poets of our time, conveyed
quiet energy. He confidently and
elegantly read a variety of well-known
poems and new manuscripts, reciting
even his "scribblings" with sensitivity
and expertise.
Kinnell, whose achievements include
winning the Guggenheim awards as
well as several prizes in 'translating,
has an open-air style akin to Gary
Snyder's, yet it is tempered with a
discipline that suggests Native
American and Chinese influences.
'Perhaps one of the reasons for his wide
appeal is that he brings natural details
into sharp focus and then applies them
to some larger aspect of life. His ter-
seness often evolves into an emotional
vision, as in "the Fly":
The fly
I've just
brushed
from my face keeps buzzing
about me, flesh-
eater

starved for the soul.
One day I may learn to suffer
his mizzling, sporadic stroll over
eyelid and cheek,
even seize on his burnt
singing with love.
HAVING MEMORIZED much of his
poetry from Body Rags, The Book of
Nightmares, and Mortal Acts, Mortal
Words, Kinnell read as if transfixed by
something directly in front of him. The
serious mood was broken, however, by
two hilarious poems about his son,
Fergus. One of them, called "Kissing
the Toad", describes a toad that Fergus
is trying to make his sister kiss, as
having a belly "like those old en-
trepreneurs sprawling on
Mediterranean beaches". Another
poem, "Crying," involved an unusual

form of audience participation: a
volunteer from the audience laughed
loudly at specified intervals.
The poet also read selections from
new, yt-to-be-finished works; from the
intricate imagery of "Meditations on
Papaya," to the exotic landscape of a
poem about a volcanic crater in
Hawaii, he threw out colorful images
that appealed to taste, touch and smell.
Especially in these last poems, one sees
that his concerns are esoteric, sharply
focused, and deeply introspective.
Kinnell's world, peopled with bears,
frogs, and sometimes destructive
humans, could be described as a kind of
spiritual "survival of the fittest". His
anti-war politics were evident in the
urgency in his voice as he read "A

White Flash Sparkled", a cinematic
treatment of the interrupted lives in
Hiroshima on the day of the bomb.
"The tragedy I saw", Kinnell ex-
plained, "was in the roughness and
homeliness of the homemade objects
found in the rubble and then placed on
exhibit in the Japanese memorials at
Hiroshima and Nagasaki."
At the reading, one saw in Galway
Kinnell a poet who improves with time,
and who possesses a concentrated
energy that grows and grows.,Kinnell's
surefootedness and lack of ambiguity,
as demonstrated in his themes of self-
sacrifice and renewal, show him to be
not only a writer of talent and skill, but
one who has a great tap root to the cen-
ter of the earth.

Nominated for
6 ACADEMY AWARDS
OrdinaryPeople
1:30 4:00 7:15 945
ROAD GAMES

1:15

3:15

5:15
9:30 (R)

7:30

PPIF

UM
SHOWC ASE
RODUCTION

"All The Way
Home"
BY TAD MOSEL
MARCH 11-14 8 PM
TRUEBLOOD THEATRE
TICKETS AT PTP
764 -0450

r\
Screenings at the Michigan Theatre: 7:00, 9:00 & 11:00 p.m
Saturday: 1:00, 7:00 & 9:00 p.m. All programs are different
and of substantially equal quality. Award winners screened
Sunday at 7:00, 9:00 & 11:00 p.m. Single admission: $2.00.
Daily series: $5.00 (not available Sunday). Advance sales begin
at 6:00 p.m. for that day only. $20.00 series tickets on sale the
opening day of the Festival at 5:30 p.m. All tickets are sold at
the Michigan Theatre.
CINEMA 11 ZO4y
PRESENTS
March 12-LORCH HALL (Old A&D) -
OPEN CITY
7 (Roberto Rossellini, 1945). Shot during the last days of the Nazis in Rome, this
powerful film of human drama spawned Italian neo-realism. Most of the
PM people in the film are not professional actors, and much of the'footage was
shot by hidden cameras. The tensions of the times and the heroic resis-
tance of the people are so intensely captufed as to make this film a master-
piece. (103 min.)

SATURDAT, MARCH 21, 1 PM
MICHIGAN THEATRE
$8.50 RESERVED
Tickets at Herb David's Guitar
Studios, Schoolkids' Records
and the Ark. No checks

4~(******************** *

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