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March 17, 1981 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1981-03-17

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ARTS
The Michigan Daily Tuesday, March 17, 1981 Pages
Ron eats jellybeans while films suffer

By DENNIS HARVEY
and CHRISTOPHER POTTER
Allowing for the sometimes mile-long
gaps between one person's taste and
another's, it remains something of a
┬░fact that the judges at the Ann Arbor
Film Festival work in very mysterious
ways, on a yearly basis. Faced with the
annual surplus of great and near-great
'films, they inevitably seem to make
choices that seem, depending on your
viewpoint and sense of humor, a.)
whimsical, b.) bizarre, or c.)
stupefying.
If overall quality and imagination is
the barometer, then Saturday night was
the unofficial winner's night, and Sun-
day's official event came in a fairly
poor second, or maybe even third or
fourth.
WHAT HAPPENED to the mind-
warping invention of A Nerfish Gothic,
a diamond-sharp exercise in tran-
svestite old-movie kitsch, or Doug
Hayne's enchanting cut-out lament for
modern childhood Common Loss, the
breathtakingly orchestrated screwball
comedy Quotations from Chairman

Stu... ? Oh, well. Perhaps shock at
such omissions is inevitable - when a
film at the festival is really good, as so
many are, you can find yourself
emotionally attached to it beyond
reason. The 1981 Festival may not have
been certifiably great, but who can
complain, finally? Intermittant
brilliance IS enough - it's more than
we get almost anywhere else at the
movies.
Perhaps it's inevitable in our new era
of belt-tightening and Jelly Bellys that
cinematic imagination and style would
falter along with shrinking bank ac-
counts. The new economics, which hung
over this year's Festival like a
guillotine, had long since begun to
wither our most expensive of all the ar-
ts: there were some fifty fewer
Festival entries this year than last, and
the situation is certain to get worse.
The Sunday 9:00 and 11:00 winners
were a wildly mixed bag in subject,
style, and quality. Probably the hardest
to shake was Andy Anderson's Ritual,
disturbing because its horror cuts closer
to our everyday lives and thoughts than

any gore-laden fiction possibly could. A
young woman comes home to her
sterile apartment, makes dinner, goes
to the bathroom - nothing happens,
and we're held uneasily between
boredom and anxiousness at the notion
that this dull scene has to be disruntped
Then, the girl coolly and wordlessly
commits suicide. The complete
banality andfamiliarity of her situation
is terrifying. If we can so easily under-
stand, without comment, dramatics, or
even characterization, what has driven
her to this edge, what's left to hold us
back?
The cruelty of "ordinary" life was
much less fruitfully explored in Ann
Schaetzel's Breaking and Entering, in
which the filmmaker clumsily follows
her upper-class Washington, D.C.
parents in the anxious hope of catching
the whiff of hypocracy and narrow-
mindedness. This documentary version
of Ordinary People does score some
easy points - how can cocktail parties
and kitchen chitchat not seem foolish?
- but we get a far stronger impression
of Schaetzel's embitteredness than of

the faults at the center of her parents'
mentalities.
The judges' most baf-
fling/amusing/infuriating decision was
to bestow a $1000 on the subject of Leo
Trombetta's Billy -- Billy Roth, a
singer who grew up worshipping
Sinatra, developed an identical set of
pipes, and spends all of his 25 minutes
on camera either 1.) singing unfor-
tunately full-length versions of "Send in
the Clowns," etc., 2.) talking about his
identification with Frank, and 3.)
playing out domestic scenes with his
family. Billy itself won a minor
monetary award, but the decision to
give its central character - not a par-
ticularly charismatic one - the
evening's largest prize is something
best understood as, hopefully, some
sort of inside job.
THERE WAS A slightly similar lack
of a defined viewpoint in Jerry Stein's
Word, Sound and Power, but its subject
carried it through powerfully - reggae
as emotional release and political force
in Jamaica, as seen through the per-
formances and frequent platitudes of

Romantics even stronger for lack of Skill

Eastor, Jamaican locals Earl Zero, and
The Soul Syndicate. By refusing to step
back and place the music more in the
whole context of Jamaican life, the
movie arrived at perhaps a rather
narrowly paradisical view of island
existence - happy, sensual, strong, too
stoned to be bothered by poverty - but
there's no doubt that the view, and the
music, was persuasive.
The nervous reaction to the new con-
servatism was reflected in the relative
conventionality of the Festival's films.
There were distinctly fewer entries of a
purely abstract nature, and even those
that retained their arcane ideal seemed
more harmonious in more if not
necessarily in plot.
Much less explainable was the star-
tling and distressing reduction in the
number of animated features. If in-
dependent cinema has a future at all, it
likely rests in animation, which is not
only the cheapest form of filmmaking
but also gives vent to the most per-
sonalized, liberating flights of fancy.
ACCORDINGLY, Sunday's 7 p.m.
winners' show contained'few works of
The School of Music presents:
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
DANCE
COMPANY
POWE R CE NTE R
MARCH 20-22
Fri. & Sat. 8pm, Sun. 3pm
PTP Ticket Office 764-0450
Student Discount Available With ID

either a brilliant or horrendous nature.
The only genuine howler was Robert
Anderson's Military Division, which
coupled a WWII - vet's grisly
reminiscences with an endlessly
repeated, garishly colored-in snapshot
of an anonymous wartime couple. Scin-
tillating.
Ralph Records' One Minute Movies
combined a series of four mini-films
blending a rock soundtrack with a
horror-science fiction visual motif. The
format proved so surrealistically unset-
tling that it sent chills down your spine
even in its super-brief exposition.
Sharon Couzin's Deutschland Spiegel
was easily the show's most textured,
abstruse work, presenting offbeat, off-
angle black and white images perhaps
of contemporary Germany, perhaps of
the Nazi past, while a young girl's voice
intones a personal narrative so amor-
phous and somnambulant it'sounds like
a text by Borges. The film is a labyrin-
th, certainly requiring more than one
See RON, Page 10
MANN THEATRES
V(LLAGE 4
375 N MAPLE
Daily Discount Matinees
TUESDAY BUCK DAY

By LEX KUHNE
You needn't have worried about the
demise of the Romantics' red leather
suits. They were ably replaced with a
new look of black shirts with purple
leather pants for Saturday night's con-
cert at Hill Auditorium.
Another equally able replacement for
the Romantics was the new lead
guitarist Coz Canler, who took the place
of the departed Mike Skill. But more on
him later.
THE REVISED ROMANTICS were
extremely well received by the partisan
audience. The sold-out crowd consisted
of punks, people dressed like punks,
screaming high school girls, and even
drummer Jimmy Marinos' dentist.
They all seemed extremely satisfied
with the performance.
The Romantics opened the set with
the title cut from their latest, album,
National Breakout, and then played ex-
clusively from their first two albums.
Not that that's bad: The Romantics at
their best play irresistably danceable
pop music, which they did for a vast
majority of Saturday night's concert.
But when they're at their worst, they
get bogged down by their too-serious-
for-their-own-good ballads. But even
those songs were energized by the elec-
tricity generated for this pseudo-
homecoming, which also happened to
be the last stop on their tour.
THE AFOREMENTIONED ballads
they did, "Till I See You Again," and
"Forever Yours," were over with
before the show was a third over, so
maybe the band realizes how really un-
necessary they are to their repertoire.
;But once they got that dead weight
out of the way, there was no stopping
them, or for that matter, the dancing
fans on the main floor. All the "hits"
were present and accounted for:
"When I Look In Your Eyes," the
,raucous "Stone Pony," "A Night Like
This," which featured an incredibly in-
fectious bass line from Rich Cole, and
the show-ending "What I Like About
You." Even "21 And Over," which I
normally loathe sounded good.
BUT THE THREE encores brought
the biggest surprises of the night.
Besides all the power in Hill going out
for a split-second and continual lighting
problems, the Romantics took just
about every one by surprise with their
choice of encore material. They did the
Sonny and Cher hit, "The Beat Goes
On," that 60's chestnut "Route 66," and
the old blues standard, "I Ain't Got
You," all with that contagious pop
sound. And they ended with "The Motor
City Shake" which has been an encore
staple for them since they played VFW
halls in Hamtramck.

Std 1

7 r ' x.2., ....

1
JIMMY MARINOS OF the Romantics
kept all the boppers on the main floor
drooling Saturday night as he drummed
his way through the groups' hit songs.

Overall, the four Romantics perfor-
med more than ably. Bassist Rich Cole
played the Classic Bassist role, hardly
moving around, but delivering a solid
sound. Drummer Jimmy Marinos
delivered a rock steady beat all night
long, and his occasional lead vocal was
consistently good. Rhythm guitarist
and lead vocalist Wally Palmar was
just fine, delivering the vocals with all
the exuberance that the Romantics'
boy-meets-girl lyrics call for, while at
the same time giving a down to earth
counterpoint to Canler's guitar solos.
Ah, yes. The solos. There wasn't one
song in their entire one-and-a-half hour
set that didn't have a Coz Canler guitar
solo in it. He musically dominated the
show with his guitar work. He shied
away from the microphone more than
his predecessor, Skill, but for someone
who hasn't even played on a Romantics
album, he was incredible. .

,IISI.'I

THE OPENING ACT for the Roman-
tics was Donnie Iris, who earned the
spot based on his one hit to date, "Ah,
Leah." Iris came across as a guy who
actually seemed to be enjoying himself
on stage.
Looking a bit like Buddy Holly with a
perm, Iris and his band worked their
way through a 45 minute set which was
taken entirely from his lone album,
Back On The Street. His music could be
classified as AOR rock, but he was
having such a damn good time shaking
hands with the audience that his energy
transcended all the negative ideas that
that term brings to mind. Generally
well received (especially with "Ah,
Leah"), Iris was brought back for an
encore, rare for an opening act. With a
few more hit singles, Donnie Iris could
be back in town extremely soon.
But it was the Romantics' night. The
audience knew it. The band knew it.
And they played like they knew it.

e-the ann arbor film cooperative
TONIGHT presents TONIGHT
DARBY O'GILL AND
THE LITTLE PEOPLE
6:30-AUD. A, ANGELL HALL

U '

20,000 LEAGUES
UNDER THE SEA
8:00-AUD. A, ANGELL HALL
ADMISSION: $2;DOI

TREASURE
ISLAND
10:15-AUD. A, ANGELL HALL

1

UBLE FEATURE: $3

E'Ipse3 presents

PAT

M ETHE N

Y

GROUP

10

"

40

4,

Tickets On Sale Today

t

Sunday, April12.8pm

HOWARD HUGHES HEIR?
An American
love story.
(and owind
Daily-7:25, 9:15
WED-1:45, 3:35, 5:35, 7:25, 9:15
INDIVIDUAL THEATRES
f 5th Ae 8o ber 761-904

1

Hill Auditorium

ENDS THURSDAY!
"7 ACADEMY

r

i

I I

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