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October 01, 1982 - Image 18

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1982-10-01
Note:
This is a tabloid page

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

I

Films
from page I
film turns grimly serious in its later
stages, the tone switch seems in perfect
emotional harmony with the lighthear-
tedness preceding it.
Earl of Chicago remains a lovely icon
handed down from the Hollywood
dream machine of the 1930s and '40s-
days when American movies called the
artistic tune for the entire world; days
when MGM, Warner Bros., and the
other giants tyrannized, independent
filmmaking, yet produced enough
cinematic gems to offset all the assem-
bly line duds which regularly emerged
from their soundstages into our
moviehouses. It's fashionable now to
call the studio system autocratic and
anti-intellectual. It may have been the
former, but never truly the latter-if it
had, Earl and countless other films in
its class would never have seen the light
of day.
There's something else that's special
about those movies: Nobody shows
them anymore. If I hadn't once caught
Earl on a Saturday night late, late show
years ago, I'd never have known it
existed.
More specifically and sadly, nobody
shows these films in Ann Arbor
anymore. This despite the enduring
presence of the most solidified body of
retrospective film groups anywhere in
America outside New York City.
It's been our cultural pride and joy;
this town was once a bastion for both
ancient and out-of-the-way contem-
porary film fare, screening epics you
were unlikely to see anywhere else in
Middle America. From D.W. Griffith to
Les Blanc, from Hollywood to Cuba to
Indonesia, it seemed everything would
turn up here sooner or later. Our
auditoriums were dark cinematic.

I

-o
c

Lining up: Less of a choice

havens for the obscure and arcane,
lively galleries preserving and
disseminating our liveliest art.
Not to say that this tradition has died:
The Michigan Theatre and the 16mm
Film Festival continue to thrive, and
the film co-ops all remain solvent. But
it's not the same anymore. There's less
surprise, fewer chances taken on film
selections. An encroaching sameness
has crept into every local film series,
eroding the once-liberating variety of
choice which used to dazzle movie buf-
fs.
Of course, economics has influenced

the problem. Once undersold at every
turn by campus film societies, Ann Ar-
bor's beleaguered commercial
moviehouses joined a nationwide trend
that helped them strike back in the mid-
'70s, Multiple theaters and an onslaught
of bargain matinees, dollar days, and
two-for-one nights began to eat away at
campus attendance.
Members of the local co-ops com-
plain, justifiably so, that in many ways
Ann Arbor has become a difficult place
to succeed in. Beyond the commercial
competition, they have to fight among
themselves for audiences. Rising costs
for renting auditorium space and
higher fees charged by unionized
projectionists haven't helped. And the
bottom line is, of course, that they have
to show blockbusters -to pull in enough
money to run the less-than-crowd-
pleasing rarities. The lines outside of
Superman don't lie.
It's understandable that Ann Arbor's
film societies lately feel more disposed
to run King of Hearts or Kramer vs.
Kramer for the umpteenth time, rather
than take a fling on a new European en-
try by Claude Chabrol or Alain Tanner.
(Admittedly, Cinema II exhibits more
boldness with such fare than do the
other groups).
What's not understandable is the
positively myopic ritual all the socieites
are now pursuing with regards to
America's cinematic past. The
schedule space alloted to old movies
has done more than shrink
drastically-it now seems to elicit exac-
tly the same films every semester. In
the process, a part of American history
is being systematically obliterated.
The vast bulk of film group revenues
is made off recent movies which,
ironically, ought to allow considerable

flexibility in selecting earlier fare; the
competition for the oldies is hardly as
cutthroat. Instead, the societies' reper-
toire seems to have devolved into a kind
of sanctified "Golden 40"-a tiny cadre
of films from Hollywood's '30s-'40s
heyday shown at the exclusion of
everything else from that period.
Although most of this select group are
perfectly laudable and occasionally
great works, it's like looking at the
history of American film through blin-
ders, with most of the "goodies" left
out (see box, page 5).
A pretty illustrious bunch, you say?
Definitely. Still, some 10,000 American
movies circulated between the age of
the silents and the dawn of television.
Such a vast legacy can scarcely be ser-
ved through the endless regurgitation
of a few dozen prime films, however
pure and vibrant they may be.
The resulting artistic gaps are enor-
mous. You never see a Garbo film in
Ann Arbor anymore; the most immor-
tal face in movies is now for many
merely a face in a film textbook. John
Barrymore has vanished utterly, as
have Edward G. Robinson and Spencer
Tracy (save opposite Kate Hepburn).
The great comedies of Preston Sturges,
once entrenched on campus; seem to
have departed permanently.
Even enduring stars and directors
have missing parts: James Cagney's
'30s gangster legacy has faded, as has
Humphrey Bogart's. As for the '40s, one
would conclude from local screenings
that Bogie was the decade's only movie
tough guy. Does anyone remember
Robert Montgomery or Dick Powell-
lean, tough, macho but witty, and both
better actors than their more famous
compatriot?

Lords of the New Church: Religious cu'.
Praise
the
lord

By Ben Ticho

0

Lords of the New Church
Second Chance
9:30 p.m., Thursday, October 7
Tickets: $7.50
F ATHER, I come to you for advice
in a time of great turmoil; all
around boredom stifles the imagination
and little provides exciting musical
guidance in a season of retreads,
Reggae
I ives
By C.E. Krell
Rita Marley
Hill Auditorium
8 p.m., Saturday, October 2
Tickets: $7.50, $8.50, $9.50
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
Well, alright-last year was a great
year for reggae in Ann Arbor. Tosh.
Mighty Diamonds. Toots. Isaacs.
Names, and big ones. This year started
off with a bang; a hard, bassed-up,
ghetto-blasted, mash 'em bang-the
new stars?-Black Uhuru. Does this
portend a red, green, and gold year?
October 3, Hill Auditorium. The
name-Marley!! Bob? No, I'm sorry,
Bob is still dead.
Why, it's his widow, Rita. Some
might say, "Gee, what the hell does she
.do, describe life with the Great Black
Legend"?-"Well, Bob loved to sit
around and be with his family." Wrong
'em boyo.
The fact is that this woman has been

regrouping, and video diversion (sorry,
Bruce, and the Dexys are a lone light in
the tunnel). The faith has been tested.
New post-punk music has polarized into
dark, esoteric ramblings about death
and world politics (Clash, Flesheaters,
Gun Club, etc.) and English and other
technopop (ABC, Human League et al).
And now a new creed has risen from
the former persuasion: The Lords of
the New Church, who will preach loudly
at the Second Chance this Thursday
night. Disciples of the Sex Pistols with a
former Dead Boy (Stiv Bator) as lead
pontiff and a curious debut album
(Lords of the New Church on the IRS
label), these people tempt me, Father. I
hear them mouth lines like
Throwaway youth ya gotta take a
stand. Music is your only weapon.
and Truth is the sword of all and
sometimes I feel a slight tremble .., in
the lower area, Father!
But they haven't converted me yet,
not by a long shot. With a crisp
minimalism that belies their "beat-
'em-into-the-ground" punk origins and
a professional singer for most of her
life. Rita Marley, along with Marcia
Griffiths and Judy Mowatt were the I-
Threes (not the bingo kind). After Bun-
ny Wailer (Livingston) and Peter Tosh
left the Wailers (remember them? Had
a fellow named Bob in it), the I-Threes
took the harmony role. And did it well.
But they're back-up singers. So
what? A lot of back-up singers have
become stars. Griffiths and Mowatt put
out solo albums, so then did Rita: Who
Feels It Knows It. Nobody knew it.
Enter the grim reaper. Hubby dies,
world mourns. Film at eleven. Enter
the Ex-Police: "Another Marijuana-
Related Death!
Enter "One Draw." Afun single. But
who is this woman singing this paean to
the pleasures of Mr. THC and Co.? Rita
Marley! And it's great, but isn't that
pushing it a little, singing about what
killed your husband?
FACT-It is physically impossible to
contract lung cancer through the big
toe. Bob Marley's cancer started in his
big toe and spread from there. (Really-
ed.)
Put hot single A into cold album B.
Voila. Preppie I-Tal fans buy Rita
Marley {album. Rita is signed to Hill
Auditorium.
(Pregnant pause.)
Can Rita Marley fill Hill Auditorium?
Will the Wailers be her backing band?
Is I-Tal the only local reggae outfit we'll

a hit independent UK single ("Open
Your Eyes"), though, the Lords have
laid a strong foundation. .
Yes, Father, lead (and surprisingly
competent) guitarist Brian James was
one of the Damned, but he confesses a
conversion to "serious music" that is
both-frightening (remember the "Know
Your Rights" stage) and promising
(see "Straight to Hell "). Something
deep in me wants desperately to believe
in him, in all the Lords (add Sham '69
bassist Dave "Kermit" Tregunna and
ex-Barracuda drummer Nicky Drum-
mer and the ecclesiastic council is
complete), but I'm always a little
suspicious of those fanatics who call for
the "Holy War" (the last track on their
debut LP). I mean, look at Khomeini.
In any case, the Second Chance show
should prove a religious experience, if
history prophesies accurately. The last
Dead Boys appearance at the, same
location a few years ago was reportedly
marked by what people in the music in-
dustry (and media business) term a

"disturbance.'
have changed,
with dead flyin
paraphernalia
Seriously, it
Lords surpri
becoming pre
(yes, I suppo,
Clash a bit ha
know-forgive
try, Father-y
hot stuffmy
Bator is an int
if he did atten
group in Clevi
Devo fans)
frankly non-mi
punk, to their
the very couth
ce response ac
many others th
and a dubiousl
in his vision noN
I confess I'r
services, won't

'The schedule space alloted to
old movies has done more than
shrink dramatically-it now
seems to elicit exactly the same
films every semester.'

Rita Marley: Reggae queen
ever get to see on a real concert stage?
Will I remember enough of the concert
to write a good review? Could you

John Wayne: Missing from schedules

possibly care?
make you car
closing line for

4. Weekend/October 1. 1982-,,.. ...

13 Wee

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