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January 06, 1983 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1983-01-06

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

ARTS
Thursday, January 6, 1983

The Michigan Doily

To otsie's n o drag

By Joshua Bilmes
F YOU ARE looking for an excuse
not to see Tootsie, here's the only
one I-could think of: Much of the film
Will probably be shown as clips on this
year's Academy Awards show. Besides
etting a number of the acting
ominations, Tootsie itself is sure to be
nominated as Best Picture.
This Oscar'candidate opens with a
montage of scenes that show Dustin
Hoffman, playing Michael Dorsey,
struggling to get a job as an actor. With
areputation as being "difficult," he
joesn't get any offers. Instead, Hof-
fman waits tables to earn a living and
ihnstructs at an acting workshop to
sharpen his talents.
'At a surprise birthday party for Hof-
mfan we meet Jeff, played by Bill
Murray, an aspiring playwright trying
to get money together to put on his
latest work, and Sandy (Teri Garr),
Hoffman's girlfriend and a struggling
actress in her own right.
" Hoffman has been helping Sandy
prepare an audition for the popular
soap opera '"Southwest General," but
$andy is immediately rejected by the
ihow's domineering director (Dabney
Ooleman). Hoffman gets upset when his
4gent, played by Tootsie's director
$ydney Pollack, tells his client that he
a "cult failure.'' Determined to prove
Pollack wrong, Hoffman gives himself
aprofessional sex change. Michael

Dorsey becomes Dorothy Michaels and
heads over to the Southwest General
studios. She bullies her way into getting
a reading for the part and bullies her
way into getting the part.
"Southwest General" is the setting
for an assortment of interesting
characters. Coleman is the talented
director who treats women poorly.
Jessica Lange is the show's female
lead, who becomes Dorothy's closest
friend. George Gaynes is the show's
leading man with an overwhelming
reliance on cue cards and an equally
overwhelming desire to kiss all the
ladies in the fictional hospital at least
once an episode.
Now things begin to get really in-
teresting. Pollack mistakes his client
for a real woman when they meet at the
Russian Tea Room. Sandy begins to
doubt Michael when the demands of
being Dorothy cause him to arrive late
on some dates and miss others entirely.
Dorothy, thinking as Michael, falls in
love with Jessica Lange. As Dorothy,
she gets a marriage proposal from
Lange's father, played by Charles Dur-
ning.
After being on the show a while,
Michael finally has the money he needs
to produce Jeff's play, but Dorothy's
character has become very popular.
Michael starts looking for a way out of
being Dorothy, and this excellent
comedy moves toward its humorous
finale.
Wha't makes Tootsie so excellent? To

start with, the acting is excellent, not
one performance is a dud. Dustin Hof-
fman deserves a nomination for Best
Actor. Jessica Lange deserves a
nomination for her role as Julie.
But the real strength of the film lies in
its supporting cast. Bill Murray is mar-
velous as Hoffman's roommate
delivering deadpan remarks with per-
fect timing. Sydney Pollack plays the
agent well. One could say that it did not
take much acting for him to call Hof-
fman difficult and a trouble-maker
judging by all the stories of friction
between the two on the set, but he does
well nonetheless.
But my favorite was George Gaynes
as the soap's untalented lead. His face
said it all when Dorothy keeps him from
looking at his cue cards while filming a
scene from the soap. She says "Look at
me when you talk,'' as he tries
desperately to twist his head toward the
cards.
Dabney Coleman plays a role similar
to his bad boss in 9 to 5 and-what was en-
joyable then is enjoyable now. Teri
Garr and Charles Durning also give
decent performances, if not award-
winning ones.
A good deal of the credit must go to
director Pollack. Uniformly good per-
formances by everyone do not just turn
up accidentally. The screenplay by
Larry Gelbart and Murray Schisgal is
quite good, suiting the talents of Dustin
Hoffman perfectly without slighting
everyone else.

r
4"
e
" ,i
' h
"t

I:
i .
.,,
l

Dustin Hoffman, right, in full drag gets a look over from his agent, played by 'Tootsie' director

Sydney Pollack.

David Grusin's musical score could
very well pick him up a fourth Oscar
nominationand some of the sorgsnhe
which are snug by Stephen Bishop, are
also likely to get a nomination.
With Tootsie, it is a choice between
seein the film now or seeing it on the
ths.

Come on over to our Pad

,Records

-L

The Brains-'Dancing Under
Streetlights' (Landslide)
Instead of a third album (or maybe in
anticipation of one), we get this EP
from the Brains, one of the bands to
break out of Atlanta's burgeoning
music scene. Well, fine with
me-anything these four guys do hits
just the right nerves: this is rock and
roll with a solid punch, and the four
songs on Dancing Under Streetlights hit
hard.
The Brains are the brainstorm of
vocalist/ keyboardist/ songwri ter Tom
Gray. heir first two albums, produced
by Steve Lillywhite, painited'vivid men-
tal portraits of an incurable romantic
bemused-but 'not yet overcome-by
the modern world. Songs such as
"Money Changes Everything" from
The Brains, and "Asphalt Wonderland"
from Electronic Eden found Gray
waxing his frustrations in a highly in-
telligent and commercial manner, yet
both those albums failed to make much
of a splash with the record-buying
public (check out your local cut-out bin
for verification).
Thusly, Mercury Records promptly
dumped I them. Dancing Under
Streetlights is on Landslide Records, an
seems well: the pressing is nice, the
pakaging professional, the production.
aid).
But what about the music? If this EP
is any indication, the Brains are one
group that are determined to keep up
their level of quality, despite set-backs.
In fact, they're getting better. Bassist
Bryan Smithwick has been replaced by
Keith Christopher, who is a much more
1adept bass player than his predecessor.
Charles Wolff's "John Bonham
School of Drumming" diploma is not as
readily visible as before-the discer-
ning listener might not even recognize
him as a graduate any more; his work

, . of 1 c ency

-
,,.

here is tight and complementary to the
music, although, like many contem-
porary percussionists, he is rather
faceless. -
iGuitarist Rick Price continues to
prove himself as one of the great un-
sung musicians currently recording, as
his choppy rhythm playing and meaty
leads attest, helping to fatten up the
Brains sound; listen to the subtle un-
derstatement in the title track, or his
mock-emulation of a Japanese Koto in
"Tanya" for further reference.
On the vocal front, Gray's singing is
heartfelt, as in "Pon't Give Yourself
Away," assured in "Dancing Under
Streetlights," strong in "Read My
Mind," forlornly nostalgic in "Tanya";
his keyboard playing is greatly under-
played throughout, yet tasteful.
The Brains are one_ of the best
American bands lingering un-
necessarily in record and radioland ob-
scurity, with more chutzpah than
R.E.M. and Pylon combined, and as
much potential as either of those
groups, if not more. Dancing Under
Streetlights should sufficiently "whet
the appetite" until album number three
comes out. If it's any better than this,
it'll be a hot one.
-Larry Dean

previous accomplishments. And it
seems to be the case with Petty's new
disc as the gravel-throated guitarist
appears to have lost some of the unfet-
tered rawness that characterized such
past songs as "A Woman in Love,"' and
"Don't Do Me Like That."
The. main fault of the album can be
explained by Petty's tendency to sup-
press his talented band, which includes
versatile guitarist Mike Campbell, and
drummer Stan Lynch. Petty has a
strong cast in the Heartbreakers, yet
fails to use their talents as effectively
as he could.
Instead of letting his songs breath by
permitting more instrumental freedom
to Campbell, Petty chooses to confine
his songs into a' tight, smothering struc-
ture which dilutes their potential. Too
often does the group depend on
unremitting Stratocaster bar chords,
and incessant drumming to mask an
underdeveloped song. Thus, Petty
displays little digression from the
sound that made him famous in Hard
Promises. Many bars and vocal patter-
ns sound hauntingly similar to previous
tracked tunes. A small expansion of his
musical foundation on his next disc will
not only lay the groundwork for future
endeavors but also will provide his fans
songwriters multilayred talents.th
The theme of the album is sexual
frustration with Petty expressing
feelings of alienation from the female.
moanstra"ghere was amomnt whentI
really loved her, then the feeling just
died." In 'In Between Worlds" Petty
places himself into a void with an un-
certainty of desires, "I know a woman's
body is only flesh and bone, How come I
can't let go?" Petty's preoccupation
with such uninsightful lamentations is
the one characteristic that anchors this
album down with unnecessary weight
by the use ofusuch a milk-and-water
musicalvocabuary.
Despite somie obvious structural

shortcomings, Long After Dark is not a
bad album, it's just not the kind of
album that we're used to hearing from
the energetic band. Many of the songs
are very listenable if not catchy, in-
cluding "Finding Out" and "You Got
Lucky" which features some proficient
synthesizer work by Benmont Tench.
Perhaps a change of co-producers can
help Petty secure a fresh perspective
into future directions. Producer Jim-
my Iovine who also logged a studio
hours putting Ytogether Stevie Nicks'
smash, Bella Donna, which included a
duet with Petty, is just too inclined with
spewing out singles, and in so doing,
may be restricting the musicianship of
Petty and band.
Long After Dark is a must for Petty
fans, but others may want to wait for
his next disc. The album should be
viewed as part of Petty's musical
maturation process, and should be con-
sidered only 'a temporary setback from
which Petty will surely rebound.
-Tom McDonald
Liberty off State ..668-9329
E r as U .at South U .6 2 0 5
Maple Village .....761-2733
TH E DA ILY
CL ASSIF IEDS
ARE A GR EAT
WAY TO GET
FAST R ESU LTS
CA LL 764-0557

:

AmpadĀ®' lgalpads
from UWrich's.

8:30-9:00 Thursday
8:30.8:00 Friday
9:06:0Satuday
Main Store:
549 E. University

MDRE THANA BCXOKSt ORf

662-3201

Electronics Showroom:
1110 S. Univeroify

a

Y
ti
. '
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"

Tom Petty and
breakers-'Long
(Backstreet)

the Heart-
After Dark'

Tom Petty's fifth album, Long After
Dark, shows the rock refugee a little bit
stagnant after reaching superstardom
status with his critically lauded efforts,
Da mn the Torpedos and H ard
Promises.
This type of regression is not un-
common in the musical spectrum as an
artist frantically searches for new con-
cepts of originality yet sinks in the
quagmire of homogeneity created by

t
n
9

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