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October 21, 1983 - Image 7

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1983-10-21

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The Michigan Daily - Friday, October 21, 1983 -Page 7

A

very amusing attack

By Bob Learner
M ICHAEL LAUGHLIN'S Strange
Invaders is a blast from the past
set in the present. It's the kind of movie
where the aliens come bug-eyed and
green, and the humans get zapped into
shiney blue globes. It is also the kind of
movie that gives the term lightweight a
good name; proof that mindless enter-
tainment doesn't have to be mindless.
What we have here is a sharp mix of
humor and horror.
The movie opens in 1958 with the.alien
invasion of >Centerville, Illinois. The
aliens assume the bodies of the town-
speople, and adopt the same
emotionless dispositions as those of the
pod people in Invasion of the Body
Snatchers. 'Strange Invaders then jumps
to New York in the present, where
etymology professor Charles Bigelow
(Paul LeMat) is wondering what has
happened to his wife who has seemingly
dissappeared in Centerville while
I; vsiting her parents there. The
strangeness begins when Bigelow goes
to Centerville to find her.
The catch here is that the aliens
haven't kept up with the times. They
still drive '57 Chevys, listen to Bill

Haley, and eat white bread. For
Bigelow, it's as if he has passed through
a time warp. After a quick look around
town, and a brief encounter with a bug-
eyed monster, Bigelow heads home
without his wife, and without his dog
who has been zapped into a shiny blue
globe.
Back in New York, nobody believes
his story, and not even the National In-
former (as in Enquirer) will print it. In
one of the film's many sharp lines of
dialogue, reporter Betty Walker (Nan-
cy Allen) tells Bigelow that "we don't
pay much for alien stories anymore,
but two-headed dogs, now those are
big."
Things change, however, when Bet-
ty's apartment maintenence man gets
zapped by an alien in her bathroom.
The story takes off then as Betty and
Bigelow try to find out who the aliens
are, and what they want.
Silly stuff no doubt, but Laughlin and
the actors pull it off with style. Laughlin
and his writing partner William Condon
have a good time bringing the past into
the present, and use this premise as a
base for some sly social commentary.
In a typically clever scene, one of the
alien impersonaters comes to Betty's

apartment dressed in '50s fashion,
posing as an Avon lady. After one look
at her dress and make-up, Betty slams
the door on her thinking she's a punker.
A tense undercurrent to this scene is
that the alien has come to kill Betty.

This sequence is indicative of how
Laughlin blends fear and humor
throughout, to the benefit of both. He
even manages to inject some comedy
into the fantastically gruesome tran-
sformation scenes, where aliens posing
as humans change back into their
original forms.
Another positive element of Strange
Invaders is the acting. The cast plays it
straight throughout, thus adding
believability to the proceedings. Paul
LeMat is easy to take as the confused
and slightly naive professor, and is well
matched by Nancy Allen's cheerfully
cynical reporter. They're fun to be
around, and give the movie some
emotional weight.
The key to enjoying Strange In-
vaders, as with most movies, is to play
along. The film works perfectly on its
intended level, and at no point becomes
distractingly stupid. I left Strange In-
vaders thinking that all films should be
this good; this well written, acted, and
directed. Since there is a difference
between what should be and what is, try
to catch Strange Invaders before it
leaves town and dissappears into the
past.

.
rI 7:
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A noteworthy

By Jane Carl
U PON FIRST look, the programming
for James Tocco's piano recital

on Wednesday night in Rackham
Auditorium seemed terribly predic-
table; everyone plays the Beethoven
Les Adieux sonata, and works by
Brahms and Chopin. With the excep-
tion of the Beethoven, the predictable
half of the program was much more
satisfying than the unpredictable por-
tion.
The program began with the Sonata
No. 26 in E-flat major, Op. 81a, Les
Adieux, by Beethoven. Tocco's ren-
dition was less than spirited. The
opening adagio lacked profundity, and
although the ensuing allegro was bet-
ter, the phrases lacked warmth and
direction. .The andante espressivo was
dry, and what should have been a rich
tone contained no depth. The final
vivacissimamente tempo added the
necessary life to the work, and Tocco
was finally able to draw more sound
from the piano.
The Brahms Fantasies, Op. 116, were
performed by an entirely different
pianist than the one who opened with
the Beethoven. Tocco played with
greater dynamic contrast and more
well defined phrases. The sweeping
lushness and passion of Brahms came
to life, as well as his quieter moments.
The fiery, final Capriccio in D minor
was a little pounded perhaps, but
definitely exciting.
The second half of the program began
with two old warhorses by Chopin, the
Berceuse in D-flat major, Op. 57, and

evening,
the Barcarolle in F-sharp minor, Op. 60.
luckily for the audience, neither soun-
ded like an old warhorse. The Ber-
ceuse, with its typical Chopin em-
bellishments, was performed very sen-
sitively, and the Barcarolle was the
triumph of the evening. Played with
great clarity and feeling, the Bar-
carolle contained impeccable phrase
shapes and was a masterpiece of
musical architacture.
Tocco chose to conclude his program
with two works by American com-
posers. The first, Touches: Chorale,
Eight Variations, and Coda, was writ-
ten in 1981 by Leonard Bernstein. After
all these years Bernstein is still recom-
posing bits and pieces of West Side
Story, only this time he has inserted a
few pointillistic touches. A work of
serious vapidity, its good moments
were unfortunately short and obscured
by that sort of Broadway sound Ber-
nstein can't seem to get away from.
The final work was Bernstein's tran-
scription of Aaron Copland's orchestra
piece El Salon Mexico. A trite, ethnic,
orchestral work, its chief interest lies in
the syncopated rhythms and its colorful
orchestration. The rhythms remain in
the piano version, but the changing
colors do not, which leads one to the
question why, with the voluminous
piano repertoire, would this work be
programmed? As an encore, Tocco
performed Gershwin's Three Preludes,
the best American work of the evening,
and also the shortest.

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... predictable
'Spell' prc
(Continued from Page 6)
ne-but no one ever promised love of
coloredness would be easy. And inter-
spersed with the sobering and fearsome
is the droll, the absurd, and the
.wickedly ironic. Before our eyes and
ears, a woman brushes herself a head
of glorious lavendar hair. We witness
the catfights and histrionics typical of
.all theater people. The "white girls" in
5the audience had a unique opportunity
to see how some "black girls" perceive
:them. Through it all, merry and grave,
there ran a common thread - the
desire to communicate to the audience
the "love of coloredness."
Since this theater piece depends so
entirely on a palpable sense of ensem-
ble in the cast, it seems unfair and
almost misleading to single out any
given member for recognition. Still,
there were individuals whose passion
and credibility stood out, even in the
midst of the dedicated efforts of the en-
tire cast. Mikell Pinckney, the director
as well as the principal actor, was
alternately sly, and deadly serious as
Lou, the magician. Drawing us in with
his humor and wit, he revealed to us
time and again in the midst of our smile
that he was not speaking of laughing
matters. Gwendolyn Ricks, as
Nathalie, displayed an enjoyment and
concentration which fixed our attention
whenever she spoke.
Spell #7 is a unique evening of
theater. Even if you think Afro-
American theater is the last thing on
t Ia
1fliii~t
/'mi aug _I

)vides beguiling magic
earth which would appeal to you, it is theater. Spell #7 runs through October
worth seeing; if only to acquaint your- 23rd at the Power Center. For ticket in-
self with a completely different form of formation call 764-0450.

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