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March 16, 1984 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 1984-03-16

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4

ARTS

The Michigan Daily

Friday, March 16, 1984

Page 6

4

Fish out of

water

By Bob Learner
SPLASH is a good movie about
mermaids. Director Ron Howard
manages to overcome the complete
silliness of the premise, and turn it into
a believable romantic comedy. It suc-
ceeds because of realistic characters,
and caricatures who reveal some sym-
pathetic emotions behind their acts.
Tom Hanks plays Alan, a young
businessman with a gap in his life. He is
looking for someone to love, but no one
ever seems quite right. That is, until he
meets Madison (Darryl Hannah). The
romance that develops has a hitch,
however, in that Madison is a mermaid,
and can only stay on land for six days.
Another hitch is that Alan doesn't know
of her actual species because, being a
true amphibian, Madison sprouts legs a-
shore.
Hanks and Hannah make a likeable

couple and play off of each other well.
Although somewhat bland at first,
Hanks does a good job of conveying
Alan's fear of neter finding the right
woman. In the more difficult role of
Madison, Hannah is believable as a
mermaid. Wow! Her reactions upon
seeing civilization for the first time feel
easy and innocent.
Alan's brother Freddy (John Candy)
is hilarious as a big guy in search of a
good time. It is to his credit that he is
able to transcend this caricature, at
times, and convey some genuine
emotion.
A similar ploy is used by Eugene
Levy, who plays a nerdy professor in
search of the mermaid. Levy is funny
as an obnoxious scientist, but then
manages to elicit sympathy from a line
like, "I'm really a nice guy. If I had any
friends they'd tell you."

The success of Splash reflects a
shrewdness on the partof the writers,
actors, and particularly its director,
Ron Howard. Howard knows exactly
how far he can take silliness before it
will undermine the central romance.
This sensibility was evident in his first
movie Night Shift, and has been further
developed here.
The only noteworthy lapse in
Howard's judgement concerns a chase
scene near the end of the movie. Army
trucks charge after Alan and Madison
as they try to make it to the safety of the
ocean. The chase is played too straight
and is too big in what is essentially a
small scale movie. The scope of the
chase is jarring in this context.
This is small criticism, however, of
what could have been an awful movie.
Instead, Splash is that rarity: a mer-
maid movie that works.

Daryl Hannah and Tom Hanks share a tender moment befoWe Hank's strange condition is revealed.

ANNARBOR
AT LAST
I said, this is the Count!I've been waiting
at the bus terminal for three hours-now
where the devils my limousine.., hello?
Hello?

'The

By Byron Bull
N HIS 1979 film The Warriors,
Walter Hill concocts a quirky,
gauche urban fantasy about street
gangs run amok. He constructs a
cinematic pastiche of ideas borrowed
from various genres -everything from
westerns to samurai epics - thrown
together in a story that is over 1400
years old; the tale is called Anabasis by
the ancient Greek writer/historian
Xenophon.
Hill updates the story to present,
moving the locale from Persia to the
Bronx, changing the warrior tribes to
the punk gangs of New York. He con-
centrates on a small gang called the
Warriors, from Coney Island, who, at a
mass gang meeting, are framed for the

Warriors
murder of the city's most powerful
gang leader. Trapped far from their
own turf, the Warriors are faced with
having to fight through every gang on
the way back.
What story there is is blantantly con-
trived illogical, weakly plotted. Hill's
emphasis is on the style and in this
respect he succeeds. The New York he
captures is eerie, desolate, eternally
dark and hostile. The buildings lining
the streets through which the gangs
tread seem solid, like sheer rock cliff
walls. Mysterious silhouettes peer
down from above. The city seems
deserted but for the gangs and the
police, the few people glimpsed are
merely part of the background.
The gangs, clad in elaborate, often
colorful costumes, look like garish ex-
trapolations of the droogs in A Clock-

surreal. flair

work Orange. They're visibly distinct,
separate ethnic groups in identifiable
garb. One gang, all black, sports color-
ful martial arts robes and brandishes
hockey sticks, while another runs about
in pin-striped baseball uniforms and
painted'harlequin faces. The Warriors
themselves are a mixture of blacks,
Hispanics, and whites, wearing long
hair and leather vests. *
Any sympathy the viewer might
develop for the Warriors is thwarted by
Hills insistence on making them icons,
noble savages, proud and fearless, but
devoid of depth.
A romance between Swan, the leader
of the Warriors, and a girl from another
gang, is handled so sloppily and insen-
sitively that it's inconceivable. The
characters in Hill's story don't breathe
or bleed, they're just elements of an ab-

stract composition to be manipulated.
The action scenes do have a taut,
calculated excitement to them. Par-
ticularly one in which the gangs fight
with baseball bats, wielding them in a
sequence choreographed like a swor-
dfight. Characters are bashed over the
head again and again with pipes and
clubs, going down only'to reappear in
the next cut, swinging away again, only
slightly ruffled. In a harsher more
realistic vein, Hill couldn't have gotten
away with the trick. Here, in the slick,
surreal canvas, it works.
The Warriors, with its glossy,
theatrical inclination, is no Concrete
Jungle. Its roots lay with the absurd,
escapist romanticism of West Side
Story. In that respect, it's an amusing
though hardly affecting movie.

The tragic wilting of 'The White Rose'

By David Novak
D URING THE film's scene, im-
mobile on the edge of my seat, I
stared at the screen, elbows on knees,
and chin on hands. Mesmerized, and
affected, I watched this film of suspense,
intrigue and emotion draw to its con-
clusion. When it was finished, I dropped
my head and gazed at the tiled floor.
Filtering through my thoughts came
the muddled sounds of the projectionist
packing away the film (the two of us

were alone for the screening).
After approximately two minutes of
silence, he hesitatingly informed me'
that the film had ended. Moving for the
first time, I slowly turned to him,
acknowledged his perception, and ex-
plained that I needed a few moments to
regain my composure. Eventually, I
found the energy to leave. For the
remainder of the evening, however, I
could not escape that desire for solitude
induced by all emotionally draining ex-
periences.

Chil

2 1n a comedy aboutadults"
~fl reflby A.R. Gurnev
Wednesday-Saturday 8pm
Sunday 2pm

March 21*,22,23 -25
March 29-April 1
preview performances

New Trueblood Theatre
tickets available at the PTP Ticket Office
in the Michigan League 764-0450
g"" Michigan Ensemble Theatre
Directed by Terence Lamude

Foreign films seem to recognize the
value of silence. Unlike American
directors, they are not compelled to
rely upon unending dialogue and sexual
innuendos; varient camera angles, and
changing colors and shadows can con-
vey the director's message. Michael
Verhoeven illustrates this talent in his
film The White Rose (German, with
subtitles).
Set in Nazi Germany, 1942, this true
story depicts a student organization's
attempt to defeat Nazism. This covert
group's impact escalates from a
limited distribution of flyers at their
university to mass distribution
covering numerous cities and thousan-
ds of people. As circulation and goals
increase, so does their danger. As their
predicament becomes increasingly,
precarious, tension and suspense
mounts reaching its peak at the num-
bing conclusion.
The unflinching determination and
courage of the White Rose (the name of
the organization) captivated me. I
feared their capture as much as I would
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my own. I both admired and dreaded
their brash, sometimes incomprehen-
sible methods. I became a part of their
ambitious fight, for Verhoeven woul
not allow me to remain a passive spec-
tator.
He introduces us to each character
through unflinching - often uncomfor
table - camera work. We soon learn
their weaknesses, both as a group and
as individuals at the same time as we
begin to note each of their loves, hates,f
and political ideals. Although only the
lead character (Sophie) is fully
developed, we understand how each
member thinks and acts within the con-
text of his own resistance. Yerhoeven's
perceptive, penetrating camera
demands our empathy.
Rarely does film achieve the realisn
of The White Rose. There is something
magical about this film, for characters
never seem to degenerate into actors.
The lighting, use of color and camera
angles all reveal a brilliantly directed
film, but the actions and passions of
those involved suggest life - without
script and stage direction.
In addition to its artistic merits, The
White Rose offers a valuable history
lesson. Many of us feel Nazi Germany
was a unified nation, and tend t
categorize, assuming that all Germans
were Nazis in the early 1940's. This film
helps remove such biases. We learn
that forceful, overt resistance like that
of the White Rose may have been
limited, but that unvoiced dissension,
was strong.
Woven within this historical
enlightenment are many enigmatic
morals and philosophies; the most
prevalent dilemma is how to deal with a
situation over which one has no control.
Unlike many recent films, this one for-
ces introspection.
This highly recommended Ann Arbor
premiere (brought to us by Cinema 2)
will be showing Saturday, March 17 at 7
and 9 in Angel Hall, Aud. A.
Elvis
Yes, Elvis is coming. Hill Auditorium
will greet him April 22, at 8 p.m.
Tickets are $13.50 and $11.50 and go on
.ale Friday, March 16 at the Union
Ticket Office and other Ticket World
Outlets.
For more information call 763-2071.
ANN. ARBOR
INDIVIDUAL TN9ATR6S
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