The Michigan Daily Sunday, April 8, 1984
The Daily goes
to the Academy
By Joshua Bilmes
T OMORROW NIGHT that
Hollywood spectacular known as
die Academy Awards, or Oscars, will
'b on us once again. And if Oscar is on
1iis way, the critics with their half-
baked predictions must be coming, too.
-Tn fact, they are here already, and you
can find mine in the paragraphs ahead.
The one difficult thing about predic-
ting Academy Award winners is the dif-
ficulty involved in separating your per-
sonal favorite from the film which is
most likely to win. To avoid that pitfall,
I will give both the film I predict will
win, and the film or performer I per-
sonally would vote for.
I will start by tackling the big one,
Best Picture. The nominees are The
Big Chill, The Right Stuff, Tender Mer-
cies, The Dresser, and Terms of En-
dearment, which will probably end up
with the statuette.
I actually do not know which film I
would vote for. I would not vote for
either of the comedies. The Big Chill
was so busy being very funny that it left
out the meaning. In a movie which is
supposed to be a personal, meaningful
one, the absence is too much.
Terms of Endearment was very good,
but nothing seemed to exist for any
reason besides pleasing the audience.
Generally, audience pleasing is okay,
but Terms overdoes it.
I would vote for either of the other
three. The Right Stuff was excellent,
and one of the few movies I would flag
people down on the diag to recommend.
The Dresser was an intense, cathartic
acting tour de force. Tender Mercies
was just plain good. Some of the other
people at the showing I went to thought
it was perfect except for an innacurate
depiction of Texas dust.
For director, James Brooks will
probablywin for Terms of Endear-
ment. My crystal ball sees a big sweep
for the movie. I would most like to give
Philip Kaufman the award for The
Right Stuff. But he is not nominated.
Hence, I would give it to Bruce
Beresford for Tender Mercies. It, with
The Dresser, was one of the most
literate movies of the year, but I think
Mercies neededl more actual directing.
Robert Duvall is a heavy favorite to
win Best Actor. I would vote for him.
Or I would choose Tom Courtenay or
Albert Finney for The Dresser. But I
hate to pick one without the other
because they both were equally good,
equally important to the movie, and
equally important to each other.
Duvall might not be quite as good, but it
seems more fair to choose him then flip
a coin for one of the other two.
Shirley MacLaine is the favorite for
her role as the mother in Terms. She
Karen Silkwood in Silkwood was per-
formed brilliantly. Debra Winger was
nominated for Terms, and the other two
nominations went to Jane Alexander in
Testament and Julie Walters in
Supporting actress should go to Linda
Hunt for her role as a male
photographer in The Year of Living
Dangerously. I also think it will go to
her. None of the other
nominees-Glenn Close, The Big Chill;
Cher, Silkwood; Amy Irving, Yentl; or
Alfre Woodard, Cross Creek were
overwhelmingly better, and none have
a reason of overriding sentiment.
Supporting Actor has some awful
choices, such as Charles Durning for To
Be or Not To Be and John Lithgow in
Terms. Rip Torn got nominated for
Cross Creek and Alan Shepard for The
Right Stuff. The best of the not-so-good
choices is Jack Nicholson in Terms. He
is another favorite, and I would also
vote for him.
It is a shame that most of the good
supporting performances were in The
Right Stuff and The Big Chill where the
votes probably ended up cancelling
each other out.
So much for the big ones. A lot of the
small ones will probably end up going to
Terms of Endearment. These days, a
The Right Stuff
... lands smoothly at Oscars
has been nominated a lot and seems
due, and her role in Terms is ample
justification. I would cast my vote for
Meryl Streep. I hate to do it; she seems
to win every year. But her role as
'The Big Chill' may get the big freeze at the Oscars this season.
lot of people vote party lines; if
something won Best Picture, every lit-
tle thing must be the best, too. Maybe
there will be a surprise and some of the
little things like cinematography,
editing, and sound will get passed
Maybe not. The big night is
tomorrow. The Dorothy Chandler
Pavilion will be filled with stars, and
we'll all get to find out just how foolish
this article will look on Tuesday.
'Liquid Sky' views
'Beatle Barkers' will change your musical preferences while it sheds new
light on the Morris is Dead' conspiracy.
The Woofers & Tweeters En-
Once in a decade there comes along a
record that promises to change the face
of popular music forever. Albums like
The Shags' first album and Yoko Ono's
Season of Glass are two such records.
Now, for the '80s, we have Beatle
I can not possibly convey the
adrenaline rush one feels when the
needle drops onto perfection, music
that is now-that cuts through the heart
of ever-spiraling commercialism and
pseudo-artsiness to get at the heart of
what music should be. Let this much
be said-Beatle Barkers has come, and
music will never be the same. From
this day forward all musicians will be
indebted to this sound.
Certainly everyone who enjoys the
music of the Beatles has reservations
about the extensive use of words and
language to convey the musical
message. The very essence of rock
music is a savage, gripping, animal
passion. How many times have we all
said, "Yea, Beatles music is O.K., but it
would have been a lot better if Paul was
0'a Cocker Spaniel." Now that long
wished-for dream is reality.
The Woofers and Tweeters Ensem-
ble, an elite group of hounds, felines,
sheep, and occasional chickens were
chosen after a nationwide search as the
animals to create definitive renditions
of songs that heretofore had been ob-
scured by lyrics like: Dear Sir of
Madam will you read my book? It
took me years to write, will you take
a look? These, and all of the other
superfluous words, phrases, and pun-
ctuation have been thankfully
obliterated. We are left with the
yeoman instrumental work of the en-
semble, and the devastating revelation
that rock, that savage medium, has
gone to the dogs.
In a recent interview, popular
vocalist and father Mick Jagger put it
this way: "It's humbling, in a way.
For many years the Stones have been
WHO are these mysterious creatures
who have brought the music world to its
knees, who have sent sales of canine
hormones skyrocketing? Who are the
sheep that bleat out "Hard Days Night"
as we all know it should have been
bleated? Why, at the end of "Day Trip-
per," can a disembodied cat be heard
saying, I was fed by Paul. Rumors
are flying. Some claim that this is truly
the voice of feline star of stage and
screen, Morris the Cat, who supposedly
died several years ago. While Morris'
presence is certainly unlikely, the
album cover reveals an unsettling coin-
cidence-in the lower left hand corner,
frantically cheering, can be seen that
all-to-familiar bull neck. Passport
records has declined to comment on the
"Morris is dead" conspiracy, which has
served to fuel the suspicions of the
groups' fans, both human and animal.
It is heartneing to find that in today's
jaded record industry there are still a
few dedicated animals that care enough
to give the flawed works of a second-
rate bunch of humans a second chance.
Through the labor of this small group
the Beatles' music has been stripped of
its superfluous vocal and lyrical con-
tent, and barked, as it should have been
the first time around.
While this will serve to reaffirm in the
minds of Bea tie fans that their men
were consummate artists, W&T fans
will know that it was only through the
yelps and howls of their favorite
animals that Lennon and McCartney
music found its true realization.
Pop :Idol and burn victim Michael
Jackson feels this way, "You know, in
the Thriller video I turned into a wolf.
Now that I think about it, maybe I
should have stayed that way... we're
too human, that's the thing. I've got all
these Grammies, but am I an artist? I
was talking to my friend, Paul McCar-
tney, and he said he feels very proud to
have been part of the seed material for
this record, Beatle Barkers. All I'can
say is that humans have to go back to
the drawing boards. I'll probably have
to scrap the tour this summer, but no
pain no gain, right?"
By Larry Dean
L ET US UPDATE the archaic term
"happening" by applying it to
Slava Tsukerman's Liquid Sky, a film
so adamently hooplaed that missing it
could be the worst mistake made since
avoiding the "Who Shot J.R.?" episode
of Dallas many-a-moon ago.
Indeed, even I was stumbling over
my own feet to see what has been called
the most brilliant and original concept
film in years. The pre-release (in Ann
Arbor and the general Midwest) raves
have been almost unanimous in
praising Liquid Sky for its boldness of
content, deft camera work, and
unabashed style, making it sound like a
movie fan's fieldday at the cinema.
I won't attempt to sucker you into the
old 360-degree turnabout with a thum-
bs-down review of Liquid Sky-for,
while I can't agree with why everybody
is liking it so much, I can say that it is a
great-maybe even excellent-film.
Plotwise, Liquid Sky is simple. But
that simplicity helps Tsukerman build
on the bare-boned imagistic qualities
inherent in the script. Margaret (Anne
Carlisle) is a New York "New Wave"
fashion model. She lives with her
lesbian, junkie girlfriend, Adrian, in a
penthouse apartment approximately
perpendicular from an Empire State
Building observation deck.
Into this vicinity comes an alien
spacecraft, no larger than a frisbee,
perched on the roof outside the apar-
tment door. The being inside has been
drawn to Margaret's pad because of a
certain predilection it has for heroin,
which can be found in great quantities
inside the house.
Paralleling the alien's arrival is the
arrival of another outsider, a German
scientist, searching for the alien. It
seems he has been on the tail of the ex-
tra-terrestrial craft for some time, and
now that it has come to New York, he
In no time, he sets up on the obser-
vation deck, and, using a tracking
device, discovers the alien's presence
on the adjoining rooftop. Not one to
procrastinate, he packs up, and heads
for a surprise meeting with a friend
of his, an acting teacher ("You're the
only person I know in New York," he
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The right audiences are bound to
appreciate the originality the color,
rage, nonchalance, sly humor,
and ferocious fashion sense.
-Janet Masn, N.Y. Times
says), to try and explain the
phenomena of the alien, and ask for
The major dramatic question of
Liquid Sky starts out to be "will the
scientist come in contact with the
alien?" Through a series of misadven-
tures and coincidences, he is
sidetracked again and again until the
end of the film, when a showdown of
sorts does occur.
However, the real meat 'n' potatoes
of Liquid Sky is the periphery action,
involving Margaret and her other
decadent chums. While the alien sits,
patiently, waiting for the usage of some
heroin, it discovers an even bigger rush
can be gotten from an enzyme secreted
in the human brain during orgasm.
This is where the plot really takes off.
Anne Carlisle is undoubtedly the
focus of Liquid Sky, not only on screen,
but behind the scenes as well. She co-:
wrote the screenplay with Tsukerman,
and, in a bizarre twist, plays Jimmy, a
male fashion model from the steamy,
social club scene that is the film's main
Many critics have hailed Liquid Sky
for its fierce fashion sense and
tributary city-scape; when reading
their reviews, you get the impression
that Liquid sky is another in a series of
tired, arty films with sex and drugs
propelling a languid script along.
But what they hail as celebration I
see as indictment-the New York pic-
tured in Liquid Sky is not a pretty,
idealized place, but a pungent, sordid
one. Thankfully, Tsukerman doesn't'
manipulate the audience by showing
ghettos and rotting edifices-instead,
it's just the opposite: The setting is a
flashy, bright, neon vortex of sound and
color. Maragerat's apartment,
especially, is a surrealist headspin of
collected modern decor and trash-T-
sukerman's world is not so much one
lacking humanity, but one over-
whelmed by surrogate humanity and
Liquid Sky is hilarious and brutal; the
"jokes" aren't bellyachers, but rather,
absurd ironies and coincidenatal twists.
It never ceases to elicit a response,
whether it's laughter, disgust,
emotional overload, or disbelief-it is
ripe with a panorama of every possible
emotion, never settling on one, and
therein lies its strongest asset-its
inability to be categorized.
Is it science fiction? Yes, but
definitely not in the average sense.
Even the high-techness of 2001 had
some roots in moviedom's sci-fi efforts
of the past. The closest Liquid Sky
comes to the Hollywood tradition of
outer space portrayal is in the ship's
shape, that of (what else?) a saucer.
However, details like that are very
unimportant to what Liquid Sky seeks
Tsukerman has said that his film is a
reaction to being a stranger in a
strange land (in his case, a Soviet
emigree), a reaction to the way
American culture keeps aecaying un-
der us like a rotting footbridge.
In one scene, a group of
photographers gather in the apartment
to do a photo-essay on Jimmy and
Margaret: It so happens that they
come from all over the country. By this
time, Margaret has made some star-
tling discoveries about herself and the
alien, and she uses the weird power she
has attained to combat the decadence
and coldness of the fashion-hungry
nonentities about her.
Here is perhaps the most revealing
scene in Liquid Sky, where Margaret
reminisces about her childhood in Con-
necticut, a childhood with the smell of
apple pie cooling on the back porch,
piggy-tails, horsebackriding, and other
comforts of a middle-class WASP up-
bringing. Pictures of her then are jux-
taposed in a montage sequence with
photographs from the current session,
showing her in her pale white, corpse-
like, Kabuki-esque makeup, which
looks like it has been slapped on with a
trowel; childhood smiles are replaced
by posturing sneers and fashionable
poses; and the muted browns, greens,
and blues of the past stand up against
the rainbow colors of her new world.
Liquid Sky doesn't wimp out on its
message. For me, it's, loud and clear,
that this once virile and beautiful
creature has been corrupted and
wasted by - the high-speed
dehumanization of rape, drugs, and
skyscrapers tearing at the sky.
Fashion it does not idolize. I don't think
-I have ever seen a fiercer, more bitter,
colorful picture postcard from the chic
twilight zone of hell. Please see Liquid
Sky, and think about it long after-
ward-it's a rare experience.
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