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October 12, 1984 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1984-10-12

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

No so
By Byron L. Bull
The problem with Another Country is
that, like so many screen adaptations of
plays, by the time it's been ripped apart
and reassembled and twisted into
usable form for the screen, all of it's
original assets, the elements that may
have made it so powerful on stage, are
lost. Quite often the only thing to
remain, and often quite glaringly, is the
sole central idea that spawned the
work. Noble as such ideas often are,
such flagrant pontification can make
for one boring film.
Author Julian Mitchell (who wrote
both the stage and screen versions) has
fashioned an interesting enough
premise about loyalty, trust, tolerance,
and the perversion of those ideas by a.
society, but fails to integrate them ef-
fectively into a dramatically satisying
The film opens in a suite in Moscow
where Guy Bennett (Rupert Everett),
an English.defector to the Soviet Union,
sits, an old man, retelling of the days
that led to his decision to defect,
causing an international scandal. When
the reporter interviewing him asked
him if the rewards he reaped personally
were worth his ensuing notoriety, he
answers matter-of-factly, "Fame or in-
famy . . . What's it matter if you're not
The ensuing movie-long flashback
focuses on Bennett's days as a young
man attending the English boarding
school of Eton during the 1930s. Mit-
chell and director Marek Nanievska.
paint a grim portrait of an ancient in-
stitution, whose rigid military structure

good ol'
and inner hierarchy are as archaic and
complex as its architecture. The
pressure within the school to succeed
and conform to established customs is
devastating to those inclined to noncon-
formity. Students who don't adhere to
the self perpetuating upper-class em-
pirical mentality are quite effectively
ground under its heels, and Bennett is a
prime target. '
Amidst a hotbed of repression,
homosexual affairs between the boys
are frequent, if not an expected part of
life. It's something of a tradition among
the boys, an accepted part of
adolescence that they eventually grow
out of. The problem is Bennett is an
open, flirtatious gay, who spends the
better part of his time gazing longingly
from a distance at his latest pretty
flame. Coupled with his open
detestation for the regimentated, often
absurd routines of school life (cricket
and military exercises), he becomes an
object of intense hatred for the more
fervent students, who in their brown
shirts look appropriately like Fascists.
Guy's solo friend, by the simple
fact that he is the only other student as
defiantly singular, is Tommy Judd.
Judd is an intense, brooding intellectual
-Marxist ideologue, who is as asexual
as Bennett is rabidly homosexual, and
is as pragmatic as his friend is
hopelessly romantic.
While Judd's politics may be openly
sneered at by his classmates, they at
least respect his sharp wit at defending
his political views. Bennett on the other
hand, is often a gratingly childish prigs,'
flaunting his homosexuality just to
irritate his classmates. It's his actions,

The Michigan Daily- Friday,;October 12, 1984 - Page7
country living

coupled with his openly paraded affair
with another boy, that leads to a con-
spiracy that publicly humiliates him
and destroys his prospects of finding a
niche in the school's political structure,
which he needs desperately to secure a
political career.
The problem with Mitchell's script is
that while he constructs a clever arena
for talking about prejudice and in-
tolerance, he fails to come up with con-,
vincing characters to give it impact.
Bennett and Judd are walking
caricatures, carefully crafted but
lifeless set pieces. Judd has perpetually
mussed hair and burns the midnight oil
while pouring over his battered copy of the
writings of Marx. He is like a religious
zealot engrossed in a lifelong study of
The Bible.
Bennett is also letter perfect with his
casual sensuous mannerisms, and a
pastel sweater draped lightly about his
waist that would put him right at home

in a GQ spread. Everett and Firth's
performances are solid enough, but
lack the insight and depth to really
make their characters feel alive. They
may have the mannerisms down pat, but
they're still only impersonating
Mitchell's dialogue, paticularly in the
climactic confrontation between Ben-
nett and Judd, is full of powerful
feelings and ideas, but Mitchell could be
a little more subtle in conveying them.
The conversations lack a natural feel,
and they're so loaded with vital infor-
mation that one needs time to pause to
absorb it all.
In a theater, with the inherent power
that the intimacy which live actors can
bring to a piece on stage, I can imagine
Another Country working. On the
screen, the characters seem too
distant, and the author's techniques are
too obvious. In the end, the film never
arouses ones feelings as deeply as it
yearns to do.

No funny
Bill Murray stars in his first dramatic role as a man searching for Spiritual
enlightenment after World War I in 'The Razor's Edge.' The movie is based
on the novel by W. Somerset Maugham.

Re cordsr
Romeo Void - Instincts
(415 Records/CBS)
It's, almost cruel to expect Romeo
M Void to ever equal or better the
achievement of "Never Say Never."
This can still stand, after nearly three
years, as my nominee for the best
single dance song of the '80 s so far -
though an unlikely one, an emotionally
violent ode to sexual frustration, with
the ambiguous chanty catch phrase I
might like you better if we slept
together and Benjamin Bossi's
saxophone gradually rising to a night-
mare scream of insanity.
- All this and more within a solid seven-
minute structure of driving rhythm that
had to thrust even the mildest sheep in-
to dancefloor contortions.
Romeo Void's previous and sub-
sequent recordings cut out an in-
triguingly'unique niche, a moody jazz-
wave fusion dominated by synth at-
mospherics, sax squeal-outs and the
vocal-lyrical presence of Deborah Iyall.
Always a shade too intellectual for
mass consumption, Romeo Void
seemed an uneasy' prospect for the high
visibility that "Never Say Never" af-
forded them. The very distinctiveness
of their sound was a potential limitation
Their major-label debut, "Benefac-
tor," while certainly attractive in its
separate parts, began to sound-
monotonously 50% one mood ("Never
Say Never" and its bedfellows) and
50% another (space-jazz-wave).
After some infighting and a limbo
period of two years, Romeo Void is
back with a third LP, Instincts. Sur-
prisingly, this is their most focused and
varied record to date, answering
strongly in the affirmative that all-
important question, "Yeah, but can
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they put together a whole album of good
They can, and how. Still moody and
somewhat'jazz-influenced, Instincts
finds Romeo Void a tighter ensemble.
The band is less dependent on
repetitious musical signatures (i.e..
Bossi's sax is more integrated into the
mix and more controlled, while Iyall
does more singing than reciting of her
lyrics),, and their excellent new
material travels in more than two or,
three emotional-keys.
There's nothing here that par-
ticularly resembles "Neyer Say
Never," which is just as well. A com-
plex record that keeps gaining interest
with repeated listenings, Instincts
doesn't have a "single" leaping off the
vinyl, though the oddly touching, mid-
tempo "A Girl in Trouble (Is a Tem-
porary Thing)" is immediately addic-
Deborah's sultry/cynical act has
lightened up a bit (though her chanty
interludes still sound vaguely like Mae
West), enough to accommodate a
closing title track that is quite simply,
and beautifully a love song. "Billy's

Birthday," strung out on a bump-and-
grind rhythm, is another ode to a sub-
ject that Romeo Void handles better-
than anybody else right now - the
vague paranoia and isolation of over-
socialized urban dwellers.
"Just Too Easy" and "Say No" are
snarling dance tunes with Iyall's wit-
tiest lyrics. The opening "Out on my
Own" is a sweeping declaration of in-
dependence in an ominous minor mode,
with the most impressive arrangement
in current studio-whizkid-of-the-year
David Kahne's ideal production. The.
end of this song is, rather surprisingly,

the only time on the LP when Bossi
breaks into the expected howls of sax
hysteria, and it certainly wakes up the
house. A smoky instrumental penned
by Kahne, "Going to Neon," and the
tribal-drummed "Six Days and One"
further stretch the album's range.
With Instincts Romeo Void suc-
cessfully makes the transition from
one-hit cult band to both greater com-
plexity and accessibility; though they
remain an acquired taste, Instincts
makes it one all the more worth
acquiring. - Dennis Harvey

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She will become
their most deadly weapon.
As long as they can make
her fall in love.
Executive Producer PATRICK KELLEY
Screenplay by LORING MANDEL
n-- tI. --t L.. IflUdI I E fICADD


DATE: October 16
TIME: 1st showing-7:OO PM
#4- -fl . . - - A . 4 PEmm


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