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November 16, 1984 - Image 17

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1984-11-16
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_ w












It's a
for sure
Crimes of Passion
Directed by Ken Russell
Starring John Laughlin, Anthony
Perkins, and Kathleen Turner
By Dennis Harvey
W HEN A FILM touts itself
primarily by its controversy
quotient-"The most talked-out movie
of the year! "-that feeling of creeping
suspicion sets in, cluing you that the
most one can expect is something
highly lowbrow-lurid or simply,
retroactively wrong-headed. There's
nothing quite so controversial as
publicly displayed stupidity, and plenty
of that is shamelessly bared in the quite Turner and Perkins: Strange goings on
foolish Crimes of Passion.
This film has the kind of screaming to report) as those in Eating Raoul. Of gaudy surreallist bent into perversely psychiatrist's couch for his shrilly un-
sordidness that seems to have sprung course, she lives a double life. The flip- successful vehicles, like the film ver- desserving wife; the poor guy just wan-
from tabloid headlines-"FASHION side is Joanna Crane, the coolly am- sion of Peter Townshend's Tommy and ts to get laid - yet Laughlin manages
DESIGNER BY DAY, 'ANYTHING bitious women's sportswear designer, the dazzling Tchaikovsky bio The to preserve a persuasive sincerity
GOES' HOOKER BY NIGHT!" with an appropriately sterile post- Music Lovers. But after the commer- throughout, and achieve one or two
"HORNY KILLER 'REVEREND' modern apartment to match her 'nor- cial recovery of Altered States Russell moments of touching vulnerability.
PEEPS AT PROSTITUTE VICTIMS!" mal'-life repression. has floundered about, directing a few
"'MY WIFE HATED SEX ... AND No real explanation is offered for her 'controlversially' outrageous stage Anthony Perkins has played this sort
ME' SAYS DIVORCED HUBBY, NOW schizo life, nor for the character of operas and seeing several film projects of nearly self-parodying, sexually-
LOVER OF COLORFUL WHORE!" Rev. Peter Shatyne (Anthony Perkins), fall through. repressed nut too many times for it to
It's no surprise that Crimes of Passion who seems to have plenty of money Crimes of Passion has a dispirited, seem like anything but a broadly drawn
had to fight its way (losing about five despite his derelict appearance and ap- negative feeling that may be the result caricature. Still, he does this particular
minutes of footage) to an R rating-the parently full-time occupation as tor- of his prolonged filmic inactivity. The sweaty-palmed cartoon better than
problem is not so much any ground- tured leerer at red-light district ac- visual surface (photographed by Dick anyone else (of course, hardly anyone
breaking sexual explicitness (though it tivity, punctuated by fits of self- Bush-given the scatological nature of else has ever bothered to compete), and
does feature the first toe-sucking scene chastising Jesus-Jesus-Jesus soap- this film, this must be a pseudonym) is he achieves the sole moment of true
I can recall in a mainstream commer- boxing. Wouldn't you know it, this nut is sharp-focused and full of gimmicks, but Ken Russell insanity when, in purple
cial film) as the pervasive sleaziness, secretly a nut, with a murderously gaudy in a lowbrow disco way that's close-up, he precludes violence with a
its air of voyeuristic sexual loathing. sharp metal vibrator (no, I am not rather cheesy. Russell dilutes any feverish piano/vocal rendition of "Get
It's rather depressing that exaggerating) and plans to 'save' serious dramatic effect by using his Happy."
writer/producer Barry Sandler created China/Joanna by means of the popular Lisztomania collaborator Rick
this remarkably ugly view of cleansing action, Death. Wakeman, whose grating electronic The talented Kathleen Turner by no
heterosexual relations after his Enter Mr. Nice Guy, Grady (John score keeps swelling like music for an means deserves or needs her current
dramatically clumsy but politically Laughlin), who is bummed out over his afternoon soap opera. press billing as the latest sizzling
well-intentioned view of homosexuality nagging, frigid suburban wife (Annie The one real fantasy sequence, where Hollywood sex symbol. Mildly attrac-
in Making Love. On the other hand, Potts), and who is hired as an industrial one would expect Russell to cut loose, tive, she faked her way with average
Sandler's previous track record could spy by a manufacturer who thinks is a sub-MTV horror show that physical charms and an ecellent per-
only lead one expect the worst-only Joanna may be selling company design c r it i c i z e s mi d dle - Am e r i c a n formance through the siren role in Body
extreme fans of bad cinema will recall plans. Grady gets all excited over the materialism in crude symbols that Heat, and drabbed herself out to
with any joy the disasterous bio Gable discovery of Joanna'a nighttime ac- would embarrass entrants at the 8mm provide some charm in the otherwise
and Lombard or the Racquel-Welch-as- tivities, becomes a China Blue Festival. Russell may have always mechanical Romancing the Stone. As
roller-derby-queen Kansas City Bom- customer, and bang!, True Love By been a bit of a joke, but he was at least a Joanna Crane/China Blue, she's stuck
ber. Big-0, is achieved. Then it's phyche- true original; in this film, he just trying to inhabit two characters so
The combination of Sandler's lurid vs.-Marlboro Man to the ludicrous another flashy, if rather alarmingly so, diametrically one-dimensional-slut-
junior-high-school-level sexual ob- finish. schlock predator. goddess and careerist-iceberg-that no
session/revulsion and the far-below- Ken Russell, probably the only truly Sander's screenplay reduces every emotional translation can be made
form direction of cartoon delierium insane person to work on big-budget character to such self-hating dross that between them. Still, she lends a sharp
maestro Ken Russell (Altered States, films in recent history, has always had it's amazing the actors often emerge precision of delivery to Sandler's oc-
Tommy) lends Crimes of Passion a an edge of lunatic inspiration that lent with their dignity (if rarely their casionally amusing, bathroom-humor-
cheesiness that, infortunately, falls just his silliest indulgences (like Lis clothes) intact ; Annie Potts oriented dialogue exchanges (mostly
short of truly enjoyable idiocy. ztomania, with the Who's Roger Dan- doesn't-there's probably no possible with Perkins), and, for you sports fans
Crimes is a pastiche of suffocated trey as Franz Liszt) moments of tran- way that Grady's wife could have out there, displays a fine torso that is
types, all trapped in an Anycity U.S.A. scendent full-throttle outrageousness, emerged as anything more than a TV- undoubtedly not dubber by someone
setting that defines modern middle- and his absolute worsts (the '79 Valen- culture-symbol zombiefied hag. else.
class life as a post-pubescent wasteland tino with Rudolph Nureyev) on an John Laughlin survives remarkably
of eternally jerkin' off smirking and forgettable camp interest. unscathed by mannerisms (difficult in Crimes of Passion, is, along with
immaturity. Platinum-haired China On occasion Russell has- even been a Russell film) or by nice-guy dopiness Brian De Palma's current Body
Blue (Kathleen Turner) stalks the able to subdue his craziness into perfec- (difficult given the role) in his first Double, perfect fare for those who want
streets as "the hottest piece of action of tly acceptable if still eccentric com- major movie part. their screen smirkin' action as thick as
on this strip, living out men's fantasies mercial cinema -Women in Love, Grady is written as a perfect Ken doll possible but are too scared to go to the
in a variety of glitzy costumes and 'ac- Altered States, the delightful Twiggy of sexual affability-an ex-varsity Art Museum or any place where men
ts' that ate about as silly (though musical The Boyfriend - and once or quarterback, a sweetheart to his two actually watch the movies with
played with dead seriousness, I'm sorry twice he has managed to channel his kids, an articulate, understanding newspapers on their laps.
12 Weekend/Friday, November 16, 1984.-.-.... ..- .





David Bowie-Tonight (EMI)
Even though Bowie didn't have
enough new songs for an album he
whipped together this oddball collection
of retreads (most old Iggy
collaborations) because "he wanted to
keep his hand in it." More likely he just
wanted to cash in on any residual in-
terest left over from last years suc-
cessful Let's Dance. The bulk of the
material here is pretty formulaized,
without spark because Bowie let the
session band work the arrangments on
their own. Most of it's pretty disposable
stuff, not outright bad but hardly likely
to warrant repeated playing. "Don't
Look Down," for instance, features the
single worst reggae arrangement ever
by a white popster, while the Brian
Wilson cover, "God Only Knows"
drawns in its cartton sentimentality.
Some of it works at times, and though
"Blue Jean" is far from a strong single,
its whimsy is refreshing, even if it
sounds pretty garish. "Loving The
Alien," on the ills of organized religion,
is an interesting idea that disintegrates
because Bowie's typically unable to
crystalize his ideas and so again resorts
to tiresome, flatulent poeticism.
Producers Hugh Padgham and Derek
Bramble have a field day mixing it all
down with their grandiose horns,
strings, and percussion that comes out
being far closer to much than lush.
Being a clever posier instead of an
honest songwriter, Bowie's underlying
facileness can be all too visible when
he's lazy like this. Next time, a little
more honest sweat for our money,
please. B.L.B.
Jad Fair-"Monarchs" (Iridescence)
Star personality of the .Washington
D.C. art/noise band Jad Rair released a
solo LP, Everyone Knew. . . But Me
that was as skewed and fascinating as
anything that happened in 1983.
Monarchs, his second solo effort, is less
cohesive but nearly as appealing. Once
again Jad's previous preoccupation
with monsters and other scary things is
set aside in favor of a more mature ob-
session with boy-girl crushes and their
resultant romantic agony. Undeniable

king among adenoidal can't-hit-a-note
boy-man singers, Jad does devestating
covers of "Lucille," "All Shook Up"
and "Folsom Prison Blues" which, in
their roundabout way, get to the heart
of the rock and roll matter. Memorable
originals include "Stephanie," "Thank
You" and "No No No No No." A for-
sure addition to the tiny list of ace
primitive-experimentalists like Cap-
tain Beefheart, the Shaggs and Wild
Man Fischer, Jad sings everything you
wanted to blurt out when you were 13,
with arrangements of fittingly inept-
brilliant avant-somethingness. An
essential record. D. H.
Tom Robinson-Hope And Glory
Once a very promising young British
songwriter, Tom Robinson's career
(save for one or two songs an album)
has fallen frustratingly short of what it
could have been. He's a case of far
more potential than actual talent, and
one's unfairly inclined to damn him for
his own inability (or laziness) to do bet-
ter. His gay and political bannerism
isn't what stalled his success, like some
would claim, it's really the simple fact
that Robinson's writing charac-
teristically lacks focus (for all his good
ideas) and his musical/pop sensibilities
stall out agonizingly just short of cat-
chiness. On this new Geffen release
Robinson opts for an ultra-produced,
energyless sheen of neo-romantic trap-
pings far distant from his early, more
powerful garage band sound. The ef-
fect is a commercial miscalculation
that might put him further out of reach

of a mass audience as he's ever been.
With all the overdubs, whaling saxes,
and Bowie suggestive warbling, Hope
And Glory comes across as one royal
unintentional joke. Some of the songs,
"Old Friend" and "Prison" aren't so
bad lyrically (perhaps a tad too much
on the sentiment) but not worth scrap-
ping all the shit off to get to. Other
ideas are interesting near misses of
mere novelty value, such as the odd
cover of Fagen and Becker's "Ricki
Don't Lose That Number" and a second
recording of the Peter Gabriel co-
authored "Atmospherics: Listen To
The Radio." But the bulk of the album
is full of soppy balladry with rhyme-for-
a-dime lyricism, or just plain fuck-me-
you-brute ugliness like "Cabin Boy"
(Cabin boy work night, night and
day/cabin boy go all the way/man
the capstan, work the pump/cook &
carry ? fetch & hump . . .)that's
embarrasing B. L. B.
Vangelis - Soil Festivities
Vangelis, the Rachmaninoff of the
synthesizor known for his flambouyan-
tly romantic electronic orchestrations,
is here curiously more restrained.
More disciplined than most of his other
releases, Soil Festivities accents the
textured sounds with noted restraint,
and emphasizes a more rigid,
mathematical approach to the com-
positions as opposed to his signatory
dreamy, ambient style. Drier than
what one would hope for, but still
thoroughly pleasant to daydream to if
you're into this sort of stuff. B.L.B.

Raise '
Ultra s
vein of
Vocalist I
lot like a
lot of em
cliches. T
are a si
Daryl ar
7006 W1
2,9 4

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