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January 09, 1986 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1986-01-09

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The Michigan Daily

Thursday, January 9, 1986

Page 5

A not-so-classic tale

By Byron Bull
FOUR YEARS ago German direc-
tor Wolfgang Peterson made
something of a big international
splash with Das Boot, a stylish,
moralistic adventure about a German
U-Boat crew during WW II. Though
little more than essentially a rehash
of old scenes from every old
Hollywood submarine melodrama,
sprinkled with an abundance of sin-
cere if sophomoric anti-war sen-
timent, it created quite a stir among
critics and middlebrow filmgoers
stateside, eventually becoming one of
the biggest grossing foreign films to
play in this country.
Enemy Mine is Peterson's first
American film - it was inevitable
that he'd be wooed west with a
lucrative offer - an expensive space
opera in the typical post-Star Wars
vein that only magnifies his shor-
tcomings as a director who smothers

well worn story material with sim-
plistic but heavyhanded morality.
The setting is an interstellar war
between Earth and a race of lizarac
men called Dracs, where a dogfight
between two fighters leaves a man
and lizard crashed and stranded
together on a desolate volcanic moon.
Lanky, drawling Dennis Quaid plays
the Earth pilot, a squinteyed, tough
as granite soldier, a role that in
earlier versions was a calvary scout,
or a cigar chomping Marine sergeant.
The Drac pilot is played by Louis
Gossett Jr. - under a hokey rubber
lizard mask that literally has a hole
cut out around the mouth for Gossett
to put his lips through - who plays a
graceful, slightly mystic character
that in earlier incarnations was cast
as an American Indian or honorable
Japanese soldier.
The formula goes that the two
warriors have to rely on one another
to survive, as a grudging respect
grows between them, evolving even-

tually into mutual understanding and
friendship. Peterson plays the game
with predictable staleness, as Quaid
and Gossett swap ethnic slurs, take
swipes at each other, then save one
another from meteorites and big
nasty Godzilla-like carnivores before
they start comparing religions and
realize . . . surprise.. . that the're
really not that different.
It's an idea already well milked in
countless old B-movies, comic
books, and "Star Trek" episodes and
Peterson fails to do anything inspired
with the material, except for getting
man and lizard acquainted with little
more than a few rushed through con-
frontations, and makes most of
Enemy Mine a mawkish, bizarre kind
of sci-fi buddy-buddy comedy set
against a production design of
needlenosed rocketships and flying
saucers that could have come right
out of a 50's comic strip.

of lizar
But the film takes even weirder
twists than that, as it turns out
Gossett's lizard is a hermorphadite
pregnant with little reptile, who sits
around the campfire, contendedly
plump and purring to himself as he
knits a pair of little booties for his
baby while nervous first time dad
Quaid paces back and forth across the
cave. Imagine an alien version of a
sixties sitcom, with Quaid in the Dick
Van Dyke role and Gossett taking
Lucille Ball's part and you get the pic-
ture, a very, very, demented idea
that's outrageous except Peterson
isn't joking, he's playing it all dead
Peterson steals left and right to
keep the film chugging along, stealing
from everyone from John Ford to
Disney to "Leave It To Beaver" as
Enemy Mine emerges as the grossest
goulash of genres since the Mad Max

ds and men

films, except Peterson does it all
out of lack of originality and without
the same grand campiness and
manical wit that George Miller had.
Uncle Quaid raises the little lizard,
teaches him to play football, and
when a band of nasty humans kidna-
the little guy for a slave, he raids their
starship/fort with his home made bow
and arrow, to rescue him. It's the sort
of nonsense that could only endear it-
self to adolescent sci-fi fanatics,
which is likely what it will do in a few
years when it ends up as the local
television station's afternoon movie.
Dennis Quaid's career will
probably be set back years by this ex-
cursion, which leaves him on the
screen quite embarrassed and at a

loss of what to do but rush through his
lines with what measure of en-
thusiasm he can muster, though he
looks visibly uncomfortable most of
the time, and probably wished he had
the luxury of hiding his face behind a
mask as Gossett does. Gossett though
actually manages to salvage his bit of
the proceedings, hamming it up under
his lizard head with the same sort of
coy, offbeat playfulness that Jim
Menson and Frank Oz invest in their
Muppet creations, chattering and
clucking and seemingly have a jolly
romp. It's the one bit of real charm in
an otherwise drab, unimaginative
clunker in this, the most arid of
Christmas film seasons in some

*Folk dean hits Ark

By Joseph Kraus
ETE SEEGER aside, Tom Pax-
P ton is probably the dean of
American folk singers.
While there are certainly folk
singers who have been around longer,
and probably several who can sing
better and write better songs, his un-
compromising warmth and genial
stage manner have maintained him
as one of the country's leading folk
singers for most of the last quarter-
Paxton first came to prominence in
the folk revival that swept the country
in the earlt '60s. Alongside Phil Ochs
and Bob Dylan, he emerged as a
leading voice of politicized young
people. But where Ochs has died and
Dylan gone on to rock and folk-rock,
Paxton has shunned large commer-
cial audiences and remained a part of
the tradition of activist songwriting.
Early in his career he won fame as
the author of several songs that
became immediate standards. After
Pete Seeger popularized "Ramblin'
Boy," the folk world, and for a brief

time the popular world, came to
discover "I Can't Help But Wonder
Where I'm Bound," "The Last Thing
on My Mind," and "Bottle of Wine."
Since then, while his classic songs
remain as essential part of his shows,
he's become known more for his
directly topical satires. Songs like "I
am Changing My Name to Chrysler,"
which poked fun at the Chrysler bail-
out program and "I Don't Want a
Bunny-wunny" which ridiculed
President Carter's "killer rabbit"
episode now make up the bulk of his
show but are superseded by new
songs reflecting more current events.
Paxton's visitsd to the Ark are
almost traditional now, as he's been
here once a year for several years.
Offering a unique combination of ex-
perience and innvoation coupled with
a radiant stage presence, his show
should be a great one for people who
don't usually go to folk concerts, and
should be full of good memories for
those who do.
Paxton appears at the Ark tonight
at 7:30 and 10. Tickets are $7.50 and
available at Schoolkid's and Herb
David's or at the door.

Timeless Tom Paxton brings his rootsy but often satirical brand of folk
music to the Ark tonight for two shows.

"Cream Corn From The
Socket of Davis" 12"
(Touch and Go)
And this is what hardcore has
evolved into. It's a good thing. Are the
Surfers the natural progression?
Most wouldn't think so. They're too
silly. The Surfers represent the
"Owwww, ride 'em cowboy" ap-
proach to hardcore or whatever it's
called. Every song has a freaky
arrangement and they pervert every
sound that comes out of their in-
struments. And you don't know
what's coming next. 'Cause they
abuse every genre they can get their
hands on.
"Moving To Florida" is a psycho
bedtime story. The singer drawls in a
southern black mess, "I'm moving
down to Florida/I'm gonna bowl me a
perfect game/ They be making tad-
poles the size of Mercury's in Florida.
/They be telling Julio Iglestias what
to sing . .. now". In between those
lines, the band bashes out a 3 chord
bit that parodies the Clash's "Should I
Stay Or Should I Go?". It's a com-
plete joke and hopefully everyone will
get in. Almost every song is great,
and the three main singles are here,
including mine (and New Musical
,Express's) single of the year, "Never

Understand." Other highlights in-
clude, "Taste The Floor" - their best
song to date, "In A Hole," "My Little
Undergound" and "Something's
Wrong." I love this record. It makes
me feel good and cool, man. It lets me
forget the fact that I'm gonna be
going out into the real world real
soon. It makes a great party record.
It makes a great breach and surfing
record. And I do think people will get
over the noise after a few listens. Yes,
the best of both worlds.

By the way, they played Detroit in
December, and it was a letdown.
They lacked energy and the sound
was actually quiet for them. I don't
know if it was then or the Traxx
system. But when I saw them last
April at Danceteria in N.Y.C., they
were unbelieveably loud and great.
The word has been that they are in-
consistent and the outcome of the gig
depends on how drunk they are.
-Richard Williams

Jan. 810

Michigan Union Mall
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