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February 17, 1987 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1987-02-17

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Ahe Michigan DOily

Tuesday, February 17, 1987

Page 5

'Winter': Frightfully

X 1 !'

By Geoffrey Riklin
At last, a movie that does not cause its
patrons to reget having paid money to see it.
The plot of the Dead of Winter is
complicated but not overly so, and one of its
strengths is that it succeeds in holding the
audience's attention even if not all the threads
of the story are fully comprehended. At least,
this was true in my case. Dead of Winter enter -
tained me completely, so if you can follow the
story you, too, you will most likely be quite
The story goes that our heroine, Mary
Steenburgen, gets a job plying her trade as an
actress, but unbeknownst to her she is playing
the role of a woman who has recently been
murdered. The murdered woman was deeply
involved in a particularly vicious blackmail
plot consisting of the woman herself, her twin
sister, and a psychiatrist. The shrink hires
Steenburgen to keep his end of the schema
afloat, and soon Steenburgen finds her life
expectancy rapidly dwindling as both the

psychiatrist and the remaining sister try to kill
The film has two great strengths and a
number of slightly lesser ones. The great ones
are the afore-mentioned plot and a wonderful
supporting performance by Jan Rubes. Rubes
plays the psychiatrist and is the main villain. If
Rubes were less than very convincing the
suspense would disappear; however he portrays
his character so intelligently that the presence
of fear is very real and very strong. The well-
written script (co-writers Marc Shmuger and
Mark Malone clearly make an impressive team)
and Rubes's controlled nastiness create a solid
foundation for the rest of the film, and Mary
Steenburgen does the rest of the construction.
She plays the actress and both sisters and does
so quite well. The Steenburgen-Rubes
combination is powerful.
There are only two flaws worth mentioning.
The first is Roddy McDowall, the psychiatrist's
sycophantic manservant/patient. McDowall is
all right or better in the film's first half, but in
the second he overplays his hand and becomes

too obviously demented. The second occurs
when Steenburgen attempts to escape after
having become sufficiently suspicious to
warrant such a thing in the midst of a fierce
winter storm. She flees clad only in a shirt and
an improvised shawl, and does so after having
had an opportunity to wear much more
appropriate garments. Her extreme vulnerability
to the weather serves to make her flight more
dramatic but it's a bit dishonest. Director
Arthur Penn, who otherwise has done a fine
job, should have exercised better judgement.
There is one other thing, the stupidest gaffe
I've ever seen in a major movie, sort of the
cinematic equivalent of a huge typographical
error. In two scenes the microphone arm
intrudes onto the screen. It is amazingly
obvious and one must wonder how it went
undetected. But certainly this is not the sort of
thing that can significantly damage a movie,
particularly one as good as this.
In addition to all that, Bill Brodie's set and
Jan Weincke's photography are both commend -
able. Dead of Winter is well worth seeing.

Mary Steenburgen stars as an aspiring actress caught in a deadly game
in 'Dead of Winter.'


Breath-taking quartet finishes off Beethoven cycle

By Debra Shreve
It's, Friday night. It's been a
fong week. But the Guarneri
"Quartet didn't get the night off last
'Friday at Rackham. Sometimes ev-
- 6n the professionals have to work
the weekends.
It was no easy shift, either, for
;the Guarneri. On the program for
the evening were three Beethoven
quartets, including the raucous
"Grosse Fuge," Op. 133. This is a
particularly exhausting work, both
,physically and emotionally.
Originally composed as the final
movement of the Op. 130 Quartet,
Beethoven later felt compelled to let
it stand by itself, as a separate
Immediately from the discordant,
almost Bartokian opening, it is,
plain that the "Grosse Fuge" is late
Beethoven. There are no lilting,
lyrical, themes in this one- only
unrelenting dissonance and aggres-
sion, a sudden drop into a ghostly
Second fugue subject, and then a
return to the original, bitter mood.
This is certainly one of Beethoven's
bitterest, most abstract works.
The Guarneri performed the
"Fugue" with plenty of passion,
and with their usual perfect confid-
ence. They seemed, in fact, a bit
too relaxed at times- especially
}: during pianissimo passages, when
' their usually flawless tone lapsed a
bit and the intonation became
uncertain. But who can blame
Them? It was Friday night.
' The other two works on the
program, the Quartet in B -flat
Major, Op. 18, No. 6, and the
Quartet in F Major, Op. 135,
represented both ends of Beet-
.hoven's quartet-writing career. The
Op. 18, which opened the concert,
. was one of Beethoven's earliest
works, and the Op. 135 was the last
quartet Beethoven finshed. The
Program could wasily have been
.titled "The History of the
-Beethoven Fugue" since each of the
. quartets contains a good share of
fugal writing.
The Op. 135 marks a return for
eethoven from the compositional
,wildernesses he explored in, for
example, the "Grosse Fuge." It is a
conservative quartet in form and
style, but exhibits the
sophistication Beethoven gained
from his experiments with forms

and harmony.
The Guarneri returned after
intermission in top form for the
Op. 135. In the vivace second
movement, the quartet tossed off
some amazing feats of syncopation
and some incredible spicatto- full
tone, perfect precison, flawless
dynamic changes. Only these four
men- who have played together

for over twenty-five years-could
have achieved the musical unity,
even down to their matching body
gestures, which seemed to turn this
movement into an exquisite
Guarneri Quartet dance. That they
could make it through ten minutes
of lento . assai in the third
movement further proved that they
had regained their concentration, and

were at their best . And at their
best, no one can match them.
The Op. 135 is a breath-taking
work, an impressive finale to
Beethoven's quartet career and to

any program- It was an especially
appropriate ending to the six-part
series, begun last year, during
which the Guarneri played the entire
Beethoven quartet cycle.

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