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February 05, 1988 - Image 17

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1988-02-05
Note:
This is a tabloid page

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MICH.ELLANY

FILM

Come

to

'House

of

Games'

Norma Klein
Nationally-renowned author talks about
writing, feminism, and the Reagan Era
INTERVIEW
Norma Klein published her first children's book, 'Mom, The
Wolfman and Me' and her first adult novel, Love and Other
Euphemisms' in 1972. Since then she has become one of the most
recognized and most published authors of the last 20 years. Klein is a
mother of two and an ardent feminist. She will speak at the School of
Public Health Auditorium tonight at 6 p.m. as a part of Markley Hall's
Symposium on Health and Wellness. Klein spoke recently with Arts
Editor Lisa Magnino.
Daily: You began your career writing short stories and now are
known for your novels. What is your favorite fictional form?
Klein: At this point it's novels. I really only wrote short stories
when I was in my 20s. So even though they were collected later on I
really haven't written them for 25 years at least. I must admit I wrote
my first novel partly in order to get a short story collection published. I
just got to like novels better, and simultaneously I also got into the
field of children's books. So I guess, basically, I alternate between adult
novels and novels for teenagers. I really see the novel for adults and
novels for teenagers as being the same except that the protagonist is a
different age.
D: Your advice to writers is to write about things that you've
experienced. Did you get a lot of your ideas from friends or from own
experience?
K: More friends than things I've actually experienced myself. In some
cases just by reading an interesting story in the paper or hearing about
something quite indirectly. I meant that you usually start off, if you're
writing realistic fiction, with a world that you know. Like, I've always
lived in New York and the kids I know, not the ones who read me
necessarily, but the ones I'm writing about are the kind of left-wing,
intellectual kids. I think that's the world I know, basically, and my
daughters who are now almost out of teenage grew up in that same
world.
D: How does being a mother affect your writing about youth?
K: I think it's partly affected... first I wouldn't have written about kids
at all had I not had them. I started out with a very different intention
which was that I was very interested in art, and I thought, when they
were very young that I would end up writing and illustrating. The
illustrating never really caught on; I didn't really have any professional
art training. Just as a fluke, really, an agent said, "Why don't you try a
book for eight to twelve year olds?" At that point my kids were much
younger and I just wrote it off the top of my head not knowing much
about the field. That was Mom, The Wolfman, and Me. It did extremely
well. It was controversial, much to my surprise really. I think n6w I'm
at the other end of the spectrum. That is, partly, I've gotten more
impatient.with all of the taboos in the young adult field, which have
actually gotten worse in the past ten years with Reagan and the sort of
oppressive political atmosphere. Also, I think now that my kids are
moving from high school to college, I'm really interested in a more
borderline n'ovel more like Catcher in the Rye that could be read,
See INTERVIEW, Page 9

So long, January. I'd be.lying if I
didn't say I'm damn happy .to see
you go. You were so cold. And I'm
just not talking about the weather.
How many publicized incidents
of racism did we have on campus last
month? Five? Eight? Ten? The list
goes on. First, there was Dean
Steiner. Blacks couldn't have been
too happy with him saying that he
feared they would flock to the Uni-
versity the same way they do to
Wayne State. And of course, who
can overlook Martin Luther King
Jr.'s birthday, celebrated first by the
administration by having classes and
then by UCAR for using deceit
("Classes are cancelled") and racial
taunts to keep students from exercis-
ing their right to attend class.
Back and forth it goes. Whites
smacking blacks, Blacks smacking
whites. It is like a never-ending
badminton game. No winners, only
losers. You hope King's dream can
come true one day, but right when
you think any progress is being
made, Whap! Another hit.
And here comes February. Black
History Month. A chance to gain a
greater appreciation and knowledge of
Blacks and their culture. A chance to
put down the racquets for a while and
get to know one another.

What happens? Well, in typical
University fashion we kicked off the
occasion by heading backwards. In-
stead of coming closer, we pull fur-
ther apart. I'm referring to the racist
fliers found on campus last Monday
- the very first day of Black History
Month. "NIGGERS GET OFF
CAMPUS!" read the headline, cour-
tesy of a group called "Students for
White Supremacy." To the side was
a picture of Dean Steiner with a halo
drawn around his head. Maybe you
have seen one of these fliers. If you
haven't, the gist of it is Blacks don't
belong at the University. They be-
long "hanging from trees."
Whap!
Happy Black History Month.
So take the dagger that is al-
ready deep in the heart of Blacks at
the University and twist it deeper; if
the pain isn't already unbearable,
soon it will be. Never mind that if a
debate were held on the virtues of
Students for White Supremacy's
values it would be a forfeit.

Now, it is difficult for me to
openly discuss racism at the Univer-
sity for three reasons: I am white, I
am middle-class, and I am male. It
seems that whenever I try to suggest
that a double standard exists - that a
Black can call me a Wonder bread
lover and say justice has been served,
but then turn around and call me a
racist for suggesting he has a natural
affection for watermelon - I am
showered with cries of "Racist!
Racist!" So I stay quiet. And I be-
come bitter.
This I know: when a Black and
white pass each other on the side-
walk, the stoney silence that exists
is as deafening as any racial slur, as
defeating as any flier. Openly racist
acts intended to do harm, like the
fliers and the racial slurs, are only
the tip of this social iceberg. What
lies below, and makes up the most
prevalent form of racism at the Uni-
versity, is the subtle racist acts. Like
choosing sides for basketball and
picking a Black in the hopes of get-
ting a speedy forward. Or being
Black and walking by a group of
See SHEA, Page 9

By Lisa Pollak
What do psychiatrists and con
artists have in common?
They both earn money by earning
people's trust. They are specialists
in human nature. They ask
questions; they cajole answers.
David Mamet's powerful and
provocative House of Games is
about a psychiatrist and a con artist
who play a mind game with each
other - a game without cards,
boards, or playing pieces; a game
where it's hard to tell the winner
from the loser; a game where trust is
the only wager, the only tactic, and
the only mistake.
Dr. Margaret Ford (Lindsay
Crouse), the meticulous author of a
book on obsessive-compulsive
disorders, is introduced to an alluring
and sardonic con artist named Mike
(Joe Mantegna) by one of her
patients. Intrigued by Mike's
adventurous livelihood - and drawn
by its resemblance to her own -
Ford sets out to investigate,
understand, and "psych out" his trade

by participating in some of the con
jobs.
But Mike, whose wry appraisals
of human nature reveal insights
much deeper and darker than Ford's,
himself plays a similar mind game
and eventually makes Ford appear as
obsessive and driven as her patients.
The two intense characters in this
House of Games play by different
rules, however, and the film's
mystery and drama come from the
way trust is used in relationships,
fraudulent and otherwise. Ford needs
her patients' trust to cure them.
Mike needs his victims' trust to con
them. They both know trust i s
essential to winning the mind game,
and trust ultimately causes both of
them to lose it.
House of Games, perhaps the
most creative, compelling film of
the year, also requires its audience's
trust. While ironically destroying
our faith in human integrity, Mamet
presents a carefully crafted story
whose success depends on how much
we let it take us in, how much we
trust it.
Mamet, originally a playwright,

writes and directs a film that - no
surprise - sounds and looks like a
play. What to some may appear as
overacting are really the dramatic
speech and movement of actors on
stage. The technique works because,
after all, the House of Games isn't a
place for realism, but the place for
these play-actors to play their
games.
Thus Mamet's execution is
dramatic, obvious and deliberate. The
characterization - from Ford's
compulsive chain smoking to
Mike's mesmerizing hands - is
thorough and consistent. Mantegna
more than Crouse remains utterly
believable, disturbingly trustworthy,
and surprisingly sympathetic despite
his games. And Mamet's evocative,
smoky cinematography appropriately
clouds perceptions -ours as well as
the characters'.
Mike tells Ford that con jobs, and
perhaps psychiatrists' games, work
only when both people involved
think they're getting something out
of the relationship. House of Games
works the same way: Orion pictures
will get your money. You'll see a
fascinating movie.
Trust me.

Lindsay Crouse is a psychiatrist, and
together they play in the 'House of (

I

OFF THE WALL
The largley unknown, and extremely
effective form of birth control:
"Point and laugh"
-Angell Hall

SKETCvRAl)

F.ZINN

Marilyn

doml

JOS GETa COLONEL OL.LIE
ON THE LINE. THIS
O G 00T DTED EQUIPMENT
15 HAVING No EFFECT!
________________________ ;

By Andrea Gacki
If this were going to be a classic review of Marilyn
Monroe, I would start by stating her real name, Norma Jean
Baker. Then I would probably spew forth a few worthless,
albeit interesting, facts about her. For instance, I might
make myself look like a Monroe expert by revealing that
she could never have had children or that she had plastic
surgery early in her career.
In continuing a generic portrayal of the myth that is
Marilyn Monroe, I would likely tackle the "Large, Important
Questions." Was she a curse to feminism? Was she a victim

No! No!
stand it!

Don't wash me off! I can't
Noooo.....

-Angell Hall
-Angell Hall

Ml

_,.. _ _.

smmmmmpm

School sucks

.. ...--
1
, Qx,
y .

Ii

AI

I'm so confused
-Angell Hall
Dokken-#1 rockers in the world
(in reply)
AND THEY CALL ANN ARBOR
A "CULTURAL MECCA..."
-Angell Hall
My stomach is growling
(in response)
SHHHH....
-Angell Hall
And some dream of a stranger who
comes begging for a meal, and
underneath the napkin leave a
thousand dollar bill.
- East Quad

I
.,,.
- . ; { ,
-...
, ,
W 7 T ? a o . i
V

ates The Seven
of sexism? Was she propelled by a craving for love which con
emerged from her shattered childhood? Am I even qualified to
answer these questions? evic
The answer to the last query is, of course, no. While I Ewe
am unable to propose new theories or preach absolute truths only
in regard to Marilyn Monroe, anyone is able to glimpse Ma
whatever answers may lie in Billy Wilder's The Seven Year littl
Itch (1955). This is the classic example of a film empowered for
and overpowered by a legend.
The Seven Year Itch has all of the elements of a the
screwball social satire, but it never quite succeeds. In the Sev
film, Richard Sherman (Tom Ewell) is a man who, after 7 a
enduring seven years of marriage, starts to get the "itch"
caused by the "repressed urges of the husband." He is a
hopelessly middle-aged, twenty-five cent novel publisher; a
job which has him routinely sprucing up the classics with a
little sex and violence (for instance, he gives Little Women
cleavage). When his wife and son leave on a summer
vacation, he's left alone in New York City. More correctly,
he would be alone, but Marilyn Monroe conveniently
happens.to be his friendly neighbor.
As soon as Monroe enters the story, the film becomes
fatally unbalanced. Ewell's performance as the imaginative,
tormented husband is amusing and well done, but Monroe's
unnamed character overshadows his performance and
dominates'the screen. Consequently, the film drags when
Monroe is not featured; this is a critical flaw because the
movie is principally about the thoughts and actions of a
repressed husband.
While viewing The Seven Year Itch, one is immediately
conscious of parallels between Monroe's character and the
details about her life. For example, she tells the depressed
Ewell that it is not the handsome and arrogant man but the
kind, gentle, and stable man that attracts her. This statement
evokes the image of her famous list of the world's sexiest
men - Albert Einstein held the top position. In fact, the
film becomes predominantly about Monroe, eclipsing the ...h

redy of a husband in m
Curiously, the film it
denced in an exchanf
ell, nervous because M
y a bathrobe, blurts
rilyn Monroe in there
e joke, but it confirm
the movie. As a resul
nplete film. It remain
myth and reality of Ma
en Year Itch is playing
nd 9:00 p.m.

Yeai

N1-mari6
S~ONt
ti15 N S
MISMS

'Itrli' nortravs' a sidep of Marilvn Monroe...AL~rJ~.I 1 t ~l'

er legend doesn't rev

Imn yvr tr Giya Eotuc vj Fiw &&Jf& 1'1V/Ml v ...

PAGE 8

WEEKEND/FEBRUARY 5, 1988

WEEKEND/FEBRUARY 5, 1988

-4 ,-,

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