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October 03, 1988 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1988-10-03

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The Michigan Daily
goes inside
the SLA
1974 was a pretty good year. Not
to experience, actually, but a year
that shimmers brightly under my
not-too-exacting microscope of pop
culture nostalgia. Gas prices were
beginning to skyrocket, musical
tastes and fashion sense were begin-
ning to plummet, and Watergate left
an aftertaste that not even sugar-
coated breakfast cereal could chase
away. However, for most of us cur-
rent collegians, 1974 was a time of
bell-bottoms and Big Wheels, sand-
boxes and sleepers with feet, and
Crayolas and cathode ray dependency,
all made just a little more entertain-
ing by the headline-hogging exploits
of Patricia Campbell Hearst, or as I
more fondly remember her, "Tania."
For those seeking a quick re-
fresher on the "facts" of the events,
or just a march-at-gunpoint down
memory lane, one need look no fur-
ther than Patty Hearst , a new
dramatization of the '70s most fa-
mous kidnapping case by Paul (Cat
People ) Schrader. Schrader's film
begins right off with a burst of bul-
lets as Patty, a politically unaware
Cal-Berkeley undergraduate and heir
to the Hearst newspaper fortunes, is
plucked from her coddled and com-
fortable state of bourgeois bliss
while watching The Flip Wilson
Show by the Symbionese Libera-
tion Army, a motley group of not-
quite-ready-for-prime-time revolu-
tionaries c um bankrobbers who
were probably the only radicals that
wanted the revolution to be tele-
vised, only couldn't find a camera.
In choosing this project, Schrader
immediately faces a difficult directo-
rial problem: how do you visually
present a film in which the protago-

Monday, October 3, 1988

Long before Camper Van Beethoven started wr
the public's imagination as well as a lot of it
to right, in 1972 before her abduction and in7

nist is kept blindfolded and in a
closet for 60 days? Schrader
compensates effectively for this po-
tentially crippling restriction by
shooting the scenes of Hearst's cap-
tivity in stark, expressionistic white
light and harsh shadow, with the
SLA members appearing as dogma-
spewing silhouettes against the
doorway of her closet cell. Combin-
ing this stylistic cinematography
with Hearst's voice-over anxieties,
and hallucinatory images of Patty
being buried alive, Schrader creates a
tense, almost oppressive atmosphere
of claustrophobia and constant fear.
The issue sure to arouse the most
curiosity and controversy regarding
Patty Hearst is how Schrader treats
the question of Hearst's complicity
in the SLA's crime spree. Following
two months of blindfolding and ap-
parent brainwashing, Hearst is given
the opportunity to be set free or join
the SLA and become an "urban
guerilla fighting for the people"; as
history demonstrates, she chose to
remain. Through the voice-over nar-
ration of Hearst's rationalizations
and the inclusion of a climactic (but
fairly cornball) speech by Hearst de-

fending her acti
screenplay is base
autobiography, Ev
Schrader mainta
stance, portraying
two symbol-seek
SLA, who milk h
many photo oppc
range, and the
lic/mainstream me
capture vilify her
erything evil that '6
visited on the fam
"silent majority."
Despite its subj
Hearst is less ap
an ironic and some
funny character st
humor is provided
of the SLA, who cc
charming cartoon t
dancing to their an
by the Crusader
quizzes to Pattyc
"real" revolutionar
are wimps! They
symbolic bombing
their first taste of
poverty ("at last

iting songs about her, Patty Hearst captured
s money. The above photos show Hearst, left
1974 as an SLA member.
ons, (the film's poor!"), or soliciting sex ("the com-
d on Hearst's own radely thing to do") via the best
ery Secret Thing), pick-up line I've heard in recent
ins a pro-Patty memory ("Baby, we could kill lots
her as a victim of of pigs together"), the members of
ing forces: the the "party cell" are more hypocriti-
er fame as a mil- cally hilarious than threatening, in
-gone-Mao for as part due to a great comic perfor-
ortunities as the mance by William (Raising Arizona
radicals can ar- ) Forsythe. The acting by the
general pub- principals is generally first-rate, es-
dia, who upon her pecially British actor Natasha
as an icon of ev- Richardson as Patty, who perfectly
60s liberalism had masks her English accent with the
ily values of the West Coast dialect called "California
ject matter, Patty Ultimately, however, the film
political film than tries to cover too much ground in
times surprisingly Hearst's life and ends up not cover-
udy. Much of the ing enough, having to whip through
by the members the details of her capture and trial and
ome off as nearly- ignoring completely her re-transfor-
errorists. Whether mation back from "urban guerilla" to
them (a jazz song housewife and trivia question. Once
s), giving pop- the SLA disappears from Patty
on the duties of Hearst the film begins to lose
ies ("Weathermen steam, and the low-budget acting
only carry out (the film was made for under $4
gs!"), rejoicing at million) during the already-thin
real proletarian courtroom segments undermines
t, we're finally those portions of the film. Despite
its flaws, however, Patty Hearst 's
supermarket tabloid, made-for-mid-
night-t.v. subject matter makes for
worthwhile matinee viewing.
PATTY HEARST is playing at the
State Theater.

Ost Enthus
If so
- Gain valuable
- Speak with the
- Build your reSL
- Flexible, even

Page 8
Only Lfe
A & M/ Twin-Tone
Listening to old blues and country records is not one of the most
sociable things a person can do. The desperation and pathos of the
haunting, piercing cries of people like Robert Johnson and Hank
Williams are scary, like callings from the other side of life that you're not
quite ready to see. Nonetheless, they are real and true and that is whyI
listen. When I listen to this music in times of despair, just sitting in my
room, staring at the walls, wallowing in misanthropic self-pity until I'm
so numb and tired I don't give a fuck about anyone or anything, I'm
pretty much as far down as I can go.
To go any further, to sink deeper into hate and lust-filled rage, would
be suicide. What I need at this point is something to believe in, or at
least something that sounds worth leading a quasi-normal life for.
Between the despair of the blues and the fury of punk lies an important,
intermediate range of music.
For me, the softer, grander songs by the Velvet Underground are this
missing link (See also Big Star, Pere Ubu, and the Mekons). Songs like
"I'll Be Your Mirror," "What Goes On," "Pale Blue Eyes," "I'm Set
Free," and "Ocean" all have a feeling of longing that is not ultimately
tragic. It's redemptive and life-affirming in a straightforward and
unpretentious way.
What all this doomed romanticism has to do with the Feelies is really
very simple. More so than any other band I know of, the Feelies have
appropriated the Velvet Underground's delicate mastery of songs that are
emotionally affecting, beautiful, and still have that sonic grumph. Like
The Feelies , and The Good Earth before it, Only Life, is a gorgeous
record filled to the grooves with trepidation, optimism, bewilderment, and
The aural textures of the guitars and voices ebb and flow and combine
to create a sonic force that is both exhilaratingly familiar and mysterious.
That is, each time I listen to the record, it sounds just right but I also
notice many different things. One time it's the plaintive, impassioned
singing; the next, it's the piercing guitars; and the next, it's the simple,
unfaltering rhythm.
I haven't listened to this record enough (only about 35 times) to haye
completely internalized it so that I KNOW what it's about. I can only sgy
that Only Life is a great record that makes me feel good when few other
things can. And for that I'm grateful. --BrianBerger
Redlorry Yellowlorry
Nothing Wrong
Beggar's Banquet/RCA
No image better describes the enchanted music of this album than the
back cover picture of three people dancing around the yellow flames of a
blazing fire. The band's hypnotic spell transports the listener into a world
of demons who chant and spellbind the participant into a colorful state of
gloomy mayhem.
This album is not for people who buy their records at K-Mart; not ore
song on Nothing Wrong even approaches Top 40. The psychedelic
mixture of guitar feedback and synthesized distortion hurl the listener
down into the lower rings of Nectarine Ballroom hell. The average length
of each song is about three minutes, so there is none of the self-indulget
boredom that accompanies the average "new wave" record.
The lyrics are abstract and concise enough to knock Emily Dickinson
out of her upstairs bedroom. One listening does not allow the record
buyer to appreciate the minor details which direct the overall effect of the
album. Although Nothing Wrong lacks any:conventional guitar solo*
there is enough rhythmic feedback to remind the listener that the electri%
guitar is still the most powerful musical instrument ever invented.
Although listening to Nothing Wrong may leave you feeling like
you've wandered into someone's nightmare, it should keep your full
attention for a minimum of 38 minutes. This is the type of music they
used to play before sets at a Husker Du concert. I recommend this albt
to anyone who is under the false impression that the current state of rool
and roll is banal; Redlorry Yellowlorry will enlighten you. -Ken Kocila
U Have What It

asm?. Dedication?
chool Spirit?
, we need you at
chigan Telefund
communication skills
e University's alumni
ing hours
1 . .., . , ,,,

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Case closed.




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