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November 01, 1988 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1988-11-01

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Page 8 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, November 1, 1988

Lull of
Ever wonder what happened to all
those '60s radicals and what they are
doing in the '80s? This seem§ to be
the initial premise of Running on
Empty, but this theme soon runs
dry. Still, the film doesn't even come
close to halting; it simply shifts
gears and becomes a story of young
love that is full of tenderness.
In 1971, Arthur and Annie Pope
(Judd Hirsch and Christine Lahti)
protested the Vietnam war by
blowing up a napalm plant, and,
while they had thought the building
was empty, a night janitor was
nearly killed. Since then, the Popes
have been on the run, and when they
are first presented onscreen, they are
once again fleeing to a new town and
a new identity.
We learn-most of this as 17-year-
old Danny (River Phoenix) explains
to his 10-year-old brother Harry
(Jonas Abry) what their parents had
done to cause this bizarre lifestyle.
More information is added in a TV
news report that the Popes watch.
This whole scene is obviously done
for the sake of the audience, and thus
comes off very stilted.
And once the plot begins to
develop, Director Sidney Lumet (The
Verdict) tends to shy away from
following the story of the activists.
Because of this, Running On Empty
is essentially two films: one about

Continued from Page 7.
in Ann Arbor.
Kueter's plan of attack to promote
the slams has been bringing in
popular "performance poets" from the
Detroit and Chicago area. Last
month's performance with Ron
Allen, according to Kueter, was like
a "tent revival" with people shouting
out to Allen's poetry which was ac-
companied by a congo drummer and a
This month's performer, Tony
Fitzpatrick, also promises to be en-
tertaining. Fitzpatrick, a regular con-
tender at the Green Mill and former
petty thief and amateur boxer who
originally hails from Detroit, owns
the Edge, a gallery in Villa Park.
While Kueter plans to continue
the featured artists (the radically-in-
clined John Sinclair will be featured
next month), he hopes the Ann Ar-
bor community will eventually be

attracted to the open mike poetry
readings before the featured perfor-
mance and the slam afterwards, to see
the talent of local Ann Arbor poets.
The slam provides both the
participants and audience a "real sense
of community" with a "comfortable
and yet unpredictable atmosphere,
Kueter said. He stresses that this
sense of community that is growing
in the slam is also growing in other
aspects. Take, for example, the
growing popularity of the Monthly
Open Poetry Stage readings at Sot-
tini's Sub shop and Mark
DuCharme's literary magazine, Notes
from the Underground.
"The slam is not as scary as it
sounds," Kueter adds as further en-
couragement for anyone that wants to
get involved. "Most people don't
take the judges that seriously."
featured performance in Tuesday's
Poetry Slam at 8 p.m. at the Old
Heidelberg restaurant and lounge, 215
North Main.

River Phoenix (left) and Martha Plimpton discover that love thang in Running On Empty.

the parents as activists, which
remains undeveloped, and one about
Danny, who tries to find a life of his
own. And it is this second story that
deservedly carries the film.
When the Popes, now the
Manfields, settle in New Jersey,
Danny catches the attention of his
music teacher. And then the attention
of the teacher's daughter. And while
he is at it, Phoenix also catches the
attention of the audience. His
performance in Stand By Me
demonstrated his talent, and here he
fulfills the promise of his abilities.
He is only 18 years old, so it may be
too early to say, but he has the raw
energy that Brando and Dean were

known for.
Danny's new girlfriend is played
by Martha Plimpton, who had
previously worked with Phoenix in
The Mosquito Coast. She is neither
glamorous nor the most popular girl
in school. Instead, she is the girl
next door, and it is refreshing to see a
screen romance between two people
who do not look like they just came
off the covers of GQ and Cosmo.
And because they are real people,
with hopes and fears like us all, we
can genuinely sympathize with their
characters and the strange situation in
which they are placed. Together they
struggle to find a better life for

Writer Naomi Foner (Violets Are
Blue) has "always wanted to write
about the '60s," yet her story takes
place in the '80s. Fortunately, it is'
to her credit that she seems to'
understand the current times well
enough to provide a realistic,
believable romance. Teen romance'
"king" John Hughes (Pretty in Pink,
etc.) could learn a few things from'
this film.
And maybe the audience can, too."
Don't expect a film deeply exploring
the contemporary lives of former
activists, or you will be
disappointed. But it is doubtful that
you'll leave the theater even the
slightest bit disappointed, unless you
have a personal aversion to love.

Continued from Page 7
(Twiggy), a mediocre pop singer.
Manek, at the impressionablesage of
15, is being shaped by forces that
are pulling him from his beautiful,
childish mother and towards his des-
tiny as a concert pianist.
All of the characters in Madame
Sousatzka are lovable and heart-
warming and all that, but they seem
contrived when compared to the role
of Manek. There is no awkward
editing required when Chowdhry has
to play the piano - he really is
playing it. And as he interacts with
MacLaine, one can almost see a be-
mused grin on his face in opposition
to her orchestrated lunacy. Dame
Peggy Ashcroft may be hopelessly
typecast as a gentile English lady

appreciative of Indian culture, for
this role mirrors her character in A
Passage to India. Twiggy exudes
bad '70s pop culture with her re-
liance upon astrology and her wimpy
recordings. The characters are tired,
and MacLane's Madame Sousatzka
is the stalest.
Perhapsthe direction of Shirley
MacLaine's roles in film should be
toward younger characters, not older,
thus disregarding Hollywood tradi-
tion. When she has flashbacks in the
film, her sudden youthfulness is
both effective and convincing. Ul-
timately, Madame Sousatzka just
doesn't evoke much versatility in
Shirley MacLaine - she should
hearken back to some of her younger
lives for inspiration.

playing at Showcase Cinemas.


Fred Small
I Will Stand Fast
Flying Fish
Fred Small's new release is in the politically charged tradition of
Woody Guthrie and Tom Paxton. His songs, all based on true stories,
challenge the listener to confront oppression in all its forms, overt and
subtle. People are the heart of his writing, that personalizes the pain of
the oppressed.
I Will Stand Fast offers no real surprises to Fred Small fans. The
style is very similar to his previous albums with a slightly more hard-
driven beat. The music is just the setting for the words, not an idea
itself. Small does not have a need to make his poetry pretty - that
would only distract from the political issues he deals with. Among
these issues is the struggle for Jewish/Arab unity, the fight to end
apartheid in South Africa, and Russo-American tensions. Not much
new ground covered here.
Where he is refreshing, though, is in his treatment of less overt
oppression. "Every Man" is the story of a gentle boy being socialized
into a "real" man: how he is pushed towards misogyny and contributing
to our rape culture. Unlike most men in our society, this boy
overcomes socialization and follows an independent path.
"Scott and Jamie" shows the injustice and sorrow of a gay male
couple having their foster children taken away (in Dukakis'
Massachusetts). As a mainstream folk artist, Small is courageous to
stress lesbian and gay issues. Homophobia is a potent prejudice and can
affect careers.
Fred Small also gets whimsical and dreamy. "If I Were a Moose"
uses last year's lovesick moose and cow as an anti-racism allegory
(reminiscent of Peter, Paul, and Mary's "Big Blue Frog"). The last track
of the album is a duet with lesbian/feminist icon Cris Williamson. The
song is a utopian vision of loving people sharing the world.
This record is more likely to spark debate than romance. A good
thing, too. We need less head-banging and more activism.-Kim McGinnis

A.C. Temple
Further/Blast First Records/Dutch East
India Trading
Yeah, well, for what it's worth,
Melody Maker and NME (New Mu-
sic Express) are really into this band.
I should have known after reading
that what a frisbee this was going to
be. Any band that is reduced to using
credentials as pathetic as MM and
NME clips for their press pack must
be lacking. But I listened to it any-
way, three times, searching for
something... anything. No such
luck. I've got to start listening to
those intuitions.
The vocalist is annoying enough
by herself, but unfortunately she's
backed by an almost-as-annoying
band. She sounds quite like the
singer from Frightwig - reduced to
snivelling, high-pitched screech vo-
cals that are about as fun as listening
to blackboard scrapings. The drum-
ming and guitar are merely exasper-
ating - repetitive, simplistic, and
unimaginative. The continual com-
parisons to Big Black, Nick Cave,
and Sonic Youth in the press pack
are unnerving, and most likely stem
from the feeble fantasies of band
members and the fact that people
have continually make the mon-
strous error of booking A.C. Temple
to open for good bands.
God, I'm basically just fed up and
annoyed by ACT's self and hero-
worship, they even thank filth
deities Albini and Head of David on
the jacket. Sheesh. Maybe Albini
should have produced this too.
-Robert Flaggert

Randy Newman
Land of Dreams
Five years in the making, Land of Dreams should
be Randy Newman's Magnum Opus. This should be
the album where his near-demonic smart aleck
cynicism and his sensitive nostalgic longing come
together with his stylistic adventurism to recapture the
magic of his best work of 20 years ago. Instead, the
cynic in him has been supplanted by an annoying,
impotent bad-ass, and the sensitive artiste has gotten
just plain dull.
For Newman, these two problems - smugness and
the creative burnout - are one and the same. His
paranoia about being heralded as one of the great
songwriters serves to prevent him from being able to
prove it. Judging from the effusive Davin Seay essay
on the inner sleeve (which, in an exemplum of bad
taste, rhapsodizes, "It is, then perhaps our own

experience... that makes this cycle of songs so
affecting,") it seems Newman would rather tell us how
good he is than show it.
Like a has-been ball player, Newman can't resist
taking his trusty mitt and cleats off the dusty shelf and
trying them on for size. "New Orleans Wins the War"
is a replay of the entire Good Old Boys album, only
the purposely ironic racism has lost much of its zing
by now. "I Want You to Hurt Like I Do," shoots for
the same strike zone as Sail Away's "Memo to My
Son." As a matter of fact, the only innovation to be
found is a barely bearable rap parody called "Masterman
and Baby J."
Like they say, it's good and original, only the good
parts ain't original and the original parts ain't good.
Which makes it all the more frustrating that the album,
especially the Mark Knopfler-produced tracks, sounds
better than any previous Newman album.
-Mark Swartz




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Here are just a few senior
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Robert Heilbroner
Economics: "History of
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Agnes Heller
Philosophy: "The Political
Philosophy of Kant"
Eric Hobsbawm
Political Science:
"Revolution in History"
Morris Eagle
Psychology: "Research
Methods in Clinical
Janet Abu-Lughod

Faculty and History
Founded in 1933 as the Univer-
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Faculty has become what is
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Faculty and You
Cindy Mueller, Assistant
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at the University of Michigan
on November 2 to answer your
questions about our faculty-
and your future. For a free
Bulletin describing our M.A.
and Ph.D. programs, call or
return the coupon.
Graduate Faculty
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65 Fifth Ave., Greenwich Village,
N.Y., N.Y. 10003/(212) 741-5710
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