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January 23, 1989 - Image 7

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1989-01-23

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily

Monday, January 23, 1989

Page 7

Full Moon

eclipsed by

watered-down plots

BY TONY SILBER
Gene Hackman is doubtless this
year's workhorse of the motion pic-
ture industry, starring in his fourth
film in as many months - an
unbelievable output. But three of the
four films, including the new Full
Moon in Blue Water, are just for-
gettable misfires. Hackman teams up
with the charming Teri Garr and
Burgess Meredith for an interesting,
yet lost comedy-drama set in a small
Texas coastal town.
Full Moon tells the story of the
Blue Water Grill and the lives of
four people who work and live in it.
Floyd (Hackman) owns the rundown
Grill and seems content to watch it
deteriorate into bankruptcy while he
mourns the recent death of his wife.
Louise (Garr) plays a local woman
with a crush on Floyd and a dream of
bringing the Blue Water back to the
greatness it once had. The General
(Meredith) is Floyd's live-in father-
in-law, a senile, foul-mouthed cru-
sader. And lastly, there's Jimmy
(Elias Koteas), the Grill's only em-
ployee and a former mental patient
y who dreams of owning a car and
"picking up girls."
The film presents four drastically
different characters with only the bar
as their common bond, their lifeline
to a lost past or a hopeful future.

But that is not enough to carry Full
Moon. The film needs a structured
plot and character development to
give these people a sense of believ-
ability. The plots of the film are not
clear nor are they made important to
us. There are several different stories
involving different characters and
none of the individual plots are
given priority over the others which
undoubtedly hurts the film.
Director Peter Masterson (The
Trip To Bountiful) creates mood and
texture well enough, but doesn't
provide for any meaningful character
growth. The characters begin and end
as the same people with the same
problems, except that Floyd has
come to accept his wife's death.
There are no real conficts resolved.
Sure, the Bar is saved from the
greedy land speculators, but Full
Moon goes no deeper than this. It
doesn't bring the characters to us,
but instead forces us to go after
them; many viewers will be lost as a
result.
Its flaws notwithstanding, the
film has some genuine merit. De-
spite the lack of character growth,
the portrayals are good. Hackman
comes off well as the southern
recluse bar owner, giving a richness
to his character and generally good
guidance for the rest of the players.
Teri Garr has a place in my heart, so
xomeaP m n

it's tough to find anything negative
in her roles. She brings a zealous
charisma to her parts and Full Moon
is no exception. Meredith has a de-
manding role in playing the senile
father-in-law, but his wealth of
experience comes through and he
turns out a funny, yet sensitive per-
formance. Elias Koteas also adds to
the film, but the flaws in his
character shroud much of the film in
silliness and it is easy to forget the
real human qualities that come
though in his acting.
Coming off a spectaqular perfor-
mance in Mississippi Burning, Full
Moon in Blue Water is a disap-
pointment for Gene Hackman, but
not altogether a failure. It presents a
nostalgic small town story with
some interesting characters and qual-
ity acting, but it suffers from same-
ness and ultimately fails to evolve
into anything meaningful or impor-
tant. Full Moon is a nice film to
look at, as it takes a beautifully
scenic place and incorporates it into
the work, but the problems with
plot synthesis and character devel-
opment drag it down into the murky
depths of paltry pictures.
FULL MOON IN BLUE WATER is
now showing at Showcase Cinemas
in Ann Arbor.

BY MARK SWARTZ
ACCORDING to the C.B. radio lingo of the '70s,
your "handle" was your on-the-air pseudonym. In
my father's robin's-egg-blue Fleetwood, people ad-
dressed him as Mud Hen. He told me he could
maintain a level of privacy and still make contact
with strangers by giving out a handle. His friends
out in Citizen's Band Land didn't know him, but
thanks to his handle they at least could call him
something.
STATE OF THE
In much the same way, when we talk about
records and books, we affix artificial "handles" on
them in order to get a grip on them. For conve-
nience's sake, we identify art with a generalization,
rather than coming to know it individually and eval-
uating it on its own terms. The publishers, record
companies, and to some degree the media help out
by manufacturing and reinforcing handles. In the
marketplace, the offshoot of the use of these handles
is divisions of books and records according to cate-
gory.
Walk into Schoolkids Records and Tapes without
a specific purchase in mind and your first decision is
which bin to thumb through. There's Jazz, Blues,
(including Cajun/Zydeco and New Orleans music)
Folk, Country (and Bluegrass). There's Gospel,
Dance/Soul, Vintage R&B, Rock (the largest sec-
tion), Reggae/International, Easy Listening (also
called Adult Contemporary) and Soundtrack Music
and at least five that I'm skipping. It's a dizzying
array; anyone with an even harmless curiosity about
styles and genres will get their head spun around a
couple times before they walk out of the store.
Handles might help with this cumbersome load
of musicians, but they are just as apt to get in the
way. Generally, the artists within one category are
all the same race. Most Blues artists are Black, ex-
cepting Johnny Winter, who's albino. It could be
easily argued that Eric Clapton and Led Zeppelin
belong with their Blues progenitors, but you'll find
Slowhand and Houses of the Holy in the Rock
section. Country music is a predominantly white
endeavor, but Charley Pride hangs out there. Other
crossings-over include Jimi Hendrix's secure place-
ment in Rock and Madonna's in Dance/Soul.
It gets troublesome when you have artists with
hard-to-handle styles. Over their ever-long careers,
Bob Dylan and Ray Charles have worn at least a half
dozen musical caps each. A single Tom Waits al-
bum might invoke the spirits of Howlin' Wolf,
Kurt Weill, Hank Williams, and Buddy Holly. It
once took me 45 minutes to locate a record by New
Orleans R&B outfit the Neville Brothers before I
discovered it in Folk.
If you feel like reading something more substan-
tial than liner notes, make the trip back down Lib-
erty to another of Ann Arbor's cultural goldmines,

'The pump don't work
'cuz the vandals took
the handles'
-Bob Dylan, 'Subterr-
anean Homesick Blues'

Dylan and others still bear
'handles' in bookshelves
and bins, raising....
A question of
Labels
Borders Books. Most of the handles at Borders are -
conventional and logical - Science Fiction, His-
tory, Biography, Self-help, etc. With the tens of
thousands of titles at this bi-level store, handles are
essential for finding anything.
If you feel like reading a novel, chances are you'll
find a good one somewhere along the north wall of
See Handle, Page 7

0

t'
9r .
A
a
!k
k
I ,a

Burgess Meredith (left) and Teri Garr (right) are probably toasting Gene Hackman's (center)
success in Mississippi Burning - either that or drowning their sorrows, because there's
little cause to celebrate Full Moon in Blue Water.
INTRODUCING
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at Fourth Ave. Ann Arbor
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