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September 08, 1989 - Image 11

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1989-09-08

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The Michigan Daily -Friday, September 8, 1989- Page 11

Yuppie an
s and Videotape trash

Sex,.

Lie.

*BY ALYSSA KATZ
10 was not one of the best films
of 1979, but it was in a way one of
the most significant. It signified the
end of the end of the '70s as well as
the simultaneous demise of swinger
culture. In that film Dudley Moore,
like all good hipsters of his time,
wanted to broaden his sexual hori-
zons, only to come to the conclusion
What he would much rather stay at
home with Julie Andrews than
smoke grass with Bo Derek. Thus
began the '80s.
Here in the age of the "new tradi-
tionalists," first-time director Steven
Soderbergh has made an niftily well-
crafted hate letter to the past decade.
With Sex, Lies and Videotape, he has
pulled off the admirable feat of
creating a talky, adult film that actu-
*ally works and doesn't play like a
refugee from a screenwriting class.
The deceptively simple premise:
wife and husband Ann (Andie Mac-
Dowell) and John (Peter Gallagher)
are upscale types who are just pa-
thetic in a lot of ways. While Ann
shops or sits at home worrying about
the solid waste crisis, John, a lawyer,
spends many a merry lunch hour
with Ann's sister, Cynthia (Laura
;San Giacomo). Enter Graham (James
Spader), a drifter with affectations
who is described by his college buddy
John as looking like "an undertaker
for the art world." Graham is a vic-
fim of the remote-control culture of
the '80s - impotent in normal sex-
ual circumstances (not incidentally,

he has been that way since 1980 or
.so), he gets his kicks by watching
videotapes he has made of women in'
which they describe their sexual ex-
periences.
The excellent screenplay (which,
by the way, emphasizes dirty words
rather than clean flesh) carries the
film, giving a definite boost to the
actors -- even Andie MacDowell
does a good job, and James Spader's
quirky performance got him the best
'First-time director Steven
Soderbergh has made a
well-crafted hate letter to
the past decade. With Sex,
Lies and Videotape, h e
has pulled off the feat of
creating a talky, adult film
that actually works and
doesn't play like a refugee
from a screenwriting
class.'
actor award at the Cannes Film Fes-
tival this year. The film's pacing is
great - Soderbergh, an editor as well
as a director, really has a sense of
when to dwell on things and when to
move on.
Sex, Lies and Videotape is a rar-
ity: a film that is a cathartic experi-
ence for its viewers but which man-
ages to be a hell of a lot of fun
nonetheless. See it on a first date or

[gst
es a generation
with a longtime lover, but don't
think of going with someone you've
only known for a little while; you'll
find when you see the film that
you're taking inventory on your
whole sexual history.
It's tempting to compare Sex,
Lies and Videotape to Do The Right
Thing. Steve's movie beat out
Spike's for the grand prize at Cannes,
and both are relatively low-budget
films by young directors which are
superior to anything that the main-
stream industry is churning out. But
while Do The Right Thing is undeni-
ably a great film, it has a tendency to
trumpet its own significance at every
turn; conversely, Sex, Lies and
Videotape is modest about its ambi-
tions. This is perhaps a reflection on
its director - Soderbergh is rumored
to have asked for celebrities' auto-
graphs at this film's premiere.
The movie is remarkably free of
any of the pretensions one might ex-
pect it to have. In this film where
liars are called "the second lowest life
form on earth" (lawyers are the first),
Soderbergh's tone is, appropriately,
brutally and refreshingly honest.
Unafraid to make his audience feel
uneasy, he has come up with a suc-
cess that shows up the unimagina-
tiveness of the work of so many of
his more established colleagues.
While Sex, Lies and Videotape
doesn't exactly signify the dawning
of a new era in American cinema, it
is a good step in the right direction.
SEX, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE is
now showing at Briarwood and
Showcase Cinemas.

Just Kidding comedy troupe goes on a quest
Just Kidding, an offshoot of the popular Comedy Company, perform their skit "If Geeks Were Cool."
After their performance at the Power Center this Saturday night at 8:00, these funny folks are going to
colleges all over the country in their attempt to bring humor to all 48 contiguous states - and we all kn
that some of those places could really use it. Here's your only chance to catch their "Where's my
Thermos?" tour, unless you plan to join the caravan of Just Kidding-heads that leaves town Sunday
morning.

I GE

T T!

I a

The Personal Column
MICHIGAN DAILY CLASSIFIED ADS
Welcome Back
Students!

A U UV~l
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to select from a complete line of gold rings,

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Relatively speakig,,
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The Graduate Employees Organization
Cordially Invites All
GRADUATE STUDENTS
to the Annual

GEOE

SASH

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