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December 12, 1989 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1989-12-12

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Doge 10 -The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, December 12,1989

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a Lectrice
ir. Michel Deville
Woody Allen wrote a short
'story, "The Whore of Mensa,"
,bout intellectual prostitutes who
are paid to discuss Milton or Kant
with their clients. The hero of the
story, private eye Kaiser Lu-
-powitz, goes undercover and hires
one of the women in order to
rcrush the vicious crime ring:
"VWhenever I offered an insight,
-she faked a response: 'Oh, yes,
Kaiser. Yes, baby, that's deep. A
,platonic comprehension of Chris-
tianity - why didn't I see it be-
Anyway, Allen's story, on a
basic level, has much in common
with La Lectrice (The Reader),
the acclaimed comedy from inno-
vative French director Michel
Deville. The film, which was
France's official entry for the
1988 Best Foreign Film Oscar, is
about a bored woman, Marie,
.who has a really nice voice. She
'decides to put her talent to use by
hiring herself out as an oral reader
for those in need. Marie is played,

joy of r4
fittingly enough, by French film
star Miou-Miou (Entre Nous),
who received her nickname be-
cause someone once commented
that her soft voice sounded like
the meowing of a cat.
In La Lectrice, reading to
people for money is much like
having sex with them for money;
Marie is providing her customers,
and herself, a means of escape
from the troubles of the world.
The particular authors chosen by
Marie fill voids in the lives of her
clients. She reads erotic poems by
Maupassant and Baudelaire to Eric
(Regis Royer), a somewhat sexu-
ally frustrated teenager who is re-
covering from an accident that left
him paralyzed. She reads Alice in
Wonderland to Coralie
(Charlotte Farran), an ignored lit-
tle girl who identifies her rich
mother with the March Hare, al-
ways late for an important date.
And she reads Tolstoy and Marx
to the nostalgic widow of a Hun-
garian general, the film's most
endearing character, excellently
portrayed by Maria Casares
Deville, either through visu-
ally illustrating the passages or
simply through Miou-Miou's

fine reading, manages to do jus-
tice to all of the works of litera-
ture used in his film, from Mar-
guerite Duras to the Marquis de
Sade. In fact, the entire film is it-
self based on works by French au-
thor Raymond Jean. La Lectrice
begins with a woman (also played
by Miou-Miou) reading aloud to
her boyfriend. Of course, she is
reading La Lectrice, and she
places herself within the story as
Deville makes use of interest-
ing techniques, both visual and
through his dialogue, to keep the
scenes flowing together. But the
film, although it is able to con-
vey on screen a celebration of
reading, falls short because of the
way the individual stories are
loosely strung together. Switch-
ing from one client to another,
one story to another, becomes
very tedious after awhile, no mat-
ter how good the separate seg-
ments are. While the film suc-
ceeds at its primary goal of excel-
lent storytelling, it fails on a
whole as an excellent story.
LA LECTRICE is playing at the
Ann Arbor 1 and 2.


Robert De Niro and Sean Penn are, for once, running away from something other than a photographer. In We're
No Angels, they play convicts on the lam who have to pretend they're nice. The two actors handle this
immense challenge well.
De Niro meets Dante

Sorcerer conjures joyous humor

To some it might be offensive to call a production a
joke, but in he case of the Gilbert and Sullivan Soci-
ety's The Sorcerer, it is only, and justly, appropriate.
Always amusing with moments of brilliant comedy, the
cgst presented two hours of thoroughly joyous humor
entwined with some of G&S's most undersung but
wonderful melodies in a fast paced and uplifting perfor-
Sorcerer itself, as any G&S operetta, is a spoof on
Victorian attitudes, and this particular production went
afi extra step (actually it's closer to a mile or so) to
nmke the show a farce of the show itself. A farce
sguared, so to say. This tactic worked very well for a
dhow that, because of its inherent weaknesses, is one of
the lesser performed in the G&S repertoire.
As the young lovers Alexis and Aline, Barry Nay-
back and Leah Fitsthen were quite capable. Fitschen's
lovely soprano, filled with romantic intent and Nay-
back's portayal of the idealistic, corndog hero provided
the necessary straight material to counter the mayhem
surrounding their prenuptials.
Far and away the performance of the night belonged
to Jonathan Hammond. He brought a new light to the
title role of the Sorcerer, John Wellington Wells. This
wacky yet sublime necromancer performed with witch-

doctoresque fervor conjuring up ghouls and imps, cast-
ing his patented love philter and escaping death in Obi
Wan Kenobi fashion. His voice dominated Lydia
Mendelssohn Theatre with ingenious characterizations
and a strange breed of lunacy. Hammond, only a
sophomore, is definitely someone to keep your eye on
in the future.
Director Eric Gibson and choreographer Susan Filip-
iak created new variations upon the standard G&S line
blocking as well as one chorus number that could have
been from 42nd Street. Music Director Goran Staxang
kept the pit orchestra tight and well paced. His work
with the chorus was admirable in that they actually had
a sound more like a rehearsed choir than a typical chorus
while keeping a level of stage presence. Unfortunately
the men had trouble being heard at times.
Memorable performances were turned in by all the
principals. The Cockney accents occasionally sounded
more like the Beverly Hillbillies, but hey, it made it all
the funnier. Of special note Patricia Petiet (Mrs. Part-
let), Lynn Bennett (Constance), and Matthew Grace (Dr.
Daly) worked together well with sharp comedic timing
and wonderful voices.
This particular production of The Sorcerer will go
down in the memories of G&S buffs as something dif-
ferent, something special.

We're No Angels '
dir. Neil Jordan
Robert De Niro and Sean Pennt
are actors best known for theirt
tough, dramatic roles: De Niro withl
Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, and The1
Deer Hunter; Penn with The Fal-
con and the Snowman, Colors, and
Casualties of War. They both have
created, however, two of the funniest
characters of the '80s. DeNiro's Ru-
pert Pupkin in the dark comedy King
of Comedy has to be one of the
most painful losers to watch on-
screen, while Penn's Spicoli in Fast
Times at Ridgemont High is one of
the most outrageous. It should thent
be no surprise to find out that theirt
first collaboration, We're No An-
gels, is a comedy about convicts. 1
The film takes place during thet
Depression era. It begins with ouri
two heroes in a prison that resem-
bles one of the inner circles of Hell
more than it does a government-]
funded penitentiary, where the war-I
den must certainly be the right-handI
man of Satan. Our two fallen angels
are soon carried out of this nether-
world in the wake of a prison breakt
of a vicious killer. It quickly be-1
comes obvious that these two had
been horribly misplaced there; De
Niro is a funny, street-smart con and
Penn is his dumb, well-intentionedI

Director Neil Jordan (Mona Lisa)
is wonderfully atmospheric in depict-
ing the prison and in producing the
rugged seediness and poverty of the
town in which De Niro and Penn
take refuge. Consisting mainly of di-
lapidated shacks along the Canadian
border, the town has a monastery
where the pair masquerade as priests
while they attempt to cross the bor-
der. Needless to say, the two stick
out like sore thumbs with their
rough manners and uneducated way
of talking, but they always seem to
bumble their way around potential
De Niro is hilarious, pushing the
dichotomy between his robes and his
actions to full hilt, constantly cut-
ting off his threats and foul language
to press his hands together in prayer
and mumble a "Bless you." When a
person on the street offers him five
dollars for a charitable cause, he
immediately runs to Demi Moore
who has just told him that she'd
sleep with anyone for five dollars.
His rough character is constantly
bursting out of his facade as a kind
priest. Penn's character is brilliantly
stupid and childlike. Whenever he
speaks he threatens to expose the
two, as when he gives the dinner
blessing before everyone in the
monastery. He is the perfect Twee-
dledum to De Niro's Tweedledee.
The sharp dialogue, scripted by
playwright David Mamet, is respon-

sible for allowing De Niro and Penn
to make their characterizations so in-
teresting. However, the storyline
tends to be too obvious and unbe-
lievable too many times. You'll find
yourself rolling your eyes whenever
they try to cross the border - the
foils for their attempts seem tog
contrived. Most of the religious
overtones are hokey as well: prayers
for shoes coming true, an inspira-
tional speech about the bible by
Penn (requiring a little more intelli-
gence from him than we've seen),
and a truly absurd finale with p
Madonna statue saving De Niro from
drowning. These faults diminish the
movie quite a bit, for it is the story'
after all that isbthe main focus of a
movie. But there are many other
qualities of the movie - at the fore-
front De Niro's comedic characteriza-
tion - that provide the moviegoer
with a reason to see this film.
WE'RE NO ANGELS opens this


k b

CLASSIFIED ADS! Call 764-0557

The 13th Ann Arbor Folk Fes
tival kicks off at Hill Auditorium 4
6 p.m. on Saturday, January 27,
1990. With tickets in high demand it
would be advisable for all you folk
lovers to snap them up before the
Xmas vacation. The excellent and
varied line-up includes Sweet Honey
In The Rock, Michael Hedges;
Loudon Wainwright III, Josh Whit
Jr., Alain Montagne, and Robin and
Linda Williams. Tickets are $17.50
and available at Ticketmaster outlets.
;im Pnewozik ry-

1 IInA





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and Mini/Boxes
Great Christmas Gifts!
715 N. University 761-CHIP
Mrs. Peabody's wishes you Happy Holidays!

i (IVA)
i VV

Hair Styling with
a Flair
- 7 Barber Stylists
Opposite Jacobson's



I . I I






.., jO49l


January 20, 1990
Michigan Union


on Ins ra


Register in the Student Organization Development Center,
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Registration is $15.00 per person.
(Includes materials, refreshments and keynote luncheon)


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