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January 23, 1990 - Image 8

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-01-23

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Page 8-The Michigan Daily-Tuesday, January 23, 1990
A dissonant note

Music Box
dir. Costa-Gavras
BY TONY SILBER
The Holocaust still haunts us and
historically, Hollywood has tried to
treat this topic in a sensitive man-
ner. But this film, directed by Costa-
Gavras (Z, Missing) takes a slight
departure from the conventional ap-
proach to the holocaust film.
Jessica Lange (Frances, Tootsie)
is the only big name on the Music
Box marquis and, as usual, she
doesn't disappoint as she takes con-
trol of the story and molds it around
her versatile talents. She portrays
Ann Talbot, a Hungarian-American
yuppie and successful criminal
lawyer who must come to the rescue
of her father, Michael Laszlo (Armin
Mueller-Stahl), who has been ac-
cused of being a war criminal.
Music Box becomes more than
your average courtroom drama A '-
L.A. Law with skillful storytelling
direction and tremendous perfor-
mances. Set in present-day suburban
Chicago, hardworking family man
Laszlo is called to stand trial for war
crimes and faces a possible extradi-
tion back to Hungary. The prosecu-
tion, led by the wily and resourceful
Jack Burke (Frederick Forrest),
claims Laszlo was part of a ruthless
Gestapo regiment known as Aero-
cross, which murdered thousands of
civilians in Budapest.
Burke produces Lazslo's immi-
gration identification card as well as
a group of anguished- Holocaust sur-
vivors who all identify Laszlo as the
perpetrator of unspeakable evils;
"heinous crimes which boggle the
mind," as Burke describes it (a quotl,
incidentally, found in Judgement at
Nuremberg). Predictably, everything

points toward Laszlo's guilt and pre-
dictably, his daughter finds a way
out of his legal dilemma - but that
is where predictability ends and the
real film begins.
Costa-Gavras is too talented a
filmmaker to stumble into the pit-
falls of clich6 storytelling, especially
in the courtroom drama genre. In-
stead of cut-and-dried conclusions,
Music Box offers twists and varia-
tions within a seemingly conven-
tional story structure. The last half
of the film is riddled with surprises,
so much so that the first hour seems
mundane in retrospect.
A terminally ill witness surfaces
in Budapest and the trial is forced to
reconvene in the Hungarian capital.
In this episode Ann learns the truth
about her father, but the climactic
confrontation between the two upon
Music Box becomes
more than your
average courtroom
drama a la L.A. Law
with skillful
storytelling direction
and tremendous
performances. Set in
present-day suburban
Chicago, hardworking
family man Laszlo is
called to stand trial
for war crimes and
faces a possible
extradition back to
Hungary.
her return to Chicago is slightly dis-
appointing, lacking the power and
impact that scene could have had.
But Music Box does offer a num-
ber of terrific moments which lend
credence to Costa-Gavras' ability to

S t

Ann Talbot and her father, alleged war criminal Michael Laszlo (Armin Mueller-Stahl), find themselves in'an icy encounter in Music Box, the new film
from director Costa-Gavras.

dangle his audience on the end of the
string that he controls. As we hear
Talbot questioning a witness in the
background, we also hear the soft
whispering of the two prosecutors,
just loud enough to understand with-
out losing track of the other action.
Another scene in which Laszlo col-
lapses in court while confronting
one of his accusers achieves great
dramatic power.

Because of the subject matter of
this picture and its point of view
(coming from the alleged criminal
instead of the survivor), the question
of sympathizing with Laszlo comes
into play. But it is difficult to sym-
pathize with this man, even if he is
innocent. Instead, the sympathy lies
with his daughter, who faces the
most unnerving dilemma of Music
Box in having to live between two

roles: her father's daughter and her
father's attorney.
More than anything else, this is
an important film in relaying the
lessons learned from the Holocaust.
As Burke and Talbot discuss the
trial, Burke tells her, "if anything
else, this case reminds us that we
can't forget." Beyond all of the Hol-
lywood glamor and filmmaking
techniques, this vital message is not

lost. Costa-Gavras' intricate direc-
tion and Lange's excellent perfor
mance are definite assets on the Mu-
sic Box balance sheet, but it is diffi-
cult to call this film great by any
means. The message it reinforces
takes prominence over the story it-
self.
MUSIC BOX is playing at Briar
wood and Showcase.

HIMMELMAN
Continued from page 7
success, Himmelman's follow-up,
Gematria, yielded a top-30 single in
"Waning Moon," and the title track
video came on MTV with a loose
and satisfying sense of rock dynam-
ics. Like Simple Minds and Tears
for Fears - whose pop sensibilities
are suggested, respectively, by "245

Days" and "Speaking Mouth" -
Himmelman's style is decidedly ac-
cessible, although it doesn't neatly
fit into any of radio's pigeonhole
formats. The former track's sturdy
lament, powered by the superb Al
Wolovitch's percolating fretless bass
and overlaid by Jeff Victor's grace-
ful, trademark piano flourishes, is
music that begs to be heard.
But if all this isn't enough to in-
terest you in Mr. Himmelman's gig

- well, put the pieces together for
another interesting tidbit: Min-
nesota... Jewish... acoustic guitars...
and his wife's maiden name is Zim-
merman....
See you there, Mr. Jones.
PETER HIMMELMAN will be per-
forming at the Ark, 637 1/2 S. Main,
tonight at 8 p.m. Free tickets are
available at Schoolkids and at the
door.

KUMIN
Continued from page 7
and member of the Class of 1905,
gave one-fifth of his estate to the
University in order to encourage cre-
ative writing. Previous winners have
included Arthur Miller and Marge
Piercy; judges have included Joyce

Carol Oates and H.L. Mencken.
Contest information can be obtained
at the Hopwood Room, 1006 Angel
Hall.
MAXINE KUMIN will be reading at
3:30 p.m. in Rackham Amphithe-
atre.

I

SKIN PROGRAMS
The University of Michigan
Dept. of .Dermatology is seeking
volunteers to test new therapies for:

-- -
University of Michigan
Medical Center

I

University of Michigan Asian Students' Coalition
presents
An Asian American Art Show Reception
"Asian and American:
To Strike a Balance"
January 19th 4:00 - 6:00 p.m.
Michigan Union Art Lounge
Live Entertainment
Asian Refreshments
Display continues though Jan. 31st

IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Feed your spirit: Harold Kush-
ner, author of the best-seller When
Bad Things Happen to Good People*
will be speaking at Hillel tonight at
7:30 p.m. in the Irwin Green Audi
torium. His 1986 book, When All,
You've Ever Wanted Isn't Enough
received the Christopher Medal in
recognition of its "contribution to
the exaltation of the human spirit."
Kushner has received auspicious re
views for his latest work, Who'
Needs God. Tickets are available a
Hillel for$10, $6 for students and
seniors,or call 769-0500.
THE SOCIETY OF MINORITY
ENGINEERING STUDENTS
(SMES)
announces its
14th ANNUAL INDUSTRIAL
AWARDS BANQUET 10

SUN DAMAGED
SKIN
(WRINKLES)
Males and Females,
ages 45-70 years
with wrinkles.
OFFICE VISITS
ARE FREE

UNEVEN/DARK
SPOTS
(HYPERPIGMENTATION)
Black individuals who have
uneven dark areas on the face
and arms as a result of skin
damage. (ACNE, BURNS, ETC.)
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
PLEASE CALL
313-936-4070

BLOTCHY BROWN
SPOTS
(MELASMA)
On the face as a result
of pregnancy or oral
contraceptives.

to be held at

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All This and More for

$6.00 an Hour!

Good Times!

Great Pay!

Terrific People!

We want YOU at MICHIGAN TELEFUND
-$6.00-$8.Oo/hour plus bonuses.

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