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October 15, 1990 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 1990-10-15

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The Michigan Daily - Monday, October 15, 1990 - Page 7

Nin, for the worse

Henry and June
ir. Philip Kaufman
by Mike Kuniavsky
Philip Kaufman (The Right Stuff,
Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The
Wbearable Lightness of Being) tried
ter make a film about freedom, liber-
ation and the writers Henry Miller (
Author of Tropic of Cancer and Rosy
Crucifixion) and Anais Nin (author
f A Spy in the House of Love and
'Delta of Venus). He tried really hard.
He made a film about two shallow
caricatures named Henry Miller and
Anas Nin which, if anything, ob-
scures freedom and liberation behind
a veil of pseudo-intellectualism and
self-importance. This is unfortunate.
In 1931, in Paris, Henry Miller
(played here by Fred Ward) - then
unemployed, unpublished and un-
ng American writer - met the
then-unemployed, unpublished and
caring French-American writer Anais
Nin (Maria de Medieros). They
struck it off beautifully,. collaborat-
ing on each others writing, enjoying
a rich social life and, eventually, be-
coming lovers. The only two prob-
lems were their spouses. Anais'
husband, Hugo Guiler (Richard E.
rant), was fairly oblivious to the
hole thing and a fairly neutral fig-
ure, though one whose presence kept
Nin anchored in reality. Henry's
wife, June (Uma Thurman), was dif-
ferent; though she and Anais only
met a few times in the course of a
couple of June's two-week visits to
Paris (after the second, June discov-
ered the love affair and quickly

moved back to New York, where she
would never do anything interesting
again other than divorce Miller by
proxy) , she and Anais also fell in
love. The short, but emotionally
charged, events of those visits not
only provide the material for this
film, but for much of the work that
Nin and Miller produced for the rest
of their lives.
What a great story. But there's an
inherent problem with turning it
into a film: all of the "action" - all
of the interesting stuff - takes place
inside the heads of the participants
and all of the actions of the partici-
pants are such that, outwardly, it
looks like nothing is wrong. Thus,
it's necessary to get inside those
heads, but how does one do that
while only allowed to show their ac-
tions? Kaufman decided on having a
combination of repeated voice-overs
(taken from Nin's diaries) and ex-
pressionistic elements, such as a
dream sequence and a surreal atmo-
The big problem with this ap-
proach is that, although it leads to a
nice looking film, interesting scenes
and some amusing elements, it
doesn't really let the characters show
what they are experiencing. The
transformation of two, apparently
neurotic and obsessive-compulsive
(if the film's characterization is to be
be.ieved), struggling writers into
tw, of the most controversial and in-
fluential writers of the 20th century
is totally invisible; what we see are
some people who, unhappy with
their lives, cheat on their spouses
and talk about how they're going to

be great writers.
The other problem, this one pos-
sibly more detrimental to the film,
is that the acting on most parts is
just plain bad. Sparing the bloody
details, suffice it to say that every-
one, especially Grant and Thurman,
overact and overextend their roles to
the point of severe melodramatic
hemorrhage. Medieros isn't too bad,
though, and Ward - though acting
more like WWII G.I. than a Lost
Generation writer - is tolerable, but
for the most part, they just don't
make it. Maybe it's just that the
script is bad, maybe Kaufman's
loosing it - probably both. In any
case, the film looks great: Philippe
Rouselot's (Hope and Glory, Dan-
gerous Liaisons, The Emerald For-
est) cinematography gives the film
about 75 percent of its atmosphere
and 90 percent of its interest.
This film is one of those situa-
tions that maybe in the hands of a
better screenwriter, better director and
better actors would have been pretty
good (in that sense, it's like Apoca-
lypse Now where there was a better
screenwriter, better director and better
actors and they just barely saved the
film from its own bombasticism),
but the way it stands now, it seems
to me that Kaufman chose the wrong
medium. Ultimately, all of the talk-
ing, crying, screwing and pontificat-
ing says very little; in fact, it says
Henry and June is being shown at

The sultry stares of Anais Nin (Maria de Medeiros) and June Miller (Uma Thurman) betray the vacuousness of
their actions (and were enough to garner Henry and June the first NC-17 rating).

Continued from page 5
that it won't appear on a reading list
and no paper on it will be expected.
But it will be set in a familiar world
with a familiar language and leave an
impression that lasts longer than
Cosby re-runs. Kiss in the Hotel
Joseph Conrad is one random selec-
tion of new fiction that lets you, not
three generations of literary critics,
make the call. Besides, eccentric
small towns seem to be all the rage
this year.

Michigan Alumni
work here:
The Wail Street Journal
The New York Times
The Washington Post
The Detroit Free Press
The Detroit News
NBC Sports
Associated Press
United Press International
Scientific American
Sports mustrated
USA Today
Because they worked here:
454 Ilihian 91filg

- Lisa Jarvinen
Nees the hot news fast?
Find it in the Daily.

Lava Hay
Lava Hay
Adding a slightly psychedelic
sense for instrumental colors to em-
1ellish their solid country har-
monies, Vancouverites Lava Hay -
anada's blond-haired answer to
folk-rockers the Indigo Girls -em-
ploy the possibilities suggested in
their name to provide a richer-sound-
ing alternative to the abrasive over-
exertion of the latter's recent effort.
Instead of straining their voices and
acoustic guitars, Michelle Gould and
Suzanne Little bring strength to
their sound through infusions of
futes and oboe, pedal steel, '60s-ish

organ, reverb fiddles and even a judi-
cious cropdust of Townshendian
power chords ("Fall With You") -
all bolstered by solid drums.
Certainly, Lava Hay are happily
unburdened by those political senti-
ments which might pressure them to
make their music sound "tough."
And even though they might like for
you to believe otherwise, you
shouldn't be fooled by this album's
cover art (or the group's connection
to alternative-oriented Nettwerk Pro-
ductions); Lava Hay have much less
in common with, say, Siouxsie and
the Banshees, than they do with the
lushest sounds of Patsy Cline.
- Michael Paul Fischer


Itfian t estaurant
Let Mama Rosa cook for you,
" Homemade Pizza & Pasta
- Beer & Wine
?.* Carry-out available
"If it's Argerio's, it's genuine Italian."
300 Detroit Street 665-0444

- ---"- -----
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Save the LP!
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Mon. Oct. 15
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Wed. Oct. 31

Composers' Forum
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A Little Night Music by Stephen
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Annual Halloween Concert

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momom W-Wwm

Tuesday, October 30, 1990
BS / MS / PhD, ChE, BioChE

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