Friday, October 19, 1990
fThe Michigan Daily
what is it good for?
dir. Michael Caton-
iy Jon Rosenthal
irector Michael Caton-Jones'
Memphis Belle follows the crew of
a B-17 bomber named, of course, the
Memphis Belle, through the final
raid of their combat tour. In every
s war movie, a tendency exists to
make the heroes either impossible
;illing machines or gut-wrenched
humanists. The crew of the
Memphis Belle are neither and their
'heroism never exceeds their human
The film also avoids creating a
feeling that war is one of the
grandest of human spectacles and
, that the risk of dying would be'
outweighed by the gain of becoming
a real man under fire. Memphis
Belle, like Das Boot, leaves the
audience a little paranoid and looking
jforward to returning to comfortable
surroundings, not searching for a
Controlled camera work and ex-
cellent cinematography make the ex-
periences of the crews who flew
. these missions real to an audience,
the majority of whom only know
World War II through movies and
television. The tightly framed inte-
rior shots of the bomber, for exam-
le, lock the viewer into the claus-
_ trophobic fuselage with the crew. At
the same time, the film avoids the
expected but unwanted shots that
,X shift the viewers' focus from the
,center of the action, in this case the
crew of the Memphis Belle. The au-
-dience never sees the enemy pilots
squinting into their gun-sights as
they prepare to shoot the heroic crew
out of the sky.
, Although Mathew Modine bril-
liantly plays his part of the humor-
less commander haunted by shadows
of insecurity, both Harry Connick
Jr.'s down-home, country singing
tail-gunner and Billy Zane's Gable-
Sloan colection is
true to the subject
by Ingrid Truemper
The works of George Bellows and Richard Diebenkorn embody the one
ruling principle in art: honesty in the portrayal of the subject. Their
works together compose the Sloan Collection, on display at the
University Museum of Art.
George Bellows' black and white lithographs depict American society
in the years from World War I to the early 1920s. His subjects range
from portraits to illustrations of typical city and town life to macabre
murder scenes. Bellows' accuracy brings his scenes to life, even those
which depict often sentimentally-portrayed subject matter such as a little
girl or children in the park. It is in his portraits of the darker side of life,
however, that this accuracy really hits home. These lithographs include
the morbidly fascinating "Murder of Edith Cavell," which illustrates the
moments leading up to the young English nurse's murder by German
troops, and the grotesque "Dance in a Madhouse."
Two of the most compelling lithographs depict boxing rings: in one,
"Counted Out (First Stone )," a leering crowd cheers as a referee, with an.
arm raised as if to execute his victim, counts out a fallen boxer, who lies
in a fetal position with one hand over his face. In the second, "Between
Rounds No.1," a boxer with a featureless doll face matched with a
powerful body rests in one corner of the ring, while the other boxer
strains against the ropes as a man extracts a broken tooth from his mouth
with a pair of tongs. Another man fans the semi-conscious boxer with a
palm fan that resembles an axe blade. The crowd, a mass of piglike
figures, grins and points. These lithographs do strongly resemble the
works of 16th-century surrealist painter Goya, with whom Bellows is
The second artist contributing to the Sloan Collection is Richard
Diebenkorn, best known for his Ocean Park series of paintings, which
explore the light and landscape of his native northern California.
Diebenkorn's lithographs, intaglio prints and woodcuts are notable for
their simplicity, spareness of line and striking composition.
These features are exhibited in "Blue," an original design of
Diebenkorn's that was prepared and printed by Japanese master
woodblock carvers and printers. The design is strikingly simple; this,
combined with the interplay of colors such as an extraordinarily glowing
shade of blue, make this work unforgettable. "Ocean Park No. 52,"
another Diebenkorn work on permanent display at the museum,
continues this theme.
THE SLOAN COLLECTION is on display at the University Museum of
Art through Nov. 11.
Matthew Modine again takes to the air in his latest flick, Mephis Belle. This time, however, he does it from
inside a plane rather than from off of a rooftop.
like, suave bombardier upstage him.
Monte Merrick's script evenly di-
vides the limelight between all the
team members and cleverly hints
that team work and not luck brought
the Memphis Belle home from its
previous missions. At the same time
he does not underrate the perceptual
and real importance of luck in mech-
Although much of the movie
takes place in the air, it moves
quickly and avoids the uncomfortable
feeling imparted by such movies as
Midway that splice real air combat
footage with Hollywood footage.
The real combat footage shown in
Memphis Belle is undisguised and
effectively displayed all at once in a
horrifying montage of B-17's break-
ing up and spinning out of control.
The film also acknowledges its pre-
decessors with the nervous comman-
der on the control tower anxiously
counting each returning plane from
Twelve O'clock High or the white-
out reminiscent of Snowden's Secret
The B-17 becomes an important
character in the film and the produc-
ers exploit its strengths and weak-
nesses to the same degree as the
other characters. Every opening in
the fuselage becomes a potential pit
threatening to leave the character
quite literally in mid-air. They also
use the viewer's recently acquired
knowledge about the B-17 to in-,
crease the tension. When the lead
bomber's nose evaporates in a spray
of superimposed wreckage the audi-
ence knows that the bombardier from
that plane has gone with it. The film
is a timely one, the B-17's shown in
the film are the last in existence and
this month, after 40 years, the reuni-
fication of Germany finally brings
World War II to an end.
MEMPHIS BELLE is
- t '1
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PLACE: The Univ