Monday, September 24, 1990
The Michigan Daily
Not quite the Orient Express
Narrow Margin I
dir. Peter Hyams I
by David Lubliner
0 n a cold, rainy night, a train
travels across the Canadian Rockies,
bound for Vancouver. A beautiful
woman, who has been the witness to
a bloody murder, sits nervously in
her compartment. Sitting across
from her is a deputy D.A. from Los
Angeles, an older man - probably
in his late 60s -wearing a nice suit
and small, wire-rimmed glasses. As
the train speeds along through the
night, flashes of light creep through
the blinds of the compartment, pe.i-
odically interrupting the complete
The killers are somewhere else on
the train, searching for her, trying to
make sure she never makes it to the
end of the line. The deputy D.A. is
there to protect her, bring her back
to L.A. and nail the mafia kingpin
responsible for the brutal slaying.
There is nowhere for the two to hide.
They can't get off the moving train.
They can't do anything but wait.
In his most recent suspense film,
Narrow Margin, director Peter
Hyams (The Presidio, Running
Scared) appropriates the classic Hol-
lywood train setting and attempts to
provide a new twist on a now-clich6d
genre. Actually a remake of an ob-
scure 1952 picture, The Narrow
Margin, its efforts to tap into a
proven formula are thinly veiled.
With their long, narrow corridors
and small compartments, trains pro-
vide opportunities for innovative
cinematography. The filmmakers
begin with a pre-packaged atmo-
sphere of tension and suspense, with
* the good guys and the bad trapped
together inside a speeding, finite
Living up to his past record of
poor films with good performances,
Gene Hackman has chosen yet an-
goes over easy
There was a world of difference
between the Performance Network's
Fried or Boiled this week and last
week's presentation of Havel's The
Memorandum. It would be difficult
to choose two plays that are in
sharper contrast. The Memorandum
explores a single idea in a long,
sometimes laborious manner. Fried
or Boiled explores an intringuing
idea in a concise, almost too-short
The two actors, Hilary Ramsden
and Jude Winter, accomplish their
primary goal of creating dynamic
physical, movement-based theater in
their performances. The play is
apparently carefully blocked and
rehearsed. The portrayal of two
elderly sisters is impressively played
by Ramsden and Winter, who are in
reality many decades younger than
the parts they play. There is a par-
ticularly hilarious scene that is rem-
iniscent of the well-known candy
factory I Love Lucy episode. It not
not only ties into the theme of ex-
aggerated idiosyncrasies developed by
two people to cope with an all-dom-
ineering father, but also provides
pure physical humor.
Fried or Boiled is a play in-
spired by Katherine Mansfield's
short story "The Late Colonel's
Daughters." The story and the play
explore the life of two sisters imme-
diately following the death of their
autocratic father. Ramsden describes
it as a story which "exposes the hu-
man condition through macabre
comedy." The details of the sisters'
repressed lifes are magnified to
ridiculous proportions to supply in-
The intended comedy doesn't al-
ways produce laughter, however.
The over-dramatization intended to
exaggerate situations occasionally
becomes more than is neccesary,
such as when the sisters attempt to
open a door over the course of a
minute or two and can't bring them-
selves to do it. Yet, during three or
four memorable points in this play,
the exaggerated gesticulation and
well-planned movement of the actors
produces an almost slapstick type of
hilarity in which the audience seems
to take great delight.
Debra Trethaway's lighting and
set design is a refreshing change of
pace from most theater. The ankle-
level lighting and very simple
(almost non-existent) set design cre-
ated a satisfying three-dimensional-
ity, complete with multiple larger-
Fried or Boiled was originally
presented with numerous other
works at the Kendall International
Festival of Dance, Mime and Theater
in April of this year. With a running
time of approximately 45 minutes,
it is more a long sketch than a play,
and it possibly should be presented
in conjunction with a few other
works. The story and visuals create a
nice atmosphere and striking theme.
Yet it is difficult to leave with a
sense of fulfillment one often gets
from a play, perhaps simply because
most people are accustomed to see-
ing longer,more complete works.
Fried or Boiled plays again next
weekend at the Performance Net-
work, located at 408 W. Washing-
ton. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Thurs-
day, Friday and Saturday and 6:30
p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10 Gen-
eral Admission; $7 for students and
seniors. Phone 663-0696 for reserva-
-Michael Jay Leizerman
One act is
Bad satire is one of the most an-
noying forms of musical theater. It
leaves the audience feeling embar-
rassed for the performers. I have
See WEEKEND, page 7
Gene Hackman and Anne Archer can do it all in Narrow Margin, from chasing down ruthless killers to hanging
from moving trains.
other movie that doesn't measure up
to his acting talents. Hackman is
thoroughly convincing in the role of
Robert Caulfield, the Los Angeles
deputy district attorney who must
protect his witness. Unfortunately,
Hackman's performance is hurt by
the obvious plot which thrusts him
into completely unbelievable situa-
tions. Although his portrayal of the
honest man seeking justice is en-
tirely credible, it is hard to believe
that this 60- year-old man jumps
through windows unscathed and
chases down moving trains.
Hackman is so endearing in most
of his movie roles because he is the
epitome of the common man. He's
tough, but at the same time vulnera-
ble; his performance in the film is
straightforward and without preten-
Anne Archer as Carol Hunnicut,
damsel in distress, plays second fid-
dle to Hackman, and does little more
than whine and scream. The bad
guys are equally uninteresting and
suffer from similarly poorly-devel-
oped roles. In the end, they become
parodies of themselves.
Hyams does manage, however, to
bring a certain degree of respectabil-
ity to the film with brilliant photog-
raphy. The shots of the train speed-
ing through the night serve as a
backdrop for unlimited suspense.
The eerie music terrifies and creates
even more unnerving tension. Ulti-
mately, however, the film becomes
merely an endless sequence of boring
chase scenes, insulting the audience
with their predictability. The climac-
tic final moment is a cheap attempt
to elicit screams from the audience.
It's a disappointment, and not a sur-
NARROW MARGIN is showing at
Briarwood at 10:15 a.m., 12:15
p.m., 2:30 p.m., 4:45 p.m., 7:30 p.m.
and 9:35 p.m. It is also showing at
Showcase at 1:05 p.m., 3:10 p.m.,
5:10 p.m., 7:40 p.m., 9:50 p.m. and
The Last Temptation of Elvis
New Musical Express
I like it, I enjoy rock n' roll. A
lot of people like it, a lot of people
don't, but as long as it lasts, as long
as it sells, I'll continue doing it. As
long as it's what the people want.
And if they change, if it dies out, I'll
try to do something else, and if that
doesn't work, I'll just say, well, I
had my day.
-Elvis Aaron Presley
The brilliant idea: Britain's
New Musical Express gets together a
bunch of hip and/or famous musi-
cians to cover classic Elvis songs
from His movies. All the proceeds
go to rock's conscience-easing char-
ity of the month, the Nordoff-Rob-
bins Musical Therapy Centre.
Covers that were a sure thing:
The Pogues, "Got A Lot O' Livin'
To Do;" The Jesus and Mary Chain,
"Guitar Man;" Fuzzbox, "Trouble"
(chorus - "I'm EVIL/ Don't you
mess around with me").
Most interesting variation on
an Elvis original: Pop Will Eat It-
self's version of "Rock-A-Hula-
Baby" (from the unforgettable luau
scene in Blue Hawaii). Features in-
dustrial dance thump and a sample of
Chuck D saying, "Elvis"
Runner-up: Lemmy and the
Upsetters (with Mick Green on gui-
tar) doing "Blue Suede Shoes." It's a
little bit faster than the original.
Small complaint: Hall and
Oates do a lame pseudo-soul cover of
"Can't Help Falling In Love," in-
stead of the much cooler Lick the
Tins Irish-folk version from Some
Kind of Wonderful.
But, it was a fair trade-off
since: The Cramps cover "Jailhouse
Rock" instead of The Blues Brothers.
Other neat stuff: Les Negresses
Verte do "Marguerita" in French,
Springsteen finally seems to get ex-
cited again when he sings "Viva Las
Vegas", and Elvis Himself queries
"What the hell happened?" when the
music stops during three previously-
unissued takes of "King of the
Whole Wide World."
Yeah, but is it worth the price
of a double album import? This
could have easily turned out to be
Flogging a Dead King, just another
cheap shot at the most undeservedly
disrespected corpse in music history
since Mozart was buried in a pau-
per's grave. Instead, this diverse col-
lection is an actual tribute, ranging
from the serious (most notably
Aaron Neville's incredibly-voiced
"Young and Beautiful") to the ob-
noxious (Vivian Stanshall and the
Big Boys' mock-up of "(There's) No
Room to Rhumba in a Sports Car")
but never straying into the mean-
spirited "Elvis Is Dead" territory of
certain overrated rock bands who can
only dream of greatness.
- Mark Binelli
The Band of Holy Joy
The cover of The Band of Holy
Joy's album, Positively Spooked,
depicts abstract faces and shapes that
combine to form a '90s mixture of
psychedelia and funkiness. The illus-
trations themselves foreshadow the
musical kaleidoscope that the LP's
contents prove to be. The original
lyrics and music are overwhelmingly
"now," and complement one another
perfectly, their obvious English in-
fluence and sexy accents adding to
their appeal. As the music begins,
the listener feels as though she or he
has walked through the flap of a car-
nival tent, entering a fantasy world,
yet danger still exists.
"Real Beauty passed through,"
the first song on the album, encom-
passes the idea of escape from the
negative past and searching for the
promise of the future, though it may
not really exist.
"Evening World Holiday Show"
is introduced on the lyric sheet by a
concert monologue-type stanza.
Holy Joy chooses to do this in a
number of other songs, as well. It
serves to emphasize just how signif-
icant the band's lyrics are. In one of
the most upbeat tracks on the al-
bum, they proclaim, "We hate hu-
mans we love our pets." They're
paradoxical but powerful, and their
message is incredibly pertinent.
"Oh Great Chagallian Cow!"
Who could dislike a group capable of
making an exclamation of this cal-
iber? And who questions, "So you
went to art school, What good is
that now?" The repetition of the trite
See Records, Page 7
THERE ARE TWO SIDES TO
BECOMING A NURSE IN THE ARMY.
And they're both repre-
sented by the insignia you wear
as a member of the Army Nurse
Corps. The caduceus on the left
CompUter Kickoff '90
Go to the Union ground floor mall.
Check out the Computer Showcase.
You only have until September 27th.