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December 04, 1990 - Image 5

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-12-04

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ARTS
Tuesday, December 4, 1990

The Michigan Daily

Page 5

-.--

'I had an accident, it cured my writer's

block

Misery
dir. Rob Reiner
by Mark Binelli
"Uhh. Where am I?"
I was strapped to a bed, as a mat-
ter of fact. Both of my legs had been
shattered beyond recognition. The
last thing I could remember was try-
ing to make it through the West
Engineering Arch on my bike at
noon. Standing over me was a
woman dressed like Tim Curry from
The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
She didn't look happy.
"I read your video review of
*Rocky in the Daily last week," she
snarled. "You obviously have no un-
derstanding of true culture."
"It was a joke," I laughed ner-
vously. "See, I was being sarcastic,
and..."
"LIAR," she shouted, and
slammed the Mac SE that she had
been carrying onto my legs. I lost
consciousness.
In my dream, I decided that I
must have been dreaming what just
happened. My nightmare was justi-
fied because I had just seen Misery,
the latest film adaptation from the
volumes of the most popular and
prolific Master of Horror next to
Jackie Collins, Stephen King. I usu-
ally don't go for big screen versions
of Big Steve's masterpieces, but I
knew this was going to be one of
the best as soon as Paul Sheldon
(James Caan) climbed into his Mus-
tang and began jamming Junior
Walker's "Shotgun" and the word
MISERY appeared on the screen in
blood-red letters. In terms of other
King films, it's not quite up to the
level of The Shining, but certainly
neck and neck with Stand By Me and
Carrie, and much better than that
watered-down prime-time garbage.
I woke up to find Forrest Green
III towering over me. He seemed
somewhat annoyed, but I decided to
appeal to his benevolent nature.
"Forrest, man," I smiled desper-
Derek and the
* Dominoes
Layla (3 CD Box set)
Polydor
Wow! Nearly every li'l tidbit
from the "legendary sessions" of the
"greatest guitar album" of 'em all
collected on three CD's to show the
wondrous nuggets/ pearls of sponta-
neous six string machination/ wiz-
ardry/ wisdom from o' slowhand
hisself. Will the bounteous benefi-
.cence and generosity of digitaliza-
.tion/longing nostalgia for the good
ol' daze when R 'n' R was king
never cease?
Assuming you've heard the record
before, or at least the title track on
some MOR (mesozoic-oriented rock)
station, then you know that the ster-
ile quasi-blues pu(t)rification rites
(in which the catharsis comes as a
result of a fiesta of pentatonic chops)
of "Layla," "Why Does Love Got to
Be So Sad" and "Keep on Growing."
They supposedly signify E.C.'s
maturation into (Robert) Johnsonian
emotional commitment are nothing
more than a vainly self-conscious at-
tempt to place the maestro's musi-
cianship in a less sex-starved context
than the Yardbirds.

But the big news ain't another
remastering of the album, it's the

Annie's (Kathy Bates) bedside manner has improved remarkably since the days when she smothered babies.
Her "atient," Paul Sheldon (James Caan), is merely sledgehammered by his kind nurse.

ately, "You've gotta get me out of
here. There's this crazy woman
who..."
"Shut up," he commanded. "You
have a word processor. I want you to
retract what you said about Elvis."
"Elvis," I stammered. "Elvis
never meant shit to me, man. I was
just joking. You know that, I
"I always knew you were a dirty
birdie," he grunted, shaking his head
slowly as he leaned over and jabbed
me in the arm with a hypodermic
needle. Everything went dark a few
seconds later.
In Misery, Caan plays a popular
writer of third-rate romance novels
who gets into a car wreck in Col-
orado during a blizzard and is rescued
by his Number One Fan Annie
Wilkes (Kathy Bates), a
schizophrenic nurse who tortures
him in her secluded farm until he
ditches his plans for a serious book
and brings her favorite character,
Misery Chastain, back to life.
Consistently excellent director
Rob Reiner keeps the tension very
high without losing his sense of

humor. Caan's understated facial ex-
pressions and sarcasm are great, as
are the extreme close-ups of the
wonderfully twisted Bates and the
witty script by William Goldman
(Butch Cassidy and the Sundance
Kid), which features great lines like,
"A toast to Misery." Also pleasantly
surprising were Richard Farnsworth
and Frances Sternhagen as the local
sheriff and his deputy/ wife, finally a
cool elderly couple who are not
merely senile comic relief devices or
withered old gurus spouting
profound statements.
The only problem with the story
is also present in King's novel, and
that is the lack of sympathy for An-
nie Wilkes, especially in the particu-
larly brutal ending. She is much
more effective as a tragically and pa-
thetically demented fan than when
she degenerates into becoming a
cheap one-dimensional B-movie
monster, although the audience I saw
the movie with on Saturday night
would probably disagree.
When I opened my eyes again,
my mom was standing there, hold-

ing a sledgehammer.
"Mom," I began, "Thank God
you're here. You won't believe
what's been happening to me..."
"I picked up a copy of that news-
paper that you write for," she inter-
rupted. "Does this look familiar?"
She held up a film review cut out
of last week's Daily, with the head-
line, "Three Men With Penises."
"Mom, I didn't even write that," I
cried.
"Don't you raise your voice at
me, young man," she screamed. "I
don't care if you wrote it or not. Do
your want yourself associated with a
paper that prints such filth? Would
you include an article like this in
your resume?"
I saw the hammer coming down
at me and then everything went
black again and then I woke up in a
cold sweat and I was in my bunk bed
back at my apartment, and I vowed
that from that day forth, I would
never write anything flippant or
stupid ever again.
MISERY is being shown at the Ann
Arbor 1 & 2 and Showcase.

Songs of the Doomed
More notes on the death of the
American Dream1
Gonzo Papers vol. 3
by Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
Summit/hardcover
The Prince of Gonzo, Dr. Hunter
S. Thompson, is back with an
erratic series of footnotes on the
dying gasps of the American Dream.
No one since Horatio Alger has been
more obsessed with chasing that
dream than Thompson, but in
Thompson's pursuit, things more
often go wrong than right.
Thompson's latest book, titled
Songs of the Doomed, is a trip
through five decades of fear and
loathing. The title is strange, but his
paranoia has often been our warning.
The book is a collection of essays,
some from earlier books, others pre-
viously unpublished and some writ-
ten this year, reflecting on past
weirdness. It is without doubt his
strangest book, sometimes revolt-
ing, sometimes hilarious and ulti-
mately flawed.
At times, Thompson is spot on
target, especially when he writes
about politics: "The saga of Richard
Nixon is The Death of the American
Dream. He was our Gatsby, but the
light at the end of his pier was black
instead of green." On the president,
he writes: "George Bush has inher-
ited the wind once again. He is a
human windsock."
The most interesting parts of the
book deal with journalism, and
Thompson's admittedly accidental
invention of the Gonzo version of
this field. He writes: "The
(journalists) who consistently fect
free to plagiarize my best concepts
and perceptions seem almost person-
ally offended by the stance and style
of my 'gonzo journalism'... There
are numerous lame and sterile ways
to counter surface plagiarism, but
the only sure and final cure is to
write something so clearly and bru-
tally honest that only a fool would
risk plagiarizing it." Indleed, but that

was a mandate Thompson wrote in
1977, and he has never clearly fol-
lowed through on it.
But Thompson has always been a
far more honest journalist than the
others who stood in the wings and
condemned his lack of objectivity.
His achievements are legendary -
and after his superb Fear and
Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72,
he became a victim of his own
creation. "The personal notoriety I'd
accrued since 1972 had changed my
role so drastically that even the
Secret Service treated me with em-
barrassing deference," he writes, "and
I couldn't walk into a bar without
total strangers wanting to argue with
me or ask for my autograph."

Thompson
Thompson subsequently retreated
to his ranch in Woody Creek,
Colorado, from where he has pro-
duced occasional screeds for the last
15 years. Nothing has matched his
early Gonzo writing - he himself
understands that the best writing
comes from the vortex, the center of
the action.
Thompson's books are best-
sellers, and deservedly so (except the
ghoulish The Curse of Lono), so
there is something cynical and dis-
heartening about this book, which is
See BOOKS, Page 7

two bonus discs of "never heard be-
fore!!!" outtakes and "improvised"
jams. The CD of jams, none less
than 13 minutes! 1!, is presumably
the gem of the set, and, needless to
say, the most utterly pretentious and
useless assemblage of musical dis-
coveries since R.E.M.'s Dead Let-
ter Office.
The jams consist of nothing
morehthan the usual white boy blues
sludge interrupted every four minutes
or so with an equally heavy-handed
solo run by the master. Jams 4 and 5
are notable not only for the
appearance of Duane Allman, but on
numero four they actually try to
work up a groove; it fails, but it's a
laudable effort nonetheless.
Other than the acoustic reworking
of "Mean Old World" by Clapton
and Allman that appeared on the
Crossroads collection, the third disc
of outtakes is beyond expendable.
The recent wave of repackaging of
yer rock faves is even more exploita-
tive than the CD re-release of all the
records you already own. But, if in-
dustry rips are your idea of fun,
smack down an Andrew Jackson and
an Alexander Hamilton for this beaut
- "the narcotic haze of capitalism"
indeed.
-Peter Shapiro

Steve Riley and the
Mamou Playboys
Steve Riley and the Mamou
Playboys

Rounder
The last time I was in Louisiana,
I stopped in a little Cajun restaurant
off Interstate 10 called Ma and Pa's
See RECORDS, Page 7

ATTENTION ADVERTISERS!
Please note the following early display advertising
deadlines for the first publications of January:

0 aolen KXij
Natiwrnir 3IConor Socutj
New-inductee meeting
Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 8:00pm
Pendleton Room of the Union
Officer elections will be held
JOSTENS
GOLD RING SALE
is COMING!

Publication date
Wednesday, Jan. 9
Thursday, Jan. 10
Friday, Jan. 11

Deadline
Wednesday, Dec.
Wednesday, Dec.
Wednesday, Dec.

12
12
12

The first Weekend Magazine will be published January 18.

"
"
1
... _ A ..ec F l ° e

v*'

The Office of International Programs
Information Meetings for
Study Abroad
for 1991-92
GREAT BRITAIN (Essex, York, London, St. Andrews)
Tues., Dec. 4, 1990
7:00 pm 443 Mason Hall
GERMANY (Freiburg)
Weds., Dec. 5, 1990
7:00 pm 443 Mason Hall

-t4'

Order your college ring NOW.
Stop by and see a Jostens representative,
Wednesday, Dec. 5 thru Friday, Dec. 7,
11:00a.m. to 4:00p.m.,
o select from a comolete line of aold rinas.

em J*

t

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