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September 25, 1990 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-09-25

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ARTS
The Michigan Daily Tuesday, September 25, 1990
'he problem with reality

Page 5

GoodFellas
dir. Martin Scorsese
by Mike Kunlavsky
ahn the '70s my family and I lived in
Italy for a while and were protected
by the Mafia. As a child it never
occurred to me that the guys that
hung around wearing dark suits
teaching my mother how to swear in
Italian and who gave us a switch-
blade as a going away present prob-
ably offed some of their counter-
parts in rival Sicilian families. So it
as never a really big, scary thing
or me to see Mafia in the pictures,
I always had a very favorable atti-
tude towards them: they were just
arch-capitalists, doing what capital-
ists always did.
When I finally did realize who
those guys were, it still did not faze
me much; all the glorification (or
maybe just attention) in films and in
the media gave me an attitude of "so
hat, if the CIA can make random
eple around the world disappear at
least with the Mafia the disappear-
ances aren't so random; ultimately
it's all in The Family." Apparently,
Martin Scorsese had a similar expe-

rience growing up in New York be-
cause his portrayal of gangsters in
GoodFellas presents them not as
Don Corleone, but as Archie
Bunker: everyday guys doing what
they have to in order to survive.
This makes the film, the whole
purpose of which was to portray
gangsters as realistically as possible,
more like a docudrama than a fiction
film. Scorsese, who has made sev-
eral excellent documentaries in his
career, even puts Henny Youngman
and Jerry Vale on stage as them-
selves and casts his Italian-American
mother as an Italian-American
mother. Furthermore, the story (by
Nicholas Pileggi, author of
Wiseguy, the book the film was
based on) is very much grounded in
reality: it's true. Naturally, then, the
film a believable tale, but unfortu-
nately all of this realism also dooms
it to an inherently hollow existence.,
One is left with a "so what?" feeling
afterward.
Fortunately, Scorsese is a con-
summate professional, so the ride
that the film takes is well-done and
never slow, but when Sid Vicious
sings "My Way" at the closing cred-

its - implying that the Mafia is not
at all as in-tune as Frank Sinatra
would have you think - there's still
a big hole left where a message
should be.
Not to say that the film is not
entertaining; the performances of Joe
Pesci as the livewire Tommy De-
Vito and Ray Liotta as the lead are
great and there's lots of action and
tension, but, whereas there was a
"lesson" of sorts to be learned from
Raging Bull,Taxi Driver and The
Color of Money, here you're sort-of
left with the same feeling as after
having seen a documentary about sea
otters: "gosh, that's interesting,
when're The Simpsons on?"
I sometimes wonder what those
guys that protected my family 15
years ago are doing today, whether
they did something dumb and got
cement galoshes, whether they're
retired and raising grapes outside of
Palermo, or whether they moved to
America and are living in Pitts-
burgh. I hope they're ok; after all, I
do still have the switchblade.

If you haven't lived the life of certain film reviewers, you might find GoodFellas somewhat scary and these men
are the reasons why.

GOODFELLAS is playing
Briarwood and Showcase.

at

Theater review
O'Neill explores family life
by Mike Kolodlv

..y " wnv tVmMM1

G uaranteed to inspire emotion
running the gamut from the most
obnoxiously loud guffaw to the
most sentimental snicker, Ann Ar-
bor Civic Theater's spirited produc-
tion of Eugene O'Neill's A h ,
Wilderness is comic theater at its
down-to-earth best. Students, profes-
ors, clergymen, construction work-
ers, metal-lathe operators - people
from all walks of life - were urged
to attend in order to avoid missing a
truly worthwhile performance.
The audience is privy to the lives
of the Miller family, circa 1900 - a
relatively wholesome group that is
astonishingly real on stage. They
neither venture into the turf of
ssly exaggerated anti-families like
he Simpsons, nor do they become
plastically wholesome like the Cos-
bys. Instead, they strike a perfect
middle ground that, as you watch,
you find yourself looking into a mir-
ror image of your own ideal family
relationships.
The king and queen of the Miller
family, Nat and Essie, are the per-
fectly-cast pair that cheerfully run
he household. On what begins as a
run-of-the-mill Fourth of July, Nat
keeps a watch over the typical gath-

ering of aunts, uncles, cousins, and
kids. His sister Lily has been long
torn between her good sense, and her
heartfelt love for Nat's brother-in-
law Sid. In a running conflict, Lily
tries as hard as she can to reform
Sid's wild ways, while, at the same
time, Sid determinedly plots to
marry her. Nat's son Richard, how-
ever, steals the show, with an excel-
lent, very palpable performance by
budding thespian Ian Lawler. This
young lad teeters painfully on the
precipice of adulthood, at the openly
raw age of 16.
When Essie finds scandalous read-
ing material in the boy's room -
seemingly tame love poetry by to-
day's standards - and forces Nat to
impose censorship, Richard tries out
his newly acquired independence with
an invigorating idealism that is as
hilarious as it is realistic. Next thing
he knows, he's in a very adult situa-
tion with a wanton woman, that
nothing in his experience has ever
prepared him for. This combination
of naivete, and determination that
characterize Richard serve to drive
the plot at a funny, break-neck pace.
The cast is an excellent, very
down-home group that you feel -
and want - to talk to at the end of

the performance. This is one of
those productions that keep you
glued to the action, always wanting
to know what will happen next, and
then sends you home with a warm,
romantic kind of sentimental feeling
that is often sought for, but rarely
achieved.
"I think [the play] is really reflec-
tive of many families at the turn of
the century," says director Susan
Bellinson. It occupies a unique niche
in O'Neill's work, as it really isn't
thematically like anything else that
he wrote. The bleakness of his Long
Days Journey Into Night -era plays,
nor his earlier, more experimental
impressionistic period, aren't really
illustrated here at all. What does
come through are the subtle turns of
plot, deft placement of complica-
tions, and deep insight, that made
him so famous. Ah, Wilderness, is
a piece of drama that clutches at the
heart. "I'd recommend this play to
anyone, of any age," adds Bellinson,
"It provides a nice perspective, illus-
trating multiple vantage points on
family life from characters of all dif-
ferent ages."

After Hours
dir. Martin Scorsese
After rushing to see director Mar-
tin Scorsese's new film
GoodFellas, take a look at one of
this brilliant filmmaker's lesser
known films. After Hours, like so
many of Scorsese's films, uses the
surreal underworld of New York City
as its backdrop. This time, the
avant-garde streets of Soho serve as
the location for this nightmarish
look at the City after dark.
One evening, a run-of-the-mill
computer programmer named Paul
Hackett, played to perfection by
Griffin Dunne, meets a friendly, but
somewhat odd, woman in a coffee
shop. Paul and Marcy (Rosanna Ar-
quette) exchange phone numbers and
say a quick good-bye - yet for
Paul, this represents not an ending,

but the beginning of a night of
bizarre encounters.
Later that night, Paul, tired of
watching mindless shows on cable
television, gives Marcy a call. She
invites him down to her loft in
Soho. Beginning with a hysterically
funny cab ride, Paul embarks on
what will become the scariest night

of his life. Scorsese brings the often
unseen parts of New York to life.
Although his dark vision often ex=.
aggerates the truth, it is especially
effective because its based on reality.
One of the inhabitants of this
surreal jungle is a quirky waitress;
played by Teri Garr, who falls irn
See VIDEO, Page 7

DISTINGUISHED LECTURE SERIES
Center for AfroAmerican Studies
Dr. Darnell F. Hawkins
University of Illinois- Chicago
Newspaper Coverage of Homicides: Who Makes the Headlines?
Tuesday, September 25, 4-6PM
CAAS Library Conference Room
200 West Engineering Room 214
Reception immediately following
Sponsors: Center for AfroAmecan and African Studies College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
Office of the Vice-President for Academic Affairs

AH, WILDERNESS plays Sept. 27-
29 and Oct. 4-6 at 8 p.m. at the Ann
Arbor Civic Theater, 1035 S. Main.

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