The Michigan Daily
Mork and Starman
Wednesday, October 2, 1991
search for Holy Grail
The Fisher. King 1 artistic consistency, The Fisherl
dir. Terry Gilliam "King,while not devoid of any merit,
is ultimately disappointing.
As the medieval legend goes, the
by Brent Edwards Fisher King is the guardian of the
Holy Grail who loses it after be-
Director Terry Gilliam is a man coming blinded by betrayal and de-
with visions. As one of the original spair. As the world around him de-
Monty Python members, he learned cays and his life deteriorates, a fool
not to sweeten his material for mass. finds the Grail right beside the
consumption, nor to pull punches King's bed - the fool's innocence
that might offend audiences. His di- thereby purging the King's an-
recting was boldly initiated with guished soul. In The Fisher King,
Monty Python .and the Holy Grail Jeff Bridges and Robin Williams
and The Meaning of Life. Gilliam's both play the fool against each
later films, such as The Adventures other's.King.
of Baron Munchausen, were impres- Williams' character, Parry, was
sive for their jarring images and sen- once a college professor of medieval
sual overload, fantastic and heroic history, until his wife was killed by
quests with the bizarre that occa- a random shooting in a bar. This re-
sionally verged on hysteria, suited in his transformation into a
Gilliam's unwillingness to com- homeless person unable to deal with
promise his vision was displayed his past or. reality. As expected,
when the American distributor of Williams is wonderfully crazy and
Brazil 'refused to release the film charismatic as a man who thinks-he's
-until Gilliam changed the bleak, a knight on a quest for the Holy
depressing finish to the happy end- Grail. The scene when Parry's dan-
ing they felt an American audience cing around codpiece-less (and
would want. Gilliam refused and naked), flapping his lance in the
wind, is pure Williams mania. He is
Robin Williams' also effective in the quiet scenes,
plunge into a cata- something at which he gets better
tonic state, only to with each of his films, and it is
almost painful to watch his shyness
1 awaken, dance with when he is set up with the woman of
his girlfriend, and his dreams.
lead other patients at Through Parry and other charac:-
the hospital in a sing ters, the film touches on the human-
Sis too re-ity behind the faceless homeless
alingiS en of that people ignore everyday. Tom
m niscent of Waits, in a bit role, says as people .
Awakenings to be .drop money into his can without
taken seriously looking at him, "They pay so they*
don't have to look."
The cinematography of Roger
bought full page ads in Variety, pu- Pratt (Brazil, Mona Lisa, Batman).
blicly asking the head of the transforms the homeless areas into
company when he was going to re- Dante-esque hells, while making
lease the movie. New York seem like a beast of op-
Gilliam finally gave a private pressive stone and steel monoliths
screening to local film critics and - not that difficult to do, I
the L.A. Film Critics Circle .award- suppose. Also impressive, is the fan-
ed Brazil best picture,, best director tastic fire-breathing Red Knight, the
and best screenplay, forcing the dis- embodiment of Parry's memory of.
tribution company to release the his wife's death, which almost kills
film while the publicity was hot, him. Parry's torment by his mem-
Due to the expectation of Gilliam's ory/Knight, along with the home-
less commentary, provides the most
powerful moment in the movie.
Jeff Bridges' Jack Lucas, a shock
radio DJ who incited a person to kill
Due Gilliam's artistic
consistency, the film,
while not devoid of
any merit, is ultimate-
several innocent people at a bar,
(yup, the same incident in which
Parry's wife was killed) hopes to
redeem himself and extinguish his
torment by helping Parry. Of
course, Parry's innocence and vi-
brancy dig beneath Jack's selfish
motives, and they both help each
other to conquer their own demons.
It is with Jack that some of the
film's more trite episodes occur.
Parry teaches Jack to remove his
clothes in Central Park and lay in
the grass, a la Pretty Woman, when
Julia Roberts teaches Richard Gere
to remove his shoes and feel the
grass between his toes. Jack's last-
second realization that he really
does love the woman he left (Mer-
cedes Ruehl) is formulaic of half
the films ever made in Hollywood.
and provides an eyerolling feel-good
ending. ~And Robin Williams'
plunge into a catatonic state, only to
awaken, dance with his girlfriend,
and lead other patients at the
hospital in a sing along, is too re-
miniscent of Awakenings to be
All of these moments are un-
characteristic of Gilliam, but can be
explained by the fact that he wrote
his other films and did not write
this one. While The Fisher King is a
Hollywoodization of Gilliam, he
has kept some of his vision intact,
unlike the sellout of the formerly-
visionary Peter Weir in G r.e en
Card. The Fisher King has its mo-
ments, but is too much Hollywood
and not enough Gilliam.
THE FISHER KING is playing at
Briarwood and Showcase.
My cup runneth
Parry and Jack (Robin Williams,
Jeff Bridges, above) dance
crazily through the streets of
New York. "Nanu, Nanu, New
York!" shouts Parry. "Carpe
Diem, Jack!" And then he falls
into a catatonic state. And
people say that Robin Williams
can only play one part. But who
cares about him. Leonine Jeff
Bridges is sullenly sexy, a
perfect match for the gravity-
defying cleavage of his
girlfriend, Anne (Mercedes
Ruehl, right). Ruehl recently won
a Tony award for her
performance in Neil Simon's
Lost in Yonkers. And, speaking
of Yonkers... oh, never mind.
and Chris Stamey
Most of America was first ex-
posed to Peter Holsapple as the
"fifth R.E.M." on MTV Unplugged.
But years before that.show, Holsap-
ple; (along with Chris Stamey) was.
a member of a band called the dB's, a
bunch of smart guys from Hoboken,
New Jersey. Their albums of well-
composed, jangly rock tunes earned
them much critical praise 'and little
financial reward. What else is new?
Anyway, after the second album,
Stamey left, and the band continued
to play, making a few decent records
on Bearsville and IRS and never
straying from their style. Maver-
icks, a reunion .effort by Holsapple
and Stamey, is basically an attempt
to see whether or not the guys could
still write songs together.
They have succeeded. If Maver-
icks can be compared to anything, it
would be Tom Petty's Full Moon
Fever. Not only do both discs in.-
clude Byrds' covers, but each sounds
like the respective artists were hav-
ing a good time while recording. For
these guys, making a record isn't
just another day at the office.
"The Child In You," like "Free
Fallin'," contains a subliminal mes-
sage which says, "Listen to me over
and over again until you can't get me
out of your head." A relatively
slow-tempoed number, driven by
acoustic and jangly guitars, the song
features Holsapple commenting on
the difference between getting old
and growing up.
A few of- the other stand-out
tracks include "Geometry," a very
Beatle-like tune with an enjoyable
12-string acoustic part; "Taken," a
ballad with great harmonies; and
the up-tempo opener "Angel." Each
of the tunes sounds distinct from
the others, but at the same time, all
include many similar elements. The
two singers' voices aren't too dis-
tant, making the harmonies sound
great. And in addition, Holsapple
and Stamey are both accomplished at
layering guitar tracks over one an-
other, giving each tune a pleasant
mix of counter-melodies:
See RECORDS, Page 8
In his dB days, Peter Holsapple sweated it out at Ann Arbor's own Rick's
American Cafe. Yeah, he looks like hell, but apparently the H mellowed*
with age, appearing on MTV Unplugged with pop faves R.E.M. and cutting
-a melodic reunion album, Mavericks, with ex-bandmate Chris Stamey.
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