The Michigan Daily
Tuesday, January 21, 1992
. ....... ..
The Cradle will fall ...
Maternal psychopath runs amok in clichId thriller
The Hand That
Rocks The Cradle
dir. Curtis Hanson
by Jennifer Workman
If The Hand That Rocks The
Cradle is the hand that rules the
world, then prepare yourself for
clich&d movies about maternal psy-
chopathic women. In the spirit of
* the new machisma of the '90s,
women are now duking it out in the
nursery for control of the family.
Domestic bliss couldn't be bet-
ter for Claire Bartel (Annabella
Sciorra), a happy homemaker with a
sensitive husband, a well-behaved
little girl and a blue-eyed baby boy.
Of course, we know all of this will
soon come crashing down after the
arrival of Peyton (Rebecca DeMor-
nay), the wonder-nanny who's se-
cretly out to become queen bee.
Everyone thinks Peyton' s great
except Solomon (Ernie Hudson),
the mentally disabled handyman,
and the only one in the movie with
enough brains to figure out that
she's up to no good. Nobody listens
to Solomon, and family trauma en-
sues as Peyton weasels her way into
the Bartels' lives.
DeMornay's perfornance as Pey-
ton is unnerving as we watch her
dissect the family. Peyton has just
lost her husband to suicide and her
baby to miscarriage, and she desper-
moments, all of these characters are
just so unbelievably gullible that
you actually hope Peyton does
something creatively mean to them.
The audience cheered for Peyton as
she twisted the arm of a schoolyard
bully who had been picking on
Claire's daughter, Emma (Madeline
Although Hand has its creepy moments, all of
these characters are just so unbelievably
gullible that you actually hope Peyton does
something creatively mean to them.
ately wants to replace her loss. So,
she slowly drives herself between
Claire and her family.
Claire's perfect husband, Mi-
chael (Matt McCoy) is completely
oblivious to any problems that
might be arising. He's too busy
shrugging his shoulders and doing
Claire, however, keeps messing
up as the perfect mother. She is held
100 percent responsible for the fam-
ily, while Michael merely comes
home for dinner.
Although Hand has its creepy
But when she turns the violence
on Claire, the mother is ready to de-
fend her family. Unlike the heroines
in Terminator II and Aliens, who de-
fended their children from big scary
monsters, Claire fights another
woman -=- albeit a psychopathic one.
It was disturbing, though, that
Peyton went crazy, and that her in-
sanity was justified by the loss of'
her own husband and baby. Of
course, I'm forgetting that without
a family, women would surely dis-
Evil nanny Rebecca DeMornay knits innocently while watching Annabella Sciorra's baby.
integrate into loonies. And who
will protect the children from these
crazed baby snatchers? It's the, good
mother, of course, who stays at
home, builds a greenhouse and
"love(s) growing things."
The Hand That Rocks the Cradle
is not quite as damaging as Fatal At-
traction, in which a career woman
was out to get the family she never
had, but the film is still disturbing.
Female fight scenes are a recent
development in Hollywood, and
they're probably here to stay.
I'm not sure if director Curtis
Hanson was out to make a movie
with a feminist twist when he
staged the nanny-mommy fight
scene. I didn't want a sappy moral-
ity play, though: I wanted to see
Peyton sock it to the Bartels, the
baby spitting up on somebody and
Claire eating an entire bag of Dori-
tos to comfort herself.
THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE
CRADLE is playing at Showcase
and Fox Village.
by Andrew J. Cahn
"I'm from New Jersey/I don't ex-
pect too much," John Gorka sings in
"I'm From New Jersey.-
He just has a problem with peo-
ple who find a car filled with his
equipment and drive it away. That
theft, which occurred last year, was
even more frustrating for him since
he had just bought a new Laribee
Eventually, it was found in a
pawn shop, but Gorka was not able
to retrieve the names and addresses
for the mailing list he had compiled
at a recent Ann Arbor performance.
He wanted the people on that list to
know that he has not been ignoring
them - for why would he want to
alienate residents of the town which
is home to his management, the Ark,
and one of the nation's premier folk
On Saturday, Gorka will be mak-
ing his second appearance at the Ann
Arbor Folk Festival, but this time,
he will be performing an entire set.
Though he was not officially on the
bill last year, he was in town and
came on stage to sing his song,
"Semper Fi," which he says is one of
his most personal compositions.
"It's a family history song,"
When his father, who served in
the Marines, returned from World
War II, he spent some time in an
army hospital in San Francisco. One
day, Eleanor Roosevelt came by
with gifts for the wounded soldiers,
and she gave his dad a blanket. In the
closing verse of "Semper Fi," Gorka
sings, "That blanket meant a lot to
him/ My mother has it still/ Some
forget the kindness/ That others
What to watch today: the Arts
and Entertainment network. There's
vintage Late Night with David Let-
terman (7 p.m), a delightfully
comedic Richard M. Nixon docu-
mentary (8 p.m.), and the American
TV premiere of John Eliot Gar-
diner's conducting of Beethoven's
sublime Mass in C. (9:30 p.m.).
Robert Tear is among the featured
What not to watch: the broad-
cast TV premiere of Oliver Stone at
Acclaimed poet Charles Simic
dismantles the austere silence
by Mark Binelli
Whoever swings an ax
Knows the body of man
Will again be covered with fur.
-Charles Simic, "Ax"
"I have a dark, pessimistic view
of history, which, I think, has been
confirmed by recent events," says
acclaimed poet Charles Simic.
"People always say, 'You're too
dark,' and I say, 'Oh, yeah?"'
Simic, who will be delivering
tonight's Hopwood Lecture, cer-
tainly can't be called a romantic.
With titles such as "Butcher Shop,"
"Gallows Etiquette" and "Spoons
With Realistic Dead Flies On
Them," Simic's poems often paint
surreal, unsettling portraits of the
Which is understandable. Born in
Yugoslavia in 1938, the Pulitzer
Prize-nominated poet grew up dur-
ing the Second World War, "when
all the fun was," he says. "Hitler,
Stalin, civil war, being bombed,
seeing peopl-e hanging from
telephone poles ... "
Simic's family escaped to France,
and in 1954, he arrived in the United
States, where his poetry was shaped
by such diverse influences as jazz,
the blues and American abstract
painting. He also borrowed from
European Surrealism and Dada, cre-
ating a unique new poetic voice - a
cross between Dali and Dickinson,
William Carlos Williams and John
Although Simic calls our age a
"century of vileness" and remains
unsurprised by the current state of
affairs in Yugoslavia - "They're a
bunch of dummies who can't wait to
slaughter each other," he says - the
poet shies away from "setting out
to write a subject poem," political
or otherwise, explaining that he of-
ten tends to draw on "experiences
and bits of language."
For those unfamiliar with
Simic's work, one of the best places
to start is his Selected Poems,
1963-1983, which draws from many
different collections, including
Dismantling the Silence (1971),
Return to a Place Lit by a Glass of
Milk (1974) and Austeries (1982).
Simic says that while his earlier
work was "fairly impersonal," he
has become "much more present in
"There's a person, a sort of clear
first-person pronoun," Simic ex-
plains, "giving the illusion of auto-
Take, for instance, "Hurricane
Season," from Austeries, which be-
gins, "Just as the world was ending/
We fell in love,/ Immoderately. I
had a pair of/ Blue pinstripe
trousers/ Impeccably pressed/
Against misfortune ..."
A kinder, gentler Charles Simic?
Not a chance.
CHARLES SIMIC gives the Hop-
wood Poetry Lecture today at
Rackham Auditorium at 3:30 p.m.
Admission is free.
My Weariness of
I like it when
And even his buddy Patroclus-
And that hothead Hector -
And the whole Greek and Trojan
Is more or less
Peace and quiet
(The gods having momentarily
One can hear
A bird sing
And a daughter ask her mother
Whether she can go to the well
And of course she can
By that lovely little path
That winds through
The olive orchard
John Gorka's got that casual Lee jeans look about him. Play it, Johnny!
Throughout the song, Gorka
tells the story of his father's expe-
rience in the war without being
preachy or overly symbolic.
Most of the material on his lat-
est release, Jack's Crows, is about
"the people and the places I'm
Read more about the
Fifteenth Annual Ann
Arbor Folk Festival in this
etc., with profiles of
featured artists like Odetta
and Livingston Taylor.
from," he says.
This source is evident when lis-
tening to him sing about the "girls
with big hair" in the malls of New
Jersey and the "houses in the fields"
being built on the farmlands near
his current home in eastern Penn-
sylvania. Most of the pieces are sung
in a relaxing, storytelling manner,
but there are a few exceptions.
The title song from Jack's Crows
juxtaposes various connotations of
both words in the title. "Jack"
refers to Kennedy, Kerouac and Be
Nimble, and "Crow" is used as
"more than just the animal," Gorka
says. "Like how Poe used in The
Raven, it can mean something dark
Another tune, "Where the Bot-
ties Break," which is about the
harms of "urban renewal" projects.
Gorka sings "I just want to make
enough/To buy this town and keep it
rough" because "it's been gentri-
fied/they turned biker bars into
He also makes a clever silent
rhyme with the lines, "Money talks
people jump/ Ask how high low life
Donald what's his name."
Gorka, however, is usually not
that angry. He is actually a fairly
peaceful and easy going guy. "If the
world ended today," he sings on his
record, "I would adjust."
a fundraiser for the Ark
Saturday, January 25, 1992
4:.nn ~- %% u11 AiA nr m
Reading by Pulitzer Prize-Winning Poet
Classic Ballroom Dances
Academy of American Poets Prize
Bain-Swiggett Poetry Prize
Michael R. Gutterman Poetry Award
Roy W. Cowden Memorial Fellowship