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March 23, 1992 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1992-03-23

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Monday, March 23, 1992

The Michigan Daily

Page 5


Film that follows no one's Instinct

Basic Instunit
dir. Paul Verhoeven


by Chris Lepley
Don't believe the hype.
Ever since screenwriter Joe Esz-
terhas cashed his three million dollar
check from Carolco Productions,
Basic Instinct has been a hot topic in
and around San Francisco.
Members of the gay and lesbian
community caught wind of the
script's plot - a tough, hard-nosed
detective leads the hunt for a schem-
ing, lesbian who kills men with an
icepick - and were incensed. They
picketed the Carolco offices and be-

iiidi, 'i 1Ctif con-
lenlihc ii LIK 411 ji t, .110 aaiG stereo-
type of homosexuals.
To add insult to injury, Basic In-
stinct is set in San Francisco, a city
which is home to one of the largest
and most politically-active homose-
xual communities in the world. Di-
rector Paul Verhoeven did the ma-
jority of filming on location, in the
heart of the very community which
his film depicts so negatively.
Eszterhas, after meeting with
several leaders in the gay commu-
nity, agreed to change the film's
content, making it more acceptable,
but both Verhoeven and the film's
star, Michael Douglas, refused to de-
viate from the original script, de-

fending thei .f as "art" and rail-
ing against s from the gay
community to "censor" them.
Despite the controversy, the film
was made, but protesters are still ac-
tive. Flyers telling the identity of the
killer and copies of the final page of
the script are being given to the
movie's patrons by activists hoping
to convince audiences to boycott
Basic Instinct.
No protesters arrived at Show-
case Cinemas last weekend, but to
be honest, I could have used a flyer
telling me who the killer was, be-
cause after the film ended, I was
mighty confused. This ambiguity is
just one of the problems with Basic
Michael Douglas does his typical
Kirk Douglas impersonation, sneer-
ing, wincing and doggedly refusing
to dance. Douglas plays Nick
Curran, a police detective (that's a
new one) with a reputation as a loose
cannon (another twist on an old
theme) and the nickname "Shooter"
(fresh and original). When a retired
rock star turns up bound and mur-
dered, Nick is put on the case.
The most logical suspect is the
rock star's girlfriend, author Ca-
therine Trammel (Sharon Stone, last
seen in Total Recall, another Ver-
hoeven blood-fest).
Catherine is the femme fatale of
the '90s: sexy, intelligent and brassy.
She is referred to by the male char-
acters of Basic Instinct as the "fuck
of the century" and "the bitch with
the magna cum laude pussy."
Respectfully, of course.
But Catherine is much more than
a nympho-millionairess with a mas-
ter's degree and a weakness for both
sexes. Where the film noir heroines
of earlier decades wielded sex as a
blunt weapon, using double enten-
dres to titillate males, Catherine says
what she means (or what the men in
the film want to hear) and captivates
whole roomfuls of detectives with a
lightening flash of her pubic hair.
Whether or not Catherine is a
positive role model for women is
difficult to assess. She is assertive,
independent and intelligent, but

there's a big possibility that she's
also a man-hating psychopath with a
few murders under her belt. The line
is a thin one, but I'd say the worst
black mark on her record is going to
bed with Nick (repeatedly).
While Catherine has positive and
negative aspects to her character,
Nick's ex-girlfriend, psychologist
Beth Gardner (Jeanne Tripplehorn),
is a whiny, masochistic, self-hating
closet lesbian who welcomes the vi-
olent sex Nick forces upon her and
compromises her career and morals
to help him, even though he's a
complete bastard to her.
It is in regards to Gardner that the
film becomes most homophobic, al-
though all of Gardner's negative
traits are blamed on society's nega-
tive stereotyping of lesbians. Sup-
posedly, it's because Gardner feels
ashamed of liking women that she
allows the men in her life to beat the
shit out of her while she apologizes
to them for yelling.
Basic Instinct is so offensive on
so many different levels I kept ex-
pecting an Al Bundy cameo. Perhaps
the film's biggest insult is to its au-
dience's intelligence, when it as-
sumes that gen rations weaned on
Playboy, Spgrs Illustrated Swimsuit
Issues and Calvin Klein perfume ads
can't tell the difference between two
pairs of breasts.
In the opening five minutes of the
film, we see the killer in all her

... ne becomes a crazed man, driven by violence and lust. Ooh ia la Mr.
Douglas, may we call you Kirk?

same has an audience's visual
perceptions been so underestimated
by a filmmaker.
Basic Instinct has the high-gloss,
dark and shadowy look of a good
thriller. It's slick and fast-paced and,

Basic Instinct is so offensive on.so many
different levels I kept expecting an Al Bundy

Today's audience! With two un-
clothed, passably attractive bodies
on the screen moaning, accompanied
by a crashing, wailing Jerry
Goldsmith soundtrack!
The problem here is that Nick
Curran is such an unmitigated ass,
and Catherine Trammel is possibly
psychotic and definitely not a girl to
take home to mother (even during
the last five minutes of the film I
have to say "possibly" psychotic), so
we don't give a shit whether or not
their relationship survives, or even if
Nick survives.
If Basic Instinct were to come out
in magazine form, it might be worth
three bucks. But for all the graphic
sex, violence and profanity, the film
is two hours of foreplay, and it never
comes. For $5.75 a ticket, there's no-
thing more frustrating than that.

naked glory up close and personal,
except for the blonde hair which
covers her face. Throughout the
film, we see every other female
character buck naked, including
Catherine for what seems like hours
at a time, and yet Mr. Verhoeven
thinks some hair in the face will
confuse us. Not since Busby
Berkeley asked to have all the
women in his musicals look the

for the first two-thirds, very exciting.
But for all the nudity and violence
and car chases, the film is just too
long..Not Dances With Wolves-
JFK three hours long, but please-let-
it-end-I'm-falling-asleep long.
Yes, the sex is graphic, hot and
steamy, but when the film faded to
black and then faded back in to an-
other buck-naked, mid-coital scene,
the audience groaned. Groaned!

Michael Douglas plays it cool as unshakable (and sexually unaroused)
detective, Nick Curran. Of course, as soon as he hooks up with Sharon
Stone, who plays sultry Catherine Trammel ...
MFA choreography
is sweeter than ever

Showcase and Briarwood.


No Sugar Added
Studio A Dance Building
March 19,1992
In No Sugar Added: Part 1,
the audience was exposed to a
variety of life interpretations
created by the MFA choreogra-
phers. An array of brilliant
costumes and dance moves, com-
bined with complete use of dance
space, made for.an exciting 90-
minute performance.
Beginning with an energized
piece named "Campania," chore-
Dance review
ographer Anne-Marie Acchione
stressed the difficulty a person en-
counters when trying to adapt to a
different culture. Italian and Am-
erican music fought for the stage
while four women dealt with danc-
ing together, alone, in pairs and
then back together again, as if fi-
nally able to accept each other's
differences, but only through ex-
periencing times alone.
These dancers were dressed ca-
sually in blue jeans and colored T-
shirts, the street clothing perhaps
interpreted as this clash of differ-
ences happening in everyday life.
They ended the piece by dancing
together with traditional steps to a
folk score, signifying the ability to
combine cultures among willing
parties while still keeping individ-
ual traits.
Following the first piece of the
evening, Jessica Shinn performed
select childhood memories of her
Russian grandmother, in "Lis-
tening for Katia." Slides of Katia
framed the rear wall of the dance
Shinn, wearing a purple dress
with a pink ribbon in her hair,
spoke of memories about her
grandmother while music from

lowing dance entitled "Facade."
Garbed in a long, flowing black
dress, Lisa Catrett-Belrose dis-
played a Peter Pan-like struggle of
dealing with a shadow that does
not cooperate. (The shadow was
played by Barbara Hobyak, who
wore black pants and shirt.)
Set to vaguely foreign music,
Catrett-Belrose and Hobyak de-
monstrated the conflict between
human consciences and actions,
and acted out the ensuing battle,
which continued until one of them
gave in. A face-off occurred,
whereupon the shadow and self fi-
nally joined together as one, con-
quering whatever was causing the
Six sheets of silver mylar as
mirrored screens on the dance
floor made up the set of "Mylar
Muses," choreographed by Shinn.
Featuring five dancers - three
young women and an elderly
woman and man - "Mylar
Muses" approached issues about
the difficulty generations have ac-
cepting and interacting with each
The women wore the reverse of
what the elderly couple wore,
signifying the similarities between
the people while keeping in mind
their subtle differences. At first,
the women ignored the couple,
denying through movement that
they would someday be like them.
The elderly man and woman
also avoided any interaction with
the others. Slowly, the dancers
accepted their generation gap and
became intertwined, able to accept
what age will inevitably bring.
Advice from "Ma," Acchione's
Italian grandmother, was an im-
portant part of "0 Solo Mio."
Acchione, dressed in a bright
polka-dot shirt dress with purple
leggings, treated the audience to

The JudyBats
Down in the Shacks Where the
Satellite Dishes Grow
Sire/Warner Bros.
While the JudyBats 1991 debut
release, Native Son, was a good, so-
lid collection of tunes from these
Tennessee rockers, it left more to be
Down in the Shacks Where the
Satellite Dishes Grow, the Bats' so-
phomore effort, takes care of many
of these small voids. This album is
an impressive achievement, consi-
dering many bands fade drastically
between first and second releases.
Not nearly as filler-heavy as Na-
tive Son, Down doesn't revolve
around a few great songs, with oth-

ers thrown in simply to carry weight.
This album is comprised of many
excellent tunes.
"Our Story," the opening track, is
this album's "Native Son" -- a
catchy, powerful pop number featur-
ing the witty lyricism of vocalist Jeff
"She's Sad She Said" plays upon
the limerick mastery that Heiskell
has been perfecting over these two
productions. Many of the tunes on
Down flow like children's limericks,
but make perfect (sometimes bitter)
sense once comprehended. Most of
the subjects Heiskell has focused on
revolve around loves gone bad, and
a general questioning of why things
happen around us.

On "Is Anything," Heiskell pon-
ders aloud, "How can we have won-
dered about so much for so long and
received so few answers?" He an-
swers his question, much the same
Many of the tunes on
Down flow like
children's limericks.
way as Nirvana did when they de-
cided - "oh well, whatever, never-
mind." It's this sort of frustratiot'
that runs throughout Down. Heisk ti
and the rest of the Bats are looki
for answers to questions, when noii

Down's few troubled moments
are apparent on songs such as "Wi-
tches' Night." What would oth-
erwise be a strong ballad overstays
its welcome. Some three-minute
ideas are stretched into six-minute
songs. Whether Heiskell becomes
too absorbed to notice or not, with
all its strengths, the rest of the album
tends to overshadow these brief mo-
ments of indulgence.
When Native Son was first re-
leased, it might have been easy to
categorize (and thus write off) the
JudyBats as a band with a few funny
ideas, but not much more. Down dis-
pels those feelings in a hurry. The
See RECORDS, Page 8

,.- a

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