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January 17, 1992 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 1992-01-17

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ARTS
The Michigan D aily Friday, January 17, 1992 Page 8

Hay ne's Poison
is hardly pretty

Poison
dir. Todd Haynes
by Gabriel Feldberg

odd Haynes, who first gained un-
derground notoriety for making a
movie about Karen Carpenter's bout
with anorexia and casting a Barbie
doll as the lead, became a champion
of.the artistic left and an enemy of
theradical right with his most re-
cept controversy, Poison. The
charges of pornography were a
slzarne, because lost in the media
hype was what an amusing and un-
settling film Poison is.
Inspired by three distinct works
by author Jean Genet, Poison inter-
cuts between a trilogy of vignettes:
one surreal, one satirical, and one
that is at times almost too realistic.
The surrealistic tale entitled
"Hero" is a mock documentary that
probes the mythologized disappear-
ance of a masochistic seven year-old
boy. Several years earlier, the boy
shot his father and leaped from the
family patio into the heavens.
Talking in the wooden voices of
interviewees on A Current Affair,
baffled townspeople try to explain
to the camera what made the boy so
strange. No one cAn account for his
whereabouts; as one policeman says,
"He's still on milk cartons."
While "Hero" has its darkly
humorous moments, "Horror," the
satirical segment, is absolutely hys-
terical. Having just magnetized

some polysyllabic ions no real sci-
entist has ever heard of, Dr. Graves
(Larry Maxwell) at last finds the
formula to capture human sex drive
in a liquid form. He accidentally in-
gests the serum, and becomes what
the newspapers call "The Leper Sex
Killer."
A send-up of the modern mad
scientist melodramas of the 1950s,
"Horror" hits on every cliche of its
genre. Its stilted dialogue, blood-
thirsty mob and love-conquers-even-
the-worst-skin-problems motif are
perfect. Bonuses like the tilt-angled,
black and white shot of a bar's neon
sign, and the kitschy jazz in the
background add the elegant touches.
The third thread, "Homo," is
hardly funny at all. As a teenager in
a work camp where every boy paired
off with another, John Broom
(Scott Renerer) married young Jack
Bolton (James Lyons) in a oddly
beautiful, Bunuelian ceremony.
When the two are reunited years
later in an adult prison, Bolton does
not recognize Broom. Broom, how-
ever, becomes pathologically ob-
sessed with his former lover, and
brutally rapes him.
Haynes' details of prison life,
like the close-up of a cigarette being
passed along a chain of dirty fingers
and grimy mouths, make this hyper-
masculine world stiff and cold.
Following the stylized "Hero" and
"Horror," "Homo"'s graphic (al-
though not excessive) sexual vi-
olence seems all the more authentic
and disturbing. By the film's end,

Area chefs slice the
ice with chain saws
by Diane Frieden
While you might be a bit leery of eating in a restaurant where the people
preparing your food are using power tools, it only seems natural that V-
chisels, die-grinders and high-powered chain saws are used to whittle away
500 pound blocks of ice, forming delicate creatures. Two area chefs, Chris
Thomas of Paesano's and Chef Bill of the Novi Sheraton Oaks, spent
Thursday morning chipping away for a Gifts of Art demonstration in the
University Hospital courtyard.
"I'm carving two swans, with birds in the trees behind them," said Chef
Bill, casually gesturing with his power saw at the unformed cube of ice.
"Usually we carve animals, letters ... Once, I'm embarrassed to say, I did a
woman for a bachelor party. And once I spelled out a proposal on a
woman's lawn, 'Will you marry me?' for this guy," he said.
When Chef Bill was working as a chef for Tom Monaghan, he did ax
number of animals for centerpieces at dinners, "mostly Tigers." Thomas
also likes creating animals with his medium. "It's fun to do mythological
creatures - this here is a dragon - because if you mess up, you can get the
feet of a dog and the head of a dragon, and pass it off as something from
mythology," he said.
Aside from demonstrative or catering sculpting, where the fees can run
up to $300 per statue, both chefs enjoy entering contests. The judging
factors include technique, difficulty, artistic interpretation, and
originality. Most competitions limit the artist to two or three hours for
completing an entry, although in an exhibition it could take as long as five
hours.
Thomas, who won the gold medal in a Laport, Indiana contest, saves
minutes (and mistakes) by making a sketch on tracing paper and then,
cutting into the ice through the paper. "I don't think of myself as
artistically inclined, so I take a lot of time setting up a template," he said.
Cold weather is not a deterrent for the sculptors, who like the cold and
dress appropriately. "When you're lifting the chain saws and concentrating
on cutting, you manage to keep warm," said Thomas.
The creations will last up to a week, according to Chef Bill, providing
the weather stays around or below freezing. However, patients and visitors
can view the art from wanner stations inside.
ICE SCULPTING will be on display in the University Hospital courtyard.
until the ice melts.

What could make people with skin like that laugh so hard? It must be
the hysterical parody in Todd Haynes' Poison about the Leper Sex Killer
on the loose.

however, Haynes shows this brutal-
ity to be nothing next to the orga-
nized, sexless tortures administered
by the boys in the work camp.
The discreetness of the rape scene
was not enough for the American
Family Association. The AFA's no-
tion that the physical terrorism in
the jail is more disturbing than the
film's emotional barbarity is like
saying Christ's only wounds on the
cross were inflicted by the nails.
Nonetheless, right-wingers made
Haynes a marked man, and that, of
course, made him an avant-garde
hero.
The resulting "art film" label

Poison has acquired shouldn't scare
anyone away from it. Unlike the de-
liberately impenetrable David
Lynch and his army of film school
imitators, Todd Haynes is not a
more eccentric than thou filmmaker.
Commenting on mass psychology
and societal behavior, Haynes shows
off nothing but his biting brilliance.
POISON opens Sunday at the
Michigan Theater.

.

ANNARbOR
5TH AVE. AT LIBERTY M4700
1$3.00 DAILYALL SHOWS BEFORE 6
DAY TUESDAY' P-exopp m
ST110M MQTH I O. $3.50
GOODRICH OUAL Y THEATERS

Channel Z
Make it a lazy Friday after-
noon withAnnie Hall (2:30 p.m.,
HBO). Woody Allen reached his
peak with this romantic comedy
thatwon an Oscar for bestpicture.
This is his finest moment. Those
without cable will be forced to
watch the Garth Brooks shindig
(9 p.m., NBC).

University Activities Center is
looking for people to head the
following groups:
,ftmu RAKI ^n~I~na1

The Dustbin cleans up

Ned's Atomic Dustbin
w/Tyrone's Power Wheel
Industry
January 13, 1992
There are two common ways to
express angst in British pop. One,
the Morrissey/Smiths camp, is to
turn inward and celebrate the miser-
able and be metaphorical. The other
is to just be rather noisy about it and
sing about "you" and "I," like

..

Uhiversity Activities Center

" MlINlI-COURtE
9 SOUNDSTAGE
9 SPECIAL EVENTS

FIR - THE
ILM PRINCE
MAOING TF
':rifaTI DES

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applications are available at UAC, 2105 Mich. Union
dnd are due by 5pm January 24, 1992.
For more information, call UAC @ 763-1107

STEVE DIANE MARTIN
MARTIN KEATON SHORT

i

Ned's Atomic Dustbin.
Most of Ned's repertoire sounds"
very similar, with maybe one or twa
core songs which are then the bash5
for musical variations on the theme
But the gutsy guitars (for pop any,
way), Jonn Penney's earnest three-
note vocals, and, most of all, the
whole band's enthusiasm more thai
made up for what they lack in'
songwriting at this stage.
Their set at Industry covered-
most of their debut God Fodder and
some new material, but the subs
tleties which made the album dy-
namic were lost in the live mix.
Locals Tyrone's Power Wheel
more than matched Ned's frenzy and
surpassed them in song variety, but
their blatant imitation of bands like
the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana,
and Kiss detracted from this heav
ier-than-pop opener.
- Annette Petruso

0

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