The Michigan Daily Tuesday, November 3,1992 Page 5
Bob Redford's ripping'River' is a masterpiece
by Jon Altshul
As both an actor and director, Robert Redford has
only one face. Weathered with chiseled scars, his taci-
turn and understated performances never fail to imbue
any of his films with an honest clairvoyance.
Sure, only Kevin Costner has less of a range. And
granted, Redford tends to play the same character - the
handsome, yet withdrawn type, who seems to pop out
of J. Crew catalogs and Vermont general stores. But his
gritty performances, whether behind the camera or in
front of it, always seem to sparkle with truisms. Essen-
tially, Robert Redford is so darn believable because he
makes no pretenses of being anything other than Robert
Redford. He respects the sensibilities of his audience so
much that one can't help but to respect him back.
"A River Runs Through It," Redford's latest direc-
tonal effort, is no exception. It leaps out at us like a
collage of Norman Rockwell paintings, orienting us
solidly in the world of pre-WWI Montana. With biting
simplicity and omniscient subtlety, the film jarringly
unmasks hidden emotions inside us all.
The picture depicts a rugged country, too ingrained
in the doctrines of Presbyterianism to be wild, yet too
unmolested to be civilized. Redford's rich narration
coats the landscape with a nostalgic depth- Missoula,
Montana, is a land that he seems to know and love, and
one can't help but to immediately recognize that this is
the director's most sincere project to date.
Based on Norman Maclean's acclaimed autobio-
graphical novella, the film's poignantly rustic images
serve as an apt reminder of Maclean's vivid prose. The
landscape is mesmerizing in its wild virginity: jagged
mountains, fresh air, and of course, never-ending rivers
that seem boundless in their aquatic abundances.
"In our family, there was no clear line between reli-
gion and fly-fishing," Redford dictates as the film be-
gins. It is the perfect introduction - so true and suc-
cinct, that one can't help but to laugh establishing
immediately a firm sense of pride and conviction in the
Macleans. They are a family bound by an unspoken
love, and it can be difficult not to become painfully at-
tached to their experiences.
"A River Runs Through It" is simply a remembrance
of two young brothers told by an aged storyteller
(Redford). The film stars Craig Sheffer as Norman,
Brad Pitt as his irreverent younger brother Paul, and
Tom Skerritt as their pious father. The three weave an
indelibly cohesive pattern through their turbulent, yet
devoted years together - each performance compli-
menting the other beautifully.
Their lives are brought together only through fly-
fishing on the Big Blackfoot River. Here, all three find
their solace, and only here is their love and understand-
ing of each other affirmed.
Pitt commands the picture with a charismatic flair.
He is, as Redford acknowledges, an artist, an unparal-
leled fisherman, who finds comfort only in the cascad-
ing rivers of western Montana. Too much a fixture in
his wild state to leave it, he perpetually clashes with his
more reserved and worldly older brother. Their heart-
wrenching wars of attrition give the film its most
painful moments, and ultimately remind us how diffi-
cult brotherhood really is.
"A River Runs Through It" derives much of its
strength from metaphor. The plot itself, though fairly
bland, is told with such a subtle candor that is hard not
to be re-awakened by long-forgotten memories of one's
A River Runs Through It
Directed by Robert Redford; written by Richard
Friedenberg; with Craig Sheffer and Brad Pitt
own. "I am haunted by waters," Redford states as the
picture ends. The phrase is the perfect epithet for the
film, suggesting that only on these "waters" does
Maclean's reverence for his brother become resolute.
Yet "A River Runs Through It" is not merely a ver-
batim re-enactment of Maclean's novella, and presum-
ably the picture's few pitfalls are the result of Redford's
personalized distractions. The most ominous of which is
Norman's wife Jesse (Emily Lloyd), who hampers the
film both as a superfluous character, and as an actress
who lacks even the most essential means to fake a re-
motely convincing American accent.
Nevertheless, "A River Runs Through It" presents
itself with more than enough realistic poignancy to can-
cel out its few glitches. It rollicks like a rolling river,
and casts like master craftsmen. It's so darn good in
fact, that at times, it can be pretty hard to take.
A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT is playing at Ann Arbor
1 & 2 and Showcase.
Craig Sheffer, Brad Pitt, and Tom Skerritt contemplating all the Oscars theyre going to win.
Nine Inch Nails
He's back, he's bad, he's still
Trent Reznor, the one man scream
machine that is Nine Inch Nails with
a new E.P. that showcases some of
the influences he picked up on his
'91 Lollapalooza tour.
That means more despair, more
guitars screeching in your face, more
melodic screaming, more tracks with
the words "hell" in them, more
anger, more tracks with great synth
and sampler noises in them, more
industrial tunes that utilize dynamics
(and you didn't believe he was a
classically trained pianist), and no
tracks like "Something I Can Never.
Have" from "Pretty Hate Machine."
No quieter angst-filled songs? I can
cope, since it is rumored that the
next full-length Reznor project will
be out around February.
Additionally, Reznor throws in
an Adam Ant cover and an incredi-
ble remake of a tune he wrote with
the members of Pigface, "Suck."
Overall, the tracks on "Broken" are
ultimately more thrashy and guitar-
driven than those on "PHM," but
lucky for us Reznor stays true to his
Lookforit in the
Clay ifie y
(they redly work!)}
multi-tiered song structures and su-
perb programming technique.
- Jff Rosenberg
The answer: fast-paced, electri-
fled love rock from Scotland. The
question: Teenage Fanclub? Close,
but not quite. Eugenius sounds very
much like TFC, but that's good. Bet-
ter that two bands play the same
guitar fuzz than more R.E.M. clones.
"Oomalama" is chock full of warm
and fuzzy guitars, catchy pop.
melodies, and endearing, "golly-
gee" vocals. One can imagine the
wholesome boys singing their hearts
out, from the harmonies of "Hot
Dog" to the goofy nonsense lyrics of
the title track. Just looking at the al-
bum cover, with its cute, plastic di-
nosaurs, puts you in a mood to relish
the carefree days of youth.
Eugenius makes music for which
the phrase "The Feel-Good Record
of the Year" was invented. Bask in
the glow from the nothing-can-go-
wrong attitude of "I'm the Sun," or
hum along to the slow-paced "Hot
Dog." Even "Bye, Bye," a sad title
for any other band, will make you let
out a dreamy sigh. A toe-tapping
sigh, no less. Short and tasteful jams
don't interrupt their joyous mood,
and any, foray into dissonance al-
ways returns to perfectly controlled
harmony and melody - or at least a
distortion-pedal version of harmony.
"Oomalama" is the first domestic
release for the band. It's also their
first album under the name Eugenius
- in the U.K., they were called
Captain America. But the friendly
superhero of the same name is also a
lawyer, and decided his name is
trademarked, so that moniker had to
go. Eugenius is presumably derived
from the name of band leader Eu-
gene Kelly. But this album retains
their happy wash of guitars and
melody. In fact, "Oomalama" in-
cludes some tracks from previous
Captain America E.P.s, as well as
new tracks. Naturally, one of those
new songs is a Beat Happening
cover, a tribute to the founding gods
of love rock.
- Jeremy Lechtzin
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