Page 8 --The Michigan Daily-- Monday, November 9, 1992
Read the book? No, but I saw the movie
by Aaron Hamburger
If some of the year's best films seem a little familiar,
it's not because of the usual Hollywood tendency to
find a formula that works and then make a slew of
copycat films (see "The Doctor," "Regarding Henry,"
and "The Fisher King" under "Nasty Male Redemption
Genre," for example). Rather, this familiarity is due to
the fact that Hollywood is suddenly turning to highbrow
literature, for a change, as source material. Even Martin
Scorsese, not usually an industry follower by anyone's
standards, is getting into the act with his "'The Age of
Innocence" to be released some time next year.
There's no specific pattern to the type of literature
filmmakers have been developing lately. The list in-
cludes Cliffs Notes staples like "Of Mice and Men,"
"Ethan Frome," and "Last of the Mohicans" as well as
Indeed, now that plot-driven films
like 'Ghost' are all the rage in
Hollywood, literary adaptations
have become more popular.
lesser-known texts like "Enchanted April" and "A River
Runs Through It." Women and minorities are repre-
sented with adaptations of "The Autobiography of
Malcolm X," "The Lover," and "The Awakening"
(which appeared on television as "Grand Isle" when no
major distributor would release the film theatrically in
the U.S.). Even seemingly unfilmable books like
"Naked Lunch" and "Howards End" are appearing on
Why the sudden crop of books on film? One reason
is that in a highly volatile market, it's difficult to predict
what will attract audiences. Expensive action films like
"Hudson Hawk" and star vehicles like Julia Roberts'
"Dying Young" proved unreliable. Films like the cur-
rent hit "Last of the Mohicans," "Of Mice and Men"
and the upcoming "Brain Stoker's Dracula" have a
built-in audience of people who are fans of the book or
art house fans who want to seem intellectual by saying
the last film they saw was "Hlowards Ind" rather than
Also, film adaptations are easily made and hard to
screw up. Case in point: "Of Mice and Men,'' a film
which has its share of problems, an over-the-top per-
formance by John Malkovich as Lenny, photography so
lush and "pretty" it could serve as a travelogue for dirt
ranches in rural California, and straightforward, unorig-
inal direction by first-timer Gary Sinise. Yet "Of Mice
and Men" is still one of the best and most powerful
filns of the year. The secret of the film's success lies in
the fact that it simply allows the natural strength of the
great story of Steinbeck's classic to take over.
Indeed, now that plot-driven films like "Ghost" are
all the rage in Hollywood, literary adaptations have be-
come more popular. Books like "Howards End,"
"Enchanted April," "Braim Stoker's Dracula," and "Last
of the Mohicans," have good stories as well as being
good texts for English class.
Books are also cheap to turn into films.
Merchant/Ivory has been doing it for years, making
films that bring in modest returns, but are nevertheless
highly profitable due to their low budget.
Finally, books, unlike film scripts, can inspire direc-
tors to make great films. James Ivory took E. M.
Forester's modernist classic and created an equally wor-
thy movie. The lean prose of Norman MacLean's "A
Merchant/Ivory have been making low-budget, Nightly profitable masterpieces like "Howards End" for years.
River Runs Through It" led to Robert Redford's sump-
tuously visual film version.
The plethora of literary adaptations makes
Hollywood happier (they're making more money) and
moviegoers happier (they're seeing better films).
Indeed, the only losers are high school English teachers,
whose students, instead of reading their assignments,
can now go to their local movie theater.
Personality enough to fill a theater
by Melissa Rose Bernardo
Picture a shiny black piano alone
on the stage of the Michigan
Theater, its paltry background an old
brick wall, a ladder, and several
stage lights and wires strewn care-
lessly about. Blackout. A "B" on the
piano. Suddenly, an angelic voice
floated over the crowd from off-
stage. Patinkin jogged onto stage and
was met by unending applause. Clad
in his characteristic orange t-shirt,
grey chinos and tennis shoes, he
stood perfectly still, yet somehow
managed to fill the whole theater
with his personality.
Patinkin's concert was one con-
stant characterization after another.
In two short hours, he evoked nu-
merous personalities from a nostal-
gic lover to a lackadaisical bus
driver. "Soliloquy" from "Carousel"
was one of his best. With rolled up
sleeves, he humorously posed as a
macho, grizzled hather meticulously
yet lovingly planning the life of his
To play these different charac-
ters, Patinkin relied on his vocal ver-
satility. He graced us with "Bring
Him Home," standing perfectly still,
with eyes turned only to God. His
creamy falsetto brought to life the
dying spirit of "Les Miserables." In
November 6, 1992
"Brother Can You Spare a Dime?,"
Patinkin turned a jaded man's plea
for help into a culmination of anger
against society. He sang from the
bottom of his lungs to produce the
full gritty sound, conveying an in-
credible amount of angst, with
clenched fists and veins popping out
of his neck.
Several of Patinkin's songs were
memoirs. He sang Kermit the Frog 's
famous ballad, "It's Not Elasy Being
Green," and dedicated it to the lov-
ing memory of the late .Ioe Riposo
and Jim Henson. Patinkin sang
"Sonny Boy" as a personal tribute to
his friend Alan Bucksbaum, who
died of AIDS a few years ago. "I
sing this in the memory of all our
loved ones we lost, and in the hopes
and prayers that one day soon in our
lifetime ... they will have discovered
the cure for this nightmare AIDS ."
Patinkin even let us in on his
personal life. "Today is my wife,
Kathryn Grody-Patinkin's birthday
... I want you all to sing 'Happy
Birthday' to her." He had arranged it
so that the audience could hear ev-
erything she said over the phone.
"Like the David Letterman show,
eh?" Patinkin chuckled.
Patinkin was relaxed and having
a great time, and so was the
audience. When he tripped over a
word or two, he acknowledged it
("Let's try that one again!"), and
corrected it literally without missing
a beat. He ofteni invited the audience
to sing also. Enlthusiastcl as I Was,
there were unfortunately not many
people uninhibited enough to join
me in belting out Evita's "Oh What
A Circus," in Latin.
In over two hours, Patinkin
brought to life the dilapidated stage
of the Michigan Theater. This was
all accentuated beautifully by Paul
Ford's flawless accompaniment,
supple and lush, and trmuly a work of
urt in itself.
It's kind of hard to tell what
Drive is trying to sound like, but a
basic goal seems to be that big,
open, mysterious, Led Zeppelin kind
of sound. The band doesn't totally
fail, but "diablero" is nothing spec-
"Dream Ceremony" and "Shape-
shifter" are mediocre Queensryche
rip-offs, and like every other song on
this album, they overplay their
welcome. "Pandilla" is slightly more
enjoyable because it mixes in
Spanish guitar and lyrics, but it, too,
could afford to be shorter.
The chilling ballad "Once Again"
is probably the highlight of the al-
bum, and after it, the only things
worth listening to are the cool guitar
instrumental "Brujo" and the calm-
ing Pink Floyd-ish "A Character in
Unfortunately, Drive lacks the
complexity of lyrics and a mesmeriz-
ing singer that it needs to seriously
compete with the bands it imitates.
Fo be truly worthwhile, "diablero"
needs something unique, and at this
point the only thing that does this is
the sprinkling of Spanish music.
"Diablero" isn't a bad album -
for the most part, it's mediocre,
maybe pretty good at best. Drive un-
deniably has its moments, but these
are truly few and far between.
Britain's influx of crappy ethe-
real wash bands who have taken the
idea of a few good groups and made
them into a factory-produced output
has got to stop. Swallow proves yet
again that if you can't sing, can't
play guitar, and can't decipher the
lyrics, you're guaranteed a record
deal. Save your money, and go to
sleep. Either way, it's the same 'ole
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MOLLY I TVENSDaily
Touch Me I'm Mark
Mark Arm of the Seattle Sound heroes Mudhoney played at St. Andrew's
Hall in Detroit this past Saturday night.
Continued from page 5
out in silhouette behind her, Wag-
ner's strong mezzo-soprano was
filled with emotion, energy and hope
of things to come. Unfortunately,
Joseph ("Fiddler on the Roof')
Stein's script created Genevieve as a
somewhat flat, one dimensional
character that didn't give Wagner
Perhaps the only truly well-
rounded character in the show was
that of our narator, Denise (Brooke
Ferris). Ferris' "Chanson" strongly,
yet modestly, opened and closed the
show. A soprano with a full, clear
sound, Ferris' Denise stood out
thanks to her appealing voice and
her superior and uncontrived acting.
The scene that best combined all
of the show's positive elements was
that of "Serenade." A light orchestral
accompaniment, innovative interpre-
tive dance, and a moonlit scene set
the stage. With Miles Underwood's
tenor voice that was best suited for
ballads such as this one, backed up
with Steven Wood's delicate har-
monies, the emotion evoked was ap-
The problems that flawed "The
Baker's Wife" were due not so much
to MUSKET's production staff or
cast, but rather to faults within the
script. Stein overdid the theme of the
inherent battle between women and
men. It seemed that during every
other song or every other line, one
side got in its "dig" aimed at the op-
Stephan ("Godspell" and "Pip-
pin") Schwartz's moving score,
however, rescued the show. And it
was thanks to this score and some
impassioned performances, that
made the "tingle count" so high.
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Continued from page 5
can save this boring journey into a
man's tormented soul.
The film seems to have all the
right devices, a tricky past, a prob-
lematic present and a questionable
future. The only problem is that no
one is going to care about any of
these people. One way or another
things will work out. And if, by
chance, things don't work, who
cares? We've seen that angle before.
Let's not fly off the handle alto-
gether. Irons is, of course, great.
Even when he delivers tired lines
like, "Everything was so fresh and
new," you completely believe that it
was for him. He is a man in pain and
he is totally lost. But in this story,
how can anyone care? Irons played
has played this type of character be-
fore in "Dead Ringers," but the situ-
ation was so much more fascinating.
Not to mention the fact that Irons
played both twins in the film.
Ethan Hawke is all but annoying
as the class jerk who, of course, be-
friends the haggard history teacher.
This is another character that has
reared its ugly head one too many
times. Watch a rerun of "Head of the
WATERLA ND is playing at Show-
Thursday, November 12, 1992
5TH AVE. AT IBRTRY 761.90QM