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January 07, 1993 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1993-01-07

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Page 8- The Michigan Daily -Thursday, January 7, 1993
A 1 [I'1 I1 Al '' I~;II II

Silent Scream
Movies without sound are often
really annoying, I mean really
annoying. The actors flap their arms
and make strange contorted facial
expressions at the audience. The
plots are melodramatic and the
actors, the actors...
Erich von Stroheim's "Greed"
has all those things, yet it remains
as one of the most important pieces
of cinema since the medium's
inception. This adaptation of Frank
Norris's novel "McTeague" is one
of the first films to indict American
capitalism (they're still doing it
now, though much more feebly in
"Glengarry Glen Ross"). The story
focuses on a nebbish dentist who's
driven insane by his wife's greed.
There are several memorable
moments, such as when ZaSu Pitts,
who plays the wife, rubs her hands
eagerly over her secret stash of
dough, or the much-noted final
sequence, filmed in Death Valley.
Now you can savor these
moments on the big screen at the
Michigan Theater, replete with live
organ accompaniment. The original

running time of "Greed" was eight
hours, but relax, it's down to two.
The fun starts at 7 pm on Sunday and
it's free. Call 668-8397. "
Taylor Made
It's still too early in the semester
to do homework tonight, so why not
see a comedian? Clark Taylor, some
guy from below the Mason-Dixie
line, is making his Ann Arbor debut
at 8:30 pm the Mainstreet Comedy
Showcase. If you have hangups
about going out on weeknights, you
can catch him Friday night and
Saturday night at the same time.
Taylor will be preceeded by two
opening acts. Call 996-9080.
Cracking Up
If you don't feel like seeing live
comedians, or southern ones, how
about female comedians on film?
"Wisecracks," a documentary
directed by Gail Singer features
several top-notch female comics
doing their shtick. The movie's
tonight at 9:30 at that good old
Michigan Theater. Call 668-8397.

The definition of cheesiness? A classy actor like Michael Caine posing with the Muppets and pretending to like it. We l
Muppets and Mchael not made I


by John R. Rybock
The holidays have passed, but in
"The Muppet Christmas Carol," the
Christmas spirit is alive and... hey, at
least it's still alive.
The film is, of course, based on the
novel by Charles Dickens. The Great
Gonzo narrates the tale as Mr. Dickens,
with Rizzo the Rat along for the ride as
himself.The tale follows Ebenezer"Bah,
humbug!" Scrooge through his awak-
he Muppet
Christmas Carol
Directed by Brian Henson; written by
Jerry Juhl; with Michael Caine
and the Muppets
ening to the Christmas spirit(if you need
further synopsis, Ihope you gotalife for
the holidays).
for Men and Women
668-9329 opposite Jacobson's

Amidst a myriad of muppets is
Michael Caine as Scrooge, who very
intelligently plays itstraight. This seems
to be his only course of action - trying
to be off-the-wall next to a talking frog
is asking too much of any actor.
Those who may have been worried
about the aforementioned frog need not
fear. Though the death of his longtime
friend Jim Henson has undoubtedly af-
fected Kermit, he was able to leave his
grief in the trailer and give a perfor-
mance which is on a par with his previ-
ous performances.
Kermit the Frog shows that he is the
modern day Jimmy Stewart. Kermit
rarely takes roles which require him to
be a totally different person, and when
he does try to stretch, his efforts are
mediocre at best(forexample, the scenes
when he has amnesia in "Muppets Take
Manhattan"). Instead, Kermit is the con-
summate every-frog, bringing his own
kind and humble personality to the role
of Bob Cratchit.
In a typical act of Hollywood-style
favoritism, big-named and big-boned
Miss Piggy was cast to play Mrs.
Cratchit, even though there are prob-
ably a gaggle of geese (literally) better
suited to play the part. Miss Piggy's
range in pathetically small when one

considers her stature inHollywood. And
for those "Muppet Show" fans wonder-
ing about children in an interspecies
relationship, it turns out that the girls are
pigs and the boys are frogs.
As far as the story itself goes, it's
done in a very traditional way. It's a
shame, because that makes it less origi-
nal. What truly makes this film different
than any other adaptation is that it has
muppets. But there are not enough of
them. Kermit is on the screen for about
15 minutes, Animal has only one line,
and there is not nearly enough of the
Swedish Chef.
One of the stronger highlights of the
film is the repartee between Gonzo and
Rizzo. Their finely-tuned banter is the
comic highlight of the film. Unfortu-
nately, we may not see the duo for a
while - the way Rizzo eats throughout
the film and never gains weight sug-
gests an eating disorder, one which will
probably require a trip to Betty Ford.
Fortunately, Gonzo's working with a rat
may suggest that he is through with the
chicken fetish he has harbored over the
The other highlight (unfortunately,
there are only two) is the portrayal of the
Spirits ofChristmas. The Ghostof Christ-
mas Future is represented by the tradi-

ove the Muppets, but not with him.
or movies 3
tional grim reaper.In addition, the fairy-
sprite Ghost of Christmas Past, with her.
wavy gown, is beautifully done. Also
worth noting is the Ghost of Christmas....:
Present, a large, jolly red-bearded
muppet who takes the Gorgs of"Fraggle┬░;
Rock" one step further. All facial ex-f
pressions and motions are perfectly co-
ordinated to give the impression of a M
single, real live person.
Unfortunately,"The MuppetChrist-,
mas Carol" tries to be more than just a
holiday film -it tries to be a musical. In┬░
that regard, it is barely mediocre. The'
music by Paul Williams works well in :.0
the boundaries of the film, but none of
the songs are memorable past the exit of
the theater. Additionally, whoevermade
the decision to have Michael Caine sing
should be locked in aroomand forced to
listen to all five volumes of "Roseanne
Does Barry Manilow's Greatest Hits.
In the end, 'The Muppet Christmas
Carol" isanice holiday film. Butitdoes;
not have enough of the Christmas, or
Muppet, spirit to last past the holidays.
However, it may be worth renting next
holiday season. You can tell the person
behind the video counter that it is for
your five year-old cousin.
is playing at Showcase.

To learn about volunteer opportunities at
The University of Michigan Medical Center
Attend one of the following Information Meetings.

Monday, January 11, 1993
Tuesday, January 12, 1993
Thursday, January 14, 1993

University Hospital Amphitheater
University Hospital Amphitheater
Maternal/Child Health Center

For further details, call: 936-4327

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