Diane Lane loves her 'New Gun'
by Charlotte Garry
In a comer of the upper floor of the
University Museum of Art, curator
Sharon Patton is putting the last touches
on an exhibition highlighting traditional
African art, entitled "African Art from
the Museum Collection: ACelebration."
The exhibition, which opened Satur-
day, is a multimedia display of over 100
works from sub-Saharan Africa.
Patton, along with fellow guest cu-
rator Nii Quarcoopome and Assistant
Director for Programs Nan Plummer,
has brought together masks, jewelry,
textiles, containers, weapons, instru-
by Alison Levy
While it's no "Reservoir Dogs," "My New Gun"
is the latest and greatest independent film since
"Simple Men." Writer/director Stacy Cochran com-
bines her quirky script with near-perfect perfor-
mances to create this enjoyable screwball comedy
with a dark side.
My New Gun
Written and directed by Stacy Cochran; with Diane
Lane, James LeGros, Tess Harper, and Stephen
The film starts with a dinner party hosted by
yuppie couple Debbie and Gerald Bender (Diane
Lane and Stephen Collins), to celebrate the engage-
ment of their friend Irwin (Bruce Altman) and his
teenage fiancee, Myra (Maddie Corman). To mark
the event, Irwin gave Myra a .38, so Gerald soon
follows suit, giving Debbie a gun as well. Having it
in the house makes Debbie nervous, so her suspi-
cious neighbor, Skippy (James LeGros) borrows the
gun, her car, and eventually her house..
Cochran's first feature-length screenplay,
concieved at Columbia University, takes the formu-
laic Syd Field structure and incorporates little twists
and turns to keep it moving and interesting. She
effectively portrays the roundness of her characters
with a few small scenes. When Gerald drops a
pitcher of martinis at the party, he screams until
Debbie enters to clean the mess. In just five seconds,
the scope of their troubled, Gerald-dominated rela-
tionship is evident.
In another scene, Debbie takes Skippy to the
market and complains about the gun. At the check-
out counter, in his combat boots and rocker t-shirt,
Skippy gently brushes a wisp of hair out of Debbie's
face and then attempts to buy her a magazine, but is
unable to because he's got nothing buthundreds. His
obvious affection for Debbie is noted, but questions
arise about his occupation and character. The film is
full of telling moments like this, even when there is
little or seemingly pointless dialogue. Similar to Hal
Hartley, Cochran's meanings lie underneath what is
being said. Unfortunately, toward the end, the script
starts to wane and in the last few minutes it becomes
vague, contrived and a little too silly.
But the first-rate acting of the cast truly brings the
script to life. Lane ("The Outsiders") gives her best
performance to date as Debbie. Her modest, under-
stated delivery keeps Debbie from being a stereo-
typical wife caught in a bad marriage. Her constant
fidgeting with her hands from hair to nails, changes
between Skippy and Gerald to depict the different
aspects of nervousness she feels around each one.
As he does with the gun, LeGros steals the film
with his charming turn as Skippy. While his obvious
talents have been showcased in films such as "Drug-
store Cowboy" and "Near Dark," he outdoes them
all as Skippy. He's sort of like the grunge version of
Cary Grant. With his goatee and cyprus hill t-shirt,
Gerald pegs him as a "Satan-worshiping druggie,"
but underneath he really is a loveable romantic.
Tess Harper ("Tender Mercies") is hilarious as
Skippy's recluse country-singing mom, Kimmy.
She acts high and creepy in every scene, especially
when she tries on a wedding outfit. While their
family ; pears a little eccentric, the rapport between
LeGros and Harper is genuine and caring."
Also, while they aren't in the film that much,
Altman ("Regarding Henry") and Corman ("Some
Kind of Wonderful") are perfect as Irwin and Myra.
Altman's Irwin is the ultimate obnoxious yuppie,
especially when he talks Gerald into buying a three-
hundred dollar Gortex windbreaker because he ab-
solutely needs it for the golf course. Unfortunately,
Collins' Gerald is much too plastic and deters from
the overall fabric of the film.
As a first time director, Cochran also does inter-
esting things with the camera, most notably, bring-
ing a photograph to life. And, the set designs, espe-
cially the smallness and closeness of the town houses
and seemingly miniture furniture brilliantly portray
the claustrophobia Debbie feels.
MY NEW GUN is playing at the Michigan
Theater through Thursday.
African Art from the
Museum of Art
ments and sculptures in an attempt to
depict how African art is completely
enveloped by African daily life.
One such piece is a statue from the
"Ibo People; Nigeria" series, which
powerfully depicts the figure ofa woman
nursing a baby. Exclusive to the
University's collection, this piece de-
notes strength and spirit through its
exaggerated, large features and the pure
mass of the ceramic medium. Yet, in
culmination with this brawn is a certain
gracefulness or elegance portrayed in
the rounded shoulders and curved lines.
The tainted, marked surface ofthe small
sculpture also gives the viewer a feeling
of history and endurance, not only of the
artwork, but of the African spirit. One
almost wants the slit eyes of the solitary
woman to open and reveal her inner
This desire to experience the spirit
of the African art displayed within the
exhibition coincides with Sharon
Patton's concerns about the lack of con-
text within the show. Patton has what
she terms a "connoisseurship" of Afri-
can art. She has a trained eye that is able
to see the art not only for its beauty, but
for its distinguishing style and function.
For those of us without such context
or "connoisseurship," she asks that we
simply understand that the art does not
exist in a vacuum. "Art in Africa is
immersed in life," she said. "From a
carving to a hairpin there is a certain
amount of aesthetic concern. People of
Africa strive to make the environment
aesthetically beautiful. Art reflects the
spiritual world and the world of the
living. Both interconnect."
This interconnection of worlds
through the traditional African art form
is precisely what makes this exhibition
intriguing. The African spirit evoked by
the art is exquisite and unparalleled.
AFRICAN ART FROM THE
MUSEUM COLLECTION: A
CELEBRATION will be on display at
the University Museum of Art through
Diane Lane, who sparkled on television's "Lonesome Dove" is equally good in Stacy Cochran's debut film, "My New Gun," playing at the Michigan Theater.
Blossoming 'King of the Playground'
by Jody Frank
Remember when you were a fifth-
grader and you started having to deal
with relationships for the first time? The
boys that once before you thought were
King of the Playground
February 13, 1993
smelly and gross, and the girls you
thought were weak and silly now held a
new interest. "King of the Playground"
was a cute musical directed by School
of Music junior Eddie Sugarman, that
showed the blossoming of a relation-
ship in the fifth grade.
The main situation to be resolved in
the play was the relationship between
Jennifer and William, (Colleen
O'Shaughnessey and Jeffrey Shubart)
butotherfifth grade issues were brought
in to show how the whole class was
affected by the romance. The biggest
influence was the new kid, (Marc
Kessler) who jumped right in to stir
things up. He influenced the romance
by giving William advice, and when
"Miss Delphi" left the room, he con-
vinced the other kids to "Forget About
(Their) Books," and have fun; which
they did, in a very well choreographed
For a first time show, this one was
admirable, but it just needed to be tight-
ened up in certain areas. The music was
catchy and the lyrics were cute, how-
ever a few verged on "too cute." Also,
some lines were inappropriate for fifth
grade: lines like "Columbus started kill-
ing Indians in1493; he was not P.C."
Part of this inconsistency can be attrib-
uted to the fact that it was Eddie
Sugarman's first musical collaboration.
While the majority of the songs were
good, it was the dialogue that pulled the
play back. At one point, William told
thenew kid whathappens at their school
carnival. But he just listed the things
that you find at any carnival as if he
were an anthropologist doing an eth-
nographyreportfor someone who hadn't
ever heard of a carnival. This was not
effective because most people know
what happens at a carnival, and it was
unlikely that Richard, the new kid, who
seemed to have moved around alot, was
unaware of what happens there.
The weakest part of the whole show
dealt with the new kid issue. In a brief
speech that seemed to come out of no-
where, Richard was accused by Terri
(Alli Steinberg) of jumping in every-
where giving advice and basically try-
ing to run things: to be "king of the.
The love triangle was the strongest
aspect of the show. William liked Jenni-
fer, Yvonne liked William and Jennifer
and Yvonne were best friends. "Hit 'n
Run" was a cute song that Yvonne
(Miriam Shor) sang about liking Will-
iam, who didn't seem to be interested in
her. When William did something, like
walk by without noticing her, she "hit
him and ran." Shor was excellent; her
expressions were great.
This show brought back memories
of the days when decisions were made
simple by boxes. I'm not talking about
those ovals that you fill in on SAT's and
other multiple guess tests, but boxes-
where you "Check this box if you like
me, check this box if you don't." As in
William's "Letter" to Jennifer asking if
she liked him or not, her simple re-
sponse was - "Yes."
The Daily needs writers to review art exhibits, classical music
and dance. Stop by 420 Maynard, or call 763-0379 for info.
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