Page 8 - The Michigan Daily - Monday March 1, 1993
Creative tools of China
by Amy Meng
In the ancient world of Confucian-
ism, the Chinese-scholar artist played a
major role in shaping aesthetic values.
In order to become accepted as a true
scholar-artist in the mind of the Chi-
nese, one had to become a master of the
of the Chinese Scholar's
Museum of Art
six arts which included calligraphy,
music, archery, chariot driving, learn-
ing, and mathematics. It was an elite
world composed of intellectuals and
artists who devoted themselves to the
pursuit of artistic and scholarlypursuits.
When entering the world of the Chi-
nese-scholar artist, one may find acces-
sories such as brushes, papers, inks, and
inkstones needed for the creation of ink
drawings and calligraphy. These ob-
jects were often so lavishly adorned as
to constitute works of art in and of
themselves, a sampling of which are
currently on display at the UMMA.
The Chinese brush, invented 2,000
years ago, is characterized with apointed
tip and rounded body. There are calli-
graphic brushes made of goat hair and
elastic bristles of tail from weasel, deer,
rabbit, fox, or wolf. The stem is usually
cylindrical and constructed out of bam-
boo, although jade, porcelain, ivory or
many other materials are used.
Rocks were polished and ground to
form inkstones. Lotus flowers, tree roots,
brushes, leaves, dragons and clouds were
often carved into the surface to enhance
their aesthetic value. Molds were used
to form cylindrical, rectangular and
hexagonal inksticks. Chinese charac-
ters and landscape designs such as pa-
godas, water buffalo, and bridges were
often engraved unto the inksticks.
Brush holders were also an essential
part of an artist's supply list. Holders
were constructed out of wood and bam-
boo and carved with various decorative
designs. Brush rests, water pots, paper-
weights, arm rests, and brush stands
carved out of solid materials such as
rosewood are also included in the dis-
play. Although extremely expensive and
lavish to maintain, these traditional ac-
cessories were preserved to show the
timelessness of artistic endeavors.
FOUR TREASURES OF THE
CHINESE SCHOLAR'S STUDIO will
be on display at the Museum of Art
through March 7.
Schumacher's "Down" falls flat
by Aaron Hamburger
Los Angeles is a powderkeg of frustration waiting to explode, and this is
indicative of a larger state of mind in America in general. This is one of the themes
that "Falling Down" wants to be about. The movie also wants to be about the
failure of the American Dream (in other words, nothing else is new), but the only
thing the movie really demonstrates conclusively is that a crazy man goes crazy.
The movie starts out well (except for a few heavy handed shots of the
American flag that scream: symbolism) with a quick sequence in which the
Michael Douglas character, named D-FENS, fed up with traffic, gets out of his
car and announces meekly, "I'm going home." Douglas wisely throws this line
away. His taut, subtle performance is the strongest element of the film.
D-FENS embarks on a dangerous journey on foot across the tired landscape
of urban L. A. His first encounter, with two gang members, is violent, tension-
filled and exciting, unlike the rest of the film. We would expect the filmmakers
to raise the stakes as the film progresses,
but "Falling Down," earns the dubious
distinction of being an action film that
Falling Down gets less compelling as it goes along.
Directed by Joel Schumacher; Part of the reason for this is that once
written by Ebbe Roe Smith; with screenwriter Ebbe Roe Smith comes up
Michael Douglas, Robert Duvall and srewie beReSihcmsu
Barbara Hershey with the intriguingcharacterofD-FENS,
he doesn' tknow what to do withhim. He
puts him through the paces of traveling through Los Angeles, without ever really
capturing any unique flavor particular to that city. The film might as well have
taken place in Dallas or Atlanta. Also, D-FENS never really does very much. He
plays with his guns, scares a few people and stabs a white supremicist, but that's
all. There's hardly any violence here compared to other action films, or even to
the nightly news.
Another reason the film lacks forward drive is that the filmmakers lack the
courage of thier original convictions. Instead of making D-FENS a normal guy
who snaps, the screenplay reveals that D-FENS has always been a nut. The more
we find out about D-FENS, the more one-dimensional his character becomes. In
the end, watching a crazy man go crazy isn't very interesting.
Every once in awhile, the film follows an annoying subplot involving the cop
who finally confronts Douglas in the end, played by Robert Duvall. Apparently
it's his last day on the job and he's trying to avoid trouble (wouldn't you know it,
he finds some). Of course it turns out he really doesn't want to retire (remind you
of "Lethal Weapon" at all?). We never really get into Douglas's journey because
the film keeps cutting back to the much more boring subplot involving Duvall.
The performers try, but none of them can match Douglas's effective portrayal
of D-FENS. Hershey does well as Douglas's ex-wife, and Rachel Ticotin is
engaging as Duvall's partner. Robert Duvall's folksiness becomes wearisome
"Falling Down" has its merits, among them, an imaginative resolution to D-
FENS's journey, and a great visual look. The film attempts to discuss some
touchy, relevant issues of the way we are. Ultimately, however, the film is only
FALLING DOWN is playing at Showcase.
L~~A 'i:f[!) VAI II'1i14 d :11111 ' 14
Don't miss "Missing"
Costas-Gavras's "Missing" from
1982 is on view at Rackham tonight at
8 p.m. The film tells of the efforts of a
businessman (Jack Lemmon) and his
liberal daughter-in-law (Sissy Spacek)
to find her missing husband in 1973
Chile. Costas-Gavras takes what could
have been a hackneyed political tale
and turns it into a riveting thriller.
Michael Douglas contemplating the failure of his latest film "Falling Down."
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