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'Hoffa'sucks, just like our culture
by Jon E. Altshul
"Hoffa" epitomizes how culturally
rotten this country is. It's the kind of
- movie thatlegitimizes anti-intellectual-
ism and perpetuates illiteracy.
Overstated? Screw you, I'm a ro-
mantic by nature.
Directed by Danny DeVito;
- ,written by David Mamet; with Jack
Nicholson, Danny DeVito and
r l Theproblem with "Hoffa" is that it's
simply not art. Deftly hidden behind
slick jump cuts and Jack Nicholson's
marvelous performance lies one of the
truly shitty screenplays of this or any
generation. No moral ambiguity, no ar-
tistic license, nothemes, noangle. Where
does David Mamet, arguably the most
talented playwright since Arthur Miller.
Jack is great as Hoff a. Too bad David "Fucking" Mamet wrote the script. get off writing this garbage?
Hili's 'Trespass is the right move
The film is merely an autobiographi-
cal rehashing of Jimmy Hoffa's contro-
versial rise to power and eventual de-
mise. Sure, director Danny DeVito takes
a few liberties in mixing fact with fic-
tion. But because Mamet seems to have
given that symbolism thing a rest,
"Hoffa" comes across as almost pedan-
tic. It's a made-for-TV movie that would
have been infinitely more successful
had it premiered on TNT.
Simply put, the film has no purpose.
It's not really a proletarian call-to-arms
or a Jekyll and Hyde type analysis of the
union leader's life. Instead it's just a
story: guy makes money, (uy loses
money, guy dies, movie ends. A little
like "The Amy Fisher Story" without
the commercials. By film'send we know
absolutely nothing we didn't know be-
fore about the enigmatic Teamster boss.
This truth is particularly trying on
the actors, who find themselves trapped
in roles that are invariably stale and
superfluous. Once again, blame Mr.
Mamet. The acting is superb, but the
confinements that the script places on
each character is too strong for even
Nicholson to overcome. The result of
this shortcoming is a lack of empathy
that the audience can feel for the charac-
ters as the film concludes.
There are some powerful moments:
Hoffa's utter upstaging of a timid Bobby
Kennedy during the Attorney General's
investigation incites awe. But even that
scene, as enjoyable as it is to watch,
seems trivial in the broader context of
But wait, it gets worse. There's an
awful soundtrack that perpetually ac-
companies the action, even when it's
not necessary. The music does not
heighten the sentimentality, but
unnervingly distracts the viewer, even-
tually sapping the film of whatever
morsel of dignity it might have boasted.
And then the movie ends, and you
can'trememberwhat happened because
nothing was really that memorable. So
you think about it and you're really glad
that Hoffa was killdd by some baby-
faced hitman. But then you get super-
pensive and you try to think why Hoffa
was killed by this pre-pubescent truck
driver, but you can't come up with a
good explanation. And then you think
about whether you prefer flying into
O'H are or Midway or how they take the
lead out of gasoline. And then you look
at your watch and you get excited be-
cause you still have time to catch CBS's
Amy Fisher movie which you missed
the first time it was on because of the
NFC wild card game.
It's all aesthetics.
Sociological interjection: life is not
predicatedon life ordeath, but on some-
thing more abstract. Great autobio-
graphical epics recognize this verisi-
militude. Check out "Malcolm X" or
rent "Ben-I lur." Better yet, reada book.
Hkfifm is playicii Shodase cmnfAnn
Arbor I & 2.
by Michael Thompson
It'sbeen asad year foraction pictures. "Under Siege" was
a watery mess, while "Lethal Weapon 3" was boring and
stupid. Even "Batman Returns," with all of its beautiful art
direction, sank into the realm of lame. Finally, however, at the
end of the year the best action picture is released. And this
isn'tjust one of the year's best, it is one of the best in the genre.
Directed by Walter Hill; written by Bob Gale and Robert
Zemeckis; with Bill Paxton, Ice-T and Ice Cube
"Trespass" has arelatively simpleconcept: Find the gold.
Two Arkansas firefighters try to do just that, but they run into
a few problems. Drug dealers, an angry homeless person, a
very secure building, explosives, and of course, greed. Yes,
that's right, it's action at its best and bloodiest.
The story revolves around a bunch of gold religious
artifacts that a priest stole and hid in an old building. Two
firefighters get a hold of the treasure map and go hunting.
After they arrive a group of drug dealers show up for an
execution. Bill Paxton witnesses the killing and the race is on
to see who can escape with the gold.
The slick script by Bob Gale and Robert Zemekis seems
to cover all the angles a moviegoer would think of. The cops
do show up, no plan is fool-proof, and every man is greedy.
The writers constantly raise the stakes. Every ally in the film
becomes an enemy. By the end of the filmthe characters have
more reason to fear their friends than their enemies.
Every character in the film actually thinks, which is a
rarity in movies. But the stakes are raised again in that almost
all the characters are thinking for themselves. The film is
intelligent in that it shows the good and bad side to thinking
about yourself and thinking about others. And, fortunately,
there is no right answer. It all comes down to luck for these
Director Walter Hill seems to have gotten his luck back as
well. After the miscalculation of "Another 48 Hrs." and the
mistake of "Red Heat" the director of "The Warriors" is back
Bill Paxton also proves that his acting in "One False
Move" was no fluke. He plays a wonderful everyman mixed
up with the wrong people. Ice-T is in top form as an angry
drug dealer who just wants to save his friend and go home.
The film has no good guys or bad guys. This isn't the
typical drug dealers versus the cops kind of fihn. It becomes
people versus people and then person versus person.
Don't think, however, that this film is some giant meta-
phor for how people should live their lives. It'sjust an action
film with the right. spills and chills at the right moments. As
Bill Sadler's character states, "It's all about gold."
As with almost every year, the best is saved for last. So if
you didn't catch "Trespass" in '92, start your year out fight
and catch this picture soon.
TR ESPASS is playing al Showcase.
Not only can Ice-T and Ice-Cube rap and act, they also do very well at angering censorship-loving conservatives.
"BUILDING COALITIONS FOR CHIIDREN: Turning Words Into Action
Sermonizing Musical Honey
by Roger Hsia
For the uninformed heathens out
there, religious services were held Sat-
urday night at the Holy Church of Hill
Auditorium. The venerable five-woman
Sweet Honey in the Rock
January 8, 1993
a cappella ensemble, Sweet Honey in
the Rock presided. These musical min-
isters paid homage to a mystical and
transcendent vessel of pathos, suffer-
ing, love and joy: the human voice.
What this translates into roughly is that
some serioussinging and testifying went
The analogy of a preacher and con-
gregation is not nearly as contrived as
one might think. Like zealous sermon-
izers, these five women summoned forth
an intensity and passion that swept up
the audience in a wave of enthusiasm.
Seated for most of the performance,
Sweet Honey nonetheless managed to
bop, undulate and shake to their miracu-
lous brand of gospel, jazz and blues.
They gesticulated as if they were sum-
moning their very spirits from them-
For the most part, the women re-_
vealed an astonishing ability to show-
case their separate talents without sacri-
ficing balance or blend. In a song about
a waning Native American heritage,
"Now That the Buffalo have Grone,"
each of the women contributed strongly
to the radiant mix, whether with a pre-
cise and rhythmic bass line, an alto
harmony or a soprano accompaniment.
In addition, all of them displayed wide
ranges, particularly, Ysaye Maria
Barnwell and Nitanju Bolade Casel,
which allowed them to switch parts at
The musical and emotional high
pointof the concert came with the groups
rendition of the blues traditional, "See
See Rider." The authority and grief with
whichAishaKahlilsang about the numb-
ing ache of unrequited love elicited
many sympathetic encouragements of
"go ahead now" and "uh-huh" and
"that's right" and my favorite, "boy, oh
boy" from an appreciative gentleman
behind me. In a rare case of the soloist
overshadowing the group, Kahlil's
bluesy wails and cries caused some in
the audience to ask if she did not really
have man trouble. I can think of no
better testament to her perfornance on
The only miscue of the night oc-
curred with the group's pro-feminist
rap, "Women Should Be a Priority."
Perhaps unprepared for the leap in style,
the two soloists rapped out of
synchronicity with the voice accompa-
niment for a couple of phrases. I only
bring this up because I don't believe in
flawless performances. Nonetheless,
Sweet Honey came damn close Satur-
day night. Indeed, the highest. compli-
ment I can pay them is that I had never
seen people dancing and singing along
in hallowed Hill before. Will wonders
"Look into the eyes of the children...
Feel through their eyes the threatening, hope-
draining world around them Imagine the
pain of a hungry stomach, an untreated ear
infection, or the discomfort and shame of
sleeping every night in the back seat of a cold
car or in a noisy and dangerous shelter. Let
what you see disturb you. Let it disturb you
so much that it prompts you to act."
- Marian Wright Edelman
I. Joycelyn Elders, M.D.
Director, Department if Health
State of Arkansas
CitvCares df America
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The University of Michigan
Saturday, January 16, 1993
Save Our Sons And Daughters;
Darlene Blair, NtSW, RN, CHES
Chikiren's Hospital of Michigan
Alexa I. Canady, M.D.
Wayne State University
Mary Carpenter, RN
National Commission to Prevent
Gay Chisum, RN
Perinatal Addiction Consultants
Beverly Coleman-Miller, M.D.
Donald Duquette, J.D.
Child Advocacy Law Clinic
Michigan's Citizens for
Elizabeth Gath, M.D.
Cook County Hospital, Chicago
Valariei Lovelace, Ph.D.
Clyde Owings, M.D., hD.
University of lichigan
Steve Parker, M.D.
*l3oton Chiklren's Hospital
Irwin Redener, M.D.
New York Chiidren's IHIealth
Mark Riley J.D.
Chikl Welfare League of America
Chilchen's Defense Fund
Jinn Sheny, M.D., Ph.D.
The Honorable Cynthia D. Stephens
Vayne County Circuit Court Judge
David P. Weikar, Ph.D.
National Commission on Children
Michigan Council on Matemal