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March 08, 1993 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 1993-03-08

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Ppge 8-The Michigan Daily- Monday, March 8,1993

Plenty of glory for De Niro's 'Mad Dog'

by Alison Levy
Strange but true! For the first time
this year, a film that is actually half an
hour too short. "Mad Dog and Glory,"
the new Robert De Niro flick, brims
over with humor, but ends so abruptly
that you want more.
Mad Dog and Glory
Directed by John McNaughton; written
by Richard Price; with Robert De Niro,
Bill Murray and Uma Thurman.
"Mad Dog," otherwise known as
Wayne Dobie (Robert De Niro), is actu-
ally a friendly puppy homicide photog-
rapher. At a crime scene he goes for
some twinkies and interrupts a robbery-
in-progress where Frank Milo (Bill
Murray) is being held at gunpoint by the
shooter of the original crime. Wayne
saves his life by talking the shooter out
of killing Frank. Hell-bent on paying
his newfound friend back, Frank uses
his position as a persuasive mob don to
become the "expediter" of Wayne's
dreams. Namely he invites Wayne to
see his show, introduces him to his
indebted bartender Glory (Uma
Thurman) and gives her to Wayne as a
take-home gift for a week. But, sur-

prise! No way Jose! They fall in love.
The key to this film is dialogue,
dialogue, dialogue. Screenwriter, Rich-
ard Price ("Sea of Love") and De Niro
break their losing streak that started
with "Night and The City." All of the
characters are full-bodied and origi-
nally quirky, camouflaging a rather thin
story. But theirextreme eccentricity also
detracts from the overall believability
of the film. The saving grace is the
satirical weave of a comedy with the
gangster genre.
De Niro absolutely shines as the
yellow detective, Wayne (as if it were
possible for him not to). His iconic
status as a mobster/ psychopath makes
his uncharacteristic turn as the weak-
ling opposite Murray's heavy, all the
more comedic. The memory of him in
films such as "Taxi Driver" and
"GoodFellas" adds to the irony, as he
slowly tiptoes around a corner in "hot
pursuit," barely able to steady the gun
with his shaking arms. By far, the most
realistic character, his Wayne is shy and
unassuming, especially around women,
until Glory pulls him out of his shell.
His transformation is mesmerizing, but
a little too quick. One minute he's un-
comfortably kissing Glory on the couch
and declaring his vow to start doing sit-

ups and the next minute he's running
around naked, flexing his muscles, and
singing a show-stopping rendition of
"Just a Gigolo" over a corpse at a crime
scene. And by the end of the film, he's
like a cream puff that's been left in the
microwave too long: tough, but still a
little sweet.
The actor-find of the season, how-
ever, is David Caruso as Wayne's tough-
guy partner, Mike. With his red hair,
small frame, and obsession with Dirty
Harry films, he fancies himself as a
swaggering leprechaun-for-hire, ready
to blow away any mobster, or girl-
battering cop that gets in his anti-hero
way. Basically, his vocabulary consists
of movie lines and puns such as "No
guts, no Glory" (that's the worst one).
Hot on his heels is Mike Starr in his
debut as Frank's starstruck, top-hench-
man, Harold. Reminiscent of Andre the
Giant in "The Princess Bride", his lov-
able bigman is positively endearing,
especially when drinking his standard
Chivas and milk.
Uma, too, hands in a winning per-
formance as Glory. Her switch toward
minimalism (in make-up and hair-care
products, that is) pays off as well as it
did the first time in "Jennifer 8." Per-
haps she does her best work when she

You can call 'Carmen'"Don Jose'

isn't being Uma-y. Her written charac-
ter seems about as translucent as her
Clinique Negative Ivory Dusting Pow-
der, but Thurman's new-found acting
abilities enhance Glory's vulnerability
and also keep her distant enough to
arouse suspicions about whether or not
she loves Wayne or is just using him to
get away from Frank. Congratulations,
Uma.
Finally, we have Bill Murray as the
irrepressible Frank "The Money Store"
Milo. Not only is he the mob kingpin in
Chicago, but also he's sensitive (he
goes to a therapist), warm (he brings
fresh pastries to Wayne's work) and
funny (a top comic who appears regu-
larly at his very own Kamikaze Club).
However, this creates a problem be-
cause Frank has so many bizarre nooks
and crannies to his personality, it's too
unbelievable, even in a comedy such as
this. Tonally, itdoesn'tfitwith the comic
balance of the film. It's hard to discern
whether Murray's performance derails
the continuity, or if all his comedic
genius keeps it from crashing altogether.
Director John McNaughton, suc-
cessfully makes a 180 degree turn from
"Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" to
this lighthearted fare. Instead of just
cruising through the film and leaving it
The The
Dusk
Epic
Every now and then, an album
comes along that is so original and so
good, it renews my faith in music. The
The's "Dusk" is one of those albums.
Alternately jazzy, delicate, brooding and
.funky, it fails to fall into any recogniz-
able category, and instead represents
the only true genre: honest, heartfelt
music.
There is no hype involved here or
on the album. Most of the songs are
slow-to-moderately paced, andas subtle
as colors in the sky between sundown
and nightfall, making the title an apt
one, indeed. The songs deal with ma-
ture emotions and the kind of feelings
most of us have hidden away some-
where deep inside ourselves. The con-
flict between hope, desire and despon-
dency is a subject few can emote effec-
tively, but one thatis addressed admira-
bly on "Dusk."
"I've never seen why songwriting
should be reduced to writing about teen-
age sex. I think it can embrace as many
aspects ofhuman life as film or painting
or literature. I think its a great form and,
as song wwriters, that we should push it
further," commented Matt Johnson
(who is The The) in a recent interview.
"I'd like people to feel that I'm discuss-
ing feelings that they'd forgotten they

Has Robert De Niro ever given a bad performance?

to the actors, McNaughton stylishly
keeps the film moving and interesting.
Things to look for are a black and white
scene turning to color, a hilarious use of
a fountain as phallic symbol and the
way he uses the sounds of a horror film
to emit De Niro's inner fear during the
firstsexual encounterbetweenMadDog
and Glory. The biggest travesty of this
lighthearted and enjoyable film is the
fact that it ends too soon, leaving the
viewer unsatisfied. But considering the

overall enjoyment provided, it's a mi-
nor violation.
As an added bonus, this is probably
the last collaboration you'll see between
"Mad Dog" producer Martin Scorsese
and his partner and wife Barbara De
Fina. He's since given her the boot for
starlet Ileana Douglas, the chick Max
Cady took a chunk out of in "Cape
Fear."
MAD DOG AND GLORY is playing
at Showcase.

by Valerie Shuman
Maybe they should have called the opera "Don Jose."
Although he was not particularly strong in the first act, from
the tender Flower Song in the second to the roaring finale,
tenor Brad Cresswell's Don Jose completely eclipsed mezzo-
soprano Ulrike Pichler-Steffen's Carmen in Bizet's "Carmen"
Saturday night. Usually a tale of a wily seductress who
manipulates the hapless Don Jose right along with everyone
Carmen
Power Center
March 6, 1993
else, in this production by the New York City Opera National
Company, Carmen was merely a small-time temptress who
bit off more than she could chew.
It's not that Pichler-Steffen was a bad singer, but she
simply did not infuse her role with the kind of emotion
Cresswell did. This was evident from her first aria, the
normally flamboyant "Habanera." Hers was smoothly se-
ductive instead, and while I was disappointed by the lack of
dazzle, it seemed at first that she was on to something with
her interpretation of Carmen as understated but irresistible.
When she suddenly focused on Captain Zuniga at the end of
the first act after having conned Don Jose, who was supposed

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to be guarding her, into loosening her bonds, you almost
expected him to melt on the spot from her seduction ray.
As the opera continued, however, it was Carmen who
melted. In her final confrontation with Don Jose, which
should have been a clash of the Titans, she simply wilted
before his furious onslaught. Her death was anticlimactic
after his rages, and I was so involved in his tragedy that it was
difficult to care about hers.
Cresswell's Don Jose was far better matched by Angel
Randell's Micaela, who could have been merely the boring
good woman trying to put him back in his boring normal life.
Instead, she played a powerful redeemer who overcame her
usual timidity to try and rescue him. Her acting was believ-
able, and the aria which she sang to bolster her courage as she
waited for Don Jose's return was beautifully done.
The cast was supported fairly well by the orchestra, but it,
like Carmen, lacked punch. Missed notes and some serious
failures to follow the singers made it obvious why they
weren't more daring. Although they did provide a reason-
ably competent background throughout, there were mo-
ments where more control would have been nice, as they
occasionally drowned out the singers. Part of this difficulty
may have been due to the fact that they were quite cramped
in the pit, so much so that the pony-tailed bass player had to
sit up in the aisle.

had, or wished they didn't have. I'd like
to be getting under the surface of people
- Really stimulating them to think
about themselves a bit more."
"Dusk" is not a light album, but
don't get the wrong idea, it's as easy to
listen to as anything that has been re-
leased in the past year. This is due in
large part to the contributions of Johnny
Marr, the guitarist who made the Smiths
so listenable. Even Johnson contends
that "it's a more positive album, gener-
ally" than previous The The outings.
Every track on "Dusk"isastandout,
including the "as-seen-on-MTV" "Dogs
of Lust," and the catchy "Love Is Stron-
ger Than Death," but perhaps the most
remarkable song on the disc is "Bluer
Than Midnight." It starts with a delicate
single-note piano part, then evolves into
an unbelievably soulful, understated
melody ushered in with trumpet and
nearly-whispered vocals which gain
conviction until finally Johnson cries
out "Why can't love ever touch my
heart like fear does?" Sadly, once the
listener reaches this track, there is only
one song left, the surprisingly hopeful
and Lennon-esque "Lonely Planet."
It is no stretch to say that "Dusk" is
the one of the most truly brilliant al-
bums to come along since Lou Reed's
"New York" four years ago. If you are
ready for an album that doesn't just
have great songs, but great songs with

substance, you owe it to yourself to pick
it up.
-Jason Vigna
Carmen Electra
Carmen Electra
Paisley Park
On Prince's Australian tour, he fea-
tured an oversized screen which flashed
little directives such as "Somebody
scram," next to his oversized stage.
Along with this were the more informa-
tive flashes, such as "Carmen is inevi-
table." "She is addictive." Well, Carmen
is here, and from the sound of it, she
ain't no big thing.
Instead of flashing his propaganda
to the fans overseas, Prince should have
been fine-tuning his investment. The
woman who has assumed the persona
of Carmen Electra may as well have
been any other twenty-ish beautiful
white female, as Prince so frequently
tends to like 'em. All Carmen does on
her self-titled debut LP is pen some
lyrics and contribute a few squeals to
what might as well have been a Prince
and the N.P.G. side project (with some
James Brown samples tossed in).
N.P.G. member Tony M. and main-
stay Levi Seacer, Jr. recur most fre-
quently, but all make their painful ap-
pearances on this album. The only fun
to be had here is listening for the subtle
reemerging of the main man himself.
-Kim Yaged

9

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