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April 08, 1993 - Image 17

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1993-04-08

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The Michigan Daily- Weekend etc. -April 8,1993- Page 7

As a film critic for the Daily, one of
the questions I getaskedmost frequently
is "How come you guys don't have a
neat little star system, you know, like
four stars for 'Howards End,' one for
'The Player?"'
One reason we've never had a star
system at the Daily is that the film
viewing experience is one that can't be

bring personal
Liking a movie has very little to do greatest living actor in film,
with the actual quality of a film. You falls down and does the tango,'
wouldn't judge people according to are all stunts - they don't rea
their grade point average or some other anything. The film itself is
arbitrary standard of measure, and you bankrupt, trying to convincet
can't judge art that way either. All reac- ence that what Pacino's deprai
tions to art are intensely personal. acter is doing is actually re
Take for example, the recent Oscar- Chris O'Donnell in some way
winner "Scent of a Woman," probably cause it makes sense in term
one of the worst movies of the year in film, butbecausethefilmmaker
my opinion. In terms of quality, the film a feel-good ending so they ci
is about average, featuring a fine per- Academy Awards. Their str
formance from Chris O'Donnell and a were so noxiously apparent, t
few amusing moments. When I left the so doggedly mediocre, I felt
movie, I didn't hate it so much as I felt lated, rather than enlightened
vaguely annoyed and ripped off. in some way, or even just ent
After a few days' deliberation I re- as a successful work of art oug
alized how much I hated the film, not But that's just my opinion.
because it was horrible in terms of go read Siskel or Ebert or any
filmmaking, but because of the deep- who liked the movie and they'
seated cynicism of the filmmakers. It a different story.
was obviousAlPacino was grandstand- So why read film reviews
ing and playing blind to win an Oscar; one film over another on qual
he was not giving a full-bodied perfor- is notmy job. Rather, a film cri
mance. Pacino, who's probably the to try to recreate the experien

s? il

ells and she had while watching a movie for
ut these readers who want toknow: Would Ilike
y mean this movie? Or for those who have seen
morally the movie, a film review can help some-
ie audi- oneformtheiropinionsabouttheirview-
d char- ing experience and stir up debate.
eeming When I read film reviews, I don't go
not be- toseeamoviebecauseTerrenceRafferty
of the liked it or because David Ansen didn't.
wanted Instead I look at what made a critic mad,
uld win or what excited them, what was crucial
tagems to their viewing experience, and then I
eir film decide, is this a movie I'd be interested
nanipu- in seeing, forJodieFoster's performance,
moved for David Cronenberg's directing, for
rtained, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala's writing?
it to do. With this inmind, "Falling Down" is
You can an utterly feeble attempt to tap into
me else some sort of social "rage," an actionless
tellyou action movie about a crazy man who
goes crazy. "Stolen Children" is the
Rating most genuinely affecting movie I've
y alone seen so far this year. "Untamed Heart"
c ought isn't a great film but it's anchored by
e he or impressive performances ...

reduced to stars and numbers. When
watching a movie, you bring so much
baggage to a movie -personal experi-
ences and biases - that it's nearly im-
possible to force that experience into an
easy-to-read numerical rating system
andcomeoutwith any kindofmeaning-
ful qualitative judgment.

Al Pacino may be brutally handsome, but "Scent of a Woman" sure stinks.
Listen if you can) to
the sounds of silence

Close your eyes and tell me what
you hear.
It might have been the obnoxious
laugh of the guy behind you on the bus,
yourhousemate's new Sting disc blar-
ing on the stereo or the smoky murmur
of a weekend crowd atAmer's. What-

ever it was, it probably wasn't silence.'
Trying to experience absolute silence
is like using an "unscented" deodor-
ant; it doesn't have a specific smell,
but there's definitely something there.
In the close quarters ofa university,
it's almost impossible to getaway from
the bustle of living. The low rumble of
a "Drink 'til Your Veins Run Jack
Daniels" party down the street, the
endlesshum andclacking of the Angell
Hall computing center and the traffic
detouring past State and William all
serve as reminders that you are not
alone. And even if you escape to the
darkest comer of the grad'library or to
a peaceful piece of shade in the Arb,
there's no way to leave sound behind
entirely. So rare is pure silence, that it
has actually become something of a
commodity. Yuppies and others with
strangely large sums of expendable
do-re-mi shellitoutto spendan hour in
an isolation tank, just to remove the
distraction of worldly echoes.
Ironically, and all too often, we
deliberately tune out quietude simply

because any external calm leaves usj
alone to deal with too much internal
noise. To shut out those inner voices,
we turn up Nirvana or Tchaikovsky, or
the yammering idiots on Eye-Witless
News, even though stillness is usually
what we need to free our minds.
Of course, not everyone would ar-
gue that silence is absolutely neces-
sary. Avant-garde composers of previ-
ous generations, like John Cage, ad-
vanced the notion that the buzz all
around us is, in fact, music. And if
you're in the mood to annoy one of the
snooty clerks at SKR Classical, just
ask him or her for a copy of Cage's
conceptual classic "4'33"," which, of
course, would be several wasted min-
utes of disc space, unless it were a
recording of a live performance.
Bythe way, whoev.er said thatmusic
is the universal language was either
lying or hallucinating. There are at
least as many modes of musical ex-
pression as there are spoken tongues,
none of them necessarily transferable
from one culture to another. Although
the significance of silence varies across
the world, the sound is undeniably the
same, an idiom each of us can under-
stand. When you think about it, the
most profound silences are usually
charged with meaning.
But true silences, when they oc-
cur, are generally fleeting. They come
in those seconds between the final
chord of Beethoven's Ninth and the
inevitable thunderous applause; in
those hours that feel like weeks, deep
in the night, as you lie sleeplessly
pondering your future.
Until next week, keep your mind
and your ears open.

Just laugh at 'Law'
by Michael Thompson
Okay, it's late Tuesday night. You came to the conclusion hours ago that
starting that book was absolutely ridiculous because you're already so far behind.
All your friends, however, have decided to be good students on this one night of
the year. So what do you do? Well, it's time you rented that movie that your friend
has been bugging you about for the last year and a half; it might actually be good.
So "Down by Law" goes in the
machine and what comes back out is
like nothing you expected at all. But
isn't that one of the many trademarks of
3: }aJimJarmusch ("Nighton Earth")film?
.:"t{:r k.. Unfortunately, you have no idea be-
cause you've never rented one before.
" }''"The story is simple. Three guys get
" thrown in prison and they go a little
crazy with one another and against one
another. Then they break oat into the swamps of Louisiana, where they go a little,
crazier with and against one another.
That's it. Oh, they do meet some weird and funny people along the way, but
overall, that's the gist of the blow-out story. You're probably thinking, "So what?"
Well, there is something about this picture that stays with you and eats away at your
brain. Jarmusch's movie stays with you and makes you want to see it again.
And it's not like Jarmusch doesn't do some wonderful symbolic stuff in the
picture. His interpretation of the hell of boredom and even familiarity is absolutely
wonderful as well as chilling. But who wants to get caught up in theory when
CRISP is coming up?
Long before Tom Waits was the campy and silly Renfield in "Brain Stoker's
Boredom," he was in "Down by Law" as an out-of-work DJ framed for a crime
he probabl y didn't commit. Waits is effective as a lost soul searching for God-
knows-what. John Lurie is also good as a small time pimp whose job is far too big
for his ego. Roberto Benigni ("Johnny Stecchino"), however, is hilarious as the
only one of the trio who actually committed the crime he was sentenced for.
"Down by Law" has the same elements asJarmusch's later films like "Mystery
Train" and "Night on Earth." Jarmusch hints at what will intersect his character's
lives from the very beginning of the film. He seems wrapped up in the idea of
similar experience and he pulls it off nicely in this and his other films. But don't
get excited - there is no deep dark meaning that you must understand to
comprehend the beauty of this film. It's just funny, so laugh.
Really, go down to the video store and join these three losers in their quest to
find, er, well, something. And buy a pint of ice cream on the way home. Trust me.

Roberto Benigni went on to write, direct and star in "Johnny Stecchino."

Trueblood Theatre
April 1-3, 8-10, 8pm
April 4, 11, 2pm
previews March 30, 31, 8pm

Tickets are $10
(previews $5)
Charge by phone:

Student seating is $6
(previews $3) with ID at
the League Ticket Office

A new version of Jean
Racine's tragedy by
John Russell Brown
Denartment of Theatre and Drama

I ,----

Are you an artist?
In the fall Weekend etc. needs pen and
ink artists to do ilustrations and other
miscellaneous art work. For info call
The Big Sleep
Humphry Bogart stars as Raymond Chandler's tough
private eye, Philip Marlowe. Marlowe is hired to
investigate the gambling debts of a wealthy general's
daughter, played by Lauren Bacall, and sparks fly
between the two as the investigation leads to blackmail,
deception, and violence. Directed by Howard Hawkes.
In black and white.


The latest Depeche Mode opus: Songs of Faith And Devotion


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