A fast ferocious summer filled with fun and frolic
By MICHAEL THOMPSON
Yet another blowout summer has
come and gone from Hollywoodland.
And didn't we just have it all this
summer? Big silly Arnold, old Clint
Eastwood, the ever young Tom Cruise
and some really pissed off relatives of
Barney. Yes, this was a summer to end
all summers. Or was it?
While there were many of the typi-
cally huge-budget summer movies we
expect every year, there weren'tnearly
as many sequels. In fact, "Another
Stakeout" and "Hot Shots Part What-
ever" are all that come to mind. What
does this mean? Has Hollywood fi-
nally given upon the sequel? Or should
we start preparing for "So I Married an
The summer hardly started off with
a bang.. Well, maybe. "Sliver" had
plenty of sex and violence, but sort of
copped out in the plot territory.
"Cliffhanger" was no feat of logic, but
it was fun enough to qualify as the first
"good" movie of spring/summer.
And then June 11 arrived and the
money started pouring in from all over
the galaxy. And why not? "Terminator
2"didwell, so why not "Jurassic Park"?
Thank god Spielberg hasn' ttotally lost
it. Just when it looked as if "Hook"
and delivered. So the plot was a little-
okay, a lot weak. And maybe there was
only one or two real performances by
human beings in the whole movie. But
who can deny that it looked as if Jeff
Goldblum was really going to die as he
ran from the T-Rex?
Just when you thought it was safe
and "Sliver" was condemned to dollar
cinema, Amold Schwarzenegger arrived
on the scene with what had to be the
biggest question mark in Hollywood.
How the hell did amovie like, and even
called "Last Action Hero" get made? Is
this the end of Arnold? Does anyone
know, does anyone care? Did anyone
While there were many of
the typically huge-budget
summer movies we expect
every year, there weren't
nearly as many sequels.
other than me see this movie?
Then July arrived and so did three
movies filled with potential that went
nowhere. Why does a good director like
Phillip Kaufman make a terrible movie
like "Rising Sun?" Why does a good
director like Sydney Pollack even think
about making a movie version of "The
Finn?" And finally just what was any-
body thinking when they made "Poetic
Justice?" The answer my friends is,
always, money. No, no one learned.
And then there were also the movies
destined to be viewed on cable because
you just can't study that night. So enjoy
"Coneheads," "So I Married an Axe
Murderer," "My Boyfriend's Back,"
"Robin Hood: Men in Tights," "Hocus
Pocus" anddozens ofothers thatl didn't
see. And don't even think of using that
judgmental word because looking at the
box office revenues none of you saw
Buthey, there were some goodmov-
ies this summer. "El Mariachi," a south-
of-the-border, made-for-video bonanza
redefined the term "cultclassic." "Men-
ace II Society" packed ahard punch and
terrific performances from a bunch of
unknowns. "Searching for Bobby
Fischer" was, granted, about chess, but
don't hold that against it. Woody Allen
returned to humor and won with "Man-.
hattan Murder Mystery."
Three movies, however, managed
to rise above the rest, because they rose
above what they would have been in
any other hands. "In the Line of Fire"
had a clichd plot which was brought to
life by everyone involved. Clint, as al-
ways, was great, but John Malkovich
easily held his own. Director Wolfgang
Peterson did a fine job directing a script
that was better than it might have been.
"The Fugitive" in and of itself is a
miracle. Based on an old TV show that
A&Efeels theneed tore-run yearround,
this movie mighthave beenjustastupid
rehash of eight seasons in ninety min-
utes. Instead Andrew Davis pumped up
the tension and suspense while Harrison
Ford ran like hell. Tommy Lee Jones,
however, dominated the screen, and not
just because he had more air time than
Harrison Ford. Jones is a great actor
who is starting to get the roles his de-
And finally (and some of you are
going to groan on this one) there was
"Hard Target." Yes, I understand it's a
Jean-Claude Van Damme movie. Yes, I
understand that the plot was stolen/
borrowed from "The Most Dangerous
Game." Yes, I understand that Yancy
Butler may well have won the Worst
Actress of the Year Award. But, John
Woo is still the King of the Action
Movie. The Chase Scenes, the Fight
Scenes, the part with the gas can. Wow.
I think I need a cigarette.
So summer has come and gone. Now
it's time for all the "Art" and "Classic"
Movies to come out. Stallone, Stone
and Arnold will all be forgotten as "The
Age of Innocence" and "Remains of the
Day" race for Oscars. But with Woo
behind the wheel can Van Damme's
nomination be that far away?
Harrison Ford may have been the 'Fugitive,' but Tommy Lee Jones was the star.
AASO season opener
The Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra opens its 65th Anniversary Season this
Saturday night at the Michigan Theater with a Gala Opening Night Concert
under the direction of Samuel Wong. Getting the new season under way will be
featured violinists Stephen Shipps and Hae-Young Ham. Be sure to stickaround
afterwards as the AASO celebrates its anniversary with a reception in the lobby.
The concert begins at 8 p.m.Tickets are $25 if you'd like to take part in the
reception and range between $14-$22 without the reception. Call 668-8397 for
We're off to see ...
Victor Fleming's American classic "The Wizard of Oz" is coming to the
Michigan Theater this weekend. ChroniclingDorothy'sadventure with hercast
of tin parts and straw men, "The Wizard of Oz" has been a favorite on
moviegoers' lists ever since 1939. Be honest, you know you can't resist seeing
this childhood favorite on the big screen. Just seeing the witch melt (Oops, did
I give away the ending?) is worth the money. The movie will be showing this
Friday night at 11:45 p.m. But for bargain rates see it on Sunday afternoon at
2:00 p.m. for a meager $1.
Take a walk on the 'art' side
The beginning of the new school year means it's time to start exploring all
the wonderful artistic opportunities that are available to University students.
Take, for example, this Friday night's Artwalk. The evening consists of self-
guided walking tours of downtown Ann Arbor's various galleries and art
exhibitions with a reception afterwards at the University Museum of Art. The
walk will take place between 7 p.m.-11 p.m. and is free of charge. However, if
you'd like to take part in the Afterglow reception at the Museum, admission is
$10. Call 747-2064 for further info.
Back to the Ark
Dave Crossland is heading back to Ann Arbor. The former University
graduate, who performed at last year's Ann Arbor FolkFestival, is coming back
for his very own gig at the Ark this Sunday at 8:00 p.m. Crossland has an
impressive backlog of performances behind him, including opening slots for
such noted performers as John Gorka, Richie Havens and Don McLean.
Performing over a batch of steel-stringed guitars and harmonicas, Crossland is
sure to entertain.
Blues and jazz basics
Start thinking about this now folks, but the 1993 Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz
Festival is coming to town September 17,1 and 19. With a series ticket you can
enjoy some of the greatest living blues and jazz performers around today.
Friday, September 17th's featuredartistattheMichiganTheaterisJoeHenderson.
The festivities will continue Saturday at Gallup Park with performances from
Guru's Jazzmatazz and A.J. Croce (Jim's son) among others. And after the
outdoor activities go back into the Michigan Theater for what should be a
stunning performance by Etta James. On Sunday John Mayall & The
Bluesbreakers headline the event at Gallup Park. Call Ticketmaster at (313)
645-6666 for ticket info. This event is one of the big things Ann Arbor can take
pride in. Join the festivities.
A Heart in Winter
Tonight is the last night to catch "Un Coeur En Hiver' at the Michigan
Theater.This is a French film won France's Cesar Award (the French equivalent
of the Oscar) for best director and best actor. It is the story of a love between two
violin repairmen and their latest client. Don't expect an action film, in fact, this
movie tends to be a bit slow. And the music isn't always in sync either. But if
you're into foreign films, this is worth checking out. Just don't expect a "Jean
de Florette" or a "Cyrano." "Un Coeur ..." plays at 9:30 p.m.
Not your average happy couple. "The Wedding Banquet" tells the tale of a marriage of convenience and confusion.
When the in-laws catch the b
By MICHAEL THOMPSON
Okay, here it is: Wei-Wei needs a green card.
Wai-Tung needs to get his parents off his back
about marriage without telling them he is gay.
Simon, Wai Tung's lover, comes up with the idea
ted by Ang Lee; written by Lee'
eil Peng and James Shamus; with
inston Chao and May Chin.
that Wai Tung should marry Wei-Wei so that the
parents will stop harassing him , Wei-Wei can get
a green card and they can take a huge tax break.
Yes, it does sound like a wacky new TV show,
but it's actually good.Director Ang Lee and crew
have managed to liven up the Three's Company
plot with good characters and witty dialogue
All the old elements are here. Misconceptions,
lies, near misses, the almost perfect date and a
hilarious invasion of privacy. But it works. Okay,
not all the time, but a lot more than most movies.
The intelligence of "The Wedding Banquet"
rests in the characters. All of these people are fresh
and funny. Wai-Tung is perfect as the workaholic
who is trying to satisfy everyone at the same time.
Simon is also effective as a man struggling to
remain in his lover's world. Wei-Wei, however,
steals the screen with her semi-peevish noncha-
lance. The filmmakers have taken a silly situation
and filled it with characters who are real people.
Ang Lee and crew take advantage of the lan-
guage barrier. Simon bumbles through Chinese
and misinterprets gestures. Who would have thought
awoman pointing her finger could be so funny?Ma
and Pa also suffers due to their lack of English, but
not as much as one would think.
Language is the only clash here, however. Val-
ues and ideals come crashing together with so
much force that any trace of humor vanishes. And
that is obviously the point. Lee wants us to know
that the situation really isn't all that funny. Simon
and Wai Tung are really hiding and Lee wants us to
ask ourselves why they should have to. Lee's
intentions are good, buthis method is so jarring that
the third reel begins to feel like a different film.
The picture works around and through the truth.
By the end of the film the only people who know
exactly what has transpired are the audience. Each
character creates his own version of the truth and in
the end that character must live with it. As nice as
itsounds, one cannot help but wonder if therearen't
enough misconceptions for a sequel.
The plot may be old, but the banquet is hilari-
ous. "TheWedding Banquet"may stumbleattimes,
but the end result is fun and smart enough to make
this film worth watching.
"The Wedding Banquet" is playing at the
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