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October 04, 1993 - Image 8

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1993-10-04

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I

8- The Michigan Daily - Monday, October 4,1993

'Evil' has a 'Touch' of style

By JOHANNA FLIES
If you can buy Charlton Heston as
a Mexican, you will love this movie.
"Touch of Evil," one of the last
major U.S. films directed by Orson
Welles, uses all the cliches typical of
CAPU CIE
Touch of Evil
Directed by Orson Welles; written by
Orson Welles; with Charlton Heston
and Orson Welles.
a 1940's detective dramapairing them
with the harsher aspects of life in the
'50s to create a cutting, realistic style
that sometimes seems to be more docu-
mentary than fiction. Shot in black
and white, Welles uses themedium to
its full affect to create images that are
just as important to the movie's effec-
tiveness as the actors.
Heston is Mike Vargas, a do-
gooderMexican narcotics agentcross-
ing the U.S.-Mexico border with his.
wife, Susie (Janet Leigh). The two
witness a murder and Vargas gets
involved in the American investiga-
tion headed by the corrupt but revered

Captain Hank Quinlan (Welles).
When Mike expresses his doubts about
the captain's methods, Quinlan teams
up with the local gangsters to kidnap
Susie and set her up as an immoral
floozy easily drawn into a night of
debauchery by "reefers" and heroin.
Slathered in darkpancake makeup,
Heston looks more like Tammy Faye
Baker than aMexican. His attempt to
affect an accent consists mainly of
speaking haltingly over the telephone.
Though definitely one of the film's
weaker characters, his honesty and
lean compactness contrast well with
the captain's corruption. A far cry
from Charles Foster Kane, Welles isa
fat, stogie-smoking, grumpy old coot
who mumbles when he talks and
waddles when he walks. The shad-
ows of a younger Welles suggest that
perhaps Quinlan was not always so
disgusting and diseased in character.
Though restricted somewhat by
the conventions of women's roles in
the genre, Leigh manages to enliven a
character that one initially assumes
will be only a whiny annoyance. She
talks back to the gangster boss, mocks
the hired thugs and throws light bulbs

at Peeping Toms. Marlene Dietrich
has a great cameo as Tanna, a sarcas-
tic, knowing tough gal who everyone
knows is a bit seedy but who every-
one goes to to have their fortunes told
and their whistles whetted. She is
Janet Leigh from across the tracks, a
sultry foreigner to whom Welles gives
the last line of the film.
Welles' mastery as a director is
revealed in the way he creates both
realism and surrealism with lights and
camera angles. Extreme blacks and
whites in confrontational scenes pro-
vide a hard edge to the characters'
arguments. The desolation of the
scrub-land hotel where Susie is taken
is impressive in its starkness, the tilted
camera creating a sense of uneasi-
ness. Extreme close-ups and sharp,
almost frantic cutting give energy and
emotion to climatic scenes. Welles
does not let the audience forget the
light or escape the shadows.
Because of Welles' style, the film
can be a bit choppy and is not always
as fast-paced as today's slicked-up
action flicks. Shoot-em-up, strike-em-
dead rampages of death are not inte-
gral to "Touch of Evil." Instead it is
the stylistics of every shot, the inter-
actions of the characters, and the cor-
relation between the two that enriches
the film and makes it worthwhile.
As for Heston, he was much better
in a loin cloth speed racing and tear-
ing it up in his chariot. Can anyone
say too much foundation?
1 UUCH OF EVIL is playing at the
Michigan Theater.

"The Joy luck Club" has some good intentions but soon dwindles into a "life sucks" tirade.
'Club' Offers little in way Of Joy

~.

The office of Academic
is now accepting applications
for
Student leadens
We are seeking highly motivated college students to work with
high school students in the Martin Luther King, Jr./Cdsar
Chavez/Rosa Parks College Club Program. Student Leaders are
needed to facilitate weekly presentations at high schools in
the Detroit Metropolitan area. These presentations focus on
issues pertaining to college including, SAT/ACT preparation,
financial aid, choosing a college, and much more. Complete
training and materials are provided.
Applicants must have the following qualifications:
" Ability and desire to work with a diverse group of students
" Valid driver's license
" Available to work at least 8 weekday hours
" Available during the Fall and Winter terms
(No December Graduates)
Applications and complete job descriptions are available at:
The Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives
1042 Fleming Admin. Bldg.
936-1055
Application Deadline is Monday, October 11, 1993
A non-discriminatory, affirmative action employer. =

BY MICHAEL THOMPSON
Well, the poster said "an Oliver
Stone Production," so why not? "Wild
The Joy Luck Club
Directed by Wayne Wang; written by
Amy Tan and Ronald Bass; with
Ming-Na Wen, Kieu Chinh and
Tamlyn Tomita
Palms" wasn't that bad, even if I'm
probably the only one who watched

1A NN A& ORT
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THE JOY LUCK CLUB R Dail -1:15, 4:15, 7:15, 10:051
THE AGE OF INNOCENCE .(PG) Daily -1:00, 4:00, 700, 9:50
BARGAIN MATINEES $3.50 BEFORE 6 PM I
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wh o l ecPresent this coupon with purchased ticket thru 10/31/93
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all six hours of it. Alas, "The Joy
Luck Club" suffers from nearly all
the same problems as Stone's TV
bomb.
But wait, Oliver Stone didn't even
direct this movie, Wayne Wang did.
And although not an editing master
like Stone, "Chan is Missing" bor-
dered on brilliance. So where is the
problem? It would look like we're
almost surrounded by talent.
That may be the problem here.
Did anybody see "The Missouri
Breaks?" Or "The January Man?"
Okay, "The Joy Luck Club" isn't
nearly as abysmal as any of those
films, in fact it's not half bad. But
with all the talent behind an intelli-
gent idea, it's difficult not to expect
just a little more from this movie.
The story revolves around the in-
dividuallivesandrelationshipsof four
mothers and four daughters. And we
get to see the major trials and tribula-
tions of all eight of them. That's right,
sit back and get comfortable because
no one is going anywhere for a while.
At first the film really works. Hav-
ing just lost her mother, June is asked
by her "Aunties" to take her mother's
place in the Joy Luck Club. The Club
was formed by June's mother many
years ago. The women play mahjong
together and argue. The setup is real-
istic enough and everybody in the
audience is waiting for the flashbacks.
And the flashbacks come in ahuge
wave of pain, suffering, self-discov-

ery and revelation. The film travels
back into childhood and explores how
each woman has been profoundly af-4
fected by her mother. Some of the
memories are painful while others
offer a little hope.
Here in the flashbacks, however,
is where the problem lies. There is so
much difficulty in all of their lives
that the film begins to feel a little like
overkill. It is a Stone film after all.
But everyone has endured so much
that the point gets lost. A flashback*
comes up and we're wondering how
bad it's going to be.
Obviously every life is filled with
problems, but the film doesn't offer
enough of a payoff. Granted, life
sucks, but come on, do we need to see
and hear that eight times in a row?
But the film does manage to still
be engaging enough that you never
fall asleep. The acting is good from
everyone. Ming-Na Wen is both lost
and found as a woman surrounded by
love after losing her mother. And
Andrew McCarthy gives his best per-
formance since "Weekend and
Bernie's."
"The Joy Luck Club" is far from a
bomb. A film like this, however, is so
frustrating because it feels like it's
just within reach of something very
good. In the end, the film becomes an*
all-too painful example that less can
be a lot more.
lt JOY LUCK CL UB is playng
at Showcase and Ann Arbor 1&2.

301 E. Liberty
at Fifth across from
Ann Arbor Theater.
668-7900

regular sandwich
bag of chips
med. drink
exp. 10/31/93
large sandwich
$ 9 bag of chips
med. drink
exp. 10/31/93

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