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October 08, 1993 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1993-10-08

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8- The Michigan Daily - Friday, October 8,1993

Altman back in grand style

Twenty-three years and countless
flops afterthe releaseof"M*A*S*H",
Robert Altman is once again
Hollywood's grandest poohbah.
Seemingly impervious to the onset of
old age and the reality of box office

V-22 Am



- I II - 1I UIA


Short Cuts:
The Preview
Directed by Robert Altman; written
by Altman and Frank Barhydt; with
Tim Robbins and Jack Lemmon.


on the writings of Raymond Carver,
the film is a visual montage of 10
distinct stories set in Southern Cali-
fornia. Replete with 22 legitimate
stars, "Short Cuts" has already been
compared favorably to Altman's
1979 masterpiece, "Nashville."
Indeed, the picture's rave public
reception is a fitting tribute not only
to the film, but to Altman as well.
After establishing himselfamong the
Hollywood elite during the early
1970's with the success of
"M*A*S*H"and "McCabe and Mrs.
Miller," the weathered filmmaker
endured an almost endless string of
flops in the 1980's. Yet 16 months
after "The Player's" dramatic rise
from art house theaters to suburban
multi-plexes, Altman has regained
the mythical allure that has eluded so
many of his contemporaries.
Kubrick's too old. Scorsese's too
focused. Coppola's too washed-up.
Stone's too nostalgic. Lee's too
jumbled. Levinson's too sentimen-
tal. Van Sant's too "je ne sais quoi."

mediocrity, the 68 year-olddirector-
still basking in the radiantglow of last
year's biting satire "The Player"-
seems poised to one-up himself with
his soon-to-be-released "ShortCuts."
After garnering sublime reviews
at last week's New York Film Festi-
val, the 189-minute project will make
its Midwest premiere this Saturday at
8:00 at the Michigan Theater. Based

Indeed, only Altman has usurped
them all. Resilience has been kind to
"Short Cuts" stars, among many
others, Mathew Modine, Robert
Downey Jr, Lily Tomlin, Tim
Robbins, Andie MacDowell, Jack
Lemmon and Huey Lewis. The op-
portunity to collaborate with such a
revered auteur proved enticing enough
to the star-studded ensemble that the
performers agreed to accept signifi-
cant pay cuts. Furthermore, given the
film's multi-layered and over-lapping
nature, Altman acknowledged that the
script demanded recognizable faces
in order to side-step the audience's
potential confusion.
Altman first became interested in
R.aymondCarver's writings whilefly-
ing back to the U.S. after filming
"Vincent & Theo" in 1990. Carver,
arguably the greatest American short
story writer since Flannery O'Connor,
had died of cancer two years earlier.
Still, Altman was enthralled by his
honest, succinct style and proletarian
concerns. Yet, in the light of the aging
director's increasingly dubious repu-
tation, the project spent three years in
development before Fine Line finally
agreed to back it.
Like "Nashville" and even "The
Player," "Short Cuts" is an ensemble
piece. Too amorphous to be dubbed a
"genre film," the picture deftly juxta-
poses a smorgasbord of literally unre-

"Short Cuts" features a wide slew of great actors. Pictured here are Peter Gallagher and Frances McDo"and.


Theodore M. Newcomb Distinguished University Professor of Psychology
and Director and Research Scientist,
Research Center for Group Dynamics, Institute for Social Research

lated episodes under one collective
umbrella. The potential for inconsis-
tency, particularly in the tireless cross-
cutting between entirely different
story lines, demands that each sub-
plot be equally poignant. As a result,
the impending success of the tapes-
try-like film rests squarely on the
shoulders of the well-balanced cast.
Altman's signature fascination
with realism in its most absurd mani-

estations once again breaks new
ground. Jennifer Jason Leigh plays a
mother who nurses her newborn with
one hand while she operates a phone
sex service with the other. Tim
Robbins plays an embittered cop who
hates his dog. The list of idiosyncratic
characters is virtually endless.
Altman himself is no stranger to
Ann Arbor. A close friend of Michi-
gan alum and New Line head Robert

Shaye, he has both filmed a movie
here ("Secret Honor") and collabo-
rated in various endeavors with the
School of Music faculty. This screen-
ing will benefit the University's De-
partment of Film & Video.
SHORT CUTS will be shown at t
Michigan Theater Saturday at 8:00-
Tickets are $8 for students and -
$12.50 for everyone else and should
be purchased in advance. I"

ahomat,' still fun after all these years

4 ~


"Oklahoma!" marked a new beginning for the
musical theater when it opened on Broadway over
50 years ago. Today it has been seen and per-
formed countless times so it is hard to think of it

Reception follows. Al lectures «e open to the public. Presented by LSdA

i N i
Mendelssohn Theatre
October 6,1993

as groundbreak-
ing. In fact, when
you see ' Okla-
to transform you
mind into a
1940's way of

around a sweet, farm girl Laurey (Lynn Bishop)
who doesn't want to admit that she is in love with
a handsome cowboy (Kevin Binkley). Bishop and
Binkley both had crisp, operatic voices, but there
wasn't much chemistry between them. At times,
Binkley had trouble acting with Bishop, and he
preferred to act to the floor and into the audience
instead of with her.
Comic relief is added to the show through a
ditsy, flirtatious Ado Annie (Sharon Sussman)
and her goofy, cowboy suitor Will (Jim Nissen).
These two acted beautifully together. Most of
their scenes were hilarious. Whenever Will en-
tered the stage the audience laughed at his south-
ern drawl and the funny expressions he made.
Sussman did have trouble projecting her voice
over the orchestra, but after intermission she ad-
justed her volume accordingly.
You can tell if a production of "Oklahoma!" is
successful if Agnes de Mille's legendary dance
sequences are performedcorrectly. CivicTheatre's
"Oklahoma" had superior dancing. the 12 minute

dream ballet sequence, at the end of the first act;
was performed with perfection by Gregory Georgo
and Roya Fanini. Their movements were smooth
and fluid, which is quite an accomplishment since
George was wearing blue jeans and cowboy boots
(not your typical ballet garb)!
With it's many dance sequences and large cast;
"Oklahoma!" was meant to be performed on A
rather large stage, which the Mendelssohn. The'
atre doesn't have. Interestingly, Civic Theatre
was able to choreograph dances, with 14 or more
cast members, in very small spaces and not appear
The sets for "Oklahoma!~ were humble and
modest, suitable for what was needed. In contrast;
the lighting wasn'tas satisfying. The lightchanges
occurred too fast, and most of the lighting on stage
was washed out by the intense front lighting.
With the golden anniversary of "Oklahoma!"*
this year it is a treat to see how plain and simple
musical theater started out. For that reason alone,
this "Oklahoma" is well worth seeing.

thinking, otherwise the dialogue and songs will
probably seem very silly.
To celebrate 50 years of Rogers' and
Hammerstein's "Oklahoma!" numerous theater
companies have put together productions. This
weekend, Ann Arbor Civic Theatre tries their
hand at this musical theater classic.
"Oklahoma!" takes place just before the turn
of the century when there was a heated rivalry
between cowboys and farmers. The plot centers

Hampton and Unit are not Dead'

Next to the proliferation of grange,
the emergence of scores of second-
generation Grateful Dead disciples is
the most annoying musical trend of

the 1990's. But that doesn't mean you
shouldn't see Col. Bruce Hampton &
the Aquarium RescueUnitat the Blind
Pig this Friday night.
You see, the good Colonel is not a

The Mystical Arts of Tibet
Sacred Music. " sacred Dance
Wed. Oct. 20 8pm
Rackham Auditorium
Ann Arbor
UM Major Events
a world tour by
9 lamas from Drepung
Loseling Monastery
A "Sounds that seem
. % . 10 Come f) om the
x womb of the earth..."

nostalgic twenty-four year-old that
grew up listening to his parents' old
Steve Miller, Allman Brothers and
Dead records; Hampton has been spin-
ning his surreal southern stories since
the late sixties and he's only improved
over the years. What sets his band
apart from the scores of nuevo-hippie
groups littering the countryside is his
bizarre humor and the sheer musical
force of his latest band, the gifted4k
Aquarium Rescue Unit.
All of the members can play rock
& roll, blues, country, jazz, bluegrass
and soul convincingly, melding all
the diverse styles into aunique gumbo
where nothing seems forced or out of
place. Instead of being alienating, their
eclecticism is welcoming. At times
their music can't quite measure up to
their lofty ambitions, but the real fun
of Hampton and his crew is hearingo.
them try. If you can't make it to the
9.30 show on Friday {tickets are only
$8 in advance}, check out "Mirrors of
Embarrassment," the latest album
from Col. Bruce Hampton & the
Aquarium Rescue Unit and see why
they are the best of their lot.


Michigan Union Ticket Office & all Ticketmaster outlets


/LL lie, B'O L
Intramural Quiz Game
Registration/Ranking Quiz
Michigan Union
October 12 Kuenzel Room 7-10 pm AW011



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