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October 18, 1993 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1993-10-18

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A

'TS

Welles film festival
*ends with 'Third Man'
By SCOTT PLAGENHOEF
Film Noir is a concept in filmmaking that seemed to have died along with
the extinction of black-and-white. The rich texture of the depth of focus and
the degrees of shadow have been exchanged in our day for pyrotechnics and
renegade cops. Too psychological and too dark, they have been mistakenly
relegated to the archives, of Ted Turner or another media horde.
"The Third Man" is an archetypal film noir thriller and the conclusion to
'Abe Michigan Theater's six-week Orson Welles festival. Though adapted from
Graham Greene novel, director Carol
Reed's film still oozes of the influence
The Third Man of Welles. The creation of characters
who are intrinsically good and evil,
Directed by Carol Reed; written struggling to balance between the im-
by Graham Greene; with Joseph pulses of their two sides portrayed
Cotten and Orson Welles against the black-and-white canvas of
light and shadow is not unlike other
Welles projects.
* .The film also climaxes, like many Welles works, in an elaborate visual
sequence, which in this instance takes place in an underground sewer.
The film is marred by association with modem-day suspense films which
have paid a tribute to "The Third Man" by lifting some of its plot devices. Holly
Martins (Joseph Cotten), an American author of western novels travels to post-
war Vienna to accept employment with a friend only to discover that the friend
has been killed in an accident. Or murdered? Or neither?
The basic plot, along with the subsequent sub-plots involving Holly and his
friend's lover Anna (Valli) and the investigating officer, Major Calloway
(Trevor Howard) involve a mix of blackmail, sexual repression, dishonest
,olice work and a struggle between morality and friendship which has been
played so poorly in numerous more recent films that the audience's first
impulse is to associate "The Third Man" with the formulaic crap which
emulates it. However, if the temptation can be diverted, then the film will be
enjoyed.
The setting of the "The Third Man," in a post-war Vienna divided into four
spheres of influence, allows the filmmakers to exploit the paranoia of Europe
following the Second World War and explore the nationalism of the European
citizens.
It is no accident that the two central characters, Holly Martins and Harry
ime, portrayed with a delicate combination of swarm, confidence and
, onchalance by Welles, are the lone Americans amongst the primary charac-
ters. The pulling apart of Vienna and Europe into different directions is an
appropriate metaphor for the stretching of Holly's loyalties and the examina-
tion of his priorities.
Welles does not deliver the only strong performance of the film. Cotten and
Howard, each portraying men struggling to balance morality and personal
bias, convey a range of emotion without having to be passionate. The subtlety
of their performances contrasts the obnoxious over-acting of Valli.
"The Third Man" may turn off some audiences by shifting into a lower gear
and emphasizing the moral and the psychological dilemmas of the film during
the middle. However, the introduction of Welles' character, which does not
occur until about two-thirds into the picture, alters the direction of the film
altogether and rewards the patient viewer.
THE THIRD MAN is playing Tuesday and Wednesday at the Michigan
Theater.

Through the actual instruments and dress of some villagers in Guinea, "Les Ballets Africains" provided viewers with a realistic glimpse of daily life there.
'Ballets Africains11' authentically geuine

By MARIA SARNACKI
If the word ballet summons images of women
in tutus resembling dying swans, "Les Ballet
Africains" offers a change of pace. The produc-
tion "Silo: The path of Life" blends traditional

Les Ballet Africains of the
Republic of Guinea
Power Center
October 16, 1993
African dance, music and story-telling. Through
authentic instruments and dress, the audience
catches a glimpse into the lives of the villagers
who live in the four natural regions of Guinea.
In a tiny fishing village, a heedless youth

challenges the power of the Giant, protector of
moral values. His misjudgement is obvious as
energy surges through his limbs causing his entire
body to convulse uncontrollably. "The Bull's
Dance," begins as a villager strolls among the
straw huts playing his flute. His fellow villagers
join him until the stage overflows with pulsating
drumsand chanting dancers. The dancers remain
still as the balls of their feet begin to move to the
beat. Next, the energy crawls up their legs and
travels until their entire body is overwhelmed by
the frenzied music. The women contrast their
motion by curling into a crouched position and
throwing their heads back as they arch their spines.
Life's harsh reality resurfaces as the scene
returns to mother of the youth. She pleads with the
gods as she stumbles under the stress of his limp
body. Mercifully, the giant removes the trance.
Overcome with joy, the villagers gather to express

their gratefulness. As the women spin with out-
stretched arms, their skirts ruffle outwards form-
ing concentric circles around their bodies. Every-
thing like the jingling ankle bracelets serve as
instruments which add to the spectacle.
A mysterious rite of passage into adulthood
occurs in "The Sacred Forest." The spirits wear
elaborate headpieces and face paint as green smoke
seeps out of the secret entryway that the initiates
must enter. In the finale, the dancers spill into the
aisles as the audience begins to clap in unison with
the reverberating beat. The dancer's beads twirl as
their arms create invisible circles with their rapid
motion. The performers whirl in a circular forma-
tion, creating a cyclone of bright colors.
"Silo: The Path of Life" juxtaposed the seri-
ousness of life's traumas against its whimsical
side. The elaborate props and various instruments
only add to the authenticity of the production.

*Thomas Chapin balances jazz and jounce

By CHRIS WYROD
Over the last 25 years, the
confluence ofjazz and non-traditional
"experimental" music has posed an
especially difficult problem for audi-
ences and critics. While many musi-
cians revel in the new possibilities
and freedoms, listeners grapple for
n understanding of the squonks and
dissonant overtones which have per-
meated jazz during the past decades.
Critics often misdirect their en-
ergy into evaluating what qualifies as
an acceptable extension of the jazz
tradition, althoughjazz's protean his-
tory is an intricate and circuitous ar-
chitecture of derivations and innova-
tions.
.0 Paradoxically, this expansion of

jazz has caused a rift in previously
amicable musical dialogue,. Some ad-
venturous musicians are put off by the
tired staticity of jazz phrasing. In the
other camp, many adept musicians,
like David Murray, have shied away
from creative sonic experimentations,
opting for more widely accepted "tra-
ditional" jazz voicings.
It takes an adept musician to walk
this tightrope, and Thomas Chapin
balances jazz roots and contemporary
abstraction with agility.
Leading on alto sax, Chapin's trio
compositions bring free jazz closer to
its roots of inspiration: R&B honking,
strutting, low-down dirty squonking.
The melodic riffs and blues-driven
grooves ground the songs for dilation

into free tirades, which can smoothly
lead back to the basic melody's terra
firma.
Some adventurous
musicians are put off
by the tired staticity of
jazz phrasing.
Chapin openly admits his jazz in-
spirations, stemming primarily from
his 1980's direction of Lionel
Hampton's Big Band. But, his rever-
ence of multi-instrumentalist, divinely
crazed Rahsaan Roland Kirk has most
profoundly shaped his approach to
music (hence his facial-hair homage
to Kirk).
Like Kirk, Chapin creates unique
pieces with slightly off-kilter instru-
mentation, blowing some fresh, crisp
dissonance into melodic tunes. By
mixing bopping solo runs with ex-
temporaneous sax cranks and blus-
ters, Chapin's tunes have mass appeal
while remaining harmonically chal-
lenging.
As with Kirk, Chapin's idiosyn-
cratic song mapping is twisted and
gritty, but also coherent. The com-
fortable and comprehensible recur-
ring themes make Chapin's abstruse
ventures more tolerable for audiences
confused by freeexperimentation. His
music is orderly without sounding
methodical, visceral without dissolv-

ing into chaos.
Although Chapin uses chickens
and donkeys as musical sources along
with Kirk and James Brown, the key
to his music is his short, recurring
phrases. His embellished ostinatos
gain momentum with each reiteration
through subtly different intonations.
By controlling all aspects of alto tim-
bre, Chapin evokes an array of ex-
pressions, a skill honed by perform-
ing with home-state poets. What his
style lacks in ornate architecture he
supplements with intricate phrasings.
Spreading himself around many
musical projects allows Chapin to tap
different angles of his persona, keep-
ing him from getting trapped in a few
musical euphemisms. His trio pieces
have more direction than the friction
of his raging Machine Gun perfor-
mances, but less complexity than his
intimately crafted duos with Borah
Bergman and Ned Rothenberg.
Since Chapin blends jazz infused
riffs with turbulent rumblings, his
music is approachable by audiences
from both sides of thejazz-new music
rift. Enliven your hum-drum Monday
night and appreciate this trio's bal-
ancing act close up.
The Thomas Chapin Trio will be
performing tonight at 8p.m. on
center stage at The Performance
Network (West Washington).
Tickets are $8 for students, $10 for
all other personages.

The theater staff of
the Michigan Daily is
looking for additional
talented writers.
Call Liz at 763.0379
for details.

The Thomas Chapin Trio makes its way to the Performance Network tonight.

-:,S M.,
x 11'1%

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