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October 19, 1993 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 1993-10-19

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8 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, October 19, 1993

Verdict is in on
'Judgement Night'

By JOHN R. RYBOCK
Thelighting wasprettycool,and...
um ...there were a couple shots that I
liked. Oh, yeah, DenisLeary was fairly
good in it.
Honestly, it should never be such
a chore to find good things to say
about a movie. But the new film,

Judgement Night
Directed by Stephen Hopkins; written
by Lewis Colick; with Emilio Estevez,
Denis Leary and Cuba Gooding Jr.
"Judgment Night," is just this kind of
movie.
The premise is old, sort of a fish
out ofwater and in the frying pan tale.
Four friends from the suburbs of Chi-
cago are heading to a boxing match
downtown. Traffic causes them to
take a detour into what is, of course,
the worst section of town. There, they
witness a murder, and the chase be-
gins, as they try to get out with their
lives.
The friends are the requisite eclec-
tic bunch, from the settled down fam-
ily man (Emilio Estevez) to the act-
first baby brother (Stephen Dorff) to
the wannabe-a-high roller (Jeremy
Piven). The baddie (Denis Leary) is a
care-nothing-about-human-life crimi-
nalwho'sobsessed with "Fallon Rule

No. 2 - No witnesses."
The filmmakers seemed to have
wanted to make a tale of endurance,
of the strains of friendship in pressure
situations, of doing the right thing
even when it is the toughest thing.
However, all those noble messages
are undermined by the fact that the
characters come off mainly as carica-
tures.
Added with the way the filmmak-
ers are forced to keep the movie go-
ing, the audience doesn't care about
the characters, but rather wants to see
them bite the big one because they are
too dumb to live.
One of the few decent parts of the
film, which is mostly lost in the muck
of the story, is some decent cinema-
tography. Forget the requisite green/1
bright nature of the suburbs being
contrasted with the dark slums. The
use of gold and brown lighting in an
otherwise dark set works in several
shots, especially a sweeping crane
shot of the protagonists on a scaffold
over a street. But when dealing with
characters who practically leave bread
crumbs for their pursuer, such nice-
ties are lost.
One of the sadder parts is looking
at what these actors did before this
film. Estevez was enjoyable in
"Mighty Ducks." Cuba Gooding Jr.
followed up "Boyz 'N the Hood" with
a good performances in "Gladiator"

Emilio Estevez, Cuba Gooding Jr., Jeremy Piven and Stephen Dorff are four guys who witness a murder and it's all down hill from there.

and HBO's "Daybreak." Stephen
Dorff looked promising in "Power of
One," and Jeremy Piven has been
doing "The Larry Sanders' Show."
"Judgment Night" is a step down for
all, except Denis Leary. Despite his
character being poorly created, Leary

has hinted here that he could do men-
acing drama.
One final note about the film-it
has a potentially great soundtrack,
each number with a metal/rap team-
up (Slayer & Ice T; Mudhoney & Sir
Mix-A-Lot). But one will have to buy

the CD to find out if it is any good, as
any music in this movie is buried and
unnoticeable.
Fallon's Rule No. 2 - No Wit-
nesses. He should have killed the film
crew. But I do have two words for
Denis Leary -butane. Burn the film,

and try to break into dramatics again.,
I'm sure you'll get plenty of help,.
from Sheen-boy and company, see-
ing as they'll probably want to forget
this film also.

JUDGMENT NIGHT is playing at
Showcase.

"

Not much 'Wonderful' about this movie

By SARAH STEWART
Electricity causes light, light sym-
bolizes love, and even if the lights are
accidentally turned off, darkness can
Mr. Wonderful
Directed by Anthony Minghella;
written by Amy Schor & Vicki Polon;
with Matt Dillon and Annabella Sciorra
be overcome. At least that is what the
new romantic comedy "Mr. Wonder-
ful" wants us to believe. And maybe
the metaphor does hold some truth,
but in literal terms, it is not strong

enough to support a movie that never
plugs into the concept of a good ro-
mance.
Gus (Matt Dillon) is an electrical
worker in New York City- thus the
electricity metaphor- who is fed up
with paying alimony to his childhood
sweetheart and ex-wife, Lee
(Annabella Sciorra). If he can relieve
himself of this financial burden, he
can afford a share in his buddies'
bowling lane venture. No problem; in
a stroke of genius, his co-worker Pope
(David Barry Gray) suggests he find
a husband for Lee and transfer the
responsibility onto another man. Yet
the plan ultimately fails. As Gus pre-

dictably realizes that he is the only
man for her, an old love is renewed.
But of course, things are more
complicated than that. Gus' new girl-
friend, Rita (Mary-Louise Parker), is
looking for commitment, and Lee,
"finding herself' in academia, is in-
volved with Tom (William Hurt), a
married professor who wants more
than her mind. Amidst all this, the
realization that Gus and Lee are still
in love calmly takes center stage with-
out the potency expected from two
people finally admitting they were
wrong to part.
For one thing, the character devel-
opment is consistently weak. Gus is

the stereotypical "stubborn on the
outside, sensitive on the inside" work-
ing-class guy. The only thing he is
easily convinced of is the scheme to
find Lee a husband, and shows his
concern for her with remarks like, "I
bet [the professor] can't even change
a fuse." Similarly stereotypical, Lee's
character is melodramatic in her de-
sire to learn and goes out of her way to
abandon everything Gus stands for.
But for a woman of such independent
means, she is quick to agree to his
man hunt.
Most obviously undeveloped is
the professor. At firstglance, he serves
as a token of jealousy for Gus, but
when their affair declines after Tom
introduces Lee to his son and her
string of dates searching for a pos-
sible husband begins, the potential
for jealousy diminishes. His place in
the film is ultimately negligible, as it
is never clear what purpose he serves.
Hurt easily acts the part of the wishy-
washy and pompous professor, yet
cannot overcome his uselessness. In
fact, none of the acting is bad. "Mr.
Wonderful" is simply flawed by an
overabundance of minor characters, a
screenplay which creates only sparse
intimacy between them and a failed
attempt to capture the beauty of ro-
mance.
Throughout the film, a strong de-
sire to reunite Gus and Lee is never
achieved. In "When Harry Met Sally,"
a romantic comedy of the highest
quality, the climax of the film is ex-
hilarating. Harry runs to Sally when
he finally realizes that he is in love
with her, and it is obvious they were
meant to be together.
However, it is not so in "Mr. Won-
derful." Although it is obvious that
Gus does not belong with Rita, and
Lee does not belong with any of the
men she finds herself dating, the film
fails to make it obvious that Gus and
Lee belong together.
To no one's surprise, the picture
concludes with the epithet, "Gus and
Lee got married, again," but to the
discredit of the film, it seems unlikely
that they'll stay that way..
MR. WONDERFUL is playing at
Showcase.

BOOKS
Continued from page 5
friend gave me a shower radio the
other day. Thanks a lot. Do you really
want to listen to music in the shower?
Iguess there's no betterplace to dance
than on a slick surface next to a glass
door."
The book is extremely informa-
tive, as well. Ever want to know why
ambulance is spelled backwards on
ambulances? Or why should a gift
certificate be called a"I don't-give-a-
damn diploma"? Or what would hap-
pen if BO actually smelled good?
Seinfeld provides answers to all these
mind-boggling mysteries and many
more.
For the comedian, the secret to
good stand-up comedy is to find the
humor in common, everyday experi-
ences. Often, the most hilarious jokes
involve situations that everyone has
experienced but rarely talk about. This
is what Seinfeld does so well. He
makes the reader say, "That's hap-
pened tome," or "I've wonderedabout
that." This approach creates a good
brand of down-to-earth humor.
The book is easily readable, as
well. Seinfeld writes exactly how he
speaks during one of his comedy rou-
tines. This allows the reader to imag-
ine Seinfeld oranothercomedian say-
ing what is written, and this adds to
the comic effect. The result is a book
that will make you laugh and will help
you relieve stress, frustration, and
anxiety - at least temporarily.
- J.M.Diller
Star Trek Memories
William Shatner with Chris
Kreski
HarperCollins
William Shatner has long been an
idol to legions of "Star Trek" aficio-
nados. With the help of occasional
"Beavis and Butthead" writer Chris
Kreski, Shatner has finally written his
history of that awe-inspiring show.
This book has a built-in audience and
promises to become canon amongst
Shatner's followers as the end-all of
"Star Trek" histories (at least until
Nichelle Nichols' rumored tell-all
book comes out).
Surprisingly, Shatner'sbookis not

an egotistical listing of his accom-
plishments. Instead, through the use
of interviews with former cast and
crew members, Shatner and Kreski
construct an anecdotal yet highly fac-
tual work that may very well give
some welcome insight into the people
who made "Star Trek."
"Star Trek Memories" starts by*
describing Gene Roddenberry's life
and work before "Star Trek." It then
explains how these things eventually
led to the apparently mythical and
painful creation of television's first
hour-long science fiction program that
had recurring characters. The book
wades through the false starts preced-
ing the show's network debut, the,
cast changes and most of the trivia
that is common knowledge to "Star-0
Trek" fans.
But it is the uncommon knowl-
edge that Shatner wants readers to
know. The atmosphere of the set, the
practical jokes between the castmem-
bers and Shatner's self-conscious ego-
tism provide the tip of this knowl-
edge. Crusading in a way that would
makeJamesKirk proud, Shatnerrights
several wrongs that have either.
wormed their way into Trekkieknowl-
edge or have somehow remained be-
yond their knowledge.
The changes Shatnermakes are all
positive. He does not leave the reader
feeling that "Star Trek" is not all it
was cracked up to be. On the contrary,
Shatner darkens the already dim light
that has been shed on the studio ex-
ecutives while absolving virtually all
of the creative and other
nonmanagment types from any of the
show's negative aspects. This is ulti-
mately the altruistic good that the
book exists to further.
Altruistic goods are not all that
entertaining in and of themselves, and..
factual misperceptions are not all
Shatner and Kreski wish to correct.
The inclusion of stories by cast and
crew gives a sense of humanity to the.
show's history. As a result, the show
becomes more of a hollow image and
the people behind it become more,
human. This feeling that the show
was not as important as the lives of the
people making it may shock some
fans, but this is closer to the truth. In
doing this, Shatner seems to embody,
a desire to escape from Kirk, the char-,
acter who has so overshadowed his,
life.
"Star Trek Memories" is much
better than its garish cover and pro-
fuse illustrations with wacky captions
would seem to indicate. It's nothing
earth shattering, either, but then again,
it's not "Star Trek."
-Ted Watts.

Matt Dillon and Annabella Sciorra are so sappy together. Don't you think there are enough problems in the world?

NON-STOP OP IS

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F

R~cIXXO
2 9 ' o r-t

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to Graduate School at
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School of Education?
If YES, come to a meeting
Thursday, October 21, 6 p.m.

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in writing
about

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