Scanned image of the page. Keyboard directions: use + to zoom in, - to zoom out, arrow keys to pan inside the viewer.

Page Options

Download this Issue


Something wrong?

Something wrong with this page? Report problem.

Rights / Permissions

This collection, digitized in collaboration with the Michigan Daily and the Board for Student Publications, contains materials that are protected by copyright law. Access to these materials is provided for non-profit educational and research purposes. If you use an item from this collection, it is your responsibility to consider the work's copyright status and obtain any required permission.

December 01, 1993 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1993-12-01

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.



Limitations hinder 'M Butterfly'

In the early '90s, the big art house
theme seemed to be writers. We had
"Barton Fink," "Kafka" and David
Cronenberg's "Naked Lunch." Now
the tide has changed and the big thing
is cross-dressing. "The Crying Game"
has passed, but Cronenberg is still
trying to ride out the guy as girl motif
in his new film "M. Butterfly."
M Butterfly
Directed by David Cronenberg;
written by David Henry Hwang; with
Jeremy Irons and John Lone.
Jeremy Irons plays Rene
Gallimard, a bored married man who
is looking for anything new and excit-
ing. But wait, it's not "Damage."John
Lone plays Song Liling, better known
as Butterfly. Rene falls in love with
Song and for 20 years is head over
heals about her before he wakes up to
the idea that Song is actually a man.
Hard to believe? Well, here's the
kicker: the entire film is based on a
true story. See, there's a whole politi-
cal side to the film which is ignored
for so much of the film while the story
begins to get convoluted and the audi-
ence begins to wonder why they are
The first reaction seems to be that
this is a "Crying Game" rip-off. Well,
it's really the other way around, be-
cause M. Butterfly was a play that
came out way back in the '80s. But it
really doesn't matter because "The

Crying Game" is better than this film
Even though the picture starts off
with the big words - "Based on a
true story" - there isn't enough ac-
cessibility for the audience to relate to
what's happening. The characters are
too shallow and the political intrigue
of the film is so downplayed that
when it rears its ugly head, we don't
know what to make of it.
Cronenbergaspecifically asked
screenwriter Hwang to tone down the
political side of the film and it's obvi-
ous why - it's boring. Without it,
Cronenberg is free to explore what
he's used to and good at: confused
people, complex sexuality and the
difference between reality and make
Here the film soars. Cronenberg
plays out Gallimard's gradual escape
from reality with style and ease. Giv-
ing up or changing one's grip on real-
ity seems to be one of Cronenberg's
obsessions, so it's obvious what at-
tracted him to the project. But "M.
Butterfly" is still a step to the side for
Cronenberg. We have the bizarre
sexuality side, but there are no obvi-
ous and brutally disturbing images or
hallucinations like there were in "Na-
ked Lunch" or "Videodrome." Here
the main character just slips away so
smoothly that the audience almost
loses him.
Of course, Irons plays the part of
Gallimard with unparalleled class. But
what do we expect from the man who
could win an Oscar for playing

"Butterfinger's Angel, Mary & Joseph, Herod the Nut & the Slaughter of 12
Wkit Carols in a Pear Tree" opens Thursday at the Power Center and runs
through Sunday. This University production is the nativity story of Jesus as
seen throught the eyes of a clumsy angel Gabriel. The show puts a wacky
spin on this traditional Christmas story, and just in time for the holidays too.
The play originally ran in off-Broadway and regional theaters beginning in
1974. This play, written by William Gibson, will be directed by visiting
associate professor John Neville-Andrews, who directed "Trelawny of the
Wells" last semester. Go ahead and take a study break to go see this show.
Tickets are $14 and $10 reserved seating with $6 student tickets available
with I.D. Look for the performance review on Friday's Arts pages.
Life Moves 'Westward'
after Wax Trax

Beavis? John Lone tries very hard to
come across as a woman and he gets
everything right except for the make
up. That five o'clock shadow is what
gave it away for me.
Cronenberg said that Lone was
his special effect in this film. After
watching what happens when

Cronenberg limits himself to a guy
dressed up as a woman and a script
written by somebody else, it's hard
not to think that perhaps an adapta-
tion of Burroughs' "The Ticket that
Exploded" isn't in order.
M. BUTTERFLY is playing at The
Michigan Theater.

'Nutcracker' works better live

Chicago's Stabbing Westward
might easily be described as revival-
ists of the "Wax Trax" industrial sound
*of the late '80's, named after the leg-
endary indie record label that was
once home to such electro-pioneers
as Ministry, KMFDM, Front Line
Assembly and countless others. Un-
like many of these bands, however,
Stabbing Westward's brand of elec-
tronically driven industrial rock sets
out to cleanse the "Wax Trax" sound
of its often synthetic, contrived feel
*while retaining its undeniable aggres-
sive edge.
"We take our influences from ev-
erywhere," stated the band's
keyboardist, Walter Flakus. "There's
going to be obvious influences, like
the early industrial stuff that came out
of Chicago. We listen to bands on
Wax Trax, but we wanted to go a step
further... so we ended up drawing a
*lot of stuff from everyone from Peter
Gabriel to Lyle Lovett to
Soundgarden. There's lots of rock
influences, so it's not just the same
old techno-industrial sound."
Stabbing Westward - currently
comprised of Flakus, vocalist Chris-
topher Hall, guitarist/programmer
Stuart Zechman, "percussionist
extraordinaire" David Suycott and
bassist Jim Sellers - is currently
*supporting Front 242 on their current
tour of North America. "We're really
having a good time!" Flakus said ex-
citedly. "Everybody seems to really
enjoy us, which is really surprising
consider we don't have anything offi-
cially released to the public." He at-
tributed this success to the band's
focus on live performance. "We want
One Way Roundtip
$229 $419
$274 $548
$274 $548
$255 $510
$239 $478

to come across as a truly live band, as
opposed to a couple of guys with a
computer. The 'live band' part is our
main emphasis ... [Sometimes] we
get frenzied reactions from the audi-
ence, but other times peoplej ust stand
there and watch because there's so
much to pay attention to on stage."
The band's first official single,
"Nothing," will be released next Janu-
ary, which will be followed in Febru-
ary by their first full-length album,
"Ungod." However, they have no
plans to take it easy after the current
support tour. "We plan on being on
the road for most of the next year, just
to show people how intense [we] can
be in a live situation," said Flakus.
The Wax Trax label has recently
gone bankrupt, but the label has influ-
enced many bands to keep the indus-
trial-rock sound alive. More impor-
tantly, bands like Stabbing Westward
prove that the sound will be updated
and brought into the future.
appearing at St. Andrews Hall on
Sunday, December 5 with Ethyl
Meat Plow and the original Wax
Trax gods, Front 242. Tickets are
$14.50 plus service charge in
advance. Doors open at 8:00 p.m.,
18 and over are welcome. Call 961-
6358 for more information.

ing that you saw Pearl Jam at the
Blind Pig or Nirvana at St.
Andrew's? Well, don't be caught in
the dust again - see the Afghan
Whigs this Thursday at St. Andrew's
Hall. Make sure you're part of the
hip crowd grooving to their boffo
major--label debut, "Gentlemen," be-
fore you hear it at every party and
house across the country. The Af-
ghan Whigs are suave, debonair
punks with their hearts in the urban
soul of Stax and Motown, so be on
the lookout for a surprise appear-
ance by one of Detroit city's hottest
singers of the '60s. Advance tickets
are $6.50 for the December 2 con-
cert, but it's 18 and over only.
Surfin' USA
When you think of surf-rock,
you probably have pure, clean vi-
sions of the Beach Boys dancing
in yourhead. Well, get those white-
bread fantasies out of your mind
and get ready for the brutal, throt-
tling rock & roll of Dick Dale, the
true heart and soul of surf guitar.
Without Dale, the Beach Boys
wouldn't have had their swing, the
Ventures wouldn't have had their
ominous reverb, Hendrix wouldn't
have had half of his attack and
Frankie and Annete wouldn't have
been able to dance in the "Beach
Party" movies. You owe it to your-
self to see him in concert tonight at
Industry, with special guests, the
Golden Tones. Doors open at 8
p.m. for those who are 18 and
older and tickets are $9.50 in ad-
vance. Go catch a wave.

Another idea that is great in theory but in practice falls
short. That essentially sums up "George Balanchine's The
Nutcracker" and its second interpretation onto the silver
For those unfamiliar with the perennial ballet by
Tschaikovsky, the story is a simple one. One Christmas,
Marie receives a nutcracker from her godfather, Herr
Drosselmeier. That night, she awakes into a world of
living toy soldiers and mice engaged in battle, with the
George Balanchine's The
Directed by Emile Ardolino; music by Peter Ilyitch
Tschaikovsky; with Darci Kistler and the New York Ballet.
nutcracker leading the fight. After aiding in the defeat of
the Mouse King, the nutcrackers and Marie go to the land
of the Sugarplum Fairy, where they are treated to a series
of dances by the residents of the land. (For those totally
unfamiliar with ballet, it should be noted that the story
itself tends to be secondary).
Using the choreography of the late George Balanchine,
"The Nutcracker" is really an extension of the PBS series
"Dance in America," of which Balanchine was a part.
With key members of the production team being veterans
of the show, it is clear that "The Nutcracker" is not just a
labor of love, but an attempt to bring the ballet to many
people who may not have been exposed to it before, and
cannot afford the cost of going to a live show.
As such, the filmmakers used a very straight style of
filming, giving one a fifth-row, center seat. The idea was
to give the audience a what-you-see-is-what-you'll-get
taste for the ballet. It seems like a noble idea, though
unfortunately, this proves to be the film's downfall.

In trying to give the audience the feel of being at a live
production, the film ends up keeping them at arms length.
Often employing straight-on shots of the dancing, Emilo
Ardolino's camera never draws the theater crowd into the
action as it did in Ardolino's other film, "Dirty Dancing."
At the end a wonderful solo dance, we want to applaud, but
can't because we are in a movie theater in the Midwest and
not in Lincoln Center.
"The Nutcracker's" publicity has centered around the
presence of Macaulay Culkin, who shares the same popu-
larity as Barney. While Mac comes off a bit stiffer than the
other children cast in the film, his part, while the title
character, is relatively small, and should not be the only
reason to avoid the film. Then again, his presence shouldn't
be the only reason to see the film either, as Mac fans will
be disappointed by his small amount of screen time.
The other performers, along with their dances, are
great. Darci Kistler and Damien Woetzel (Sugarplum
Fairy and Cavalier) highlight the ballet with their dance
for Marie and her prince. Jessica Lynn Cohen (Marie) is
positively loved by the camera. The music itself is classic,
and the conducting by David Zinman works well, though
this writer has not heard all the countless recordings to
judge it relative to them. Over it all, Kevin Kline offers a
narration of the storywhich works effectively, being just
enough to help the ballet illiterate know what is occurring
on the screen.
Going to the ballet, whether taking one's kids or being
dragged by one's parents, is an 'event.' The people mill-
ing around the lobby, the itchy slacks and bows in the hair.
A show at a multiplex never rises to that level, and that is
where "The Nutcracker" falls short. While those who
have no clue about ballet might get a taste of it, most will
feel that they are missing something, and yearn to see it
playing at Showcase.


Ftas gre at stuff
for Christmas*...

including the lastest from the legendary band


0 A E C nonI#% -^^r




Back to Top

© 2024 Regents of the University of Michigan