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December 08, 1993 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1993-12-08

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w r



Holiday movies abound

The halls are decked, the stockings are stuffed, the tree
is trimmed and all that other great fa-la-la stuff. Finals are
over and you find yourself with too much time on your
hands, wandering listlessly from video store to video store
trying to track down that elusive copy of "Sliver" that
hasn't been checked out. But wait - 'tis the season after
all. What better way to get in the festive and jolly holiday
spirit than by renting a rousing Christmas tale?
Though it is shown nearly 24 hours a day between
Thanksgiving and Christmas, "It's a Wonderful Life" is
still the best bet for a magically inspiring extravaganza,
thanks in great part to Frank Capra, director extraordinaire
of such non-seasonal classics as "Mr. Smith Goes to
Though not a huge success when first released in 1946,
this story has turned into one of the most popular and best-
known movies ever. Jimmy Stewart plays George Bailey,
If desperation sets in for a slap-
stick screwball comedy with a child
wonder comparable to Shirley
Temple both in popularity and
repulsiveness, do not fright: "Home
Alone" is the perfect remedy.
father, husband and bank owner in a small, Middle Ameri-
can town. When hard times hit, George decides to kill
himself, figuring his demise will be the best solution to
everyone's problems. Enter angel-in-training Clarence
who swoops down and revitalizes George's hope by
showing him what the world would have been like if he
had never been born.
Stewart's perfection in portraying the idealistic, com-
passionate boy-next-door is what keeps this movie chug-
ging along after so many years. And Donna Reed, as
George's wife, is cute and spunky enough to keep even a
diehard Sharon Stone fan interested for a little while. Hell,
the whole town even sings "Auld Lang Syne" around a
Christmas tree at the end. It doesn't get any better.
"A Miracle on 34th Street" is another black and white

holiday classic (unless you encounter Ted Turner's muti-
lated colorized version.) The young, precocious and po-
tentially annoying Natalie Wood has been taught by her
well-meaning mother that Santa Claus does not exist.
When Kris Kringle himself appears on the scene, all kinds
of craziness develops, including Saint Nick ending up in
an insane asylum. Eventually, Santa's power does prevail;
the kid is convinced that he isn't just some bearded
pervert, the mom is won over and there is even a good-
natured guy who proposes marriage. Nobody sings in this
flick, but everyone ends up happy at the end including,
surprisingly enough, the audience.
After doses of angels and miracles, it might be a nice
break to see someone mean-spirited and cold-hearted do
really nasty things. However, even villains are not im-
mune to Yuletide, making the transformation/revelation
theme hard to avoid this time of year. "Scrooged," starring
Bill Murray, is a modern-day version of Dickens' "A
Christmas Carol." Frank Cross (Murray), a bah-humbug-
ging TV station president, is visited by the requisite three
ghosts. Murray is a very believable asshole and David
Johansen and Carol Kane are viciously funny as two of the
spooky intruders.
If desperation sets in for a slap-stick screwball comedy
with a child wonder comparable to Shirley Temple both in
popularity and repulsiveness, do not fright: "Home Alone"
is the perfect remedy.When little Macaulay is forgotten at
home by his vacationing family, not only does he fight
burglars Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern with wit and finesse,
he also manages to convince some weird old man who
lives next door to make peace with his estranged son. It is
Christmas, after all, and if Mac wasn't the closest thing to
an angel on earth, "Home Alone 2" would neverhavebeen
The 37 different versions of the traditional "A Christ-
mas Carol" are always available as a backup if no other
movie can be found. One is as good as the next, and Tiny
Tim, in the right light, can be even cuter than Culkin. If
worse comes to worst, "The Sound of Music" will prob-
ably be on TV. God knows it has nothing to do with
Christmas, except maybe the brown paper packages tied
up with string, but it should do the trick. The story is sappy
and the ending is happy. Santa couldn't ask for more.

Among the smorgasbord of banal, tired films opening this holiday season, there is one true jewel, "Heaven and
Earth." Starring the ever-indomitable stud - and, coincidentally, Al Gore's Harvard roommate - Tommy Lee Jones,
the picture tells the painful story of Phung Thi Le Ly (Hiep Thi Le), a female Vietnamese villager who migrates to
Southern California with Delp from an American GI (Jones) in the wake of that so-called "Vietnam conflict." The film
is written and directed by Oliver Stone, and while obviously a "period piece," seems pleasantly devoid of Stone's
typical politically partisan panache.
Filmed primarily in Thailand, "Heaven and Earth" is based on Le Ly's own autobiographical account of her
experiences, "When Heaven and Earth Changed Places." The picture may also prove to be a litmus test for Jones.
After a number of supporting appearances in such recent blockbusters as "JFK" and "The Fugitive," this might be
*s most important starring role since "Coal Miner's Daughter." "Heaven and Earth" opens nationwide on Christmas

Ame che ruled light

Actor Don Ameche, whose recent
death of canceratthe age of 85 touched
millions of film buffs around the
world, was a performer who simply
didn't know when to quit. Over the
course of his inspiring 56-year silver
screen career, Ameche ranked second
only to Jack Lemmon as the king of
light comedy.
With his skinny, perplexed smile

Fire Lyric
Cynthia Zarin
The poetry of Cynthia Zarin is the
etry of the senses. She writes with
r eyes and ears, bringing to the page
what she finds in nature and in soci-
ety. In her collection "Fire Lyric,"
Zarin writes of relationships, not be-
tween people or animals, but between
what the senses experience and what
the mind makes of these sensations.
The first section of poems, "Terra
Anima," collects -Zarin's images of
animals. The poet packs the opening
*em, "The Box Turtle," with vital
and fresh images of nature, challeng-
ing the reader to reconsider "the
cucumber's umbrella leaves" and the
turtle's head, "a thumb on the ground's
warm / throb." The poem closes with
the assertion that "the world is tigerish,
like a debutante /looking both to stay
and quick be gone." Zarin brings the
world into focus through her senses
d challenges the reader to readjust
this new perspective.
The rest of the poems in "Terra
Anima" equally exhibit Zarin's ener-
getic approach to new sensations of
nature. In "The Cormorants," she de-
scribes the birds' offspring, "who look
like small, feckless / thunderclouds
painted by a dabbler who / wants to
get everything in." In "The
Oppossum's Dream," Zarin captures
* great mass of a whale as "dark /
and huge, a world / entire." Through
these poems, the poet recreates the
world with her own distintive vision.
The second section, "Shadow,"

features the long poem, "Learning
German," a meditation on the Holo-
caust. Zarin captures the feeling of
h'orror tied to memories of the con-
centration camps. She describes a
photograph of "gray bodies / piled to
make an astonishing / wall. Eyes, a
foot, a hand hung / out breaking the
smooth / fish surface." The poet later
states the undeniable fact of the camps:
"any hour holds your death." The
only uncertain moment in an other-
wise emotion-packed poem comes in
the confusing closing lines, "here is
your chin, / that says, tasting the earth
in its mouth: / The dress is in the
meadow having a dream."
The final section, "Parts of the
World," seems the least thematically
unified of the three. The poem "Thee
and Lew Freeman" details the story
of a child's imaginary friends that he
has given up and the speaker has
adopted as her own. Zarin updates the
lives of Thee and Lew, telling how
"sometimes Thee will sing to me / of
places where I've never / been, but
given half a chance I'd go." The most
light-hearted poem in the book on
first reading, a serious undertone
comes through in these closing lines,
reinforcing the importance of imagi-
nation in life regardless of age.
Zarin's poems especially standout
from those of other modern poets
because of her compact building of
metaphor upon metaphor. In "Sunset
House," "Pickled wainscot / makes a
mackerel sky, / and in places where
the paint / has buckled, the fish / is a
bird with its feathers / ruffled." These

multiple metaphors keep the image
turning and the reader's eye refocus-
ing on the object of the poem, recon-
sidering again and again the poetry
inherent in the world.
Zarin's poetry is intricate and com-
plex. The poems in "Fire Lyric" re-
veal deeper layers of meaning with
each reading, rewarding the perse-
verance of the reader with a poetry
that is at once artful and immediate,
universal and specific.
- Matt Thorburn
The Nitpicker's Guide
for Next Generation
Phil Farrand
There are books in the world that
are storehouses of knowledge abso-
lutely vital to certain individuals. Zeal-
ots have religous texts, English pro-
fessors have Shakespeare, and some
people may have this particular vol-
ume in their syllabus of required vol-
umes. However, there is something
fundamentally frightening about the
concept of such a person.
As you may have inferred from
the title, this volume is a magnum
opus on the minutiae for the first six
seasons of the television show "Star
Treki The Next Generation." It is not,
as some might expect, simply a col-
lection of story synopses that enter
into extremely minute detail. The syn
See BOOKS, Page 8

and cool, cocky demeinor, the bon-
vivant exploited his somewhat aver-
age looks for all they were worth.
Best known to younger audiences for
his show-stopping appearances in
"Trading Places" and "Cocoon,"
Ameche first achieved national noto-
riety with starring roles in such FDR-
era blockbusters as "The Story of
Alexander Graham Bell" and Ernst
Lubitsch's -not Warren Beatty's -
"Heaven Can Wait."
His career peaked in the late
1940's, and shortly thereafter
Ameche's star power began to dete-
riorate. Too old to be a leading man,
yet still too young to be an effective
grandfather, for the next thirty years
he appeared in only a handful of mo-
tion pictures, lowlighted in 1976 by
the disastrous cameo-heavy, canine
comedy "Won Ton Ton, The Dog
Who Saved Hollywood."
In 1983, Ameche's star took a
dramatic turn for the better when he

teamed up with Ralph Bellamy and
Eddie Murphy in the unforgettable
smash "Trading Places." His unscru-
pulous, bigoted Mortimer Duke -a
role that he reprised in 1988's "Com-
ing To America" - virtually re-de-
fined selfish senility.
Ameche's next role, in Ron
Howard's heart-warming drama "Co-
coon," garnered him an Oscar for
Best Supporting Actor. The picture
also starred such aging luminaries as
Jessica Tandy, Wilford Brimley,
Hume Cronyn and Maureen Stapleton,
and helped generate a new demo-
graphic group among movie-goers:
the elderly.
Since "Cocoon," Ameche has ap-
peared in eight films, the last of which
was "Folks!" with Tom Selleck, which
was, by all accounts, a disastrous flop.
Still, Ameche played his role as a
dying father sublimely.
Indeed, resilience was always kind
to Don.



Department of Recreational



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participate in the upcoming winter Term activities.
We hope that you have a enjoyable and safe holiday!H
For Additional Information Contact IMSB 763-3562

1511 Washtenaw, near Hill St.
Pastor Ed Krauss, 663-5560



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