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January 27, 1994 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-01-27

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The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - Thursday, January 27, 1994 - 3

'Brother' keeps
It is a murder mystery. It is a tale of the little man
ghting the system. It is a tragic, ironic slice of life story.
is a tense courtroom drama. "Brother's Keeper" is each
of these things
and it is also a
O documentary.
it is the D-word
which kept audi-
ences away.
r Too CHEAP FOR Documentaries to
THE MOVIES most people are
forever linked
with the horror of
experiencing the filmstrips Mr. Rathbun (or whoever your
ninth grade world history teacher was) showed you on
Gothic and Romanesque architecture, flying buttresses
and the like. "Brother's Keeper" is no typical documen-
tary. It is simply one of the finest films released last year.
The Ward brothers - William, Roscoe, Lyman and
Delbert-are farmers in the dairy community ofMunsville,
New York. No one pays them much attention until Will-
' m'is found dead one morning in the bed he shared with
elbert. William had been sick and suffering for an
extended period of time. Delbert is accused of second-
degree murder.
: Simple as the plot seems -just another whodunit or
possibly a morality play on euthanasia- the skeletal facts
of the case and the film are compounded by the extraordi-
nary circumstances in which the four brothers work and
live, assuring that this picture will transcend all conven-
tions and surpass all expectations.
The Ward boys live in a desolate, two-bed home that
*eems abandoned. They use no modern farming equip-
ment. They are illiterate. They are elderly. The brothers
shared beds because they had no central heat. They are
forgotten artifacts of a forgotten era. (They do, however,
have a television and "Wheel of Fortune" and "Matlock"
are a couple of Delbert's favorites). The film bluntly
comments that they "live like animals." This is the essence
of the film: a true story about the consequences of moder-
"Brother's Keeper" is proof that prejudice is not re-
stricted to the arenas of race, gender or religion. Age,

power on video
education and geography can be factors for discrimination
and the consequences can be painful and severe. Delbert's
rustic lifestyle and lack of education (by all accounts he
did not know what he had done when waiving his rights
and may not have known what it meant when he signed a
confession) is as dangerous to the suits of the district
attorney's office as the crime he is accused of committing.
The film, directed by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky,
is a brilliant example of the power of simplicity. Berlinger
and Sinofsky simply let the camera roll; the polarity of
emotions the Ward boys display provide enough drama
and irony to more than appease an audience. The docu-
mentary style is in fact the only way this story could be
told. The lack of style and matter-of-fact attitude of the
film's shooting is the only technique truly representative
the Wards' life and town. The hand-held camera intimi-
dates Lyman Ward; How would he respond to a dolly or
crane? No. That would fit neither the Wards, nor their
The documentary style also serves as an effective
dramatic effect. This is real life. There will be no Holly-
wood ending. You cannot assume an acquittal because
Delbert is the protagonist. It cannot even be assumed that
he is innocent. The viewer is not privy to such informa-
tion. Hell, Delbert himself may not know. This formula
breeds a greater suspense than all of the Hollywood
courtroom dramas in the world ever have.
The Ward boys are certainly, and deservedly, the
centerpiece of the film. Yet, Berlinger and Sinofsky's
camera roams through Munsville and the DA's office with
the objectivity a documentary should embrace even fur-
ther compounding "Brother's Keeper"'s validity as an
engaging work.
Despite the Wards' reluctance to embrace modernity.
they are not stubborn or bitter. They simply live life the
way they always have. These are hard-working people,
people who have lived happily outside of the system all
their lives only to have it turn around and bite them on the
ass at their most disheartening moment - the death of
their brother.
Thank God it is a documentary; it couldn't be imag-
ined any other way. It's only a shame that the secret to its
power is also the assurance of its obscurity.
BROTHER'S KEEPER is available at Liberty Street
and Campus Video.

David Broza's puppy-dog eyes may hide his passionate musical style, but it won't be hidden at the Folk Festival.
Bro sfolkfpassion

Issues make for must-see films

With the recent influx of Holly-
wood "message" movies, one is left
to wonder how viewers are respond-
ing to this cram-it-down-your-throat
method of entertainment. "Schindler's

List" and "Philadelphia" have left
audiences with so much food for
thought that we need to go on diets
and start doing our "Buns of Steel"
workout tapes.
This is not to say, however, that
we, the viewers, should not have in-
dulged in this filmic feast; everyone
is entitled to splurge once in awhile.
But after seeing both of these films, I
am;left wondering if people are see-
in; them because they are concerned
about these issues and want to know
*ow they are portrayed or if they just
want to be able to have a conversation
with their hip neighbors. Are these
"think" movies actually about think-
ing or about being in the "in" movie-
watcher crowd?
There is definitely a mass appeal
in, these less-than-pleasant-to-watch
movies. All over campus I have heard
people talking about the social and
emotional impact of these films.
People who haven't yet shelled out
their six bucks to watch these movies
are quick to assure me that they will
be trekking to the theater right away.
It's as if they fear being looked down
ipon because they didn't see the films
on opening night.
This is not all together unwar-
ranted. It is essential that you catch
these films if you call yourself a con-
scientious person. But this often

feigned sense of high culture that many
viewers are professing borders on the
Sure we could talk about the style
in which the films were shot or which
scene was staged with the greatest
finesse, but none of that really seems
to matter when you look at the mes-
sage being presented. What is impor-
tant is that the Holocaust and AIDS,
subjects which have long been taboo
in Hollywood, are finally being por-
trayed in the mainstream. And in-
stead of being low-budget "art films,"
as has been the case with these topics
in the past, they are big-budget film
As someone who holds a passion
for the issues surrounding both the
Holocaust and AIDS, all I can say is a
resounding "It's about time." It's
about time that Hollywood has
grappled with these issues on such a
grand scale. It's about time that people
are flocking to the theaters to spend a
few hours thinking about issues which
they usually try to ignore. It's about
time that the actors and directors in-
volved in these projects are getting

the recognition they deserve.
Now, I don't believe that these
films will make everyone conform to
one way of thinking on these issues.
Homophobics who think AIDS is a
gift from God will not change their
minds all of a sudden. Holocaust revi-
sionists are not likely to start believ-
ing that all these atrocities actually
took place. But with any luck, debate
will be sparked and some people will
change their minds. At the very least
they will have thought about it, even
if only for a couple of hours.
Since seeing these films I have
been haunted by horrible images that
pop up when I least expect them. It
isn't pleasant but with every image I
remember, I learn a little more. And
no matter what your stance on either
issue, you will definitely learn from
these films.
So, if you're only going to see
these films because it's trendy, I guess
at least you're going to see them. But,
you should see them because they are
thought provoking and will have an
impact on your life. It's not just that
you should see them, you MUST.

Born in Israel, raised in Spain,
educated in Israel and now living in
New York, David Broza can draw
upon a wealth of cultural influences
forhis own music. Given itall though,
he still considers himself a rock 'n'
roll musician. "My music is based on
things that inspired me as I grew up as
well as on the real folk music around
me," he said in a recent phone inter-
view. Although his instrument of
choice is an acoustic guitar, he is not
limited to a folk-based style. "It's a
blend of things, but the driving beat is
After six albums released to great
popular approval in Israel, Broza de-
cided to move on. Nine years ago, he
moved to the United States to start
essentially from scratch. Although he
has not enjoyed the same overwhelm-
ing success in America, the U.S. audi-
ences he has reached have beenjust as
receptive. "Once I'm out there on
stage, I get a similar response," he
said. "In Israel I played for years,
playing clubs and then small theaters
and then the larger ones. It was a
matter of time before I caught on.
Now I'm pursuing my career in the
United States."
Cultural boundaries do not pose
much of a threat to Broza. "People's
feelings are basic and common around
the world and I feel I can connect with

them," he said.
On his latest album, "Time of
Trains," Broza has once again set the
poems and words of others to music,
including Indiana-based poet Mat-
thew Graham.
While his first two Israeli albums
featured some of his own lyrics, he
has since decided to stick to writing
melodies and performing them with
This very passion distinguishes
Broza from his peers. He is no Sinatra-
esque crooner; he wails and roars and
expresses himself with far too much
power and fury to be pigeonholed as
another mellow singer/songwriter.
The combination of his searing vo-
cals-ranging from tender and sooth-
ing to gruff and angry - and almost-
brutal guitar work is an inspiring mix
indeed. He does not simply strum his
guitar passively. Instead, he beats it,
tears at it, picks it and forces out
sounds charged with enough emotion
to match his vocals.
The inspired spirit of his live per-
formances is captured on "Time of
Trains." "The entire album was re-
corded in first takes," he said. "It's a
live recording without an audience."
Broza'slatestreverberates not only
with a relentless energy, but with the
very spirit of America and American
music as well. Whether through the
bittersweet "Somebody Make Me

Laugh" or "Time Can Turn On You,"
Broza makes it clear that he is on an
intense search for something just out
of his grasp - a certain spirit, a
certain soul that might lurk some-
where beneath the surface of this land.
On "The Change" he sings "Been to
channelers, churches, brothels and
bars / Spoke to drunkards, hookers
and priests ... Consulted the stars ...
And tonight, only she could be setting
my Southern soul free."
Throughout "Time of Trains" there
is never a sense that the tracks are
merely poems with musical back-
drops. Broza has managed to write a
song for each one of the poems; it is a
testament to his considerable talent
that it comes off as naturally as if he
had penned every lyric himself along
with the music. Since moving to the
United States, he has taught Univer-
sity workshops on setting poetry to
Though he often finds himself la-
beled as a folk musician, he does not
consider himself such. He does not
relate to the mountains and rural set-
tings that have given birth to most
folk music. "I'm an urban musician,"
he said. "I have a problem being pi-
geonholed into folk because of the
certain energy level in my music. I
think that if Woody Guthrie was still
around today, he would be into rock
'n' roll."

Er ~II

musicologist and film historian at the Library of Congress
"Lillian on the Rocks or Ice in the Proper Position:
Music and Image in D.W. Griffith's Way Down Easf'
Friday, 28 January 1994
11:00 am; 2520 Frieze Building
On Sunday, 30 January at 7:00 pm we will present the silent film
classic, Way Down East, with Ms. Anderson conducting a full
symphony orchestra playing the film's original score. Tickets are
available at the Michigan Theater's box office.

$100.00-$79.00 UP TO
50% OFF



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