'Reality' doesn't bite
By CAMILO FONTECILLA
There is something curiously undefinable about the Generation we form a
part of. Sons and daughters of Post-mod, we have created a world in which
almost anything goes. Eclectic might be a good word to define the new breed
of 20-some year-olds, but then again, eclectic is hardly specific. And here
comes "Reality Bites," another cinematic attempt to pinpoint the focus of this
Lelaina Pierce (Winona Ryder) is a young college graduate who shares a
Houston apartment with fellow alumna Vickie (Janeane Garofalo). In moves
Troy (Ethan Hawke), penniless and
recently fired from his seventh job
(this time at a newsstand for stealing
Reality Bites a Snickers bar). Lelaina is immedi-
Written by Helen Childress; directed ately hostile, for Troy is evidently a
by Ben Stiller; with Winona Ryder, slacker and won't do much for the
Ethan Hawke, Ben Stiller household hygiene. "He'll turn this
place in to a den of slack," she says.
However, Lelaina meets Michael, a young executive at "In Your Face"
television, an MTV clone created for purposes of the movie. Their shared
affections for soda in a Big Gulp 32 ounce cup soon become physical;
amusingly, they never release the monstrous cups as they make out. Troy,
intensely intellectual but grossly egocentric, is disgusted by Michael's world
of artifice. So the film progressively evolves from a generational cry of
confusion to a slick and uninspired romantic triangle affair.
Much of the movie rotates around Lelaina' s efforts to create a documentary
feature, starring her friends and herself musing on a full range of topics
relevant to life in the '90s. Sammy (Steve Zahn), another college friend, shares
some moments just after having 'come out' to his mother, and Vickie
anxiously awaits the results of her HIV test. "I'm going to die," she says, "I'll
be like the AIDS character on Melrose Place."
Cultural (if they can be so called) references populate the film, and the
ludicrousness of the imagery adopted by our youth is one of the film's
strongest points. Vickie's Charlie's Angels lunch box, Michael's collector's
Planet of the Apes figurine, and many other commonplace curiosities bring the
film very much alive to the audience. Of course, the more one is keyed in to
this imagery the more enjoyment will be reaped.
In this sense, the movie truly belongs to all 20-somes. Our concerns and our
bizarre interests are genuinely reflected in it; it is truthful because both the
audienceand the filmmakers can laugh at them and still acknowledge their
importance in our daily lives. AIDS and the insecurity of the job market do
worry us, but it is telling to see the characters accept these worries and try to
make the best out of life as it is. This honesty shines through much of the
movie; the gang smokes pot in a very deliberately included scene, and yet
there's no moralizing! One could argue there's simply no point. Anyone who
understands will see there is.
But eventually this very engaging portrait of five young adults is pushed
(more like shoved) aside by the love story. The quirky character of Michael
suddenly becomes flat, thanks to some lines that conveniently frame him as a
mumbling jerk. Therefore, the sharp-tongued Troy has no competition, and the
rest of the film is a mere sitting around waiting for him to finally get together
with Lelaina. Unfortunately, Vickie and Sammy just disappear into oblivion,
and with them all the interesting dialogue.
If seeing Ethan Hawke do a cover of The Violent Femmes isn't enough
reason to see this, certainly the remarkable performance of this rapidly
maturing actor is. Winona savors well her leading role, and Stiller does good
job in front and in back of the camera. Other than those crowd-pleasing last 20
minutes, "Reality Bites" adopts quite a life of its own. One leaves the theater
wondering, as Troy does, why newspaper stands don't offer subsidized
employee snacking. Well, no one in the film ever gets any answers, but hey,
who cares? By now we and they have figured out that no one has any to offer
REALITYBITES is flaving at Showcase.
In a eniromenall-coscius omet, tevn Sagals atin isputto he estForunaely hi dirctig ailiy cmpesats i "O DedlyGrond.
By MICHAEL THOMPSON
Well, the results are in and the
news is staggering. Steven Seagal
can direct. Yes, it's a fact. Although
no one really knew or cared if he
could act, now all of us know that he
On Deadly Ground
Written by Ed Horowitz and Robin U.
Russin; directed by Steven Seagal;
with Steven Seagal, Michael Caine
and Joan Chen.
can direct and it is easy to be grateful.
"On Deadly Ground" is a simple
film about environmental problems,
Eskimos, big corporate bad guys,
violence and, of course, the toughest
son of a bitch in the galaxy. The film
starts off, interestingly enough, with
Seagal actually working for the bad
guys. He gets the job done and only
asks a few questions, which is good.
But, typically enough, one day he
asks a little too much so the bad guys
try to blow Steven up.
So begins a wonderful excuse for
Seagal to beat the living hell out of
everyone around. And we cheer. So
begins a not-so-wonderful excuse for
Seagal to have not one, but three
(three!) speeches about how the envi-
ronment is being destroyed. And we
sleep if we'relucky. Butmostly people
die in neat and funny ways, and the'
time speeds by quickly.
Seagal's acting ability is put to the
test when he delivers his long solilo-
quies and, as expected, he falls just
short of the mark. His bobbing head is
no help for the overwritten and over-
bearing statements he is trying to make
to the audience. But people sat there
quietly listening while secretly hop-
ing he would shut up and kill some-
And the killing is good. For as
silly and stupid as most Seagal films
are, there is no way to take his ability
away from him. Seagal knows his
stuff and finds fun ways to
strate. His disarming oner
rifle is a true joy, while his
steel pole to take out four gu
than a minute runs a close s
Michael Caine, who wi
anything, puts in a wonderft
mance as the bad guy. He's
evil, but never annoying. I
money and power and allt
stuff, but that's okay, becau
know what's going to happe
And we're glad when it hap
The directing, however, i
terpiece of the film. With S
hind the Wheel it would h
easy for him to put himse
master of the universe (See
William; "Star Trek V"),a
are a few moments where pe
and actgenuinely in aweofM
demon- But nothing ever goes on too long and
man of a we're never bored. And that's the key
use of a toagood action film. Thestory moves
ys in less quickly and a lot of exciting things
econd. happen. Seagal must have learned a
ill star in lot from director Andy Davis because
il perfor- "On Deadly Ground" provides action
typically and suspense for the most part.
He wants Although the film is not perfect.
the usual The last three minutes are sort of
ise we all ridiculous and the dream sequence
n to him. has a load of gratuitous nudity and
opens. little point. Somehow, however, it all
s the cen- works. Seagal has made an enjoyable
eagal be- film that ranks just above a guilty
ave been pleasure. It is good. A lot better than
If as god "Under Siege." "On Deadly Ground"
Shatner, is not a good way to waste time, it's a
and there good way to spend it.
ON DEADLY GROUND is playing
at Showcase and the State.
* MULTI COLOR SPECIALISTS
" ARTIST ON STAFF
* RUSH ORDERS
" NEAR U OF M CAMPUS
1217 PROSPECT, ANN ARBOR 665-1771
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How ironic. One of the best techno
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- Heather Phares
The ast Underneath
Big Deal Records
Newest among the cool female
rockers is 26-year-old Virginia native
Boo Trundle. Her debut album, "The
Vast Underneath," is largely acous-
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On the opening track, she implores
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Natalie Merchant's and Polly
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drawn between Boo and Merchant
and Harvey, especially in her willing-
ness to address issues in her songs.
"Lynched" is a paean to the violence
in director David Lynch's television
series "Twin Peaks": "So we see it on
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ther-daughter relationships; others
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Boo Trundle's voice is definitely
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enigma, Trundle's lovely voice and
musiceasily pull the listenerinto "The
- Heather Phares
* DO YOU NEED TO SUBLET YOUR."
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,.* _ _ a
~ PRE-MED ISSUES:
qetting ready, acing the MCg' AMCS, the
application, adnissions, & interviewing
V MEDICAL SCHOOL:
Overview & strategiesfor success!!!
Choosing the right speciaftyforyou!
TIME: Thursday, March. 3rd, 7pm!
Department of Recreational
RM. G-2310, Towsley Center
U of M Medical School