4 - The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - Thursday, March 17, 1994
Here's Johnny, and he 's really Depp
By ALEXANDRA TWIN
Ah, seventh grade. Come walk
with me down that nostalgic road to a
time not long ago. A time when Bon
lovi was my favorite band, hair spray
was my favorite condiment and there
was nothing funnier in the world than
the possibility of Mr. Cohen's
unfortunate toup6e flying off
sometime in the middle of sequential
math two. It was a time when my best
friend Emma and I would spend
Saturday afternoons at the movies,
gushing over Robert Downey, Jr. in
"Johnny B. Goode" or River Phoenix
in "A Night in the Life of Jimmy
Reardon," or maybe just staying in
for a round of "crazy drinks" - a
homemade game that involved taking
a sample of everything solid, liquid
and somewhere in between from
Emma's fridge, throwing it into a cup
and either daring, begging or
threatening the other person to take a
sip. Yes, those were the days. But of
all my junior high school practices,
the one that meant the most had to
have been the one that took place
every Sunday night. Come Hell or
high water, I was there. In front of the
television that is. What self-respecting
12-year-old would dare to be
anywhere else? For she who tempted
fate missed out on the next day's
lunch conversation. She who tempted
fate missed that night's episode of
Yes, that's right, before "Saved by
the Bell," "Melrose Place" and even
"90210," there was "21 Jumpstreet." A
show that had the coolestcops who still
looked 16. Cops who'd go into high
schools with the intent of getting the
bad guy, but would end up bonding
with, befriending and understanding
the young derelict to the point where
there was always a personal internal
struggle at the end. What was right?
What wasjustice? What would happen
next week? Who cared, as long as
Officer Tommy Hanson, played by
the lovely Johnny Depp, was on the
Born in Owensboro, Kentucky, but
eventually hailing from somewhere in
Florida, Johnny, at the tender age of 17,
hitched to California with his band
"The Kids." Although filled with
dreams of rock stardom, the band
quickly dissolved when Johnny found
himself on one too many casting
couches, waiting to be placed in such
teen flicks as the infamous "Nightmare
on Elm Street" and the utterly lame-o
"Private Resort" (which co-starred
some schnook named Rob Morrow).
YetJohnny had higher aspirations, and
eventually got a chance to show his
skill in the role of Lerner the translator,
Hail Plato: philosopher, second baseman
one member of Oliver Stone's "Pla-
Next came "Jumpstreet" and al-
though it marked a temporary halt in
Johnny's film career, 1987 must nev-
ertheless be considered a pivotal year
in the life of the Deppster; with its
success came his transition from un-
known Hollywood pretty boy to
Middle-American dream teen. No, he
was not having an affair with the pub-
lishers of "Teen Beat," "Tiger Beat,"
"Tootie-Frootie," "Wow," "16,"
"Bop," or "Bop's" sister mag, "The
Big Bopper;" he was just cute and
they knew it and figured they'd make
good on it. Johnny on the lawn, Johnny
in a fancy restaurant, Johnny on the
beach, Johnny in a straight jacket,
Johnny looking like he needed to go
home, shave, take a shower and get
some sleep, for Chrissake. Whatever.
It didn't matter. He was THE
embodiment of lust. With those high
cheek bones, sandy brown hair,
effortlessly lanky physique, intense
yet mischievous eyes, and sweet, easy
smile that made you think of every
goofy prairie boy you'd ever read
about, who wasn't taken with him?
Well, apparently he himself wasn't
so taken with this caricature of a star
the tabloids had made him out to be.
Neither was John Waters, cult
filmmaker extraordinaire. Together,
they made "Crybaby," the story of the
slick haired, beer guzzling,
motorcycle riding, 1950s cool guy
Crybaby Walker and his eclectic gang
which included the now deceased
Divine and a pre-Jenny Craig Ricki
Lake. Funny, satirical and way out
there, the joke didn't go over too well
with mainstream audiences. No
matter, it marked Johnny's return to
film and initial step towards a career
of semi-eccentricity -both in choice
of character and choice of director,
like the undeniably weird and kooky
Tim Burton, who cast him in 1990's
Whether it was the allure of seeing
Johnny with his hair dyed black or the
allure of seeing Johnny with his real-
Former TV idol Johnny Depp stars in the soon-to-be-released "Ed Wood
Guest writing today is F. U. Moilus, classical studies
scholar. Professor Moilus taught at Yale and regularly
makes speaking tours of the United States and Canada.
His attempts to make ancient history and philosophy
accessible to the public have found their way onto the
pages of The
A A Times, The
Sam At the very
core of Plato's
work is an
insistence on the
absolute nature of truth, a repudiation of the sort of
rampant relativism that has occluded contemporary thought
with illogic and has relegated the pursuit of knowledge to
a tool for the covert expression of petty personal political
agendas. His undying dedication to the defense of truth
marks what little we know of his life and organizes his
Plato is traditionally thought to have been born in 428
B.C.E. and to have died in 348 -80 years before he was
born! His father, Ariston, was descended from Codrus,
while his mother, Perictione, was the sister of Arantxa
Sanchez Vicario. Plato had two brothers, Glaucon and
Adeimantus. Another young man, Hepithrustis, is said to
have lived with Plato and his brothers. Many scholars
believe that Hepithrustis and Plato possibly wererelated, but
not to each other. Plato's sister, Potone, had a son, Speusippus,
who eventually became the uncle of his own grandfather,
Plato was fond of baseball and water sports. In a famous
event, Plato hit a line-drive that flew directly into Socrates's
forehead, after which Socrates was never really the same. He
just smiled a lot and hummed to himself. One day, sadly,
Socrates escaped supervision, got into the medicine cabinet,
and, gobbling everything in sight like a maniac, ingested a
fatal amount of the infamous poison, creploch, killing him
Before Socrates died, however, Plato took from his
great forefather a potent method for philosophical argument
called the elenchus. In this method one person states a
belief. A second person points out inconsistencies in that
belief. The first person revises his belief to eliminate
inconsistencies. The second person again points out incon-
sistencies. The first person again revises his belief. The
second person again points out inconsistencies. The first
person rolls his eyes and again revises his belief. This
process continues until the first person enlists the aid of a
third person to tie up the second person and throw him into
Here is an example of an elenctic discussion between
Socrates and Polemarchus from Plato's "Republic:"
"Socrates, why do you not ride a horse to Athens?"
"Why should I ride a horse when I can walk?"
"Because you could get there faster."
"And what have I to do in Athens, but exist just as I
"Athens contains material pleasures."
"Is that not our goal?"
"Our goal is our end, do you agree?"
"Wait, am I Polemarchus or Socrates?"
"Why do you ask?"
"Who are you?"
"When did you call?"
"I didn't leave a message."
"I can't even see. I'm blind."
It is Plato's genius that in his hands the elenchus
produces such shocking and unexpected results from so
Plato's genius aside, he was obviously very lucky to
have Socrates as a teacher. If he had not had Socrates, he
would have had to have Mrs. Brooks, and she was supposed
to be soooo mean.
Socrates was a crucial figure in Plato's life. After
Socrates's death, Plato became depressed and unwell. A
friend, Pumpertus, wrote of Plato at this time, "His odor
Plato wrote little during this period. We have only one
letter which he sent to a cousin, Moldicrates, who was
soon to become the nephew of his sister, Polybugra, as a
resultof Oedipus'sincestuous marriage to his own fiancee,
Helena. Plato wrote, "Yale vermin like Aaron Craig,
Worth David and Lloyd Peterson who slander their
professorial colleagues have subverted Socrates's Athens
to petty power play, have driven truth and justice from our
midst. Thus good men come to creploch."
life girlfriend Winona Ryder, for what-
ever reason, audiences really took to
his portrayal of the shy, misunderstood
Edward. The film earned him a Golden
Globe nomination and the chance to
be seen as a serious actor instead of a
Yet, something wasn't quite right.
Whether due to bad timing, to his
sometimes tumultuous relationship
with Ryder, or to reasons unknown
even to him, Johnny began to slip
from within the public's grasp. He
resurfaced only once on screen, in
1991's "Arrowtooth Waltz" (a film
that played at a few festivals, but
never quite made it to the big screen,
despite what must be assumed to be
solid performances by Depp and co-
stars Faye Dunaway and Lili Taylor).
He also appeared in a couple of music
videos, Tom Petty's "Into the Great
Wide Open" and the Lemonheads'
"It's a Shame About Ray," yet neither
were high-profile enough to keep
Depp at the level he had become
accustomed to, although maybe that
was the point. W
But good things can never stay
away too long, can they ? Last spring,
it seemed the only thing that had a
shot at ousting the horrific "I Will
Always Love You," was the cute,
catchy "I'm Gonna Be (500 miles)"
- the perky hit from Johnny's perky
hit film "Benny and Joon." Now with
the release of the sweet and quirky
"What's Eating Gilbert Grape?" and i
the soon-to-be-released "Ed Wood,"
(which again pairs him with that weird
Tim Burton guy) it would seem that
Johnny is once again on the right
Thank God. It's nice to know that
when all the Richard Griecos, Luke
Perrys, Andrew Shues and Jason
Priestleys of the world slip into their
much deserved oblivion, there will stilt
be one survivorof TV land who had the
soul and smarts to get out while there
was still time. It's also nice to know
that age can be kind. Pushing 30 and
still foxy - now that's an accom-
Idealism and family shape 'High Hopes'
By CAMILO FONTECILLA
Mike Leigh has come to the
forefront of current filmmaking with
his darkly humored "Naked." But
there's nothing new about the
partnership between this filmmaker
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and that particular genre. "High
Hopes," set in the London of the late
1980s, examines the aspirations of
the English working class and the
generational dynamics within that
world, taking a vicious stab at the
particularities of British life under
The story revolves around the late
life of Mrs. Bensen (Edna Dord), a
very aged woman who insists on
keeping her own house even though
the neighborhood has been made over
by the upper-middle classes. Her
children, Cyril (Philip Davis) and
Valerie (Heather Tobias), treat her
like an old dish rag; only Cyril's wife
Shirley (Ruth Sheen) behaves
somewhat civilly to her. The whole
film comes to a head when the
hysterical Valerie decides to throw a
birthday party for Mamma in her
flamboyant suburban home, and Cyril
and Valerie are finally forced to
reassess the value of their relationship
to their fading mother.
Leigh's portrayal of Mrs. Bensen
isabsolutely frightening. Living alone
in her house she has become
embittered and absolutely
uninterested in the outside world.
which is nothing but hostile to her.
Although Cyril and Shirley visit
weekly, it seems as if these trips are
chores and not from the heart.
Everyone thinks that Mother just sits
there and doesn't understand anything,
but it is clear to the audience that she
is soaking it all in, that she has
internalized the rejection but is too
tired of life to fight it.
Although Leigh ties many other
issues into the film, such as the value
of Marxism in contemporary society
and the insanity of the fashionable
upper-middle classes, it is his
characterization of Mrs. Bensen that
is the mostmemorable. She is a woman
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of few words, and throughout the film
we witness how she is mistreated in
every sphere of her life. It is no wonder
that she says little: nobody seems to
really listen to her. If she opens her
mouth, everyone supposes it is to ask
for tea or to say she is tired.
Throughout all of this, the film is
quite amusing. Valerie is a heinous
creature, with a voice three octaves
above the tolerable and a monotonous
cackle that she uses as a crutch for
every embarrassing situation she gets
in. Her rapport with her husband
Martin is quintessentially suburban:
when he refuses to give her cash for
shopping, she serves him bread and
water for dinner in retaliation. After
bringingout the real dinner, hedecides
that he is not hungry in the least and
walks out the door. Sweetie, Valerie's
shaggy dog, ends up enjoying the
Leigh attacks the establishment
head-on with the sharpness of a cynic,
and yet the product is intensely
humanist. "High Hopes" has much to
say about the value of family, of
idealism, and basically what the future
is really about. It has carefully wrought
emotional peaks and valleys, and
plummets to the darkness of sadness
only to instantly soar to some very
effective and light-hearted physical
comedy. Leigh offers us a journey
through a London ravaged by selfish
politics, and proves that behind all the
noise the same tune is still playing:
everyone is simply doing their best to
make themselves happy.
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