The Michigan Daily - Monday, October 17, 1994 - 7
entertain, looks pretty
By SARAH STEWART
"Where the Rivers Flow North"
celebrates the beauty of film, but is
likely to go unappreciated by those
ho judge movies by entertainment
"Rivers," directorJay Craven's first
Directed by Jay Craven
with Rip Torn,
oo Tantoo Cardinal
and Michael J. Fox.
full-length film, is based upon the novel
by Howard Mosher. It chronicles Noel
Lord's (Rip Torn) struggle to hold onto
:his Vermont land and the livelihood in
djeda oil that is attached to it.
Lord, along with his housekeeper
.ind close companion, Bangor (Tantoo
Cardinal), is being forced to give up his
land to make room for the hydroelec-
tric dam that will ultimately put their
cabin under fifty feet of water. He
repeatedly refuses the offers of finan-
cial compensation, settling for a new
plot of land housing thousand-year-old
pines that Lord sees as the means for a
new start in Oregon. Yet, as Bangor
prophesies, his dreams are never real-
Craven capitalizes on his viewers'
sensitivity to environmental issues by
using it to draw them into Lord's battle
against the destructive power of
progress. As the film itself progresses,
the audience is too committed to Lord's
plight to be turned off by his own
destruction of the pines -- the focal
point of the park to be built by the
builders of the dam.
"Rivers" is an unusual film because
while it never makes you anxious to
know what's next, it can't be called
boring. And while you're never emo-
tionally moved by Lord's hardships,
the injustice done to him seems tragic
and unreasonable enough to warrant a
Because the film's action is about
as slow-paced as the calm river it re-
volves around, "Rivers" has time to
show off the Vermont scenery. Lord
and Bangor's rustic cabin says some-
thing for roughing it, as do the bursts of
Evidently, Rip Torn (righ t) thought he was in Wes Craven's film-, notays
fall colors that compose their neigh-
borly mountains across the river. Cra-
ven avoids the trap of glorification by
avoiding the dramatic music and cam-
era angles that would imply that such
natural beauty can be improved upon.
It is in part this beauty that allows
the viewer to sympathize with Lord's
battle against progress, but more im-
portantly, itis the flawless performances
of Torn and Cardinal. Torn - whose
character risks becoming the stereo-
typical righteous mountain man-cre-
ates a feeling of serenity as he is being
bathed by Bangor or reminding her to
hold the saw level as they take on the
Cardinal, with her ragged clothing,
worn face and references to herself as
"she" and Lord as "mister," at first
seems a caricature. However, she
quickly turns her awkward dialogue
into the believable, but never followed,
voice of reason that contrasts Lord's
Craven has an understanding for
the intricacies of film. Everything about
"Rivers" flows; the conflict doesn't
outweigh the characters, the actors don't
overplay the characters and the setting
serves to illuminate the conflict.
Nonetheless, it's not a movie most
people will have fun watching.
WHERE THE RIVERS FLOW
NORTH is playing at the Michigan
By SARAH STEWART and whoop and holler in praise of a
The University Club stage, if you successful scene. Since there was never
want to call it a stage, consists of noth- enough time to brood over the unsuc-
ing more than a bunch of rickety plat- cessful, the audience looked forward to
forms shoved as closely together as the.promise of the next scene.
possible. It'snothing fancy, butitserves Highlights of the night included a
its purpose; it has a lot in common with spoof on "The Real World," sparked
the newly formed improvisational com- by an audience member's suggested
edy troupe, "Without a Net." setting of San Francisco. Hobey Echlin,
With nothing morethan afewchairs, named to the character of Puck by his
a well-prepared order of events and a scene partner, Bob Gilliam, pushed his
talented cast, last Thursday night at the ear up to a make-believe booth during
U Club, "Without a Net" proved that Gilliam's confessional, and Joe Lacey
comedy done right can take any form. made a guest appearance as Pedro,
Plunging the audience into the fun nailing the Hispanic accent of the
and laughs that were to characterize the show's token homosexual. Without
show, they took the stage singing a prior knowledge of the MTV series, the
doctored version of "The Facts of Life" references might have gone over some
theme-song. "You tell a joke, you do a heads, but as long as a neighbor could
gag, you make them laugh, and there provide an update, the scene was ap-
you have, 'Without A Net."' preciated for its sincere hilarity.
The melodic introduction was the In another scene, called the "diary
only planned skit of the night. From game," an audience member was sum-
then on, "Without A Net" used a series moned to the stage to tell "Without A
of improv "games," based mainly on Net" and everyone else that he had
audience suggestions of places and locked his keys in his car that very day.
character traits, to set up the scenes that From this basic scenario, Evan Makela
unraveled on the spot. created the diary-like narrative that had
The cast demonstrated surprising the rest of the cast acting outaday in the
confidence in handling their audience, life of Spencer. He drove a snazzy new
as their hyper enthusiasm encouraged electric car, he picked up some hot
the audience to boldly yell suggestions babes and his boss forgave him for
skipping work because he was a "nice,
say you don't! !" was one of the hippie kind o' guy."
evening's ample highlights. Three new While their debut performance can
songs, including one Love co-wrote be called a success, it left "Without A
with her late husband, showed that she Net" room to improve in their upcom-
is growing rapidly as a songwriter, able ing shows. Some of the scenes ran too
to express and include an increasing long, either because the actors intro-
palette of emotions in her work. duced something new near what should
But perhaps the best moments of have been the end of the scene or the
the concert were saved for last. After casebers ofte wee o he
vowing ntt upit h rw n cast members off-stage were too hesi-
voignot to jump into the crowd and font to yell "Scene!" and end it.
surf as she had at other shows, during Nonetheless, if the audience's re-
the finale, "Rock Star," Love scanned Nntees fteadec' e
the crowd and dove in, surfed for a sponse is any indication, flaws in the
he rodand einurfed orphayperformance were minor and never in-
while and then returned triumphantly terfered with the light-hearted fun. Not
to the stage. Then, her mood changing
fromjubilant to petulant, she raised her one scene went without a laugh and
guitar and said, "This is for that almost nobody was able to overcome
motherfucker" (Kurt Cobain, duh) and the curse of the perpetual grin.
trashed the set. An evening with some WITHOUT A NETpeforms every
miracles, somemayhem, andmore than Thursday at10p.m. at the U Club.
a little magic. Admission is $3; cash or entree plus.
Continued from page 5
World!"') ensued, which is exactly the
appeal of Courtney Love; her quicksil-
ver mood changes and general
unpredictability make for fascinating,
if uncomfortable viewing.
Oh yeah, the songs were really good
too. The band opened with the immedi-
ately arresting howler "Plump." Nearly
all of "Live Through This" (and a few
from the band's first album "Pretty on
the Inside") was played, including the
singalong "Miss World," the current
single "Violet" and others like "I Think
That I Would Die" and "She Walks On
Me." A shambolic cover of Duran
Duran's "classic" "Hungry Like The
Wolf," after which Love said, "You all
have that fuckin' record! Don't lie and
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