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November 29, 1994 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-11-29

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'What Happened Was' the best film in five years

Clay Walker
If I Could Make a Living
O iant Records
Cheesy music is far from a lost art
in country music, but Clay Walker
has always had a talent for being
cheesy without laying it on too thick.
For a performer who has never been
in the spotlight, his albums are usu-
ally pretty solid, and "If I Could Make
a Living" is no exception.
The title track, co-written by Alan
.Iackson and currently high on the
charts, shows that Walker is already
"doing what he loves and loving what
he does." The rest of the album is a
good mix of meaningful sundown
music and more upbeat line dancing
A few of the tracks, including
"Heartache Highway," "My Heart
Will Never Know," and "You Make it
Look So Easy," are just old-fashioned,
broke-down twangers, but none of it
is that I'm-going-to-jump-off-my-
silo-now tripe that the oldsters whined
about, which is good.
Walker emerges as a talent in the
upbeat department with the light-
hearted "Melrose Avenue Cinema
Two", sure to make it on the charts
("Me and Betty saw our share of love
*cenes, even saw a couple on the
movie screen ...").
- Michelle Lee Thompson
Hildegard von Bingen
and Richard Souther
The story behind this recording is
s eerie as the music. Hildegard von
ginen was a 12th-century abbess
with visionary ideas, both politically
and musically. While she preached
about reforming the church, Hildegard
composed chants whose Latin texts
were worldly for the time. Hildegard
died in 1179, but her music did not
entirely disappear, nor did she. Three
nuns testified that they saw her spirit
moving around the cloister, chanting
Oome of her best compositions.
Eight hundred years later, Ameri-
can artist Richard Souther discovered
Hildegard's genius. Creatively and
artistically, he juxtaposed the 12th-
and 20th-century styles to produce
the recording "Vision."
Recorded in the crypt of a church,
"Vision" is haunting. The chants of
Hildegard are performed a cappella,
vhile Souther balances this with a
background of synthesized sounds.
The result is Medieval music you can
dance to. This collaboration between
two such different artists shows that
good music is timeless.
- Emily Lambert
Various Artists
Zero Patience Soundtrack
Je ro Patience Productions
"Zero Patience" is a powerful
musical about AIDS and its impact on
all facets of American society. Many
of this songs on this whopping 19-cut
soundtrack tug at your emotions un-
relentingly. The singing isn't always
the best, but the songs' message more
than makes up for the singers' lack of
vocal skills.
Songs like "Zero Patience," which
sums up the feelings of many about
our fight to destroy the AIDS virus,
and "Culture of Certainty," which

serves to remind us that no one -
absolutely no one - is immune, de-
serve to be heard again and again.
"Drowning Sailors' Theme" is a
beautiful, melodic interlude, during
which the listener feels compelled to
reflect upon what has been said in the
*D's other songs. "Pop-A-Boner," as
the name suggests, offers a relatively
funny reprise from the otherwise
deeply serious theme of this
The songs on this soundtrack, like
the musical itself, will bring tears to
your eyes, lamenting one of our most
hideous killers, not the AIDS virus
itself, but rather those who place
oney, "morality" and other baseless
ings above finding a cure for this
growing plague.

Here's a little story. What hap-
pened was a New York stage actor
wrote an unusual screenplay. He
passed it around for a while and fi-
nally found himself a buyer. The buyer

the date from hell and then the date
from heaven and then the date from
hell once again as the characters'
seemingly tightly-wound lives begin
to unravel, one strand at a time, before
each others' eyes.
The dissolution of their outer
shells, their identities, is done so taste-
fully and specifically, with such heart-
breakingly honest emotion from the
two principals as to render the film
simultaneously astonishing and
unwatchable. Rarely does modern-
day cinema risk the offering of such
an open book into the lives of real
people. Even more rarely is this pre-
sentation effective, either on a cathar-

tic level or as a means of providing
true insight.
As played by the always impres-
sive Karen Sillas ("Trust," "Simple
Men" and television's new "Under
Suspicion"), Jackie is sharp-edged,
yet glossy. She's a tough, brassy, in-
dependent New Yawwk gal who
knows the deal and takes no shit, but
likes to write children's stories on the
side. Simultaneously glamorous and
trashy, she is the perfect incendiary
for the more serious, repressed
Michael dropped out of law school
in his youth and has suffered the con-
sequences ever since. He does pen-

ance by perpetually taking notes on
the firm's actual lawyers, secretly
threatening to write an expos6 which
both he and the audience know will
never hit the page. As played by the
tall, gangly and oddly engaging Tom
Noonan, Michael towers over Jackie,
both physically and in his level of
emotional restraint. Yet, it is she who
is revealed as the more powerful of
the two, equally unsatisfied in her life
but more ready to make the necessary
changes to find some sort of personal
Stark, capacious and direct, the
film is at its best when caught up in
the spitfire, dialogue-laden action and

even better when reveling in the char-
acters' quieter, more pensive mo-
In attempting to create a simple, if
pained, love story, find of the year
Tom Noonan has managed to build
nothing less than a microcosm of the
feelings of disillusionment experi-
enced by a number of young adults
living today.
What happened was a New York
stage actor wrote an unusual screen-
play and turned it into an extraordi-
nary film.
at the Michigan Theater through

What Happened
Was ...
Directed by Tom
Noonan; with
Karen Sillas
and Tom Noonan.
sent the film to the Sundance Film
Festival where it won top prizes.
Within months, "the little indepen-
dent film that could" had opened na-
tionally. Within weeks, it was recog-
nized as one of the most poignant and
original films to grace the silver screen
in a good five years. Within days, it
will be gone.
"What Happened Was," the best
independent film of the year, features
no special effects, no star power and
no ego. Made on a small budget, the
film's central action takes place in
one very small New York apartment
over the course of two hours.
Jackie (Karen Sillas) and Michael
(Tom Noonan) are on their first date.
They decide to keep it casual and to
have dinner at Jackie's apartment.
They appear to be near strangers, yet
it is soon revealed that Jackie and
Michael work together in the same
law firm. Jackie is an executive legal
assistant, a.k.a. a secretary, and
Michael is just a few rungs up. While
they have been flirting for weeks, this
is the first time the two have met
socially and both are eager and anx-
ious to see the results.
What starts out as a congenial, if
nerve-wracking, meal soon becomes

"What Happened Was ..." is the premiere, must-see film of the past five years, and if you don't catch it now at the Mich

Culkin is the 'Pagemaster' of a belly flop

Shamefully released on the same
day as a CD-ROM computer game of
the same title, "The Pagemaster" un-
fortunately compels its elementary

Need we guess whether oi' Mac escapes from
book world triumphant, literate, and more daring
than before?

The Pagemaster
Directed by Maurice Hunt
and Joe Johnston; with
Macaulay Culkin and
Christopher Lloyd.
school audience to buy its video ver-
sion, rather than read books. This film
capitalizes on the recent successes of
animated motion pictures as well as
the Macaulay Culkin craze (which is,
thankfully, beginning to pass). Its pro-
ducers have developed a film com-
plete with live action, animation and
the little Mac attack, yet one entirely
devoid of any educational or dramatic
Culkin plays the obnoxious, stub-
born Richard Tyler with little affect
or presence. Through a strange turn of
events he encounters the Pagemaster
(Christopher Lloyd) - in other words,
the librarian from hell - when he
enters a creepy library that is more
reminiscent of the Bates Motel than
the New York Public branch.
In order for Richard to escape this
prison of books, he is, in a most
uninventive way, turned into a car-
toon and forced to face three "liter-
ary" challenges: fantasy, adventure
and horror. On his journey through
this mysterious book world, our timid,
wimpy Richard becomes a heroic
champion of such feats as battling
Moby Dick, outsmarting Dr. Jekyll
and escaping from Treasure Island.
But these mini adventures fail to
keep the attention of the viewer (at
least anyone above the age of five)
who may be compelled to catch up on

some sleep, or just depart from this
disappointing 75-minute flick. And
the weak, uninspired acting does-little
to compensate for what was clearly a
half-assed job of animation creation.
Faced with a rush to release this
film during the Christmas season, the
animators painted fuzzy, amateurish
pictures that fail to impress even the
most immature audience member.
These drawings feebly attempt to re-
semble the persona of such Holly-
wood veterans as Culkin, Whoopi
Goldberg and Leonard Nimoy - all
of whom donate their voices to their
personal cartoon figures. Thus, the
poor animation makes "The
Pagemaster" more recognizable as one
of those "Afterschool Specials" we
all used to love, as opposed to the
popular, more refined Disney ani-
mated classics.

Combined with a strong dose of
predictability - need we guess
whether ol' Mac escapes from book
world triumphant, literate, and more
daring than before? - and the fact
that many young children may also be
bored by the banal situations on
screen, this film is like a painful dive
into an empty swimming pool.
And the belly flop it resembles
causes little splash or sound to remind
us of what we just witnessed. In fact,
upon leaving this show, the film-goer
may have only one pressing question:
What will the exploitative Hollywood
producers do when our adorable
Macaulay Culkin goes through pu-
berty? That could certainly finish his
career. So how, then, will the Ameri-
can public best be able to celebrate?
HE PAGEMASTER is playing at
Briarwood and Showcase.


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Honey Brown and
Sierra ev
Live entertaiment
10 p.m.-12a.m. midnight

338 S. State

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