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April 18, 1995 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-04-18

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The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, April 18, 1995 - 11
'The Priest' is an illuminating film

By Joshua Rich
Daily Arts Writer
Abouthalfway into Antonia Bird's
105-minute drama "Priest," Father
Greg Pilkington breaks down.
Trapped in a life of faith, loyalty and
obedience to the Catholic church,
Father Greg finds himself amidst a
swirling maelstrom of controversy.
Directed by
Antonia Bird
with LinusRoache
and Tom Wilkinson
At the Michigan Theater
Ie yells at a crucifix on the wall of his
boarding house room, giving a heart-
wrenching monologue filled with
blasphemy, regret and tears. Father
Greg is in pain and no one, not even
Jesus Christ or the almighty God for
whom he lives, seems to be able to rid
him of his misery.
Such is the climactic scene in this
movie about a man sworn to a life of
elibacy and religious reverence who
has doubts not only about his profes-
sion but also about his own sexuality
and existence. Much in the mold of

other British flicks that are created by
and star veterans of the English stage
and television traditions, "Priest" is a
short and simple movie that is never-
theless thought-provoking, engaging
and erotic.
British stage and TV actor Linus
Roache plays Father Greg who is sent
to an impoverished parish in a blue-
collar neighborhood of Liverpool.
Upon his arrival, Greg gets immersed
in a series of personal and religious
problems which cause him to doubt
the policies of the church and his role
in it. He tends to offend the conserva-
tive members of his parish with lib-
eral and blunt sermons and he is fur-
ther startled to discover that his fel-
low priest and house mate, Father
Matthew (Tom Wilkinson), is having
an affair with their maid.
But Greg's major problems begin
when he receives the confession of a
14 year-old girl telling him of the
sexual and physical abuse which her
father inflicts upon her. Bound by his
oath of secrecy, Greg suffers, unable
to tell anyone of this horrible sin and,
more importantly, unable to help ease
the pain of the girl. As a priest Greg is
expected to help the suffering, but his
anger at the church flares up when he
is forced to keep such pain secret and
without cure.

Likening this girl's unhappy situ-
ation to his own, Greg is led to doubt
his role as a priest especially after he
finds himself in a gay bar and ulti-
mately in bed with another man with
whom he falls desperately in love.
Greg is a sinner and he is imprisoned
in a religious world where every ques-
tion should have an answer and every
affliction should have a cure. Yet he
is utterly unable to find any help for
his problems nor solace within the
church's cold walls.
Roache succeeds in his portrayal
of Father Greg by giving a perfor-
mance that is subtle and restrained yet
nevertheless enlightening. Forced to
be the symbol of faith and happiness
to all his struggling parishioners,
Roache maintains an external air of
gentility and holiness while he is vis-
ibly hurting and doubtful inside. His
presentation is thoroughly believable
and his daring to exhibit the most
explicit details of Greg's homosexual
lifestyle - in a world where such
behavior is still not accepted - is
highly commendable.
Also interesting is Wilkinson ("In
the Name of the Father") who ini-
tially presents Father Matthew as an
unfriendly and conservative clergy-
man, but who grows to become Greg's
greatest supporter and friend. He is an

'The Priest' is an emotional whirlwind.

occasionally amusing addition to a
film that undoubtedly weighs heavily
on the hearts of its audience.
Supported by Andy Roberts' strik-
ing musical score that combines new
age synthetic music with common
church themes, Bird's second feature
film (after 1994's "Safe") is a thought-
ful character study. It is a movie that

removes all barriers in its quest to
examine the complex situation of its
main character.
"Priest" remains entirely focused
on the troubles of Father Greg, thus
drawing the viewer into his tender heart
and soul. In the end we understand that
clergymen in the Catholic church are
neither shielded from ordinary human

problems nor separate from the rest of
society. They are truly ordinary people.
And whether or net we can directly
relate the life and problems of Father
Greg to our own, we are easily able to
understand and sympathize with him.
He is an honest man with real problems
and real concerns - an illuminating
mirror of ourselves.

Continued from page 10
Sybil Vane
Sybil Vane
island Records
It's not just the ill-advised mix of
metal, hip-hop and stories of emo-
tional trauma. It's not just the histri-
onic yowling of "singer" April


mirror of ourselves.

Devereaux. It's not even the illustra-
tions inside the jewel case of jesters
having sex. No, the horror known as
Sybil Vane (and their equally horrid
debut album) is more than the sum of
its parts. While the album opener,
"Pixy," has a certain rolling majesty,
the vast majority of the album is a
droning, crushing slog through tales
of degradation and abuse (though the
abuse heaped on the listener's ears is

even more heinous). Titles like "Dis-
torting Angels" and "Whips And Lol-
lipops" do nothing to alleviate the
image of Sybil Vane as a group des-
perately trying to appear hard-bitten,
world-weary and yes, even alterna-
tive. Yikes! Not since 4 Non Blondes
has their been a band so thoroughly
untalented and unappealing. Listen-
ing to this album is a venture com-
pletely in Vane.
- Heather Phares
BMX Bandits
Life Goes On
Creation Records
Imagine a wimpy Teenage
Fanclub. Now say the words "BMX
Bandits." The words wimpy and Teen-
age Fanclub seem incompatible don't
they? But BMX Bandits acoustic-pop
nature makes the paradox real. Their
easy-listening sound, particularly on
songs such as "Space Girl" and "Cats
and Dogs" will stir you to recollect
AM radio days and its hot properties
like Air Supply and Abba.
Not that AM radio isn't any less
welcome in my household than FM
and its bloated and burdensome rock-
strutting-across-my-face with Led
Zeppelin and the Stone Temple Pi-

lots, but BMX Bandits is limp regard-
less of its light weight. A mellow,
acoustic art-pop band can punch all
the right nerves. It's just not this band.
- Matt Carlson
Paul Geremia
Self Portrait in Blues
Red House
Paul Geremia can play a hell of a
guitar, fingerpicking his way through
fourteen country-blues numbers on
his latest, "Self Portrait in Blue." His
work is sharply reminiscent of such
greats as Blind Willie McTell" and, in
fact, "Kick it in the Country" feels
like a lost McTell track. By the time
he gets around to "Drive Away Blues,"
written by Willie, the comparison is
unavoidable-and that's most defi-
nitely not a bad thing. In addition to
being one of the finest in his area of
guitar, Geremia has a fairly convinc-
ing voice and can take a decent turn
on piano as well. Howard Armstrong
offers excellent fiddle and mandolin
support while Rory McLeod throws
in a bit of fine upright bass here and
there. Acoustic country-blues may not
be the widest field anymore but
Geremia goes a long way towards
proving that it ain't dead, either. He

appears at the Ark on April 20th.
Consider yourself warned and the
show recommended.
- Dirk Schulze
24-7 Spyz
Temporarily Disconnected
This is the band that once pro-
claimed "We're 24-7 Spyz ... who
the fuck are you?" loudly and proudly.
That was 1988, the album was "Harder
Than You" and its mesh of crunching
metal, funk rhythms, clever hip-hop,
occasional polka forays and a cover
of Kool and the Gang made it a mini-
After a so-so follow-up, a lineup
change, two more so-so follow-ups
and a hiatus the original members are
back in their old form, except that
vocalist Peter Fluid now goes by the
name "Forrest." Shades of Gump? I
don't know, but it's nice to have him
back; the man has a great voice.
The trademarks are there, but un-
fortunately the wackiness is gone.
Too much time is spent on riffs that
crunch but don't inspire spastic acts
of violent pogoing. Some of the soul
is there but not overly so, making

"Temporarily Disconnected" far from
the Parliament-Hendrix crossover
guitarist Jimi Hazel's name suggests.
Not bad, not great. Still, I'd kill to
see them live.
-Kirk Miller
Ganksta C
Profile Records
Profile Records has given Craig Mac-
lookalike, Ganksta C, his chance to fulfill
his dreams of becoming a big-time rapper.
Hill 11-cut debut release follows a very
simple mathematical formula: Ganksta
C's Dream = rap lover's nightmare.
Using a variety of background beats
that sound like "Murder Was the Case"
rejects, Ganksta C swoops down like a
nasty, greasy harpy upon your unsuspect-
ing ears and spews into them the auditory
equivalent of cow dung in the form of
"songs" like "Big Balls, "3 Wheel Mo-
tion" and "Dank Got Me Skitsin'."
It's interesting that Ganksta C would
begin his credits with "First of all I wanna
thankGodforgivin'meatalent."I wishhe
would take the time to figure out what that
talent is, use it and leave rapping to those
for whom it is a talent.
- Eugene Bowen
See RECORDS,page 12

Too bad Sybil Vane doesn't sound as good as they look.

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