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January 24, 1995 - Image 8

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-01-24

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

- .~.-. ~ -7 ~-*.-~-*~.~J I 7

Newman is 'Nobody 's Fool'

By JOSHUA RICH
"I'm back!"
With those words, Paul Newman
ended "The Color of Money" (1986),
the movie through which he received
his first and only Best Actor Academy
Award. Until then, his had been a long
tenure in show business, marked by
quality acting, critical acclaim and the
endless love of all movie-going Ameni-

Robert Benton with
Paul Newman
and Jessica Tandy

At least not until now.
With "Nobody's Fool," Newman is
back in a tour-de-force performance
similar to Burt Lancaster's in "Atlantic
City" and Jessica Tandy's in "Driving
Miss Daisy." After years of playing
young and attractive characters on
screen, followed by a lull as they aged,
these actors reemerged to play in films
designed to showcase their refined tab-
ents and put the proverbial exclamation
points on their respective careers.
Newman stars with the late Tandy
- in her final motion picture perfor-
mance - as Sully, a small town con-
struction worker who, despite his raun-
chy and childish behavior, is a truly
lovable old man. This occurs as Sully is
struggling to live the life of a young
man while trapped in the body of a 60
year-old (the 70 year-old Newman, just
as handsome as ever, easily passes for
60 here).
Many problems confront this man
in the twilight of his life, which cause
him to put his priorities in perspective
and make good use of his remaining
years. There is the sudden return of his
adult son whom he never properly
raised; the presence of grandchildren
with whom he has never had a relation-
ship; difficulties with a boss (Bruce

Willis) who disrespects his wife and his
loyal employees; and the slow deterio-
ration and death of all the elderly friends
whom Sully has depended upon in his
time.
The most apparent strength of this
movie is the quality of its acting perfor-
mances. With few exceptions all mem-
bers of the cast portray their respective
characters with appropriate emotion and
restraint. Newman shines in his por-
trayal of the soft-hearted Sully who
deals with the confusion of his chang-
ing life with great humor and poignancy.
Tandy is also outstanding as Sully's
depressed and aging landlord. And six-
year-old Alex Goodwin, in his acting
debut as Sully's shy, yet impression-
able grandson, is a fine addition to the
newly emerging crop of talented child
actors.
But the ultimate success of
"Nobody's Fool" lies in its recent con-
ception as a novel by Richard Russo,
and the screen writing and direction of
Robert Benton ("Kramer vs. Framer").
It is a heartwarming movie with mean-
ing. In his many adventures, Sully dis-
covers that, though he has shunned the
affection of many a friend and relative
in his lifetime, there exist many people
who care for, depend on and love him.

cans. For much of his career, Newman
had quietly created a plethora of inter-
esting films and screen personas with-
out ever winning an Academy Award
or other such triumph. Since gaining his
Oscar, he has remained a somewhat
mysterious man in Hollywood. And yet
his films since 1986 - including "Mr.
and Mrs. Bridge" and "The Hudsucker
Proxy" - have not nearly created the
excitement usually expected following
the reception of an Oscar.

;13 ....1
"Wow! I can't believe what a good review my new film got in the Michigan Daily! That Josh Rich is a genius!"

Yet he cannot completely accept this
fact, nor is he able to simply change his
life and suddenly become the father or
grandfather he never was. Life is too
complicated for that.
So while Newman excels in his

portrayal of this fascinating character
who has little direction in his life, the
actor does not show signs of purpose-
lessness or a career completion. In-
stead, he may certainly contend for
another Best Actor Oscar and star in

more movies to come. Just as he confi-
dently stated at the end of "The Color of
Money," Paul Newman is back. And
now at age 70 this man is going places

NOBODY'S FOOL is plainag a
Briarwood and Showcase.

-wi

JDrugs, whining and rambling: join the 'Prozac Nation'

By KIRK MILLER
"I hate myself and want to die."
That's how Elizabeth Wurtzel be-
gins her autobiography "Prozac Na-
tion," and coincidentally (or not) that

%Prozac Nation:
A Memoir
Elizabeth Wurtzel
Houghton Mifflin
was also a title of one of the last songs
Kurt Cobain ever wrote. When Nir-
vana originally released the song it
was hailed as an ironic take on his
self-hating popularity; when he killed
himself it suddenly was turned into
generational suicide note by older
media outlets like Time and
Newsweek.
Ironic or not, at least the song had a
point and was relatively short. On the
literary side Wurtzel deals with her
depression in a way that lacks irony and
focus. "Prozac Nation" falls victim to
every problem of an autobiography; it's
tediously depressing, the account of a
life that fails to explain most of the
protagonist's actions, rambles incoher-
ently 'and goes off on a tangent when-

ever possible. It's the drug industry
equivalent of a family slide show, with
all of the slides out of order, out of focus
and narrated by your chatty self-pitying
grandmother.
Wurtzel drops Sylvia Plath's name
a lot, whose "Bell Jar" allowed depress-
ing rants like this to exist. But Plath
(who I admittedly don't like much ei-
ther) at least had a consistency and a
style that made her work fluid and page-
turning. On the other hand, with
Wurtzel's novel there are important
people popping in for the first time near
the end of the book, unexplained ac-
tions that throw her life story com-
pletely off course and a writing style
that attempts to break up the tedium but
only confuses everyone.
Two-thirds of the way in and sud-
denly Dinah appears, who was only a
"friend since we were both four ... we
were best friends after that, all through
elementary school and through high
school." But not once was Dinah men-
tioned in Wurtzel's elementary school
or high school sections, making me
wonder if she really was that great of a
friend.
Most of the book follows a jumbled
chronological order, occasionally skip-
ping large passages of time for no ap-
parent reason. Although she later takes

most of the responsibility on herself,
her first theories of her mental state
come off as embarrassingly trite. "I
can't shake the sense," she analyzes,
"that being born smack in the middle of
the summer of love, with social revolu-
tions from no-fault divorce to feminism
to free love to Vietnam - and their
eventual displacement by Reaganomics
and punk rock - all had something to do
with it (her depression)." Throwing out
mediacreated generational markers isn't
a major insight, it's dangerously close
to Forrest Gump
Wurtzel crashed through life, sur-
viving on a writing talent that gets her a
few prestigious jobs and an entrance to
Harvard. But no matter what happens,
she can't escape the black cloud of
depression engulfing her, forcing her
from one destructive relationship to the
next to the next. But what are we getting
out of all of this except one long, de-
pressing spiel?
Indirectly "Prozac Nation" works
best as a critique of the mental health
and medical establishments of thi s coun-
try, and it's pretty damning. Either
Wurtzel is on drugs, off drugs, almost
locked away, told to act normally, or
generally treated as a freak. In one witty
moment she writes back to an empathetic
doctor, "There's no need for you to feel

my pain with me. Just get me the hell
out of here!"
But autobiographies are not about
witty remarks and minute every day
details. Maybe it's because I'm a ma&
that I can't understand some of thin,
there's depression in here I couldn't
contemplate in any form. Even when
she tries to point out how self-absorb-
ing her depression is and mocks it, it
comes out as self-centered. When she
goes to the infirmary the same day as
the Wall Street Mlack Monday in 1987,
she summarizes without irony, "I would
later note that the market and I both
crashed at the same time."0
On television and in interviews
Elizabeth Wurtzel seems intelligent,
funny, engaging and wonderful to talk
to. None of that is evident here. It's the
same dysfunctional ramblings strewn
together by a very slight amount of wit
and an occasional gripping story. "If I
were anotherperson, I wouldn't wantto
deal with me, either," she wrote, maybe
making too accurate of a point. It's no*
her life I dislike, its how she wrote it.
Elizabeth Wurtzel will be reading
and signing books tonight at
Shaman Drum (662-7407) on 313
State St. from 5-7 p.m. and at
Borders (668-7652) on 612 E.
Liberty from 7.30-9:30.

Warnin : Do not read "Prozac Nation" and drive or operate heavy machinery.

Horse
Sleeps With Angels
Reprise

Every so often, an artist creates a people create more than one such
work so profound, so deeply emo- work. Even fewer create such works
tional and so beautiful that it stands as with the regularity that Neil Young
the pinnacle of a long career spent does. His latest is not the feedback
building up to that moment. Far fewer frenzy that an album with his occa-

sional backing band Crazy Horse usu-
ally entails. It is not as dark as "Zuma"
nor as overwhelmingly spirited as
"Ragged Glory." Instead, "Sleeps With
Angels" is dark and meditative, the
songs concise and perfectly realized.
The record's bookends, "My Heart"
and "A Dream That Can Last," are
performed on a cheesy saloon piano
and sound like the sequel to "Harvest"
that was never made. "Driveby" and
"Safeway Cart" are as haunting as
anything he has ever recorded. When
he cuts loose on "Change Your Mind,"
his solos flare and burn with the same
feel he gave "Down By the River" and
"Cowgirl in the Sand" 25 years ago.
"Sleeps With Angels" is a sad, sad
album, inspired in part by Kurt

Cobain's suicide. In the sadness there
is salvation, however. The songs are,
in the end, uplifting and beautiful as
Young relates, "I saw the distance, I
saw the past / I know I won't awaken,
it's a dream that can last."
- Dirk Schulze
jamiroqual
The Return of the Space
Cowboy
Sony / Soho Square
The funky, jazzy, a little bit hip-
hopish jamiroquai has released a
second album before a lot of people
are hip to the fist one. With pen-
etrating social messages, the asexual
voice of Jay is certainly not the
epitome of pop music, but the band .

offers a host of melodies which will
stick in your head like molasses oiQ
your kitchen floor.
The second release is a less me-
lodic then jamiroquai's debut, but
with more complex harmonies come
a maturity which makes their first
album look a bit hokey. The funk is
as serious as George Clinton at mo-
ments, digging deep into your heart
and mind, with the "didjeridoo" -
a unique instrument which has found
it's way onto a number of albums
The funk isn't the only influenc
borrowed from the seventies how-
ever, there is definitely some disco
feel on this album when high strings
and other corny synths pop up here
and there. The jazz and hip-hop
rhythms serve to ground some of
these airy excursions though, and it
comes off successfully.
So there is a lot here. In general,
the band lets go more then they di
on their first album, showcasing the
talents of the musicians with great
effectiveness. There are boomin'
jams and lazy afternoon tracks. If
you like the acid jazz movement,
UK street soul or are bored with
hip-hop but must have the funk,
check this out.
- Dustin Howes

THAT'S WHY JOSTENS OFFERS SPECIALLY
PRICED COLLEGE RINGS.

Stop by and see a Jostens representative
January 24-=27
11 am. to 4 PM.
I...U EU E. fi ........w1 w w ..iw -. .II U U rU

01

mm 11 I r !1 A) IM EX 111 itn N VA UMP Av 19

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