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February 06, 1995 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-02-06

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''' K I lI i#I i ltC IU.~ i(vu u EY. . l~l[Page 5
aattention; following in the footsteps of the likes of Jackopierceadtie Monday,
Samples. Catch the Thugs while they're still obscure tonight at Ricks.ay 6, 1995
February b
'erk'dials a wrong number rggg gyglrl

By Prashant Tamaskar
Daily Arts Writer
A few years ago, when Johnny
Brennan and Kamal, two childhood
friends from Queens, N.Y., decided
to release a tape of prank phone calls
that they had made, even they couldn't
have possibly imagined the success
that it would have. After all, what
kind of interest could there be for a
couple of guys whose only talent is
the ability to harass people on the
telephone? Plenty, as evidenced by
their impressive record sales and sub-
sequent Grammy nomination. How-
ever, the Jerky Boys, as they are
known, expose their limitations by
starringin an absolutely terrible movie
that will have even the most loyal of
fans cringing.
One of the mistakes of this film
is that there is actually a plot. The
*story starts with Johnny and Kamal
being questioned by police for their
involvement with the mob. The
movie flashes back from there to
show how they got caught in this
mess. The Jerky Boys, who are job-
less, meet an old classmate who is
making a fine living working with
One 'Way'
*!ticket to
good theater
By Robert Yoon
Daily Arts Writer
Death has never been a popular
conversation topic for fun-minded in-
dividuals. Thus, one would think that a
play which focuses entirely on the dete-
rioration and impending death of a loved
one would be far too maudlin and
gloomy to succeed as entertainment.
Jay Stielstra's "A Better Way to
Die," which debuted Thursday at the
Performance Network, bravely attempts
A Better Way
to Die
Performance Network
February 3, 1995
to tackle the weighty issues of aging
and dying, but does not leave the audi-
ence overly depressed. It is an artful
production that powerfully explores an
issue that everyone must face.
The principle characters are Meg
Osgood (Tracy Lee Komarmy), a so-
phisticated drama critic in her mid-40s,
and her husband Will Cornell, acrabby
sportswriter 15 to 20 years her senior.
The couple is faced with the terminal
illness of theirclose friend Tom, aformer
NFL star devastated and weakened by
cancer.
Tom's impending death provides a
Wackdrop for the play, and affects each
character differently. Itprompts Meg to
look at her husband in a different light:
she realizes that he is not just her hus-
band, but a 61-year-old man, who is
already showing some signs of aging.
For Will, the issue is much more per-

the Mafia. When he won't help them
get a job, they decide to take matters
into their own hands and call his
superior. Johnny, pretending to be
Frank Rizzo, a fictional crime boss
from Chicago, manages to get the
New York mob to employ his men
(Johnny and Kamal). However, the

REvltW
The Jerky Boys
Directed by James
Melkonian with Johnny
Brennan and Kamal
At Showcase

Another of the problems this film
has is that the Jerky Boys' humor
simply cannot work in a visual for-
mat. It just really isn't funny when
they're being obnoxious to people's
faces instead of on the phone. And
Jerky fans who are familiar with the
"Egyptian magician" routine will
be disappointed when they see
Kamal physically acting this out,
and not just doing the voice.
Moreover, this film will almost be
insulting to those who find the Jerky
Boys slightly amusing, and to those
who are not very fond of them. At
least their tapes are humorous by pre-
senting situations that place the per-
son on the other end of the line in an
awkward position. But the movie does
not do this. Rather, it has Johnny and
Kamal recite Jerkyisms such as "sizzle
chest" throughout the whole movie,
and relies completely on their ability
to create various idiotic phrases using
a wide range of voices that hopefully
someone will find funny. Truly, this
is junior high humor at its worst.
Finally, what makes it unbearable
is that the bad guys are more likable

Jerky Boys quickly manage to an-
noy the crime family into wanting
to eliminate them. Moreover, the
price on their head drastically in-
creases when they discover that the
mob is paying off the NYPD. Thus,
when the police do arrest them for
associating with the crime family,
they are even in bigger danger. The
rest of the movie deals with the
roenin ion rthise onuinco rnnflict-

Sometimes 1 think I'm an actor, but that's beside the case. Maybe MTV's cab driver will get a movie deal too.

this movie one hopes that the mob
rubs out the Jerky Boys - it's diffi-
cult to enjoy a film that has you hop-
ing that the protagonists die.
Hopefully, this sorry excuse for a

film will mark the end of the Jerky
Boys, and their ridiculous brand of
comedy. Unfortunately, some of their
ideas are kind of funny, but their
abusively obnoxious delivery wears

thin real quick. Yet, as long as there is
amarket for their tapes, they'll still be
around. And unfortunately, as long as
they're popular, there is always the
threat of a sequel to this film.

Cleveland Orchestra scores with creativity

sonal. After seeing his friend confined
to a hospital beds and "full of tubes,"
Will thinks to himself that theremust be
"a better way to die."
Thus we have the basic premise
and the title of the play. Will com-
pares the prolonged and painful death
that his friend must endure to the
peaceful and "better" end that his dog
Rosie experienced when she was af-
flicted with a similar ailment. But the
play skillfully avoids taking a stance
on the highly-debated issue of eutha-
nasia. Although the play seems
slightly tilted in favor of mercy kill-
ing, it falls short of wholehearted en-
dorsement.
The main focus of"A Better Way to
Die," however, is not euthanasia, but
rather the changing relationship between
Meg and Will. Meg starts out as a
woman who is in control of all aspects
of her life. But Tom's terminal illness,
coupled with Will's fading memory
and erratic behavior serve as painful
reminders that she cannot control ev-
erything. She too faces the possibility
of widowhood.Will's inexplicablepur-
chase of a handgun further emphasizes
Meg's loss of control. She and the
audience are left to ponder Will's moti-
vation - suicide? euthanasia? The an-

swer is not as important as the pain and
anxiety that Meg experiences in trying
to find the answer.
Tracy Lee Komarmy has the diffi-
cult task of portraying Meg. Appear-
ing in almost every scene, Komarmy
has to show the psychological changes
in Meg without ever leaving the stage.
On the stage, attempts to show such
subtle changes without seeming
cartoonish can be difficult, but
Komarmy does so with poise and
dignity.
David Bernstein also logs a pow-
erful performance with his portrayal
of Will. Potty-mouthed and irascible,
Bernstein's Will is a cross between
See BETTER WAY, page 8

By Brian Wise
Daily Arts Writer
Over the past decade, Christoph
von Dohnanyi has restored and revi-
talized the Cleveland Orchestra. He
now helms one of America's great
-VThe Cleveland
Orchestra
Hill Auditorium
February 3 and 4, 1995
flagship ensembles - New York,
Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago
being the other likely contenders.
Dohnanyi has tempered the flamboy-
ancy and harshness of his predeces-
sor Lorin Maazel while valuing the
depth and substance that the orches-
tra developed under the 24-year reign
of George Szell.
Friday and Saturday night concerts
at Hill Auditorium illustrated these fea-
tures with programs linking the Ger-
man legacy ofBrahms and Schoenberg.
An irreverent parody of this legacy and
its musical conventions was provided
in a short work by the contemporary
Russian composer Alfred Schnittke,
entitled "(K)ein Sommernachtstraum"
or "(Not) A Midsummer Night's
Dream" to open Friday's program.

While Schnittke commanded the
audience's attentions with his eclectic
traversal of classical genres, Schoenberg
issued these commands through virtu-
osity and emotional intensity in the
Chamber Symphony No. 1. This sel-
dom-performed work is among the most
rigorous and demanding in the modern
repertoire. The 15 soloists grasped its
blistering tempos, expansive range and
penetrating dynamics with poise and
focus. Attacks were so clean and nu-
anced that even the densest textures
spoke with clarity.
Dohnanyi closed Friday night's
program with a sturdy, burnished ac-
count of Brahms's First Symphony.
The blend and uniformity of ensemble
was excellent, particularly in the hym-
nal chorale portions of the fourth
movement.
Opening Saturday night's install-
ment was the Schoenberg arrange-
ment of Brahms's Quartet in G minor
for Piano and Strings. Schoenberg
professed to have remained strictly in
the style of Brahms in this re-scoring
for full orchestra, only realizing its
inherent possibilities for new timbres.

The high-voltage conclusion was
among the most inspired moments of
the weekend.
Emanuel Ax performed the First
Piano Concerto in D minor following
intermission. Ax has long been a pas-
sionate exponent of Brahms, and in
more recent years Schoenberg. The
stylistic connections between the two
composers were made more apparent
by the violent tensions and tonal am-
biguities of the concerto.
Ax is a communicative performer
above all, always responding and in-
teracting with the orchestra and con-
ductor. This is an important quality
for the D minor concerto, as the solo-
ist and orchestra tend to interact rather
than compete against each other. Brief
question-and-answer dialogues with
the cellos were executed with exact-
ing precision. Ax's tone was full and
heroic in the series of baroque-like
figurations in the cadenza of the fi-
nale.
The frigid conditions outside
seemed of little consequence during
the warm, glowing performances that
evening.

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