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March 09, 1995 - Image 15

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-03-09

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The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. -- Tuesday, March 9, 1995 - 7

Peter Sellers is dead now, but he used to star in movies.

I

The thief wore pink

By Sarah Stewart
Daily Arts Writer
Kids growing up in the '70s were
down with the Pink Panther. He was
a slinky, skinny, pink cartoon cat who
moved to that funky music. Maybe
the smarter kids knew that this ani-
mated character was based on a movie
by the same name, but what good was

vvin
n tertainment
Center
that knowledge wien they probably
weren't allowed to watch it anyway?
But today, assuming that the '70s'
child has grown up, it's time to trade in
that Pink Panther lunch box for a few
hours with the real thing: "The Pink
Panther" (1964), the movie. Treat your-
self to some physical comedy doused in
Henry Mancini that puts "Naked Gun"
and "Hot Shots" to shame.
Not unlike its lesser '90s counter-
parts, the focal point of "The Pink Pan-
ther" is not its plot. Fortunately, the
flimsy storyline, comprised mainly of
the phantom's attempt to steal the big-
est diamond in the world and Inspec-
t r Clbuseau's (Peter Sellers) attempt
to track down the phantom, is heavily
padded with humor that has every char-
acter playing the fool at some time or
another. Although "The Pink Panther"
pretends to be about a cat burglar, it's
really about a bunch of quirky people at
a ski resort in Italy, socializing with the
diamond's owner, a princess (Claudia
Cardinale); in some sense, "The Pink
Panther" is a non-animated film with a
cartoon mentality.
The film's most memorable char-
acter, Inspector Clouseau, is also its
biggest fool. His most troublesome
nemesis other than the phantom is
any doorway that happens to cross his
path - either he can't fit through it,
he can't open the door to get through
it or he falls through it. Clouseau is
better than most bumbling idiots be-
Jse he actually expresses frustra-

tion and seems at least somewhat
aware of the fact that if there is some-
thing to trip over, he'll find it. If you
can find no other reason to see "The
Pink Panther," see it for Sellers' per-
formance - you'll swear he's this
much of a klutz in real life.
It's almost as hard for Inspector
Clouseau to overcome the sexual stale-
mate in his marriage as it is for him to
walk through a doorway. Simone, his
wife, is having an affair with Sir Charles
(David Niven) and is in on all his
schemes. A secret door connecting her
hotel room to his leads to the film's
funniest scene, in which Simone has the
difficult task of juggling Sir Charles,
his nephew George and the inspector.
There's a frantic opening of doors, hid-
ing behind curtains and diving under
the bed until Inspector Clouseau finally
finds himself under the covers with his
wife and a volatile bottle ofchampagne.
With this scene, directorBlakeEdwards
makes life in a hotel room like life in a
revolving door.
While most of "The Pink Panther"
is based on utter confusion, at times its
pace slows to allow for more subtle
humor. When the princess consumes
too much champagne, having claimed
that it's against her principles to drink,
the film trades in its chaotic humor for
the amusement of a seduction scene
between her and Sir Charles. Before the
audience gets too comfortable with this
intoxicated calm and inaction, the prin-
cess passes out and must be dragged off
to bed with considerable effort on the
part of George and Sir Charles.
Accompanying all this comedy is
the always catchy music of Henry
Mancini. From the opening credits fea-
turing the animated Pink Panther that
still stars in home insulation commer-
cials to the musical segment sung by the
princess, Mancini's compositions are
as much a part of the action as the
characters themselves. When the music
is gushy, overly dramatic oratthe height
of its '60s corniness, it appropriately
adds absurdity to an incident that the
characters take completely seriously.
The only thing about "The Pink
Panther" that should be taken seriously
is the recommendation that you rent it.

FEST
Continued from page 1
people can be so Christian and yet so
... mean."
The film was made for an incred-
ibly low $4000, again as a senior
graduate project for film school. "I
got them to let me shoot it as my
master's thesis after I had already
shot it." Because Wrobel works as a
commercial editor in a post-produc-
tion house, she was able to complete
the film free of charge. Had she not
had access to those facilities, the film
would have cost approximately
$60,000. She would not have been
able to make it.
Money is always an issue. "It's
pretty difficult," said McCleave,
whose elegiac, Coney Island
narrative's $12,000 budget "consisted
mostly of student loans, grants, odd
jobs and directing Karaoke music vid-
eos." She had a crew of four. No one
was paid. "These big production com-
panies will give $10,000,000 to make,
what is by their standards, a very low-
budget film and it will be very medio-
cre and they'll lose money. But if they
gave 10 independent filmmakers
$1,000,000 each or 20 of us, half a
million each, chances are something
is gonna hit."
"They (film companies) have got
to be willing to take more chances,"
said La Haie, "but I also think that if
companies are too chicken to help
out, then it's the filmmaker's respon-
sibility to find a way to get those films
out there, because there is an inter-
est."
"Everyone on this film worked
for free and that was great," said
McCleave, "but I'd like us to get paid.
I think we deserve it. Maybe not now
but eventually."
McCleave had always heard about
the festival and had wanted to enter it
for some time. "My film is slow and
atmospheric, I admit that," she said
laughing. "It's a lot of imagery and
not that much dialogue. I felt like this
festival would be a good place to
show it."
"I'm entering a bunch of festi-
vals," said La Haie, "but I like this
one because it does its own thing. It's
not pretentious. It's really more in
line with what independent filmmak-
ing is." La Haie recently had a less
than pleasant experience at the presti-
gious, yet now overly-commercial-
ized Sundance Film Festival.
"It's really become its own iden-
tity," said longtime festival director
Vicki Honeyman. "We don't catego-
rize the films and we don't limit the
artists by restricting the number of
films in each area. We're interested in

all kinds of work." A panel of five
screen the upwards of 400 entries to
pick the 100 that will eventually be
shown as part of the festival. The
judges are selected from within the
independent cinema community
world-wide. By the end of the festi-
val, $8000 in prizes will have been
awarded.
Honeyman is encouraged by both
the growing number ofapplicants year-
to-year and the growing support of and
interest in independent film nationally.
"People are interested. The festival
wouldn't have lasted this long if they
weren't. However, she says that she'd
like to "see a time when 'Independent
Filmmaker' becomes a respectable
term."
"I hope that it's going to get better.
It's such a long process," said
McCleave. Graduating from film
school is "not like graduating from
med school where you get to be a
doctor right away, all you get here is to
pay off your student loans."
Yet, most filmmakers feel that the
challenges of independent filmmaking
are worth the pay-offs, namely a live
audience that can appreciate the ef-
forts. With most experimental films,
this means festivals like the Ann Arbor
one.
The conflict is perhaps best ex-
pressed by Wrobel, who says simply:
"I work to make money, I make films to
stay sane."
THE 33RD ANN ARBOR FILM
FESTIVAL is playing at the Michigan
Theater March 14-19. For more
information, please call 668-8397.

J

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