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March 29, 1995 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-03-29

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The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, March 29, 1995 - 9

'Dadgummit! That Disney shore is efficient at cranking out those family features, like 'Tall Talel"
'Tall Tale' long! on family fun

By Prashant Tamaskar
Daily Arts Writer
Films about distraught children
who, with help, manage to make the
lives of everyone else around them
better, and consequently find hap-
piness, are a dime a dozen. But, give
Walt Disney Pictures credit. They
know how to do them right. They
prove this again with the release of
"Tall Tale: The Unbelievable Ad-
ventures of Pecos Bill," a typical
Disney film, that turns out to be
rather enjoyable.
Daniel Hackett (Nick Stahl)
unhappily lives on a farm with his
mother and father in the early
1900s. His family's land is threat-
ened by the evil J.P. Stiles (Scott
Glenn) who wants to build rail-
*eroads all throughout the plains.
'When Daniel's father refuses to
:surrender his land, he is shot, but
not before he gives Daniel the
deed. With his father in a coma,
Daniel, lying down in a boat, pon-
ders what course of action to take.
As he falls asleep, the boat drifts
off, and he finds himself in dan-
ger, only to be saved by Pecos Bill
(Patrick Swayze). The threat
comes from Stiles' men, who are
willing to use any measures to get
the coveted deed. Daniel and Pecos
Bill later meet up with Paul Bunyan
(Oliver Platt) and John Henry (Roger
Aaron Brown). Along with protect-

ing Daniel, these three legendary
heroes teach him about doing the
right thing, while giving him the
courage to fight Stiles.
One of the stronger aspects
of this film is the way in which all
three heroes are presented. They

Tall Tale:
The Unbelievable
Adventures of
Pecos Bill
Directed by Jeremiah
Chechik; with Patrick
Swayze and Oliver Platt
At Showcase
are portrayed in a rather imper-
fect, comical manner. For ex-
ample, the apathetic, overweight
Paul Bunyan constantly whines
about the people destroying his
land. But, there is never a ques-
tion about their ideals and their
hearts. Essentially, this is what
they try to pass on to Daniel. Since
this is a Disney movie, this mes-
sage is a bit overemphasized, but
it doesn't take away from the pic-
ture by any means.
Surprisingly good are the ac-
tion scenes of the movie. Of course

there aren't any huge explosions,
but they're all fun to watch, and
some are even quite suspenseful.
Unfortunately, the abundance of
guns, may make some of them a bit
too violent for the age group being
targeted.
Although it really isn't that
important in a film like this, most
of the actors give fairly decent
performances. Patrick Swayze
provides a good portrayal of Pecos
Bill. Or rather, he doesn't ruin the
character by trying too hard to be
a cowboy. Roger Aaron Brown,
who physically is a perfect John
Henry, also brings a warmth to
the character that makes him the
most likable of the three. How-
ever, Oliver Platt, as Paul Bunyan,
serving mostly as comic relief,
doesn't contribute much to the
film. Finally, Nick Stahl, as the
young protagonist, does a fine job
of not annoying the audience, in a
role that quite often does just that.
Obviously, this is not some
brilliant work of art that challenges
the viewer to rise to a higher intel-
lectual plane. However, it is an en-
tertaining movie with a positive
message, that can be enjoyed by
older audiences. But this is prob-
ably no surprise, considering it is
Disney, who specializes in produc-
ing efficient family films like this
one.

New play
'Sirens'
disarms and
alarms
By MelIssa Rose Bernardo
Daily Theater Editor
There's no question: Domestic vio-
lence is one the hottest issues of the
past year. And hot issues make even
hotter plays.
"Hot" is the perfect description for
"Sirens," which receives its third ever
production this weekend at the
Trueblood Theatre.
Director Lynn Thomson is no
stranger to new and exciting plays,
thanks to her position as dramaturg at
the Circle Repertory Theatre Com-
pany in New York City. It is this posi-
tion which introduced her to the work
of Darrah Cloud, author of "Sirens."
"Sirens" chronicles the life jour-
ney of five women who experience
domestic violence in different ways.
Cloud was commissioned to write
"Sirens" by the Denver Center The-
ater, and as part of her research went
to a local prison to meet women who
had been forced to kill their abusers.
"We see the beginnings of their
involvement with violence and vio-
lent relationships," Thomson said,
"And our violent culture that tends to
approve of such things.
The title, Thomson explained, re-
fers to the ancient Greek myth of the
siren song. Female creatures would
lure passing sailors with their hypnotic
songs, sending the men to their death
crashing into rocks. "Cloud sort of
turns that around in the play," Thomson
said, "in that the sirens song is really a
desire to reach out, and the destruction
is a mutual one."
Though the play is a depiction of
the women and their tragedies,
Thomson emphasized that the play is
not a depiction of women against men.
"(Cloud) has always had to defend
herself against this kind of criticism,"
Thomson said, responding to the issue
of male-bashing. "The play does at-
tempt to understand why men do this,
and explores it, without making judg-
ments."
"If you put on stage a woman who
is abitch, are you saying thatall women
are bitches? You're saying that charac-
ter is a bitch. So when you put on stage
men who do this, you're talking about
people who have a lotofproblems. But
you're not saying that all men have
these problems. It's only if you were
(making that generalization) that it
would be a 'male-bashing' play.

will be severely beaten this year, and
that between 4,000 and 4,500 women
will be murdered by men that they
know. But statistics, Thomson cau-
tioned, are often used to skirt the issue.
"Statistics can be a form of denial in
that sometimes it makes you not enter
into what's really going on in the
people,"she said. "That can be the case
... when we deal with any kind of
horrific event or circumstance in life.
(But) plays make you experience the
event in a very individual way, and that
enlarges your understanding and com-
passion."
The subject matter isin Thomson's
own words, very sensitive, but the time-
liness of the issue and the newness of
the play make this a piece worth view-
ing.

"I'm sure there are some pieces that
do that- that make that leap from, 'the
people who do this are people who have
a lot of problems' to, 'all men have
these problems.' I don't think('Sirens')
says that," Thomson explained.
"Sirens" is also about giving a hu-
man side touthe statistics. Studies and
articles tell us that almost two women

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