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January 22, 1996 - Image 5

Resource type:
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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-01-22

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Sing Your Life
Or at least see it on screen. Brooklyn, New York filmmaker Noah
Baumbach delves into the post-adolescent angst of twentysomething
non-slackers in the cryptically-amusing, critically-hailed "Kicking and
Screaming." At the Michigan Theater. Tonight at 9:40. Be there.

Page 5A
Monday,
January 22, 1996

'Dead Man' is furiously alive

By Christopher Corbett
ily Arts Writer
At that moment, when you are sitting in
the theater and the curtain rolls back, you
have the feeling that something great can
happen up there on the screen. Some-
times, as with "Dead Man Walking," you
get a film that fulfills your wish.
Tim Robbins, in his second directo-
rial effort, hits the bulls-eye. He packs
his film with so many close-up shots of
his characters that their faces become
king landscapes. A split-second, down-
ard glance or a tremble of the lip
reveals a character's empathy or need,
I 116%

Dead Man
Walking
Directed by Tim
Robbins; with Susan
Sarandon and Sean Penn
At Showcase
despair or hope, guilt or innocence.
Robbins knows when (and when not)
to getus to feel fortheplayers. He drenches
Sister Helen Prejean (Susan Sarandon) in
mint-colored sweaters and white, short-
sleeved T-shirts, andplaces heron couches
and living room chairs, giving her a cool,
soft, kind quality. A nun, she lives in the
"slums" where she helps inner-city youths
and where she hears from Matthew
Poncelet. He writes hera letter from death
row saying, "You're all I got."
Matthew ("I feel like an animal being
made fat for the slaughter") comes
across as human; he is cut off from what
few family members he has. Sarandon's
character visits the prison, and we get
incredible exchanges between the two
actors. Sarandon's endearing eyes and
wispy voice gush with nurturing, which
plays off of Penn's twitchiness and lack
of eye contact. Penn's and Sarandon's
performances give the characters a
splendiferous quality that perhaps tran-

scend even what Robbins intended.
Like Sister Prejean, we have an oscil-
lation of feelings for Matthew. This
becomes one of the true pleasures ofthe
film. On one hand, we sympathize with
him; on the other, we cannot overlook
Robbins'
investment pays
off: We feel as
desperate as
sister Prejean
does for Ma etthW
to open UP.
what he is charged him with. He claims
he didn't rape a teenage girl and then
murder her and her boyfriend in the
woods; he says he was stoned out of his
mind; he admits he kept them from
escaping; he claims his buddy (now
imprisoned as well) did everything else.
Helen more or less asks Matthew if
he thinks she's Bozo's wife, Bozie. She
sees the hate inside him - hate as
burning as the red swastika tattooed on
the inner, tender part of his forearm.
But we get black-and-white se-
quences of the brutality. We see

Bad boy Sean Penn redeems himself with an extraordinary performance as dead man walking Matthew Poncelet.

Matthew's friend committingthecrime,
while Matthew watches in a detached
daze. Robbins doesn't clue us in: Are
the sequences the truth - Matthew
remembering- or are they just imagi-
nation - Helen picturing the event as
Matthew describes it to her? We feel
the suspense. We want to know.
Sister Prejean begs Matthew to tell her
play-by-play -- every detail - of what

went on that night. At this point, Robbins'
investment in the characters pays off:
We feel as desperate as she does to get
Matthew to open up. The second hands
on the prison clocks unwind with sicken-
ing, nightmarish speed as the moment of
his execution nears. No one can rewind
time and set everything right. We yearn
for the only thing possible: For Matthew
to get redemption-both literally (a new

trial), and spiritually (forgiveness).
All of Matthew's and Sister Prejean's
talks, appealing in themselves, serve as
gunpowder for one blowout scene of
shocks and almost unbearable intimacy.
Robbins, Sarandon and Penn deserve
snaps. When was the last time you
pinched yourself to keep from doing
you-know-what at the movies? When
Forrest buried Jenny under their tree?

Hroic Susan Sarandon.

;

Grumpy as they wanna be

By Prashant Tamaskar
Daily Arts Writer
Although makingamovie sequel may
seem like a simple task, it can turn out
to be quite difficult. The key is to main-
tain certain aspects that made the origi-
n ilm popular, while adding new el-
ements that prevent the sequel from
becoming a complete carbon copy.
Grumpier Old!
Men
Directed by Howard
Deutch; with Jack
Lemmon, Walter Matthau1
and Sophia Loren
At Showcase
Howard Deutch's "Grumpier Old
Men" successfully achieves this bal-
aee in creating a highly entertaining
follow-up to the enormously popular
1993 film "Grumpy Old Men."
"Grumpier" begins six months after
:4riginal, with a new twist - Max
Goldman (Walter Matthau) and John
Gustavson (Jack Lemmon) are friends;
:his is enhanced by the upcoming mar-
riage of their children, Jacob (Kevin
Pollak) and Melanie (Daryl Hannah).
Moreover, they work together in trying
:o stop the new woman in town, Maria
Sophia Loren), from turning their be-
loved fishing supply store, Chuck's Bait
Shop, into an Italian restaurant.
owever, Max and John resume their
ering after their children call off
:he wedding. In addition to battling
each other, John is forced to readjust to
married life with his bride ofsix months,
Ariel (Ann-Margret), while Max
struggles with his new love, Maria.

Like "Grumpy Old Men,"the strength
of this film comes from its two stars, the
original odd couple - Lemmon and
Matthau. The two stars, who have ap-
peared in six movies together, still have
that wonderful chemistry. Even when
they are fighting, the viewer can sense
that, underneath all the bickering, the
characters truly care about each other.
Yet, when they are friends, they still
continue the vicious verbal assaults on
each other, thus maintaining the most
entertaining aspect of the original film.
The new key addition to the sequel is
the elegant Sophia Loren. With her
beauty and charm, Loren's Maria
sweeps the town of Wabash off of its
feet. Not even her fiercest rival, Max,
can resist her allure. The new character,
along with the marriage of John and
Ariel, removes the possibility of the
men competing for the same woman,
which was the central conflict of the
first film.
Returning from "Grumpy Old Men"
are supporting players Ann-Margret,
Daryl Hannah, Kevin Pollak and Bur-
gess Meredith. Margret's Ariel, the
worst character in the movie, lacks any
of the vigor that made her so attractive
in the original; Ariel is transformedinto
a stereotypical nagging wife, whose
purpose in the film is to ruin her
husband's fun.
Although not well-developed, Jacob
and Melanie (Pollak and Hannah) are
significant characters; they allow the
true nature of the relationship between
John and Max to be displayed. The fact
that John loves Jacob as if he were his
own son, and Max loves Melanie as if
she were his own daughter, is proofthat
the two men do care about each other,
even if they are fighting.
Finally, Meredith is once again hi-
larious as John's ancient, crusty father.

Risky choi
By Emily Lambert
Daily Arts W\riter
The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
has box-office appeal from name alone.
With more creative freedom than most
orchestras, the SLSO is not forced to
play Mozart and Beethoven to draw in
audiences. Yet even the director of the
St. Louis Symphony Orchestra must
have thought long and hard before pro-
gramming a concert composed prima-
rily of modern, virtually unknown
pieces.
But aren't we glad he did.
Leonard Slatkin, in his last season as
conductor of the SLSO, took a chance
with the Ann Arboraudience that gath-
ered in Hill Auditorium last Thursday.
On his final tour with the SLSO, he
sacrificed a sold-out show toplay works
with less box-office appeal.
There were no"tried andtrue" pieces
on Thursday's program. Every work
played was written in the 20th century.
The best known piece was Elgar's
"Symphony No. 1," which really isn't
all that well-known.
There were empty seats at
Thursday's concert, but there weren't
a lot of them. And the trusting souls
who paid money to hear unfamiliar
works were treated to an evening of
beauty, excitement and energy.
Slatkin and the SLSO introduced
themselves with booms and crashes
that will echo around Hill Auditorium
for weeks. Peter Mennin's 1952 com-
position, "Concertato for Orchestra,
'Moby Dick,"' began quietly but it
didn't take long before the SLSO's

ces pay off

V.

St. Louis
Symphony
Hill Auditorium
Jan. 18, 1995

J
F sY +a.fl
p ,
WMj
q,
y a
"Take that, you old farts. I'm Sophia Loren. I laugh at your pathetic wooing. Hal"

powerful sound welled up, fueled on by
the steroidic low brass.
Piercing percussion solos opened"cir-
cuits" by Cindy McTee, and driving
mechanic music followed. The
orchestra's strength is best realized dur-
ing measures of unified, powerful play-
ing. "Circuits" was six relentless min-
utes ofjust that. The piece raced by, and
the rare musical pause hit the audience
like a skipped heartbeat.
The SLSO was characteristically dra-
matic in Joseph Schwantner's unexpect-
edly melodic "Evening Land, Sym-
phony." Co-commissioned by the SLSO
and BrighamYoung University, the sym-
phony was premiered Nov. 24-26, 1995,
by Thursday'ssame performers. Chimes,
percussion and harp spiced the texture,
and the trombone and tuba played prayer-
fully behind a drapery of emotive string
phrases.
The first movement ended with the
now-accustomed bang, but second
movement caught all by surprise. Phrases
played slightly out of synch caused notes
to cascade like rain. The music created
an aural image of the song's peaceful
text, sung with grace by soprano Linda
See ST. LOUIS, Page 8A

He serves purely as entertainment, es-
pecially when giving his son unconven-
tional advice. His bitter voice and crude
language make him a perfect fit for the
role of a grumpy old man's father.
Theoverall toneofthe movie isnearly
identical to its predecessor. Watching
two cantankerous old men battle like 8-
year-oldsjust makes us laugh. Granted,
the use of nasty language and practical

jokes is rather juvenile, but that is the
beauty of the film.
Despite the age of these two men, they
have remained relatively youthful, re-
taining a rivalry that can be traced back to
childhood. Their relationship is not what
keeps them going; instead it's what keeps
them going strong. And fittingly, it is this
relationship that also keeps "Grumpier
Old Men" going strong.

I- W-4__

LS&A SCHOLARSHIP
LS&A Scholarship application for Spring-Summer 1996 and
Fall-Winter 1996-1997 are now available
In 1402 Mason Hall
To qualify for scholarship consideration, a student must be
an LS&A undergraduate and have completed one full term in LS&A.
Sophomores must have a U of M grade point of 3.7 or better
and Juniors and Seniors must have GPA of at least 3.6.
The awards are based on financial need and academic merit.

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Please attend the INFORMATION SESSION on:
Monday January 22, 1996
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
Michkoan League-Hussv Room

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