The Michigan Daily - Monday, January 29, 1996 - 9A
-'Island' leaves viewers strnded
y Jennifer Petlinski
The television advertisements, post-
ers and even the title of director Renny
Harlin's "Cutthroat Island" promise
non-stop, dizzying action, filled with
pepple swinging from ropes, sword
ghts, bloody duels, storms at sea, evil
emies and a competitive race to find
a pirate treasure.
-This scenario is exactly what the au-
dience gets - and nothing more.
Still, however, Harlin has managed
to master the basics of any action-ori-
ented pirate flick.
As always, there's a map with a story
behind it: Cutthroat Island, uncharted
by all maps, is the place where a trea-
sure from a Spanish gold ship has been
vried. A long time ago, three brothers
Mortichi, "Dog" and Lady Pyrate
Morgan Adams' father - were each
given one third of the map that leads to
Important note: All three brothers do
not get along for some unmentioned
reas6n and refuse to share their portions
wiftheach other. At this point, some
basjd, logical questions might be run-
iing through the minds of the audience
*.e. Morgan's father's third is tattooed
ontohe top of his head; how the hell
washe planning on reading it without
the-help of his other brothers?).
The story begins in the Jamaica Car-
Renny Harlin; with
Geena Davis and
At Fox Village
ibbean in 1668 when "Dog" kills
Morgan's father. Morgan (Geena Davis)
is left with his map (after scalping his
head, of course) and control of his pi-
rate ship and crew.
To translate the map, Morgan must
buy William Shaw (Matthew Modine),
a doctor sold into slavery for theft.
Sneaky Shaw knows Latin and he's
sexy, too. Possibly an opening for a
love interest? Should be - but
Morgan's too busy kicking everyone
else's asses to worry about falling in
Afterabout one hour, everyone seems
to be after the same pot of gold -
Morgan's disloyal crew, the British,
Shaw and "Dog," the evil uncle who
has been barking on Morgan's trail from
The race is on! But throughout the
entire movie, sword fights, mutinies,
bloody battles and deceitful people keep
Morgan on her toes, as she tries to
uncover the buried treasure of Cutthroat
Sounds exciting, huh?
For the first hour-maybe. But after
a while, the plot, which was already
weak to begin with, gets lost some-
where in the midst of all the action.
Audience members just might spend
the entire two hours trying to figure out
what side everyone is on and how Geena
Davis manages to kick the crap out of
12 men at once.
Fine. So we'll just focus on the action
scenes. This is where we start to notice
more gaps in the logic of the movie.
For example, when Morgan gets shot
in the stomac Shaw, her love-inter-
est-but-not-rr ally, must use his doctor
skills to get the bullet out of her. At this
point, we find out: NO! He's not a
doctor. Then how does he know Latin
So at this point, all we can count on
are the main characters. Maybe they
can save this flick from failure.
Sorry, no such luck.
The role of Morgan Adams calls for
a strong, tough, don't-mess-with-me-
or-you'll-die woman who barely has
time for romance on the side. Geena
Davis, sadly enough, does not fit the
bill. Davis orders her crew with the
same wavering voice which she said
"Ahoy there! I am Matthew Modine and I have no chest hair."
"Beetlejuice" so uncertainly. It is diffi-
cult for us to believe that she could
jump off a cliff into a waterfall, let
alone stand up to her crew.
And as cute and playful as Modine's
character is, we still never exactly know
his intentions. Is he on Morgan's side?
What are his feelings for her? What
about the whole "Latin thing"?
If pirate movies are all about the
action (and this movie has plenty of
action), then what keeps this movie
The answer is simple: A movie, with
so many characters that we can't keep
their names straight and so much action
that we forget about the story, needs
something to keep it grounded.
"Cutthroat Island" is missing this
something - this believability, depth
in its characters, chemistry between love
interests and a straightforward plot.
Its purpose is buried deeper than the
treasure that inspired it.
Norton N. Cohen
Lewis Carroll: A Biography
Considering that Lewis Carroll's first
book was on the subject of mathemat-
ics, it could be arguedthat hetook a step
in the right direction when he wrote his
children's classic "Alice's Adventures
in Wonderland." Cohen deftly traces
the formation of the book and the Vic-
torian envir6nment that shaped Lewis
Carroll and his writing, and he consis-
tently answers questions that have been
*ng-pondered by Carrollphiles. Was
is brilliant man ill-adapted for life
during the times into which he was
born? Was his love for children an
innocent fascination or a vulgar obses-
Cohen, the author of seven other
books on Lewis Carroll, draws upon the
diaries of the man born Charles
Dodgson. At times, one finds pages
almost entirely devoted to Dodgson's
Sary, following his entries day by day;
is tedious aspect of the biography,
though well-researched, leads one to
want to simply read the diaries them-
selves and skip this middle ground.
However, the attention to detail is ad-
mirable, and Cohen is able to support
his arguments about Dodgson's feeling
One of 11 children in a family of
rict religious and academic standards,
gson was led downapath similarto
at ofhis father: He studied mathemat-
ics at Christ Church, Oxford (remain-
ing at the school for most of the rest of
his life) and he eventually became a
deacon in the English church. Cohen
points out the religious attitudes and
beliefs imposed on Dodgson by both
his father and Victorian society - atti-
tudes that, Cohen believes, put restraints
on Dodgson's sexuality and desires.
Dodgson, who never married, made
ftame for himselfas a photographer of
children, a hobby that has come to be
Contlnuei from Page 8A
Arnold; he has made a career out of
playing the adult who has something to
prove from childhood. He is a lovable
oofball who we hope is victorious in
'e end. The audience is convinced that
Davey does not deserve the abuse that
he receives from the diabolical Roscoe.
The film becomes really interesting
when the two incidents of bullying are
paralleled (Roscoe vs. David, and Ben
vs. Kirby, Roscoe's son). Unfortunately,
the focus is blurred; too much time is
devoted to an exhaustive sequence
where the shop teacher tries to kill the
author who ruined his young life by
*ning him in for his crime. And, since
theconclusion ofthis scene lies nearthe
end of the movie, there is no opportu-
nity for its recovery.
Sandwiched between the entertain-
ing meat of the action are an uneventful
beginning and an absurd ending. With-
out this dead time the film might have
worked; but with it, however, success is
impossible. Not even the fine perfor-
ances by Moranis, and especially Tom
mold can save "Big Bully" from it-
e you interested in
studied as an odd obsession and has
raised questions of Lewis Carroll's pu-
rity. However, Cohen documents the
many letters and memoirs of Charles
Dodgson's child friends, creating a care-
ful portrait of a lonely, aging man who
loved children and who was adored by
many of them in return for his humor,
fun and games, and especially for the
"Alice" books he wrote for them.
This biography catches the spirited,
humorous, quick-witted man Lewis
Carroll must have been. Rereading
"Alice's Adventures," one will find that
Cohen's biography, while not a great
masterpiece in itself, provides a perfect
background for one ofthe most popular
works of literature ever written.
Jon Riggle, Joe
Preller, Mike Breschi
Dating With Success
Are you tired of sitting home alone
snarfing down cheese doodles and
watching re-runs of "Welcome Back
Kotter?" Does the mention of the word
"date" cause you to instinctively crawl
underneath the couch and hide? Well,
fear not because Joe, Jon and Mike have
written a self-help book designed to
boost you to a level of dating success!
Um ... who?
Well, Joe Preller, Jon Riggle and
Mike Breschi, of course. Three middle-
aged guys you've never heard of who
decided that because they've been on
dates before, they should write a self-
help book for the losers of love. Sure,
it's an interesting idea - learn about
real dates from real guys who have been
out there in the real world dating real
women. Unfortunately, the "I think I'm
a therapist"jargon the authors adopt in
"Dating With Success" tends to annoy
rather than enlighten.
The book begins with tips on how
to have a healthy mentality about dat-
ing and how to conquer fears associ-
ated with spending an evening with a
member of the opposite sex. ("No,
not a WOMAN!" is what they might
recommend not screaming). This is
the point where the opportunity arises
for the authors to share intimate tales
of their own dating success to help
anyone who might care to listen. In-
stead, they lapse into pseudo-facts
and generalities that will have you
wondering, "Who do these guys think
they are? Joyce Brothers? Stuart
Smalley? Rico Suave?"
"Fear of rejection is the most com-
mon cause of stress and anxiety in the
early stages of dating," Joe, Jon and
Mike assert in chaptertwo. This may be
true, but for whom? None of the men
are listed as licensed therapists or doc-
tors, and their "facts" apparently come
out of nowhere. "Dating With Success"
seems to be a reflection of the authors'
particular dating world, rather than the
dating world at large.
In fact, in the interest of seeing how
the book would apply in the real world
of dating, I imagined a scenario involv-
ing me, "Dating With Success" and, of
course, a date.
Date: So, how do you like this restau-
rant I have chosen for our first date?
Me: (Flipping through "Dating With
Success" and reading guideline one:
"Develop a positive attitude about the
date.") It's wonderful! I certainly do
love Ned's House of Chicken Nuggets!
(Spying guideline 6: "Don't present a
lifestyle that's not you.") Just kidding,
I hate chicken nuggets because of that
strange thing that happened with my
pet chicken when I was a child. (Spying
guideline 14: "Don't reveal too much
about yourself.") Just Kidding... Inever
had a pet chicken! (Guideline 18: "Don't
compromise your values to please your
date.") No, I DID have a chicken
dammit, and if you can't accept that,
then I'm leaving! (Guideline 27: "Don't
act on your impulses.") Well, maybe I
can stay. (Guideline 35: "H AVE FUN.")
Do you want to go back to my place and
watch re-runs of "Welcome Back
As you can see, it's all very confus-
ing. The crux of the matter is that the
reason three random guys are not quali-
fied to write a self-help book on dating
is the same reason ex-Wilson Phillips
singer Carnie Wilson is not qualified to
host a talk show. Too much power in the
hands of the wrong person can be a
Life Beyond School: A Plan-
ning Guide for Recent Gradu-
D.R. Pollack is a good American.
You can tell because he joined the Air
Force right out of college, got hitched
really young and thinks that every re-
cent college graduate wants a career in
D.R. Pollack is not a good writer.
You can tell because he has no sense of
style, has no clue about grammar or
syntax; hell, spelling. The narrative
voice is not only not flowin' through
him, it ain't even circling nearby. Pol-
lack has trouble completing his thoughts.
Pollack has trouble completing his sen-
tences. Poll ack has some serious trouble
with his alleged "guide" for recent col-
Like any completely confused, soon-
to-be grad, upon seeing this book, I
thought: "Ooooh La La. A guide to
what to do. Faboo."
Happily, the guide is filled with such
brilliant and new observations as: "The
key for success is setting goals" and
"Though financial success may be our
objective, it is not a way to ensure
happiness," not to mention the thor-
oughly original "What a boring world it
would be if there were no new chal-
lenges to be faced." Pollack also in-
cludes real-life-experience advice such
as "I will vouch for the fact that having
next to nothing is no fun at all." Yikes.
Broken down into three vaguely con-
clusive sections titled "Who are you?
What do you want to be?," "Planning"
and "Making your plan happen and
growing throughout your life" the book
attempts to help you identify who you
are and what works best for you.
If you don't know what you want to
do career-wise, the author suggests that
you write down everything that you
would never want to do and then base
your life on whatever's left over. This is
how he became a businessman.
"I sat down and said, 'Self, what
don't you want to be when you grow
up?' I listed: an engineer or scientist
or doctor or lawyer or teacher. What
was left? Well, if I didn't want to
enter a specific profession, then I
would most likely be in business...."
Apparently an interpretive dancer or
a pimp didn't spout to mind as other
He also suggests that if you are a
depressing pessimist, that hanging out
with positive people will help you, like
osmosis, acquire a de facto positive
attitude. And for a good ego boost, seek
out and feel condescendingly sympa-
thetic toward a handicapped person who
is wittily self-deprecating.
The "guide" is also filled with such
P.C. commentary as: "I once worked
with a rotund Italian named Lou ... ,"
the tendency to not be adventurous ca-
reer-wise is "prevalent in ethnic neigh-
borhoods" and a reminder that all his
advice, while directed at men, can also
be used by "career women." He coun-
sels the poor woman in business, assur-
ing her that "a woman can dress taste-
fully, maintaining her femininity and
still be accepted in a business role."
The information graphs are poorly
arranged, occasionally messy and too
small to read; the investment advice is
hackneyed; the self-tests and "to-do"
lists are ridiculously complicated; the
book is filled with random, pseudo-
inspirational quotes; the author cites
other out-of-date books that he "once
read years ago" to support his unorigi-
Despite all of this, there is the occa-
sional "word of wisdom" that is actu-
ally semi-useful, usually dealing with
"self-actualization" and Maslow' s
theory of hierarchy.
Unfortunately, there are also lots of
touchy-feely, new-agey comments like:
"The place (you go to think about your
future) is not as important as the soul-
searching that can be done when you
are alone with your mind," self-pro-
moting badgering like: "Truly moti-
vated people reaffirm their positive at-
titude by reading motivational books"
(of which "Life Beyond School" is),
not to mention pathetic attempts to af-
firm the validity of various anecdotes,
such as: "This might be a clue."
If this book is a clue to what life's
really like beyond school, I'm dropping
TECHNICAL CAREER OPPORTUNITIES
CS First Boston, a leading global investmentbank,' headquartered
in New York City, is recruiting for its Technical AssociateProgram
in the Information Services department. The Information Services
department is responsible for development and support of the
systems which control trade processing and :m agnent
information for CS First Boston. The Technical Associate Program
is designed to help build a supeierystems staff. All Univrsity o
Michigan Seniors with technicai and computer skils Igrey i tetdto
attend our information sessi
Monday, January 29,,'1996
T.,.,. ., ..'