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February 08, 1996 - Image 11

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-02-08

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GOIbe 3irbigttn &iig

IICHAEL ROSENBERG
Roses Are Read

I' u

ca/i

/Ja race?
teve Forbes says that "America
can't be bought," but damned if
he isn't going to try.
The multimillionaire "publishing
magnate," as those who publish a lot of
stuffare called, has backed up his Brinks
trucks at the edges of Iowa and New
Hampshire and poured out obscene
amounts of cash. He has paid for adver-
tisements in newspapers. He has posted
fliers. Mostly, he has flooded the televi-
airwaves with a mixture of insults
and promises.
Typical insult:
"Bob Dole/Phil Gramm/Lamar
Alexander
is ...
a sell-out/part of the establishment/
career politician
and will...
raise taxes/sell out/raise spending
and won't help .
ou/your family/the average hard-
king American."
The promises mostly center around
Forbes' promise of a flat tax, a mirage
which has lifted him from the pack into
a virtual dead heat with Dole for the
Republican nomination.
Forbes promises that the flat tax will
do a lot of things. One of those, he says,
is cause the economy to grow at such a
rapid pace that the government would
r eive more tax revenue, despite taxes
lng lower.
It won't happen, of course. No econo-
mist worth his necktie will say that. But
economics is not the reason for Forbes'
success. In a nutshell, Forbes' appeal is
this: He criticizes the tax system and tells
everyone he has an easy and perfect solu-
tion.
Who is going to argue with that?
Forbes' candidacy is merely the most
absurd in a series of sad, uneventful at-
*pts to take the presidency. Dole is the
likely nominee, based not on any particu-
lar vision or ideal but mostly on the fact
that people know his name. Some people
know he is generally well-respected in
Washington, D.C. Most everyone knows
he's been around for while, and he's tried
this gig before, only to shoot himself in
the foot. Dole's motto should be "Hey,
it's about time we let the old guy win."
The rest of the field is filled by the
nteresting and the unexciting. Phil
(ramm is in the disgraceful position of
fighting Pat Buchanan to be the "true
conservative" in the race, despite the fact
that Gramm is a senator and Buchanan is
a columnist for God's sake. (That's not a
religious slur. Buchanan sees himselfas a
Columnist For God's Sake.)
Apparently, having millions of dol-
lars or a column three times a week is as
important as having two decades of
geience in the U.S. Senate.
'wYanted. President.
Qualifications: Optional.
It is a tremendous sign of public
distrust that many people would rather
have someone unqualified run the coun-
try than someone who, heaven forbid,
is from "inside the Beltway," which is
right between Moscow and hell on the
list of America's favorite places.
The truth is, when you watch the results
I in on election night, the next Presi-
dt of the United States will almost
certainly be ... the current President of
the United States. Say what you want
about Bill Clinton. Much of it is true.
Clinton has done almost all the things
a sitting President can do to lose hisjob.
Consider:
He raised taxes. (A noble pursuit,
yes, but it would have been easier to
win if he had just ignored the deficit, a

eagan).
He said he regretted raising them
so much. (OK, he was tired. But, politi-
cally, it was a stupid thing to say, any-
way, even if he actually believed it).
He is perceived to be involved in
scandals. (Whitewater will probably
turn out to be very little, but less has
been used to defeat candidates in the
past. The Paula Jones allegations don't
even have to be true to be used against
%He has a potential foreign policy
nightmare in Bosnia. (A noble pursuit,
yes, but a potential nightmare in the
eyes of political strategists).
But despite Clinton's blunders, well-
documented waffling, and remarkable
lack of stature for the leader of the free

HIT TH EM WITH
YOURA

STORIES BY ALEXANDRA TWN
DAILY ARTS EDITOR

t all started again in 1992 with a
little film called "The Crying
Game." While fat, balding Hol-
lywood bigwigs sat around a buffet
table trying to figure out whether Demi
Moore in a slinky outfit or Arnold
Schwarzenegger with a gun would
sell more lunch-boxes, the small, mod-
estly-budgeted independent film qui-
etly took the stage. Granted, it had a
hook: "Don't give away the film's big
secret," read every newspaper ad. Ev-
ery gushing movie critic quivered as
he struggled to explain the film's baf-
fling success.
The same might be said for the
whole slew of recent underdog mov-
ies to quietly kick the respective butts
of their mainstream counterparts.

Some just see it as a natural retaliation,
the result of mass-quantity, cardboard
actions and comedies losing out to mass-
quality, smaller, more personal endeav-
ors. Others just see it as good luck for
the smaller, no-money companies. Re-
gardless of what you chalk it up to, it is
not an overstatement to point out that
the last three years have seen some-
thing of a quiet revolution in movies.
America's favorite past-time may be
baseball, but the second is the movies,
and lately, they've been getting a major
face-lift.
Much like "The Crying Game," this
year's sleeper crime thriller with a twist
was young director Bryan Singer's sur-
prise hit "The Usual Suspects." Featur-
ing a no-star cast of non-babes like

Kevin Spacey, Kevin Pollak, Benecio
del Toro, Gabriel Byrne, a middle
Baldwin brother (with a nasty Caesar
hairdo) and various others, the film
(made for next to nothing) started off
small and eventually ballooned out
across the country. "The Usual Sus-
pects" roped in the respect and green-
backs of a good half of America due to
patience, persistence, good word of
mouth and the internet.
While not as profitable as the generi-
cally weepy "While You Were Sleep-
ing" or the generically kooky "Batman
Forever," "The Usual Suspects" did
manage to blow the lid off any theory
that said moviegoers wanted to sit
around and watch Sylvester Stallone in
a glorified leather muumuu being fol-
lowed around by former Saturday Night
Live-cast member Rob "Makin' Cop-
ies" Schneider uttering lame-o one lin-
ers. "Judge Dredd" was a stinker.
Similarly, the current, twisted love
story "Leaving Las Vegas" (no connec-
tion to Sheryl Crow's song, thank God)
found itself the unwitting darling of the
movie industry in a matter of months.
Shot for a mere 3.5 million bucks, the
film has already earned twice that much
in box-office sales. Not bad for a story
about a suicidal drunkard and a whore.
Not bad for a film that almost didn't get
made. The film's screenwriter and di-
rector, Mike Figgis, spoke last night
about his experiences working on the
film and how after the last big-budget
film that he had worked on had bombed
(1991's "Mr. Jones,") it was extremely
difficult for him to get any support for
his downbeat story. The Hollywood
execsjust didn't think that it would sell.
See INDIE FILM Page 4B

A

SHORT ON
CASH BUT
LONG ON
TALENT, A
NEW WAVE
OF INDIE
DIRECTORS
H'ITS THE
Bid TIMER MEN
WITHOUTBlj
STUDIO
BA CKING

Clockwise from top: Bryan
Singer, director of 'The
Usual Suspects," "Welcome
to the Dollhouse," the cast
of "The Brothers McMullen,"
cartoonstR. Crumb, "Shine,"
and JenniferJason Leigh in
"Georgia."

Redford's Sundance Film Festival shines
spotlight on film's mavericks, unknowns

A lthough rumored to have become
more glamorized in recent years,
the annual Sundance Film Festival still
remains one of the most exciting testing
grounds for the year's crop of new and
independent film releases.
Founded by Robert Redford in 1981,
the festival has swooped down upon Park
City, Utah, in late January every year
since. While the bulk of independent
films made in this country will never see
a public screening, festivals like
Sundance offer these films a chance to
find a public reception as well as en-
abling their creators to make contacts,
participate in writing and directing work-

shops and potentially find a company
that will release their films.
Giving out a wide variety of prizes in
the Dramatic Feature, Documentary and
Screenwriting categories, the festival is
judged by both critics from within the
film industry and the viewers of the
screenings alike.
Based upon the hope of preserving the
spirit of independent cinema and delib-
erately set away from the money-making
machine-like studios, the festival has al-
ways advertised a staunch anti-Holly-
wood sentiment. Of late, the festival has
come under attack for catering too much
to Hollywood's whims - serving as a
sounding board for new workers to be
pulled into the Hollywood system -
instead of being the upright bastion of
new ideas that it once was.
This year's winners saw both a refut-
ing and a confirmation of past concerns
about the festival's potential for Holly-
wood exploitation. Heads were turned
aa ith ;-ct t.;.; when " h;n " nn

most alarming was the $10 million
price tag attached to the purchase. Ap-
parently not 'aware of the standard,
humble "I can't believe my film even
got played in public" speech expected
from Sundance winners, "Spitfire" di-
rector Lee David Zlotoff's thank you
speech made generous reference to
Castle Rock's after-the-fact support.
Other winner's included "Troublesome
Creek: A Midwestern," for both best
Documentary and Audience's favorite.
The story is a true account of one family's
struggle to keep hold of their mid-west-
ern farm.
Other interesting films included Jim
McKay's "Girlstown," a kind of girls 'n
the hood story, "Flirt," the latest from
independent maverick Hal Hartley, "If
Lucy Fell," from Eric Shaeffer, one of
the creators of last year's hilarious "My
Life's in Turnaround" and "I Shot Andy
Warhol" with the always divine Lili Tay-
lor, as well as a variety of others ranging
frn animate dhr t o no-nlavina

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