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February 13, 1996 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 1996-02-13

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8- The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, February 13, 1996
Not the typical, empty 'beau girls'

By Kristin Long
Daily Arts Writer
No one ever said relationships were
easy. Then again, no one ever said mak-
ingamovie about them was easy either.
"Beautiful girls," however, manages to
do a fine job. It captures the best love
story to hit the big screen in awhile -
and it's about time.
Still, the movie is not about a typical
love story; instead, it is about the good,
thebad and the ugly in every relationship.
The plot has none of the cheesy stuff that
makes men cringe, nor does it have the
" violent stuff that women don't really en-
joy. It deals with the trials that can make
love stronger or that can rip it apart.
The first troublesome character we
encounter is Willie Conway (Timothy
Hutton). He has tried to make a living as
a piano player in New York and to find

4 REVIEW
beautiful girls
Directed by Ted Demme
with Matt Dillon, Timothy
Hutton and Uma Thurman
At Briarwood and Showcase
that ideal mate. The time has come in
his life where he has to return home for
his high-school reunion and to the
friends whom he left years ago.
Willie returns to his widowed father,
lazy brother and high school buddies who
nevergot out ofthe snow-shoveling busi-
ness. He finds that littlehas changed in the
small, solemn town, but nonetheless, he
finds a sort of comfort that sets the tone
for the rest of the flick.
Withthe introduction ofTommy "Bird-
man" Rowland (Matt Dillon), Paul
Kirkwood (Michael Rapaport) and their
little buddy Marty, the laughter begins.
These guys were born and raised in a
small town where the biggest excitement
is a severe snow storm. Each have had
their run in with big bad love, and the plot
focuses around their tales of woe.
The reunion of the friends creates
much humor that makes the trauma of
their relationships less severe. All the
fellas are single except for"Mo" Morris
(Noah Emmerich), who is the old guy

of the bunch with a wife and two kids.
The men are also joined by female high
school pals and significant others Gina
Barrisano (Rosie O'Donnell), Sharon
Cassidy (Mira Sorvino) and Sarah
Morris (Anne Bobby).
The plot develops into a wonderful
tale abouthow love never really evolves
the way we want it to. The characters
have problems getting over old flames
and taking that extra step, making the
ever-feared commitment.
The guys all gather at the local tav-
ern, owned by their buddy "Stinky"
Womack (Pruitt Taylor Vince), to drink
some frosty ale and discuss their troubles
with women. The film hardly becomes
a macho story where a bunch of guys sit
around and talk "that infamous guy
talk," but rather focuses on the way
they see their counterparts.
They do sit around a lot, but their
conversations are rather enlightening.
Their perspectives on dating, for in-
stance, reveal those thoughts that guys
can hardly admit in the presence of
ladies. On the walls of Paul's room is a
plethora of super-model pin-ups. His
fundamental goal in life is to find that
"beautiful girl" who, because of her
glamour, will make his life complete.
The men believe that a life with that
"ideal" woman would make love so
much easier. Stinky's cousin Andrea
(Uma Thurman) comes to visit and her
attractiveness has them drooling. Her

A Timothy Hutton with facial hair woos "Mystic Pizza"'s lovely Annabeth Gish.

devotion to her boyfriend back in Chi-
cago, however, keeps them that way. In
a sneaky way, she teaches the guys that
a commitment is not so bad.
While the men grovel about those
wonderful babes, the women try to de-
velop a way to win their men over.

Rosie O'Donnell is hilarious when she
tells the guys that their philosophy on
happiness is a farce. Her role is minimal
yet significant, as she dishes out the
perfect amount of sarcasm.
The ending is hardly the fairy-tale
ending of those flaky romances, but

that is perhaps the best part ofit, Beau-
tiful girls" is not that perfect love stoi
that will never happen outside the moA
ies; instead, it portrays the' realistic
drama of everyday life. It is an'exquis-
ite date movie and ideal for anynbe'who
can relate to those crazy relatildhships.

The lovely Uma Thurman.

Dean Koontz

Intensity
Knopf

Dean Koontz' "Intensity" starts with
a bang - literally. Within the first 40
pages a family of five has been wiped
out by Edglar Vess, Koontz' generic
psychopathic main character. But wait,
the carnage doesn't stop there! Vess
also blows away two gas station clerks
and a hitchhiker. The novel is bloody
enough to appeal to Koontz fans, but
actually manages to come up with an
interesting character between the car
chases and escape attempts.
Vess' nemesis, the lovely Chyna
Shepard, is no ordinary, passive hero-
ine. She's a psychology student with a
dark past. In a dazzlingly improbable
plot twist, Shepard decides to stow
away, weaponless, in the killer's motor
home, in order to seek revenge. Fortu-
nately, Koontz has a deft touch with
this kind of absurdity, so it's very easy
to get caught up in the story and
Shepard's character. As the story

progresses, Shepard ceases to be the
typical female victim, instead becom-
ing more realistic and aggressive as she
fights for survival. It's fun to imagine
her mowing down a pack of Dobermans
with only a squirt bottle full of chemi-
cals. Too bad Koontz didn't try harder
with Vess.
With all Koontz' practice with writ-
ing evil characters, you'd think he would
at least be able to come up with some-
one entertaining for "Intensity." Not
so. Koontz' Vess is just another trite
homicidal maniac among many. Not
that every slavering lunatic in this kind
of novel has to be an original, but Vess
is so cliched that he prompts chuckles.
There's even an unintentionally hilari-
ous scene near the beginning in which
he eats alive spider. The most spectacu-
lar thing about Edglar Vess is his de-
mise.
After the final confrontation between
Vess and Shepard, Koontz' writing stops
being taut and entertaining and becomes
a soggy, sappy mess. "'She loves life,'
he said. Choking on emotion, Chyna
prayed that it was true."'As if we really
needed more proof, the ending reas-

suresus that Koontz should stick safely
to violent, rather than tender, schlock.
- Mary Trombley
Kirsten M. Lagatree
Feng Shui
Villard Books
This book bills itself as a practical
explanation of feng shui, the Chinese
practice of arranging an environment to
promote positive energy and deflect
negative influences. Unfortunately, it
succeeds rather too well - readers are
left feeling that they could have written
the book themselves.
The basic goal of feng shui is to
facilitate the flow of energy, or chi,
which is done by altering design ele-
ments. Feng shui relates compass di-
rections to colors, numbers, natural el-
ements, and concepts such as knowl-
edge or business success.
The feng shui practitioner then deco-
rates rooms accordingly. For example,
cast is linked to health and the color
green. A sick person would try to play

up the influence of this direction by
putting something green in the eastern
part of the room.
"Feng Shui" also describes how the
five elements - fire, earth, wood, wa-
ter and metal - are related in creative
and destructive cycles. In the creative
cycle, wood feeds fire, fire produces
ashes (earth) and so on; these cycles
also affect a room's chi. For example,
water puts out fire in the destructive
cycle. Fire is associated with the south,
so placing a source of water in the
southern part of a room would nega-
tively affect that direction's influence.
The book cites examples of feng shui
success stories, and these are most likely
accurate. However, this is not so much
due to the power of feng shui, as to the
fact that this practice seems largely
based on common sense.
For instance, most people would agree
that narrow hallways are badly designed,
since they are dark and feel claustro-
phobic. "Feng Shui" simply restates
this idea in different terms: "Narrow
openings or hallways can create unfa-
vorable energy by causing chi to flash
by so quickly that none of its beneficial
MULTIMED A

effects are leftbehind."
Similarly, readers are advised that,
"Your door should be attractive and in
good repair ... a weathered door with
peeling paint is definitely a sign of bad
feng shui." Needless to say, it's also a
sign of bad maintenance. While the
book's suggestions are valid, they are
by no means new ideas.
"Feng Shui" basically seems to offer
an alternative way of explaining gener-
ally-held beliefs and perceptions.
Feng shui is an intriguing subject,
and there's certainly nothing to be lost
by trying its' decorating methods. But
readers seeking entirely new concepts
should look elsewhere, as "Feng Shui"
simply provides a different rationale
for familiar ideas.
- Elizabeth Lucas

peared in 1995, and is also my first
glimpse into the dismal, trying world of
Brookner's literature. Unfortunately,
my introduction to her style wa'sshire
dered by my parallel reading of "Moby
Dick." While both Brookner and
Melville fill up pages upon pages with
the thoughts and analysis of the hero's.
problems, Melville manages to include
action.
George Bland, the hero of the novel,
is unhappy. His longtime friend,
Putnam, has recently died from cancer
and Bland enters the life of a 'retired
businessman completely alone. He livi
in a stylish flat in London, barely knows
his neighbors and avoids spending the
money left to him by Putnam. While he
bemoans his empty days and quiet home,
he resents any intrusions into his life
and is eager to be rid of any possible
relationships. So when a mysterious
woman appears in the apartment build-
ing, claimingtobe the friend ofGeorge's
vacationing neighbors, George s great-
est problem becomes how to bt avo4
and include this intruder, nanfed Katy
Gibb.
See BOOKS, Page 9

Anita Brookner

A Private View
Vintage

This is the paperback edition of
Brookner's 14th novel, which first ap-

.
i

Shivers

Sierra

Teen horror has turned into a very
successful market. While we college
students may be a little bit too old to
be reading Goosebumps and Fear
Street, we need only look to our
younger brothers and sisters to find
proof of this latest trend in literature.
And now, with more and more fami-
lies buying CD-ROM for their com-
puters, horror has found itself a whole
new niche.
Welcome to Shivers, the first in-
stallment in a series of adventure
games by Sierra designed to tap into
the horror genre. According to the
accompanying User Guide, Shivers
takes place in a deserted museum; one
that is naturally haunted and filled
with mystery.
Quickly, the user finds out that
several people have disappeared
within the museum's halls, including
the museum's curator and two teen-
agers who have possibly met untimely
ends. You realize that the only way
out is to find and destroy the evil
spirits that reside in the museum be-
fore they destroy you. With that, the

mystery begins.
The game itself is constructed as a
combination of Myst graphics and
The Seventh Guest puzzles. Every-
thing is rendered in a beautifully de-
tailed 3-D style, and the bulk of the
story line is discovered through stra-
tegically placed letters, books and
notes. In addition, Shivers also boasts
nonlinear game play, a quality that
allows you to continue with the ggme,
even when you are stumped by a par-
ticular puzzle.
Like Myst, everything is seen
through the eyes of the character,
meaning that you cannot actually see
and move yourself around the screen.
This may make it more difficult to
maneuver through the museum, as
often you have to cycle through sev-
eral screens before you are pointed in
the correct direction. But this setup
also allows for more details to be
included within each screen.'
Perhaps one of the most frustrating
things about Shivers is that death is
always a possibility. Several new ad-
venture games have shied away from
the idea of death, allowing the player to
concentrate on solving the puzzles as
opposed to saving their games. Shivers
makes use of what they call "life es-
sence," which is seen as a neon green

stripe at the bottom of the scree Each
time you are attacked, more an i more
of your essence disappears, until it fi-
nally turns red as you approach deat"
Upon winning the game, Shiverp
has several unique features. Each time
a new game is started, the inmfVrtant
clues are placed randomly throaghout
the museum, meaning that nq two
games are alike. In addition; Shivers
offers an "Explore" option, ajiowing
the player to tour and examine the
museum without fear of getting at-
tacked by evil spirits.
Another unique quality of-tlegame
is the music, created by WeUposo
Guy Whitmore. The ,Shivers
"soundtrack" runs the gamut 'f con-
temporary styles, the most noticeable
being the Nine Inch Nails-ishmusic
which plays during the maze sequence.
Mainly the sound is "darklyfambi-
ent," providing the spooky overtones
that are necessary for a horror-sgame.
Overall, Shivers is a worthwhile
game, although it is mainly aimed at
younger audience. The puzzles are ch
lenging and the art is incredible, but the
13-and-over rating seems appropriate.
Perhaps adult fans of Sierra's games
would be happier with their other hor-
ror title, Phantasmagoria.;,
- Lise Harwin

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